Minister criticises BBC over asylum shows

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Indy Politics

Another row blew up between the Government and the BBC yesterday after a Home Office minister accused the corporation of "trivialising" asylum in a special day of programmes on the issue.

Beverley Hughes, the minister responsible for immigration, condemned one programme for turning the debate into a "game show" and attacked a Panorama report on the issue as "inaccurate and misleading".

The BBC defended its day of coverage, insisting that it explored the complex issue of asylum in a "serious, responsible and accessible way".

Ms Hughes said she had "serious concerns" about part of the BBC's asylum day special. She condemned the You the Judge programme, which showed examples of real-life asylum-seekers and gave viewers the chance to vote on whether they should be granted refugee status. She said: "Applying the immigration rules is about upholding public policy agreed by Parliament. Making decisions on asylum claims is not a game show ... This trivialises the real consequences of asylum decisions for real people, sometimes literally life and death."

A corporation spokesman said: "You The Judge is not a game show; there are no contestants and no prizes.

"The programme will explore this complex issue in serious, responsible and accessible way. We will be giving viewers the same information that was available to the immigration officers who dealt with these cases.

"Our aim is that viewers will gain a greater understanding of this important issue."

Ms Hughes also attacked last night's Panorama special, in which a reporter posed as an asylum seeker from Moldova and entered the black economy after arriving in Britain without papers.

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