BBC Panorama used jailed NOTW private eye 'to trace individuals'
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Monday 23 April 2012
The BBC's flagship investigative programme, Panorama, employed the services of a jailed private detective who hacked emails for the News of the World.
The BBC has confirmed to The Independent that Philip Campbell Smith, a former British Army intelligence officer who is currently in prison after being convicted of illegally accessing information from the police, customs and revenue, as well as Interpol, was used on one occasion by the Panorama team.
The BBC told The Independent that Campbell Smith, who was employed by the Corporation before his recent conviction for fraud, was used by the programme to trace individuals and not to obtain confidential information.
After the News of the World was found to have hacked the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's mobile phone, the BBC's Director-General, Mark Thompson, ordered an internal review. The review concluded that Campbell Smith had been used for investigative work on the programme.
Although details of the review's findings were passed to the Leveson Inquiry, the BBC did not release to Scotland Yard, in full, a two-hour covertly filmed interview in which Campbell Smith discusses his connections and work for Panorama. After a recent court order, the BBC handed over the unedited filming to Scotland Yard
The BBC said it was "fully aware that the allegation made by Campbell Smith on tape would need to be disclosed... this was not a concern." It is common practice for broadcasters and newspapers to seek a court ruling when asked by police to surrender material gathered for journalistic purposes.
Confirming to The Independent that the full interview footage was being released to the police, the BBC admitted that there had been an allegation by Campbell Smith that he had previously accessed computers for Panorama. The Corporation said: "This allegation was investigated before the programme was broadcast in March 2011 and dismissed as baseless. The BBC investigation at the time indicated that the work for Panorama which Campbell Smith referred to... was work done for another media organisation."
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