Richard Ingrams: Some things are too sensitive to be discussed openly

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

It takes a foolhardy person to criticise the saintly figure of Sir Bob Geldof, but this course was embarked on earlier this year by one Martin Plant, the BBC World Service's Africa editor.

In an Assignment programme it was claimed – wrongly – that money raised by Geldof's charity, Band Aid, had been diverted by rebel groups in Ethiopia to buy weapons.

A unique BBC apology – the first ever to be broadcast on all the corporation's various networks – apologised for making the suggestion as well as personally to Sir Bob for implying that he had declined to be interviewed about the allegation "because he thought the subject too sensitive to be discussed openly".

We do not know if Sir Bob was invited to comment this week on the BBC's humiliating climbdown, but if the aim was to stress the total integrity of the Band Aid project, it was a little unfortunate that the person from the charity who spoke on the matter was Michael Grade, who is one of its trustees.

Because it so happens that this is not the first time that Grade has encountered allegations of money being diverted into the wrong channels, as happened with ITV during his watch as chairman. Two years ago, readers may recall, ITV was fined £4m for accepting millions of pounds from the viewers of Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway when the results of the phone-in competition had already been decided.

It's the time of year for poppy hypocrisy

The controversy over whether Jon Snow ought or ought not to wear a poppy when appearing on Channel 4 News has become an annual event, rather like Bonfire Night or the end of British Summer Time. But it might be healthier if more people were offended by the sight, not of the poppyless Snow, but by the ranks of politicians on frontbenches of the House of Commons all of them sporting poppies on their dark suits. And it is not simply because they are doing it on the orders of their party's PR men. That may be offensive enough.

More pointful is the thought that if we are to mourn the deaths of servicemen over the past 10 years, or to raise money to help those who have lost limbs, or who may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders, then the politicians bear a heavy responsibility for what has happened to those men and women. Most of them voted for our involvement in Afghanistan, and they endorsed Tony Blair's 2003 invasion of Iraq, which even to this day is resulting in terrible atrocities such as the recent attack on Baghdad's Catholic church.

But how many of those frontbenchers would see a link between their disastrous decisions and the poppies they are pleased to flaunt as a sign of their public-spiritedness? The answer I fear is regrettably few.

All quiet on the Scientology front

While viewers may protest about Jon Snow's lack of a poppy, no one as far as I can tell has so far complained about the appearance on Channel 4's short 4thought slot – which comes on after the news – of a 16-year-old girl called Hannah Lycett.

Pretty and smartly dressed, Hannah told us she had been a Scientologist since the age of nine. In the course of a short address she held up a book, The Way to Happiness, allegedly written by the founder of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard, which she explained preaches the need for simple basic morals without which none of us can obtain the happiness we all desire. It is unlikely that this little girl is aware that the author of that book of morals was one of the 20th century's most successful conmen – a liar, a charlatan and latterly a madman who ended his life on the run from the FBI in 1986.

But you might expect that there would be someone at Channel 4 who would know better. You might also expect that there would have been some kind of protest and that questions would be asked about how a teenage girl came to be converted to Scientology at the age of nine and how she came to go on air to endorse Hubbard's sinister movement. Once again, I appear to be a feeble little voice crying in the wilderness.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron visiting a primary school last year  

The only choice in schools is between the one you want and the ones you don’t

Jane Merrick
Zoë Ball says having her two children was the best thing ever to happen to her  

Start a family – you’ll never have to go out again

John Mullin
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn