BBC silent over 'disturbing' riots doc banning order

The BBC this morning remained gagged from speaking about a mysterious court order which prevented the first part of its two-part documentary about last year's English riots being broadcast.

The corporation is believed to have been hit with an interim order on Monday just hours before part one of 'The Riots in their own words'was due to be broadcast at 9pm on BBC Two. The second hour-long episode of the two-part drama has also been pulled.

The programme involved actors reading excerpts from interviews with 270 people involved in the riots conducted by The Guardian and the London School of Economics as part of their Reading the Riots project.

The Guardian reported yesterday: 'For legal reasons, the Guardian cannot name the judge who made the ruling, the court in which he is sitting or the case he is presiding over."

Chief executive of Press freedom group Index on Censorship Kirsty Hughes said: 'This is a disturbing move. The Reading the Riots project gives a valuable insight into the events of last summer in England. As we approach the anniversary of the riots, it is important that broadcasts and discussion about the events are allowed to take place.

'Censoring television programmes is not in any way helpful to our understanding of the important issues and factors underlying the disturbances."

Pre-publication injunctions banning broadcasts or publications can be granted in cases involving breach of privacy. At present, no indication has been given as to what legislation the order has been granted under.

The BBC declined to offer any information this morning beyond issuing this statement: "A court order has been made that has prevented the BBC from broadcasting the programme 'The Riots: In their own Words'. We will put it out at a later date....Unfortunately we are unable to add anything further at this stage."

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