Inquiry into TV `Castro fraud'

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CARLTON TELEVISION faces a second inquiry by the Government's television watchdog over more accusations of faking documentaries.

The ITV company, which is already under investigation by the Independent Television Commission over its expose of Colombian drugs smuggling, The Connection, will now have to defend a 1994 film, Inside Castro's Cuba. The same team - producer/director Marc de Beaufort and executive producer, Roger James - worked on both documentaries.

The Network First documentary, broadcast on ITV to two million viewers, is accused of portraying archive footage of Cuban president Fidel Castro as a specially conducted interview with Mr de Beaufort.

An ITC spokesman confirmed yesterday that the government watchdog has requested a tape of Inside Castro's Cuba from Carlton Television. If the ITC rules that Carlton has breached its code in either this case or over The Connection, the company faces penalties ranging from a fine to having its licence removed.

The key question for the ITC is if the "interview" is claimed as such within the programme. Carlton maintains the programme does not make the claim. Sources say claims were only made in publicity.

If Carlton's claims are vindicated by the ITC, then the ITV Network Centre may still have grounds for complaint as Stuart Prebble, then head of factual programming, says he commissioned Carlton on the pledge of an interview with Castro.