Prosecutor, cops allege it distorted views
U.K. pubcaster Channel 4 has been criticized by Blighty’s Crown Prosecution Service and the police for allegedly misrepresenting its subjects in its “Dispatches: Undercover Mosque” current affairs strand about Muslim extremism in Britain’s mosques.
Furor is the latest over TV editing: The BBC recently apologized to Queen Elizabeth II because a docu promo appeared to show her walking out on photographer Annie Leibovitz, and ITV falsely claimed that a docu on Alzheimer’s disease included footage of a patient’s dying moments.
The C4 documentary’s opening narration suggested undercover reporters employed by Hardcash Prods. had unearthed “an ideology of bigotry and intolerance spreading through Britain, with its roots in Saudi Arabia.”
The CPS viewed 56 hours of footage and cleared Channel 4 and three clerics of stirring up racial hatred in the docu, which aired in January, but CPS lawyer Bethan David said, “Splicing together extracts from longer speeches appears to have completely distorted what the speakers were saying.”
In the show, Muslim cleric Abu Usama is shown telling an audience, “Take that homosexual man and throw him off the mountain.” Another speaker is shown saying of girls, “By the age of 10, if she doesn’t wear hijab, we hit her.”
The West Midlands Police also complained to broadcasting regulator Ofcom, which has already begun its own inquiry after receiving 352 viewer complaints.
Defending the show, “Dispatches” commissioning editor Kevin Sutcliffe said, “We are very confident of successfully defending this unfairness complaint if Ofcom chooses to consider it.”
“Everything was properly contextualized,” Hardcash managing director David Henshaw told the Guardian paper. “It’s hard to understand what the proper context for some of those comments could be.”
However, police also are investigating “Dispatches: Britain Under Attack” on extremism that aired Monday in which a person with links to Al Qaeda was shown justifying last year’s July 7 London bombings.