LONDON — Rupert Murdoch-backed Sky News has launched an internal probe into allegations that journalists faked a story about a Tomahawk missile launch from a Royal Navy submarine during the war in Iraq.
The allegations come from a BBC2 crew that was filming on the same sub and will be shown Sunday on the channel’s “Fighting the War” series.
Sky News topper Nick Pollard suspended reporter James Forlong and producer Lucy Chaytor on Wednesday.
“This allegation has come as a complete surprise and will be fully investigated,” he said. “We are fiercely proud of our reputation for accuracy and integrity in our reporting.”
The BBC crew alleges that a Sky report led viewers to believe that HMS Splendid was engaged in action although it was docked at an undisclosed Ministry of Defense facility and was merely demonstrating the preparations for launching a missile.
The report was pool copy that was transmitted on satcaster Sky and also on commercial web ITV.
Neil Grant, series producer on “Fighting the War,” told Daily Variety that he felt Sky’s viewers had certainly been misled into believing that the footage they saw March 31 and April 2 was authentic.
Grant drew attention to the glaring inaccuracies in the reputed legitimate firing sequence depicted by Sky News.
Sky News showed a red “FIRE” button in its firing sequence. But HMS Splendid uses a computer to fire missiles.
“When an audience assumes legitimacy and subsequently discovers that it is untrue, it undermines editorial trust,” he said.