Whose research is it anyway?

By Caitlin Pike

Author Kevin Cahill is to lodge a complaint against the BBC,
claiming it has committed “massive plagiarism” of his book Who Owns
Britain in the course of making the documentary Whose Britain is it
Anyway?.

Cahill claims that, despite a contract making him a consultant, he
was never consulted. He said the BBC assured him the programme, which
was presented by Peter and Dan Snow [his son] and broadcast on BBC2
this week, would be entirely based on independent research rather than
his book.

He said: “It was the most complete and total piece of
plagiarism I have seen in my journalistic career. About 90 per cent of
the programme content came straight from the book Who Owns Britain, but
was presented as being the work of Peter and Dan Snow. There was not an
original item anywhere in the programme.

“I was credited as the
consultant. I was not consulted and I did no consultancy work for the
programme. I was interviewed once, after I had threatened an
injunction. Other contributors were given copies of the programme
before Christmas. I was not.”

In the summer of 2004 the BBC sent
a letter to Cahill after he had complained about not being involved in
the early planning of the programme. The letter, which came from the
head of development of factual in Bristol, Emma Wooster, stated: “I’ve
spoken to both the researcher and producer who wrote the proposal and
they acknowledge that whilst they, independently of your work, came up
with the notion “Who Owns Britain?” and had various brainstorms about
the approach, the research used in the final proposal did come almost
entirely from your book (which I suppose makes sense because you are
obviously the world authority on this subject).”

A spokesman for
the BBC said: “Kevin Cahill was approached by the BBC and he agreed to
be a consultant on Whose Britain Is It Anyway? once the programme had
been commissioned. In April 2005 he signed a contract agreeing that the
BBC was not buying the rights to his book but that it could be used for
research.

Mr Cahill’s book was one of a number of sources which
were used to inform the programme. The production team drew upon Mr
Cahill’s expertise during the research stages of the programme.

He
has been credited as a consultant and as the author of Who Owns Britain
and was a key interviewee in the early part of the programme.”

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