Scientologists do a Panorama on the BBC

Many people have sounded the death-knell of investigative reporting.

Over the years countless inches of this organ have been covered with poignant words by gloomy hacks pining for the glory days when stories about Thalidomide babies and Aitkin’s lies adorned every page.

Don’t worry though, investigative reporting is back. And guess who’s going to save it? The Sunday Times? The Guardian? Private Eye? The Oxdown Gazette?

No ‒ it’s the Scientologists of course! After its epic showdown with John Sweeney on last week’s Panorama, during which it displayed its don’t-call-us-a-cult-or-we’ll-stalk-you approach to PR for all to see, the Church of Scientology has launched its own TV station, Freedom.

The official Scientology magazine, of the same name, is adorned with the strap-line: “investigative reporting in the public interest”.

The church has been distributing thousands of DVDs of its counter-documentary about Sweeney’s Panorama film, accusing him of terrorism, no less. In the accompanying press release Freedom TV’s editor Graeme Wilson says it documents 154 would-be violations of BBC and Ofcom guidelines in Sweeney’s film.

Interesting then, that Ofcom received a mighty nine complaints about the programme and sought to adjudicate in none of them.

Panorama editor Sandy Smith was merely “disappointed” with Sweeney’s shout-fest and defended the rest of the programme.

Recent Freedom investigations include one that accuses psychiatrists of being “mind-manipulators” responsible for acts of terrorism.

Somewhat sinisterly, the press bumf sent out with Freedom’s DVD doesn’t mention Scientology once.

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