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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Syrian refugee 'Nora' with her two month-old daughter. She was one of the first Syrians to come to the UK when the Government agreed to resettle 100 people from the country  

Open letter to David Cameron on Syrian refugees: 'Several hundred people' isn't good enough

Independent Voices
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Could Ukip turncoat Amjad Bashir be the Churchill of his day?

Matthew Norman
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project