Partial win for McGuinness over Bloody Sunday

A complaint of unfair treatment against the BBC by Sinn Fein deputy leader Martin McGuinness has been upheld in part by the Broadcasting Standards Commission.

McGuinness complained after a programme on BBC Radio Ulster about Bloody Sunday failed to acknowledge the MP’s denials that he had fired the first shot during the 1972 incident.

The programme, broadcast on 14 May, included an interview with espionage writer Nigel West in which he referred to evidence from an informer who had allegedly heard McGuinness “boasting about what took place during Bloody Sunday”.

The Broadcasting Standards Commissionruled that the programme’s presenter should have made it clear that McGuinness had frequently denied the allegations that he had fired the first shot on Bloody Sunday and that “it was unfair to Mr McGuinness not to have done so”.

Meanwhile, the Radio 4 Today programme had a complaint of unfair treatment from the Scottish Gamekeepers Association upheld in part, after the programme failed to include the association’s response to criticisms.

Contributors to the programme had condemned the SGA, suggesting that gamekeepers in the northeast of Scotland were a danger to birds of prey. The item also ran on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, against which the SGA also filed a complaint.

BBC News 24, which relaunched on Monday after a revamp, was rapped for using graphic images in a trailer for the channel at 8am. A viewer complained about “an overemphasis on tragic deaths” on the 12 July trailer, which had shown images of the co-joined twins who had died in the operation to separate them, a motoring accident with multiple deaths and a toddler who had been shot.

The BBC said the trailer was intended to remind viewers that the channel covered “breaking stories”, and had chosen images of stories that were prominent around the time of broadcast.

But the commission said it considered the cumulative effect of the footage at a time when children were likely to be watching “could have been distressing”.

By Wale Azeez

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