BBC head of news James Harding said last night’s Panorama about Mazher Mahmood was pulled after information arrived from The Sun reporter’s lawers at 7pm.
The 'Fake Sheikh', formerly of News of the World, was yesterday refused permission to appeal Friday's decision by a High Court judge to reject his injunction against the programme.
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The expose was due to air at 8.30pm last night on BBC One but was replaced by a different Panorama programme.
Speaking at the Society of Editors Conference in Southampton, he said: “This is a seriously good piece of work, extremely revealing and squarely in the public interest.
"But the worst of all worlds is when you get the big picture right, and trip up over a detail.
“So when some information we'd been asking to see for many days was sent to us by Mazher Mahmood's lawyers at seven o'clock last night, we, as a responsible broadcaster, had to consider it.
"We're looking at it, and we'll make sense of it as quickly as we can, and then we’ll broadcast it.”