BBC Formal Complaint

5th Jan 2009
BBC Complaints, 
PO Box 1922 
G2 3WT

Dear BBC Personnel,

I am writing to bring the attention of responsible parties at the BBC to an unreconcilable conflict between what was broadcast in a BBC documentary and fundamental sections of the Royal Charter and Editorial Guidelines.

This is a formal complaint as set out in BBC procedures but also a personal call, to all that read this, to reflect on your own integrity as part of a powerful machine that sustains your consumer expectations as well as providing you the prestige of working for a trusted and respected source of information on world events.

The question you must face is whether you are committed more to truth and justice or the security of an authority that presently sustains you materially.

There are major Royal Charter compliance issues in the Feb 2007 (repeated August 2008) broadcast of the BBC 911 Conspiracy Files and the Corporations web site.

The documentary was structured in 180 degrees opposition to the stated aims and obligations of the Charter, the Editorial Guideline and Sir Lyons’ July 08 Strasbourg speech. “The public purpose of "sustaining citizenship" implies the provision of high quality impartial coverage of news and current affairs. This is the essential fuel of an informed democracy.”

However the documentary, about arguably the most important event this century, was:

1) Unbalanced, i.e. it did not match the Charter obligation: “controversial subjects are treated with impartiality”.

2) It was inaccurate to a significant degree when checked against a multiplicity of verifiable information in the public domain. i.e. it did not match the Charter obligation: “controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy”.

3) It was artful in spinning a spurious sub text with tabloid style cartoon characterizations of questioners as all mildly eccentric and emotionally flawed. This repetitive instructive message on the psychology of “others” who did not agree with the BBC did not match the Charter obligation: refraining from use of techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or of otherwise influencing their minds, without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred .

The evidence is posted as a review on a web site:

For the present I’d be grateful if you could ensure that this representation be considered as a demand for Right of Reply for myself and for the people that the programme specifically promised to interview i.e. the eye witnesses, the families, friends of victims including those involved in the aftermath. It should include representatives of the professional, political and academic community raising fundamental conflicts with the official conspiracy theory. In other words it should meet the expectation the the BBC promised to fulfill when it advertised the BBC 911 Conspiracy File.

The least that could be acceptable, in the serious circumstances that the UK finds itself, (enmeshed in two illegal wars, as a result of the false claims about 911 backed by the BBC) is three hour long documentaries, to be funded and screened three times each, over a year, by the BBC. The remit of these documentaries: to seriously investigate, with integrity, the events of September 11th and the claims made by dissident voices. These three programmes naturally should be free of BBC editorial control.

I await the considered response of BBC staff.

Yours faithfully ... John Yates

PS: I post extracts from BBC Editorial Guidelines on A4 page enclosed.

Aide-Memoire to key BBC Guidelines

Editorial Guidelines in Full Impartiality & Diversity of Opinion

“Impartiality lies at the heart of the BBC's commitment to its audiences”

“we must rigorously test contributors expressing contentious views during an interview whilst giving them a fair chance to set out their full response to our questions.”

“we should not automatically assume that academics and journalists from other organizations are impartial and make it clear to our audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint.”

Impartiality & diversity of opinion.

We strive to be fair and open minded and reflect all significant strands of opinion by exploring the range and conflict of views. We will be objective and even handed in our approach to a subject. We will provide professional judgments where appropriate, but we will never promote a particular view on controversial matters of public policy or political or industrial controversy


The BBC's commitment to accuracy is a core editorial value and fundamental to our reputation. Our output must be well sourced, based on sound evidence, thoroughly tested and presented in clear, precise language.

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