The Channel 4 executive director overseeing Hugh Grant’s documentary on the Leveson Inquiry has dismissed an MP’s claims it will not comply with Ofcom’s impartiality rules.
Peter Grimsdale insisted that all of Channel 4’s programmes have to comply with the broadcaster’s guidelines and codes, and that this documentary will be no different.
It comes after Alun Cairns, Conservative MP for the Vale of Glamorgan, wrote to Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham saying he was “very concerned” about the programme.
He asked how such a programme presented by Grant, the celebrity face of the Hacked Off campaign, “will ever comply with Ofcom’s rules about impartiality”.
But Grimsdale, executive producer of the programme, told Press Gazette: “We don't anticipate there will be any difficulty, not least because there are a number of contributors in the film who are opposed to Hacked Off and are highly critical of their proposals.
“We are still in the middle of shooting the film so there is a lot of work still to be done but this is where we are at right now.”
Cairns has challenged the programme makers on several aspects of the programme.
He wrote: “The celebrity spokesman of Hacked Off making the case for the implementation of the [Media Standard Trust’s] proposals is none other than Hugh Grant – the chosen celebrity presenter of the programme.
“It is little wonder why he accepted the very kind invitation from Films of Record to front the programme.”
He also took issue with the production company Films of Record.
He points out its founder and chief executive Roger Graef was, until yesterday, also chairman of the Media Standards Trust, which started Hacked Off.
Commenting on Hacked Off, Cairns said: "It is widely considered that Hugh Grant and other celebrities are funding Hacked Off very heavily. There are no accounts available for their lobbying campaign, yet it employs several full-time staff.”
He ends by posing the following questions to Cairns:
1. How can the owner of a production company lobbying for a particular outcome be allowed to air a programme supportive of his own agenda?
2. Are you aware of any such conflicts of interests in any of your previous programmes?
3. What investigations have Channel 4 made into the funding of the MST and its connections to Films of Record?
4. What investigations have Channel 4 made into the funding of the MST, Films of Record, Hacked Off and celebrity campaigner Hugh Grant?
5. How can a celebrity spokesman who funds a lobbying campaign present a programme in an impartial way?
6. How can the owner of a production company lobby on the one hand for one organisation’s success, then present an impartial programme about that?
7. How will Channel 4 comply with Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code?