BBC impartiality under fire for correspondent's role in security summit

 

POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT

The BBC’s closeness to the Home Office has come under fire after the corporation’s security correspondent Gordon Corera accepted a formal role at a behind-closed-doors counter-terrorism event.

The Security and Policing Exhibition 2013, which opens in Farnborough today, aims to showcase and sell Britain’s security expertise to overseas governments.

Delegates from dozens of states – including some with questionable human rights records – will attend seminars and speeches from leading UK police officers, Whitehall officials and ministers.

While the Home Office has blocked all press requests to attend the conference, citing “national security”, it emerged yesterday that Mr Corera is due to chair a masterclass on cyber-security this afternoon.  His role was only confirmed by the Home Office after if initially claimed that no journalists had been invited.

Anne Clwyd, a Labour member of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said that the decision to ban reporters while giving preferential treatment to a BBC correspondent, was “unfair.”  She added: “This decision indicates the Home Office has something to hide. An exhibition and summit selling Britain’s security  and anti-terrorism expertise to regimes with suspect human rights, should not be happening. The Home Office are trying to prevent the scale of this trade being reported.”

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT)  has formally complained to the BBC that the corporation’s legal impartiality was being compromised by Mr Corera’s involvement. The BBC vehemently rejected this claim last night, insisting its independence was unaffected.

Sarah Waldron of the CAAT said: “This event is really concerning us. Behind its closed doors will be international delegations from some of the world’s most repressive regimes, exploring ‘security’ equipment such as sniper rifles, crowd control equipment and surveillance technology – precisely the sort of equipment that is being used to suppress dissent and perpetrate human rights abuses.”

Last year another BBC senior security correspondent, Frank Gardener, was forced to pull out of an awards dinner for arms dealers attending a counter terrorism expo in London.  Mr Gardner had been scheduled to address delegates and present awards, but withdrew after the BBC accepted that the extent of their correspondent’s involvement in the event was “inappropriate”.

A BBC spokesman said: "Gordon Corera is chairing a session on cyber security at a conference running alongside the Security and Policing Exhibition. He is not being paid for his role, his involvement in the event was cleared by the BBC and does not breach BBC Guidelines on impartiality."

The government’s arms sales unit, the UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation (UKTIDSO), are also involved in organising this week’s summit.  The Independent has learned that security officials from Algeria, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, are among those likely to attend seminars, bilateral meetings and private briefings with leading UK security officials taking part in the Farnborough gathering.

Speakers include security minister James Brokenshire, three assistant commissioners from the Metropolitan Police, four chief constables, and the current head of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde.

Guildford Cathedral had agreed to host the security event’s gala dinner. However last week after complaints that the nature of the summit and exhibition was at odds with the Church of England’s policy on ethical investment, the cathedral cancelled their involvement.

 

 

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Urgent Requirement - Central Manchester

£20000 - £23000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Guru Careers: Social Media Executive / SEO Executive

£20 - 25K + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Social Media...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence