Angus Stickler says he stands by Help for Heroes report '100 per cent' ahead of Newsnight apology

The reporter involved has hit back at BBC claims that a Newsnight report broadcast on 9 August about the charity Help for Heroes was “misleading and unfair”.

Following an investigation by the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit the corporation is set to broadcast an on-air apology at 11.20pm on BBC Two tonight.

It states: “The BBC gave the impression that Help for Heroes was responsible for shortcomings in the provision of support to wounded veterans. The Editorial Complaints Unit found no evidence to support this suggestion.”

Angus Stickler worked on the report while he was still chief reporter of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

This evening the National Union of Journalists put out a statement on his behalf.

It said: “It is my belief that the BBC Newsnight report of Thursday 9 August 2012 accurately reported the legitimate concerns of wounded veterans, serving service personnel, and their families over the spending decisions of Help for Heroes.

The interviewees, including one of Help for Heroes patrons, argued that spending on construction projects primarily for serving service personnel should be the responsibility of the MoD, and that charity money would be better spent on practical help for veterans.

“It is of note that the ruling by the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit found that at least some of the injured veterans and their families had expressed this view and therefore it was legitimate to report these concerns.

I stand by the story 100 per cent. It was well sourced, based on sound evidence and thoroughly tested. It was a brave decision for those wounded soldiers and their families to take part in the report, and they had an absolute right to be heard. These are people of great courage and integrity. We had a duty to properly report their views.

“It is my belief that the process of the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit investigation failed to fully and properly reflect the evidence put before it; and the assertion that the report misrepresented the interviewees is, in my opinion, unfounded.

Help for Heroes said: “We were happy to invite Angus Stickler of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and BBC Newsnight to see one of our four Recovery Centres to interview and speak to the family of one of the thousands of wounded sevicemen we have helped since we started out in 2007.

“Sadly interviews were edited in such a way it made it look as if people who actively support  Help for Heroes were in fact critical of our work.

“Broad and completely understandable concerns about the long-term care needs of the wounded were falsely and unfairly reported as criticism of the charity.

“This was a total misrepresentative of the facts, given that Help for Heroes has raised and immediately spent or allocated well over £150m to look after wounded servicemen, women, veterans and their families in the last six years.

Help for Heroes co founders Bryn and Emma Parry said: “On the day the programme went out we were inundated with offers of support from the wounded themselves who were keen to set the record straight. The BIJ should now apologise to each of them and their families and to all those who give up their time to volunteer and fundraise in support of our."

Angus Stickler resigned from The Bureau of Investigations last year in the wake of his involvement with a Newsnight broadcast which falsely linked Lord McAlpine to child abuse allegations.

Christopher Hird was made editor of the Bureau in December 2012 (after the Help for Heroes and McAlpine reports). He said: "The BBC apology acknowledges that it was correct these concerns should be reported. But I do recognise that mistakes were made in the way these concerns were addressed.

"I think the cause of this was weaknesses in the editorial oversight and management of this story. I've put in place new processes to ensure there is much better management and oversight of joint investigations of this sort with the expectation that nothing of this sort will happen again."

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