BBC defends risk assessment at Kate Peyton inquest

The BBC today defended preparations which were made for an assignment on which a 39-year-old journalist was shot dead.

Producer Kate Peyton, of Beyton, Suffolk, died in February 2005 after being shot in the back outside a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia.

She had travelled there with reporter Peter Greste to cover a variety of aspects of Somalia’s development.

A BBC lawyer told an inquest into her death in Ipswich, Suffolk, today that a “very thorough” risk assessment had been launched in the initial planning stages.

Anthony Hudson told the hearing: “The need for a very thorough risk assessment was recognised right at the outset.”

Hudson outlined the BBC’s approach to security as he questioned Greste during the second day of the inquest.

Greste said he was very aware of the risks involved but felt that the story of Somalia was “important”.

“I was conscious of the risks involved,” said Greste.

“Anyone monitoring Somalia would have been acutely aware that the situation was volatile.” He added: “You need to be particularly careful about security.”

But Greste said Somalia was an “important story”.

“I would never have offered to go if I didn’t consider it to be important,” he said.

“Somalia, for almost all of the previous decade, had been uncovered…

“As far as I was concerned, our audience in particular would have had little or no understanding of the way the country had developed since the departure of UN peacekeepers in the mid-1990s.

“It was something I felt was important. The Horn of Africa was becoming increasingly important in the war on terror.”

Greste told the hearing that Miss Peyton, who was based in Johannesburg, South Africa, had sent him an email prior to leaving for Somalia which read: “It sounded like a great trip.”

He added: “I remember being quite grateful. She seemed a very enthusiastic supporter of the trip.”

He also told the inquest he had emailed a BBC official asking for “particular attention” to be paid to security.

In the email Greste had added: “I am confident that what we have proposed is as safe as we can make it.”

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