The BBC and Channel 4 have sought to clarify their working relationship with James Raven, the convicted criminal who went on to work as an investigative researcher for the BBC and Channel 4, who was last week found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Sentencing him with an accomplice last week, the judge at Chester Crown Court recommended he served at least 24 years for the murder last year of drug dealer Brian Waters at a farmhouse in Tabley, Cheshire.
Raven, 44, who worked undercover for the BBC on programmes such as MacIntyre Uncovered and Crooked Britain, as well as on Channel 4’s Sleepers series, was also found guilty of a conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm, after torturing the drug dealer to death. He was jailed for 14 years on that count, to run concurrently with his life sentence.
During the trial, both the BBC and a commissioning editor and director for Channel 4 said they knew Raven had previous convictions for violence, but had believed he was a reformed character.
It is understood Raven earned up to £500 a day working undercover for the broadcasters.
Although Raven described himself as an undercover reporter, a BBC spokeswoman insisted he had been a “covert operative” and had not taken editorial decisions while working for the broadcaster.
“From time to time, in cases of overriding public interest, the BBC, like other media organisations, works with people who have had criminal convictions in order to expose criminality or serious wrongdoing. At the time of these offences, James Raven was no longer working for the BBC,” she added.
Fiona Campbell, a commissioning editor for Channel 4 and a former BBC series producer, who employed Raven on an investigative programme about car crime and the illegal meat trade, told the court she was aware he had convictions for violence, but added he had been a “good employee”.
Tom Anstis, a freelance producer and director, who worked for the BBC and Channel 4, told the court there had been a lengthy process before Raven was hired.
He said: “I knew that he had previous convictions. I had no idea that there was so many. I have not seen him use or offer violence to anyone.”
By Wale Azeez