Channel 4 backs down on postal theft claim

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The Independent Online

Royal Mail withdrew its threat of legal action against Channel 4 last night after the broadcaster admitted that it had been wrong to claim that credit cards were being stolen from the post by temporary staff.

The damaging assertion was one of the main allegations levelled at Royal Mail in a Dispatches programme last April. The programme secretly filmed a Royal Mail agency worker admitting he had stolen a credit card from the post. He then supplied it to an undercover reporter. Channel 4 admitted yesterday that evidence subsequently supplied by Barclaycard proved the card in question had never been sent through the post and was, in fact, being fenced by the worker away from Royal Mail premises. "Channel Four regrets this inadvertent inaccuracy," it said in a statement issued with Royal Mail.

The broadcaster also acknowledged that it had not got any evidence to support a newspaper advertisement for the Dispatches programme which depicted an actor dressed as a Royal Mail worker opening a birthday card and removing money from it. "During the period of undercover filming, no such or similar acts were filmed," the statement said.

Channel 4 acknowledged the vast majority of Royal Mail's 200,000 workforce were honest but it added that the programme had provided a "valuable public service" in supporting Royal Mail's argument it should be allowed to vet casual workers for criminal records.