Ian Burrell: This is a blow to the prestige of 'Panorama'

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The Independent Online

When the BBC was last involved in a "fake footage" scandal, after doctoring shots of the Queen on a publicity show reel, the controller of BBC1, Peter Fincham, lost his job. This incident is more serious because the sequence was broadcast to the public and presented as evidence in an exposé of malfeasance.

It is particularly painful for the BBC because it damages the reputation of Panorama, which as BBC trustee Alison Hastings pointed out yesterday is more than 50 years old and "held in very high regard".

Since the 2004 Hutton report led to the resignation of the BBC chairman and chief executive, the Corporation's journalists have fought hard to do their jobs in the face of an enhanced compliance culture introduced by nervous management.

Ironically, the BBC coverage that led to Hutton has recently been vindicated by evidence given to the Chilcot inquiry on the war in Iraq.

Now the BBC's journalistic standards and processes have again been called into question.

Mistakes are inevitable in an organisation that produces so much news across multiple platforms and remains one of the few outlets for investigative journalism. But this finding casts doubt on the BBC's ability to hold itself to account. Its ramifications will be far-reaching.