Inquiry into TV fakes claim

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THE Independent Television Commission is investigating allegations by a newspaper that an award-winning Carlton TV documentary on Colombian drugs smugglers was faked.

The watchdog has wants a tape of the programme, The Connection, and is considering requesting rushes and out-takes from the film to see if it can uncover evidence that the main elements were staged. Carlton has told the ITC that it is conducting its own inquiry. A spokes- man for the ITC said the investigation was unprecedented.

After the story was published yesterday in the Guardian Carlton lawyers spent the day closeted with the channel's former head of documentaries Roger James and the producer of The Connection Marc de Beaufort. They have been told to say nothing to the press. Both men left Carlton last year for an independent production firm.

Carlton says it has been co-operating with the Guardian for months on the story and will continue to help. A company spokesman refused to reveal whether the broadcaster was planning to refute the claims.

The Connection told the story of a new heroin route into Britain from Colombia. It included footage of a drug courier swallowing packages of the drug and flying them into Britain, and an interview with the number three boss of the Cali drug cartel that was supposed to have taken place at a secret location.

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