Animal groups accuse BBC of bias

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The Independent Online
GREG DYKE is to be asked to investigate claims of BBC bias in its reporting of the debate on fox-hunting.

The BBC's new Director-General will be presented with a dossier of evidence compiled by three leading animal-welfare charities, which are furious at the way the issue has been covered by the Corporation in its news bulletins and even documentaries and comment slots.

The RSPCA, the League Against Cruel Sports and the International Fund for Animal Welfare have listed dozens of incidents when they believe the anti-hunting case was not put forward or was under-represented by the BBC.

The groups claim this amounts to a "catalogue of bias" and intend to present it to Mr Dyke early next year. They are expected to demand a full internal investigation into the issue.

The move comes as the BBC was forced to apologise to Greenpeace yesterday over a report that it lied about the amount of oil left on the redundant Brent Spar platform.

The pressure group, following legal action, received assurances from the BBC that it would not rebroadcast an interview with Tory former minister John Gummer in which he stated that the environmentalists had lied. The Corporation also agreed to pay legal costs and made a public apology.

An RSPCA official said last night that animal welfare groups had complained repeatedly to the BBC about coverage of hunting. "Some news programmes have not put our side of the case at all and when they have, the pro-hunters had senior people from the Countryside Alliance or respected figures like Baroness Mallalieu and we were represented by a scruffy bloke with a dog on a bit of string. It's just not on."