Jeremy Corbyn's team send a complaint to the BBC over its 'hatchet job' Panorama programme

His camp claims the BBC lied about the programme's purpose and content and says the documentary contained factual inaccuracies, The Independent can reveal

Matt Dathan
Friday 11 September 2015 22:21 BST
Jeremy Corbyn, being interviewed by John Ware in his Panorama programme on the Labour leadership candidate
Jeremy Corbyn, being interviewed by John Ware in his Panorama programme on the Labour leadership candidate

Jeremy Corbyn’s team has sent a complaint to the BBC over its Panorama feature on the Labour leadership front-runner, The Independent has learnt.

His camp claims the BBC lied to them about the purpose and content of the programme and has also complained about factual inaccuracies contained in the documentary.

It is demanding an apology from the broadcaster over its handling of the programme, which was given the title Jeremy Corbyn: Labour’s Earthquake and shown on BBC One last Monday.

A source in Mr Corbyn’s campaign accused the BBC of conducting "a complete hatchet job" on Mr Corbyn.

Panorama producers apparently told them they were filming for a documentary about the Labour leadership campaign as a whole, including all four candidates, but instead the programme turned out to be all about the one candidate, as the title of the show suggests, and only included a few brief clips of his three rivals.

His campaign team said they have sent a copy of Mr Corbyn’s diary to prove he did not attend a conference in Cairo that advocated attacks on British and American troops, as was stated by the programme's presenter, John Ware.

The diary proves he attended events in his Islington constituency, his campaign claims. However the BBC said they had yet to receive a copy of it.

The programme investigated the rise of Mr Corbyn and showed clips from a number of his rallies over the summer. It also included a number of warnings from high profile Blairite figures warning that a Corbyn victory could reignite the divisions of Labour's past and bring back the "thuggery and intimidation" of the militant left.

It attracted hundreds of complaints from viewers who claimed it was biased against Mr Corbyn and who accused the BBC of trying to persuade undecided voters not to vote for him, less than three days before the deadline for voting closed.

The dispute threatens to damage what is promising to be a good relationship between Mr Corbyn and the BBC, which faces the prospect of deep-rooted reforms by the Conservative government and a battle to maintain its ability to charge a £145 a-year licence fee, its main source of revenue.

Mr Corbyn has pledged to “put Labour at the forefront of the campaign to defend the BBC” if he wins the Labour leadership on Saturday.

One Corbyn supporter and disgruntled viewer of the Panorama episode took to Twitter to publish details of how to lodge a complaint against the BBC about the programme, sparking a surge in objections.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We began looking at the leadership election as a whole, but as Jeremy Corbyn became the front runner our programme naturally focused in on that.

"This sort of editorial decision making is normal. Corbyn’s team gave Panorama behind the scenes access to his campaign and his views were reflected throughout, including through a lengthy interview.

"The programme also clearly reflected the growth of support for his campaign within the party, union members and activists.

“We approached Corbyn’s team before broadcast regarding the Cairo conference and they didn't offer any response or proof that he did not attend the conference.”

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