Bashir: criticised by the BSC
Tonight With Trevor McDonald and its interviewer, Martin Bashir, have been criticised by the Broadcasting Standards Commission for misleading a participant in the programme in order to secure an interview.
Farooq Yusof took part in an episode shown on 8 March 2001 based on the story of his runaway 16-year-old daughter Sufiah. He complained to the watchdog that he had been misled about the nature of the programme, in which he ended up face-to-face with his runaway daughter in the studio.
Yusof claimed his involvement had been gained under false pretences, insisting he would not have taken part had he known this would happen. The commission ruled that the programme had treated him unfairly.
He also maintained that Bashir had visited him at his home on 31 January 2001 to reassure him that the purpose of him appearing on the programme would be to expose problems Yusof had faced with the social services, and would not include an interview with his daughter.
The commission said: “The programme makers had lulled Mr Yusof into a contrary belief for their own purposes and had not given him a clear indication of the nature and purpose of the programme.” The BSC said it was “evident from the recording” of discussions between Bashir and Yusof on that day that Bashir misled Yusof into believing he was investigating the involvement of the authorities in the disappearance of Sufiah.
However, further complaints by Yusof, of unfairness concerning an offer by Bashir to view the programme before broadcast, assurances that Sufiah would not participate in the programme and an accusation that the programme was unfairly weighted in Sufiah’s favour, were not upheld.
A spokesman for Granada, which produces Tonight, said the company was “pleased that the BSC recognised the programme to have been fair and properly balanced, and that it has dismissed nearly all of Mr Yusof’s wide-ranging complaints”.
But although it “accepted the BSC’s adjudications”, Granada said it did not always agree with them.
“In this case, we don’t agree that an incomplete recording of one of many conversations with Mr Yusof shows that he was misled. As we’ve said throughout, we do not accept that Mr Yusof’s involvement in the programme was secured under false pretences. We stand by our programme.”
By Wale Azeez