MoD: BBC should not have shown suicide bomb footage

By Caitlin Pike

The Ministry of Defence has joined the mother of a British soldier
killed by a suicide bomb in Iraq in criticising the BBC for showing
footage of the ambush in which her son and two other soldiers died last
November.

The first part of The New Al-Qaeda, a three-part documentary series
by investigative journalist Peter Taylor, was broadcast on Monday,
tracing the link between videos from Iraq shown on websites, including
beheadings and car bombs, and the recruitment of international
volunteers joining the insurgents.

Some of the footage included
in the programme was of the car bomb near Fallujah that killed Sergeant
Stuart Gray, 31, Private Paul Lowe, 19, and Private Scott McArdle, 22.

An
MoD spokesman told Press Gazette: “The BBC made us aware of the nature
of the programme and we asked for some material not to be shown. We
acknowledged that the BBC had made some editorial changes to lessen the
impact of the footage remaining, but we do think it is unnecessary that
the programme contained this material.”

McArdle’s mother, Sandra, told PA she was shocked to see the footage in the programme. She said: “It’s disgusting.

The BBC didn’t even have the courtesy to call us and let us know it was going to be shown.

“It brought all the grief of Scott’s death flooding back and we found it very distressing. They shouldn’t have shown it.”

A BBC spokeswoman defended the programme and said it included only a few seconds of footage of the ambush.

She
said: “We have been in communication with the MoD about this footage
and have listened to their concerns and addressed them where possible.

“We
take our responsibilities seriously and it was very sensitively edited
to avoid any distress to the victims’ families or friends. We have not
named the regiment and have taken a number of other steps to lessen any
distress. A representative from the MoD was shown a few minutes of the
footage relating to the incident. The sequence plays a key part in
illustrating the availability of such material, which is vital to the
viewers’ understanding of the programme.”

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