The BBC put at risk the lives of two unwitting participants in a documentary on Libya, by failing to disclose it was filming a television programme, regulator Ofcom has ruled.
In an episode of Holidays in the Axis of Evil, filmed in Libya, BBC journalists posed as tourists as they filmed and interviewed a local guide, Muhunnud Al-Mungoush. But they acted unfairly and infringed his privacy by not telling him that he was being filmed for a documentary, Ofcom said.
“It was unfair to feature AlMungoush in the programme in the knowledge that doing so might put him at risk. There was no public interest in the footage that justified misleading him and infringing his privacy,” it ruled.
Al-Mungoush told Ofcom he had lost his job as a guide and was detained and beaten by the Libyan authorities for participating in the programme.
The episode, aired on 1 April last year, also featured a song by a Libyan artist living abroad, about which AlMungoush made comments deemed to have put the songwriter at risk.
The guide said on camera that the song was by “a Libyan who regretted coming back to Libya from England”.
The artist, Enes Senussi, complained to Ofcom of an infringement of privacy and unfairness in broadcasting Al-Mungoush’s comments. The regulator said the guide’s comments “might have added to any danger Senussi faced if he returned to Libya”.
The BBC said the dangers to the journalists and others “would have been increased if they had revealed that they were filming for the BBC”.