BBC refuses 'orphan' trust helpline

A CHARITY representing thousands of child migrants separated from their families after the Second World War has fiercely criticised the BBC over its refusal to publicise a telephone helpline, writes Mary Braid.

The Child Migrants Trust asked the corporation to show the helpline number after The Leaving of Liverpool, a two-part drama on BBC 1 on Thursday and Friday. When the mini-series was shown in Australia last year 700 child migrants, now middle-aged, telephoned a special helpline in just 48 hours.

The drama series traces the fortunes of two British children shipped to Australia as part of a post-war policy which sent thousands of 'orphans' to various outposts of the Empire. Most were told their parents were dead. In many cases that was not true.

In Australia, the policy has been discredited following claims that children were neglected and abused in the homes they were sent to.

The Trust is already suspicious about a year-long delay in showing the programme in Britain.

A spokeswoman for BBC 1 has dismissed any suggestion of a conspiracy and said the corporation did not publicise helplines after drama programmes. 'The Leaving of Liverpool is a drama, not a documentary,' she said.

The Child Migrants Trust helpline number will be 0500-333435 for 15 to 17 July.

Shameful secret, page 18