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


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: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas