C4 mosque special cleared

Undercover Mosque, an hour-long Dispatches special that aired on Channel 4 in January, was based on the work of an undercover reporter who had been monitoring sermons and activities at mosques, including the Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham, for months.

Ofcom received 364 complaints about the programme, although the regulator said some ‘appeared to be evidence of a campaign’against the programme and its makers.

Many said the investigation was biased against Muslims and misleading to viewers, but Ofcom rejected the claims and cleared Channel 4 of seven separate breaches of the Broadcasting Code.

Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: ‘Ofcom’s investigation found that Dispatches had uncovered matters of clear public interest and had handled the material responsibly, finding no evidence that Channel 4 had misled its audience.

‘In this case the Dispatches team did not shy away from a difficult subject and upheld British broadcasting’s strong tradition of investigative journalism.”

West Midlands Police complained about the programme to Ofcom in August this year after asking the programme makers to hand over footage that was not broadcast.

The force said it and the Crown Prosecution Service had considered potential offences caused in the making and broadcasting of the programme, relating to ‘stirring up racial hatred”. The CPS later admitted ‘prosecution was unlikely”.

In its complaint, West Midlands Police claimed that, through extensive editing, those featured in the programme had been misrepresented, and that the footage ‘undermined community cohesion’and the ‘safety’of local communities.

Channel 4 said the police allegations were ‘utterly without foundation’and added that they had shown a ‘fundamental misunderstanding of the editing process by which television programmes are legitimately made”.

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