ITV cleared over Lawrence show

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The Independent Online
TREVOR MCDONALD'S current affairs programme Tonight was right to broadcast interviews with five suspects in the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry, a television watchdog said today.

Fifteen viewers complained to the Independent Television Commission (ITC) that it was offensive for the five young men to have a platform to defend themselves on ITV's launch programme in April. Stephen's mother, Doreen, has said she will never forgive ITV or interviewer Martin Bashir for allowing the five to speak, when they had refused to do so in court.

But "after careful consideration" the ITC ruled that, though "sensitive", the decision to broadcast had been the right one. "An important factor in this conclusion was the robust style of questioning by the interviewer Martin Bashir," the ITC assessment said. "This was in fact anything but a platform for the five young men.

"We also noted the subsequent approval of the police, who referred to `golden nuggets' of new information having emerged."

The ITC disagreed with three viewers who said that the five were treated too harshly. They were under no obligation to take part in the programme.