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TV & Radio

Troubled BBC Newsnight making another apology - over accusations against Help for Heroes charity

Corporation has conceded coverage was misleading and unfair to charity that helps military personnel

The BBC is apologising for another bungled report on its flagship current affairs programme Newsnight, mistakenly accusing the charity Help for Heroes of misspending cash.

A report to be published later today by the BBC's editorial complaints unit will say there was no evidence to suggest any shortcomings. The BBC has conceded the coverage was "misleading" and "unfair" to the charity which helps military personnel.

The broadcast about Help for Heroes, screened on 9 August, involved the services of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism which was also behind the Lord McAlpine report.

The BBC has admitted that editing of the report into the charity misrepresented the views of two contributors, and in a studio discussion afterwards in which a charity representative took part, the response of Help for Heroes to the criticisms "wasn't properly reflected".

The editor of Newsnight at the time, Peter Rippon, has already stepped down as a result of the other problems. A report by media executive Nick Pollard has already looked into the BBC's failings over Jimmy Savile and Lord McAlpine.

Newsnight will tonight broadcast an apology about its Help for Heroes report, saying: "Following an investigation by its Editorial Complaints Unit, the BBC now accepts that its coverage was misleading and unfair to Help for Heroes.

"The BBC gave the impression that Help for Heroes was responsible for shortcomings in the provision of support to wounded veterans. The Editorial Complaints Unit found no evidence to support this suggestion.

"Although it was legitimate to report the concerns of veterans, the BBC portrayed criticisms about overall support by a number of agencies as specific criticisms of Help for Heroes. This unfair impression was reinforced by our coverage of the story in other outlets.

"In addition, the Newsnight report contained interviews with two contributors which were edited in a way which misrepresented their views.

"Although a representative of Help for Heroes took part in a studio discussion which followed the Newsnight report, the response of Help for Heroes to the criticisms wasn't properly reflected. This contributed further to the unfair impression of Help for Heroes, for which the BBC wishes to apologise."

BBC2's Newsnight has already been under fire for dropping a report into disgraced DJ Jimmy Savile's years of sex crimes.

This was compounded, at a time when the corporation was already in crisis, by the mistaken suggestion that Lord McAlpine had been linked to a sex abuse probe. That slur led to legal action and the BBC paid out £185,000 in damages to the peer.