#AceNewsReport – Sept.13: Documents show British American Tobacco (BAT) was involved in negotiations to pay between $300,000 and $500,000 to Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party in 2013: The documents also reveal BAT was paying bribes in South Africa and using illegal surveillance to damage rivals.
#AceDailyNews says that according to BBC News British American Tobacco (BAT) negotiated bribe for Mugabe, new evidence suggests: BAT says it is committed to the highest standards of corporate conduct: President Mugabe’s 37-year rule was secured through elections marred by allegations of fraud and violence ….Watch BBC Panorama: Dirty Secrets of the Cigarette Business on BBC One on Monday at 19:30 BST
He was ousted in 2017 and died in 2019. The ruling party Zanu PF is now under new leadership.
In a joint investigation with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the University of Bath, Panorama obtained thousands of leaked documents: They show how BAT funded a network of almost 200 secret informants in southern Africa.
Most of this work was outsourced to a South African private security company called Forensic Security Services (FSS) FSS was officially tasked with fighting the black-market cigarette trade, however former employees have told the BBC that they broke the law to sabotage BAT’s rivals: The Zimbabwe connection internal documents show in one operation, FSS staff were instructed to close down three cigarette factories run by BAT’s competitors in Zimbabwe: FSS paid a local firm to conduct surveillance on a Savanna Tobacco factory in 2012, but the company got caught.
Three of its directors were charged in connection with illegal surveillance: The arrests prompted the then president, Robert Mugabe, to make a speech condemning the men’s actions and BAT’s suspected involvement. However, Panorama has found that behind the scenes, contractors working on behalf of BAT were talking to Zimbabwean officials.
The man who was sent in to negotiate a deal, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Panorama he bribed a number of government officials to secure a meeting to discuss the men’s case: He said: “I had to make it clear that they’re going to expect a nice thick envelope of notes.”What is British American Tobacco?British American Tobacco is one of the world’s largest tobacco companiesIt is one of the UK’s ten biggest companies
It owns major cigarette brands including Lucky Strike, Camel and Pall Mall Last year, it sold close to 650 billion cigarettes: Documents seen by the BBC confirm that the man was provided with the equivalent of US$12,000 in local currency. They also suggest the money for the bribes was provided by BAT.An internal memo outlines the deal that was proposed.
The Zimbabwean official said that with the upcoming presidential elections, a donation to Mugabe’s party – Zanu PF – would help.
The memo said: “With this donation, they could then go back to the President” to try to get the problem sorted out.”The amount of the donation would have to be in the region of between USD300,000 to USD500,000 to Zanu PF,” it said. The documents do not show whether the bribe was in the end paid, but Panorama has spoken to three sources who have confirmed that BAT was aware of the terms of the deal on offer.Within days of the deal being offered, all three directors were free.
BAT declined to answer Panorama’s questions about the Zimbabwe payments, but it did not deny paying a bribe to Robert Mugabe.It is against UK law for a British company to pay bribes, no matter where the payment takes place.
The wider network FSS worked for BAT in southern Africa between 2000 and 2016: Evidence strongly suggests they bribed customs officials and police officers, and that BAT secured access to information from the police camera network, which was used to spy on its rivals. FSS tapped the phones of BAT’s competitors, placed tracking devices on their delivery vehicles and bribed staff to hand over information.
Documents show senior staff from BAT’s London HQ personally recruited and paid some of the informants working at competitors’ factories. BAT staff would also load cash onto currency cards in London and the informants could then withdraw the money anonymously in South Africa.
It is a payment system sometimes used by organised crime groups to evade detection. British American Tobacco: I was a spy for cigarette giant, says whistleblower.
BAT’s lawyers said the allegations are not new and that it was not unlawful to pay sources to gather information about criminal behaviour: They said the company rejects the allegation that any steps were taken with the aim of impacting the lawful activities of legitimate competitors or for commercial advantage.BAT said: “We emphatically reject the mischaracterisation of our conduct… Our efforts in combating illicit trade have been aimed at helping law enforcement agencies in the fight against the criminal trade in tobacco products. “Acting responsibly and with integrity underpins the foundations of our culture.”Ninety per cent of South African-grown tobacco is bought by BAT………This is not the first time BAT has been accused of bribery. In 2015, Panorama found the company had secretly paid politicians and civil servants in countries in east Africa to undermine anti-smoking measures. The revelations prompted a five-year investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO). Earlier this year, it concluded there was not enough evidence for prosecution. BAT says it fully cooperated with the SFO’s investigation, which included allegations relating to South Africa and which resulted in no action being taken.
#AceNewsReport – June.17: Lord Hall was head of news at the time of the princess’s explosive interview, and his subsequent investigation concluded that Bashir was an “honest and an honourable man”.
LONDON: Ex-BBC boss Tony Hall: Wrong not to sack Bashir after Diana interview saying I trusted a journalist… and that trust was abused and misplaced” and the time, he investigated Bashir’s faking of bank documents over questions about whether the reporter had used them to secure the scoop: The MPs’ hearing came a day after the BBC published a separate report into how and why Bashir was rehired in 2016 before being promoted to religion editor two years later.
He told a committee of MPs: “We trusted him and we clearly shouldn’t have.” Committee chairman Julian Knight said there had been “a failure of morality”.
Bashir’s interview with Princess Diana on Panorama in 1995 was watched by 22.8 million people
He told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee on Tuesday that he knew he had been lied to on multiple occasions by Bashir when he conducted the internal investigation in 1996.
He said Bashir had ended up “contrite and in tears” when he “quizzed him really, really hard” about the matter at the time.
“He appeared to us that he was contrite, inexperienced and out of his depth and that is why in the end rather than sacking him, and I can see the reasons for that, he was given a second chance.”
Bashir admitted to his bosses that the statements had been mocked up, but repeatedly denied showing them to Diana’s brother Earl Spencer.
He had done, and Earl Spencer has said Bashir was trying to “groom” him in order to get to his sister. It was Bashir’s first breach of the BBC’s guidelines, Lord Hall explained.
‘Bashir took us all in’
“Do you say, that’s it, farewell, you’re sacked? Or do you say, all right, you’re remorseful, you understand it, we’ll give you a second chance? And that’s what we did, and we did it having talked to him 25 years ago.
“Now, in the light of what I now know about Bashir, was that the wrong judgement? Well, yes it was. But we trusted him, and we clearly shouldn’t have done.”
He said he wasn’t “trying to conceal anything”, and added: “We were lied to, and our trust was misplaced and, bluntly, Bashir took us all in, from the director general down to the programme editor.”
BBCDiana’s BBC interview
–Broadcast on BBC One on 20 November 1995, the interview was watched by more than 20m people
–At the time Princess Diana had been separated from Prince Charles for three years and they divorced the following year
– She famously told Bashir there were “three of us” in the marriage, referring to Camilla Parker Bowles
But Mr Knight criticised the decision to blacklist Matt Wiessler, the graphic designer who mocked up the documents and tried to raise the alarm, but not sack Bashir.
“It wasn’t just a failure of management, it was a failure of morality,” the committee chairman said.
Lord Hall said: “I regret the language that we used about Mr Wiessler and I think we could have managed it better.”
Mr Knight also said it was “utterly extraordinary” that the BBC would re-hire a “known liar” as religious affairs correspondent in 2016, when Lord Hall was director general.
“We didn’t know 25 years ago the scale of what Martin Bashir had done to gain access to the Princess of Wales, through Earl Spencer,” Lord Hall said. “If we knew then what we know now, of course he wouldn’t have been re-hired.”
A recent report by former judge Lord Dyson criticised Bashir’s “deceitful” actions and Lord Hall’s “woefully ineffective” investigation.Princess Diana was failed not just by Martin Bashir but by leaders at the BBC, says Prince William
Lord Hall also he was “sorry for the hurt caused” to the Royal Family by the scandal.
After the Dyson Report was published, Prince William, Diana’s son, said she was “failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions”.
Current director general Tim Davie described the prince’s comments as “a very low moment” for the BBC, and revealed he had since held private meetings with the royal household.
‘A serial liar’
The committee also quizzed John Birt, who was director general at the time of the interview.
Lord Birt called Bashir “a serial liar on an industrial scale” and “a very skilled confidence trickster”. His actions were “one of the biggest crimes in the history of broadcasting”, he added.
Steve Brine MP suggested to him that the interview “sparked a train of events” that ended with Diana’s death in a car crash two years later.
Lord Birt replied: “It is a tragic occurrence, it is an absolute horror story, and it should never have happened.
“And it is a complete embarrassment that it did happen. My heart goes out to the sons of Princess Diana, but none of us can truly speculate and understand what the consequences were.”
But Lord Birt refused to apologise to Mr Wiessler, saying he didn’t “understand enough of what happened”.
Lord Hall cut a very pained and anguished figure today: Coming under a sustained ad hominem attack from John Nicolson MP, he said he hoped this scandal wouldn’t colour his 35 years of public service, at the BBC and beyond.The sad truth for him is that endings have disproportionate weight in human psychology. The likelihood is that Lord Hall – an effective and popular Director-General – will indeed have his legacy not just coloured but stained by this episode.His tactic – one Rupert Murdoch honed at a select committee a decade ago – of stating his regret and apologising at the outset set the tone for what followed. He repeatedly argued that his failure was an excess of trust. He trusted Bashir, a liar.
He trusted those who re-hired him, his senior leaders in BBC News: Had the late Steve Hewlett, the Panorama editor at the time of the Diana interview, been alive today, the heat on Hall would have been shared round. Instead, he was solitary, apologising repeatedly even while saying – as Lord Dyson did – that Princess Diana was likely to have given an interview at the time, even if not to Bashir.Bashir’s interview – in which Diana discussed her unhappy marriage to Prince Charles, their affairs and her bulimia – was described as “the scoop of the century” by one MP and was watched by 22.8 million people.Last month’s Dyson Report described Bashir as “unreliable”, “devious” and “dishonest”. The BBC admitted the report showed “clear failings” in its own processes:
Tim Davie said Martin Bashir would not have been rehired if they had had full knowledge around events of the Princess Diana interviewLord Hall told the select committee he didn’t know Bashir had been re-hired until the appointment had been made.Mr Davie said an employee would be fired today for forging documents. “If you’re faking documents, that’s not a matter for debate,” he said.He was challenged on why, in that case, Bashir was re-hired in 2016 despite it being known that he had faked documents in the past.”With the glory of hindsight, and with what I know now based on having personally commissioned Lord Dyson to go at this – that hiring would never have been made, there’s no doubt about that,” said Mr Davie, who took over as director general in 2020.Bashir had also been embroiled in controversies while working in the US, including one that led to him resigning from MSNBC in 2013.
Mr Davie said those who reappointed him to the BBC in 2016 “were aware of some of the controversies of the time”, but that “overall they did not see them as substantive enough to block a rehiring”.Bashir has said mocking up the documents “was a stupid thing to do” and he regretted it, but that they had had no bearing on Diana’s decision to be interviewed.
#AceNewsReport – May.22: The corporation said the report showed “clear failings”, admitting it should have made more effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time:
Martin Bashir: Inquiry criticises BBC over ‘deceitful’ Diana interview and he acted in a “deceitful” way and faked documents to obtain the interview, the inquiry said: And the BBC’s own internal probe in 1996 into what happened was “woefully ineffective”, it added.
12 hours ago
By Francesca Gillett BBC News
The BBC and Bashir have both apologised, and the BBC has written to Princes William and Harry.
As well as Diana’s sons, the BBC has also written apologies to Prince Charles and Diana’s brother Earl Spencer. It is also returning all awards the interview received, including a TV Bafta won in 1996.
Bashir said mocking up the documents “was a stupid thing to do” and he regretted it, but said they had had no bearing on Diana’s decision to be interviewed.Earl Spencer recalls introducing his sister to Martin Bashir in September 1995
Newspaper headlines: Princes’ ‘rage and sadness’ at BBC ‘lies’ to Diana
3 hours ago
By BBC News Staff
Lord Dyson – the retired judge who led the inquiry – found:
Bashir seriously breached BBC rules by mocking up fake bank statements to gain access to the princess
He showed the fake documents to Earl Spencer, to gain his trust so he would introduce Bashir to Diana
By gaining access to Diana in this way, Bashir was able to persuade her to agree to give the interview
And as media interest in the interview increased, the BBC covered up what it had learnt about how Bashir secured the interview. Lord Dyson said this “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark”
A 1995 letter from Princess Diana – published as evidence – said she had “no regrets” concerning the matter
Princess Diana’s interview with Bashir for Panorama was a huge scoop for the BBC – in it, the princess famously said: “There were three of us in this marriage.”
It was the first time a serving royal had spoken so openly about life in the Royal Family – viewers saw her speak about her unhappy marriage to Prince Charles, their affairs, and her bulimia.
But since then Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, has questioned Bashir’s tactics to get the interview.
The independent inquiry was commissioned by the BBC last year, after Earl Spencer went public with the allegations. Its findings were publishedon Thursday.
The earl told BBC Panorama: “Well, the irony is that I met Martin Bashir on the 31st of August 1995 – because exactly two years later she died, and I do draw a line between the two events.”
He said it was “quite clear” from when he introduced Bashir to Diana in September 1995 that “everyone was going to be made untrustworthy, and I think that Diana did lose trust in really key people”.
Patrick Jephson – Diana’s former private secretary – said the interview “destroyed remaining links with Buckingham Palace”.
He said after the interview, Diana lost “the royal support structure that had guided and safeguarded her for so many years” which “inevitably made her vulnerable to people who didn’t have her best interests at heart, or were unable properly to look after her”.
Lord Dyson found that Bashir deceived Earl Spencer by showing him forged bank statements that falsely suggested individuals – including Mr Jephson – were being paid for keeping the princess under surveillance.
The inquiry said Bashir had later lied, telling BBC managers he had not shown the fake documents to anyone.
And it described significant parts of Bashir’s account of the events of 1995 as “incredible, unreliable, and in some cases dishonest”.
The Dyson Report shows a catalogue of moral, professional and editorial failures at the BBC in the 1990s, which occur on three main levels.
First, the interview of the century was obtained by deception. Martin Bashir has admitted to forging bank statements. This report says he lied repeatedly to several people, including at the BBC.
Second, the investigation led by future director general Tony Hall was “woefully ineffective”. Bashir was believed far too readily. Earl Spencer was not interviewed. Crucially, Dyson rejects the grounds given for this failure by Hall and his team.
Finally, Dyson uses a phrase which he knows to be explosive. There was a “covering up”. The origin of the cover up is not clear. But no matter: the BBC conspired, on vast scale, to deceive the public it is funded by and serves.
This report will not just injure the BBC, but scar it. And it should be granted that though it shows the historic failures of BBC journalists, it also shows the power and merit of journalism.
It is thanks to determined reporters, not least at the Daily Mail group and the Sunday Times, that we today have the first full account of the real story behind the most remarkable – and arguably consequential – interview in television history.
In a statement, Bashir apologised for mocking up the documents, but said he remained “immensely proud” of the interview.
He said: “The bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview.
“Evidence handed to the inquiry in her own handwriting unequivocally confirms this, and other compelling evidence presented to Lord Dyson reinforces it.”
For the first time, Diana’s note that she wrote after the interview was broadcast has been published as part of the inquiry.
In it, she wrote: “Martin Bashir did not show me any documents, nor give me any information that I was not previously aware of.”
Dyson InvestigationLord Dyson said the note had been found in November 2020 and given to BBC officials
As well as Bashir, the report also criticises the BBC over how it handled the claims about Bashir’s tactics.
In 1996, the BBC carried out its own investigation which cleared Bashir, Panorama and BBC News of wrongdoing.
Lord Dyson said that investigation – led by then-director of news, and future director general, Lord Hall – was “woefully ineffective”.
And as scrutiny from the press increased, the BBC gave “evasive” answers to journalists’ questions, he said.
When the BBC was asked about the bank statements by journalists in March 1996, senior BBC officials – including Lord Hall – already knew Bashir had lied three times about not having shown them to Earl Spencer, the report said.
But the BBC press office told journalists that Bashir was “an honest and honourable man”.
Lord Dyson said he was “satisfied that the BBC covered up in its press logs such facts as it had been able to establish about how Bashir secured the interview”.
He said the BBC “fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark”.
In a statement, Lord Hall said he was wrong to give Bashir the “benefit of the doubt” at the time.
He added: “Throughout my 35-year career at the BBC, I have always acted in ways I believe were fair, impartial and with the public interest front and centre.
“While Lord Dyson does not criticise my integrity, I am sorry that our investigation failed to meet the standards that were required.”The BBC’s director general Tim Davie accepts the organisation’s “multiple serious failures”
The BBC’s current director general, Tim Davie, said: “Although the report states that Diana, Princess of Wales, was keen on the idea of an interview with the BBC, it is clear that the process for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect. We are very sorry for this. Lord Dyson has identified clear failings.
“While today’s BBC has significantly better processes and procedures, those that existed at the time should have prevented the interview being secured in this way.
“The BBC should have made greater effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time and been more transparent about what it knew.
“While the BBC cannot turn back the clock after a quarter of a century, we can make a full and unconditional apology. The BBC offers that today.”
BBC News understands that in a letter sent by Mr Davie to Prince Charles, Mr Davie apologised for Bashir’s “lurid and untrue claims” about the prince, members of his staff and other members of the royal family.
The letter said the BBC accepts that Mr Bashir made the claims “intending to play on the princess’s fears, in order to arouse her interest in him, and without concern for the impact on those he maligned”.
The chairman of the corporation, Richard Sharp, said the BBC “unreservedly accepted” the report’s findings that there were “unacceptable failures”.
“We take no comfort from the fact that these are historic,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lord Birt – who was BBC director general at the time of the interview – said thanks to the inquiry, “we now know that the BBC harboured a rogue reporter on Panorama”.
He said it was a “shocking blot on the BBC’s enduring commitment to honest journalism” and it was a matter of “the greatest regret” that it had taken 25 years for the truth to emerge.
Princess Diana: What is the Martin Bashir interview row all about?
2 minutes ago
The BBC has made an “unconditional apology” over the way it got an interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, more than 20 years ago.
An independent inquiry by Lord Dyson, a former senior judge, found journalist Martin Bashir used deception to secure the interview and then lied to BBC managers.
Who was Princess Diana?
Princess Diana was the mother of Prince William and Prince Harry.
She married the Prince of Wales, the heir to the throne, in London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, in 1981.
But the couple separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996.
How did Princess Diana die?
The princess died in 1997, after the car she was in crashed in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel, in Paris.
Her companion, Dodi Al Fayed, with whom she had been holidaying, and their chauffeur, Henri Paul, died when the car crashed.
Mr Al Fayed’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, survived.
Analysis indicated Paul had 175 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, compared with the limit, under French law, of 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres. This equates to his having drunk more than a bottle of wine.
As he tried to speed away from photographers following the car, he lost control and smashed into a concrete pillar.
The interview, broadcast in late 1995, was a huge scoop for the BBC – never before had a serving royal spoken in such candid terms about life in the Royal Family or relationships with other royals.
In the interview, Princess Diana:
admitted having an affair
said Prince Charles’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles (now his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall) had made her feel worthless
spoke of there being “three of us” in the marriage
said she had had bulimia and self-harmed
suggested Prince Charles might not be able to adapt to being king
said Prince Charles’s staff were waging a campaign against her
More than 20 million people watched the interview and it caused huge controversy.
Shortly afterwards, the Queen wrote to Prince Charles and Princess Diana telling them to divorce.
Who is Martin Bashir?
There was a fair amount of surprise when it was revealed Mr Bashir, a relatively junior BBC reporter with no known royal background or contacts, had the interview. But the revelations overshadowed questions over how he had achieved it.
Getty ImagesMartin Bashir interviewed Princess Diana for Panorama in 1995
A few years later, he went to work for ITV’s Tonight With Trevor McDonald programme and then various US television networks.
He returned to the UK in 2016 and was reemployed by the BBC, as religion editor, a post he resigned from because of ill health in mid-May.
What does the report say about Martin Bashir’s actions?
The report says Mr Bashir used deception to secure the interview.
He showed Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, forged bank statements appearing to show payments by a newspaper group to a former member of his staff.
The report says this was to gain Earl Spencer’s confidence so he would introduce Mr Bashir to Diana.
Mr Bashir has admitted having the bank statements mocked up by a graphic artist working for the BBC.
However, when questioned by BBC bosses, he repeatedly denied showing these documents to Earl Spencer.
The report says Mr Bashir “lied and maintained the lie until he realised that it was no longer sustainable. This was most reprehensible behaviour which casts considerable doubt on his credibility generally”.
Getty ImagesCharles and Diana married in 1981
What does the report say about the BBC?
The BBC comes in for strong criticism in the report.
After the forged bank statements were revealed by the Mail on Sunday newspaper, in early 1996, an internal BBC inquiry cleared Mr Bashir, Panorama and BBC News of wrongdoing.
The director of news who conducted the inquiry was Tony Hall, now Lord Hall, who later became the BBC director general.
However, the Dyson Report says this inquiry was inadequate because it failed to interview Earl Spencer – something it calls “a big mistake”.
It says it did not treat Mr Bashir’s account with “necessary scepticism and caution”, given that he admitted faking bank statements (itself a serious breach of BBC rules) and could give “no credible reason” why.
The report also says the BBC covered up facts about how Mr Bashir secured the interview.
It criticises the corporation for giving evasive responses to press inquiries, and says “without justification, the BBC fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark”.
How has the BBC responded to the report?
The BBC says the report identified “clear failings” and that while it now has better procedures in place, “those that existed at the time should have prevented the interview being secured in this way.
“The BBC should have made greater effort to get to the bottom of what happened at the time and been more transparent about what it knew.”
Martin Bashir has apologised for the fake bank statements – which he said were “a stupid thing to do” – but said they had had no bearing on Princess Diana’s decision to grant him an interview.
In a statement Lord Hall has admitted he was wrong to give Martin Bashir the “benefit of the doubt” at the time.
What has the Royal Family said?
Princes William and Harry have spoke of the hurt caused by the interview.
Lord Grade – who was BBC chairman between 2004 and 2006 – said the BBC’s “cover-up” had been worse than Bashir’s behaviour.
“It’s taken 25 years to get the truth. It raises the question in your mind, how many more cover-ups are there in the files of BBC journalism that we haven’t been told about?”
Former BBC governor Sir Richard Eyre said the board of governors would have insisted on a full inquiry if they had known about Bashir’s actions.
“The fact that Bashir lied should have been made clear to us, but in my memory, it never was,” he said. “We can see now that the false bank statements were the lever that opened the doors to the access to Diana.”
#AceNewsReport – May.03: Based on that report, Raab announced on Saturday that the World Service would receive £8 million in extra funding to “tackle harmful disinformation, challenge inaccurate reporting around the world and improve digital engagement.” The fresh funding comes on top of the £378 million the service has received from the FCDO since 2016:
LONDON: BBC gets government funding for global crusade against ‘fake news’ which is broadcast in more than 40 languages to 350 million listeners per week, the BBC World Service brings news and debate from London to the furthest reaches of the globe.
Funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the British taxpayer, and some limited advertising, the service gives the British government worldwide messaging power via a news organization Raab described on Saturday as “unbiased and impartial.” As
Behind the veneer of impartiality, the World Service is viewed by the British government as a tool. This year’s ‘Integrated Review’, a document that lays out London’s foreign policy and defense priorities, identified the World Service as an instrument of “soft power” for Britain – one of a range of tools to be used against “systemic competitors like Russia and China.”
Raab accused “some states” of producing “harmful content” and “fake news around the coronavirus pandemic,” including content “encouraging scepticism around vaccines.” Promoting vaccines has been a key goal of the British government for several months now, to the point where military intelligence units and Government Communications Headquarters spies have reportedly been deployed to wage “information warfare” against anti-vaxx internet posts.
The messaging war around the coronavirus is the only clear example cited by Raab, and his announcement speaks of a broader war against “global disinformation,”“inaccurate reporting,” and “states and criminal gangs”who “twist the news to exploit others.” These terms are not backed up with examples, and are contentious in their own right. “Fake news,” for instance, was a term made famous during Donald Trump’s presidency, and was used by both Trump and the press to describe each other’s messaging.
FCDO Counter Disinformation & Media Development chief Andy Pryce, explained the government’s mission in no uncertain terms at a 2018 meeting, during which he said its ultimate goal was to “weaken the Russian state’s influence” via the co-option of journalists and media organizations.
The BBC isn’t the only “impartial” news service involved in the FCDO’s influence campaign. The Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF) also volunteered its services, establishing news outlets in “countries of interest”to the FCDO. A cited example of this activity is Aswat Masriya, an “independent” media outlet in Egypt, created by TRF in the wake of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
Given the history of partnership between the BBC and the FCDO, the latest investment is likely aimed more at ensuring the British government’s version of the truth wins out against foreign powers than it is in fighting falsehood and disinformation:
#AceNewsReport – Apr.03: Foreign correspondents were “being driven out of China as a result of continuous harassment and obstruction to their work”, it said:
China ‘driving out journalists’, EU says after BBC’s Sudworth leaves after he says he faced “intensifying attempts to obstruct and harass us wherever we film” EU urged China to abide by its international legal obligations to ensure freedom of speech and press.
9 minutes ago:
Sudworth left following pressure and threats from the Chinese authorities.
The BBC’s China correspondent, who won awards for his reporting on the treatment of the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang region, left the Chinese capital together with his family, including his wife, RTÉ reporter Yvonne Murray.
China, which has denounced the BBC’s coverage of Xinjiang, said it was unaware of any threat to Sudworth other than possible legal action to challenge his reporting on the region.
But he and his family were followed by plainclothes police to the airport and tailed through check-in.
The BBC says it is proud of his reporting and Sudworth, who was based in the country for nine years, remains its China correspondent.
The irony is, of course, that at the same time that the space for foreign journalism is shrinking in China, the Communist Party has been investing heavily in its media strategy overseas, taking full advantage of the easy access to a free and open media.
State-media propagandists publish and post their content overseas without restriction, while at home, China ruthlessly shuts down independent reporting, censors foreign broadcasts and websites, and blocks foreign journalists from its own social media networks.
In this context, my departure can be seen as one small part of an emerging and highly asymmetric battle for the control of ideas. It is not a happy prospect for the free flow of good, accurate information.
A spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said at least 18 correspondents had been expelled from China last year.
“The EU has repeatedly expressed its concerns to the Chinese authorities at the undue working restrictions imposed on foreign journalists and reported related harassment,” the spokesperson added.John Sudworth (above) and his team were followed and had their footage deleted on a trip to Xinjiang in late 2020
“Professionalism and objectivity of foreign correspondents is increasingly put into question.”
They said the EU stood up “for the role of independent and reliable media all around the world” and called upon China to “abide by its obligations under national and international law and ensure the freedom of speech and press”.
The number of international media organisations reporting from China is shrinking. Last year China expelled correspondents for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, among others.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said the authorities had not been given prior notice of Sudworth’s departure.
“Only in recent days when we were faced with the task of renewing Sudworth’s press card did we learn that Sudworth left without saying goodbye,” Hua Chunying told a news conference in Beijing. “After he left the country, he didn’t by any means inform the relevant departments nor provide any reason why.”
In its statement, the BBC said: “John’s reporting has exposed truths the Chinese authorities did not want the world to know.”
Sudworth’s reporting colleagues are still in Beijing, and he says he intends to continue his reporting from Taiwan.
#AceBreakingNews – June.08: Reports of US plans to deploy missiles in Europe hardly promote the balance of interests on the continent and mutual trust, President Vladimir Putin’s press spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“Certain actions aimed at escalating tensions, of course, will not be in anyone’s interests,” Peskov said. “For sure, this issue itself hardly promotes mutual trust and the balance of interests on the European continent.”He added: “On the other hand, we do not have any concrete information.”
The statement was made after British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the UK would consider hosting US nuclear missiles amid escalating tensions between Russia and the West.
#AceNewsReport – Britain:June.01: The BBC is under investigation by broadcast media regulator Ofcom for airing a news bulletin featuring a child saying he would vote UKIP “to get all the foreigners out.
Reuters / Toby Melville
The primary school child’s comment was aired on a BBC East Midlands Today news slot on April 15 and was available to watch online.
The bulletin showed Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt visiting a school in the region. When he asked a 10-year-old boy which party he would have voted for to win last month’s election he received an “unexpected” reply.
“Err… UKIP,” the young boy replied. When Hunt asked him why, the boy said “to get all of the foreigners out.”
Ofcom is examining whether the BBC paid “due care and attention” to the child’s welfare, as he was easily identifiable in the broadcast.
Hostile reaction to his remarks “could have been foreseen,” the regulator claimed.
In a statement, an Ofcom spokesman said they have “opened an investigation into a news item on BBC1 East Midlands to establish whether due care was taken of the welfare of a child who appeared in the program.”
Section 1.28 of the broadcasting code says due care “must be taken over the physical and emotional welfare and the dignity of people under 18 who take part or are otherwise involved in programs.”
Section 1.29 says people under 18 “must not be caused unnecessary distress or anxiety by their involvement in programs or by the broadcast of those programs.”
During the run up to the general election, the divorced wife of an ex-UKIP candidate claimed their child had an egg thrown at his face while openly campaigning for the party.
She said young children “shouldn’t know what they are talking about because none of them at that age should know anything to do with politics.”
One Twitter user said it is “wrong to push politics on children.”
The report originated when Ivshina and her cameraman went in search of the field outside the town of Torez, where the US government claims an SA-11 BUK surface to air missile was launched at the Boeing 777 on July 17.
Source: BBC Russia News – RT – BBC News – Russia Insider
#AceWorldNews – JORDAN (Amman) – September 07 – The Muslim cleric Abu Qatada has criticized the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) jihadists for the beheading of two US journalists, saying that the killings contradict Islamic teaching.
Abu Qatada is awaiting the verdict of an Amman court in Jordan for his role in an alleged terrorist plan to blow up American, Israeli and other Western tourists during the 2000-millennium celebrations.
He allegedly told reporters waiting outside the court that journalists are “messengers of truth” and that killing them is against religious teachings, according to the BBC.
He was speaking to the media from the dock of a court in Amman, Jordan, during a hearing in a terrorism trial.
The case against Abu Qatada, who was deported from the UK last year after a long legal battle with the government, was adjourned until 24 September.
He is on trial in Jordan over his alleged involvement in a thwarted plot aimed at the millennium celebrations in the country in 2000.
The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is something every household in the UK has to pay for, works out £5 a week, it’s for BRITAIN. Then we find out the advert at the very bottom of this article was in-fact filmed in the studio above, the BBC. Now for a Corporation that has to stay un-bias toward the UK why I ask did they allow an anti-independence video to be shot in their studios. Scotland has went mad over this and rightly so. Many are saying they will refuse to pay this licence fee any longer and I will be one of them. It is only £5 a week but the principle of it all will make me and many others stop paying. The Governments mouth piece the BBC has no damn right allowing this to happen. I ask all my Scottish Brothers and Sisters to reject the BBC for what it has done here.
BBC Scotland was last night embroiled in a major row over its impartiality amid concerns it flouted its own editorial and commercial guidelines by allowing a Better Together cinema advertisement to be filmed at its headquarters using the corporation’s in-house crew.
The Scotsman can reveal that the advert – shown on screens nationwide as part of the pro-Union group’s campaign ahead of the independence referendum – was produced at a studio in the BBC’s Pacific Quay base in Glasgow normally used for quiz shows. The filming, described by Better Together as a “commercial arrangement” between a sub-contracted production company and the BBC, appears to fall foul of a number of the broadcaster’s internal guidelines. The rules warn of damage to the corporation’s standing if it is seen to be associated with “inappropriate” third parties such as political parties and lobbying organisations. Any commercial activity with such groups that could “potentially undermine the BBC’s editorial integrity” must be referred, in advance, to its editorial policy department, the guidelines add.
BBC Scotland last night insisted there has been “no breach” of its guidelines, stating that political parties are allowed to use the corporation’s facilities on a “commercial basis.” But veteran former BBC broadcasterDerek Bateman warned management at Pacific Quay were operating in a “grey zone” and said the public perception of the advert’s production would be that “the BBC is working hand in glove with Better Together”. He said: “The BBC seem unable to define what’s appropriate behaviour and what isn’t.” The Scotsman has learned that Rob Shorthouse, director of communications at Better Together, was among those present in the BBC Scotland studio when the minute-long advertisement was being made. It was filmed at the beginning of April in Pacific Quay’s studio B, used to film popular BBC network programmes such as The Weakest Link and Eggheads. The high-profile advert featured testimonies from five young Better Together supporters.
Under the BBC’s fair trading guidelines – designed to ensure the corporation’s commercial activities do not impinge on its wider reputation and values – there are explicit procedures set out for dealing with politically affiliated bodies. Guideline 4.64 warns that “the value and reputation of the BBC brand may be damaged if any part of the BBC is seen to be associated with inappropriate third parties”. Guideline 4.65 adds: “Any activity involving a third party that could potentially undermine the BBC’s editorial integrity must be referred, in advance, to the editorial policy department. Examples of such organisations include: political parties, government departments and foreign governments; lobbying organisations…” The process of creating the advert saw Better Together hire BD Network, a Glasgow-founded creative agency with offices in Shoreditch and Melbourne. BD Network then sub-contracted the job to Early, a production firm co-founded by Martyn Smith, a former executive producer at BBC Entertainment, who recruited participants and booked the Pacific Quay studio. The corporation declined to reveal how much it received, citing commercial sensitivities, but it is understood the hire fees amounted to between £5,000 to £7,000.
The ad spot proved divisive when it was screened across scores of cinemas last month. Amid growing unease over similar adverts from Yes Scotland, major cinema chains including Odeon, Cineworld and Vue took a collective decision to ban all referendum advertising from their venues. Mr Shorthouse told The Scotsman that Better Together became aware the BBC Scotland was being used for the advert “pretty early” in the project’s development, adding: “I decided that I wanted it made in Scotland, not London – so I knew pretty early on in the process that the only option was the studios at the BBC.” Asked if Better Together had misgivings about using the state-funded broadcaster’s facilities for the advert, he said: “No. This was a commercial arrangement between a production company and the BBC.” Mr Bateman, the former BBC Scotland broadcaster, said: “The BBC helps parties make party political broadcasts at election times which is legitimate, but in a case like this, as with the CBI row, they’re walking a pretty tightrope. Anybody reading about it in the heat of the referendum debate will think the BBC is working hand in glove with Better Together. What on earth do they think the public are going to think about it?”
SNP MP Pete Wishart said: “I really do hope that the BBC pay clear attention to its own particular guidelines when it comes to this kind of production and that they are able to justify absolutely that they have not breached any of their guidelines. “I am aware that Pacific Quay, as part of value for money arrangements, makes itself available to outside organisations and they have to always be careful about how this kind of arrangement looks to the public.” Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland and a former head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland, said: “It is incumbent on all public service broadcasters – of which the BBC is one – to remain impartial in all matters relating to the referendum, the most important constitutional vote in Scotland in hundreds of years.”
Asked if the film was referred to and cleared by the BBC’s editorial policy department, a Pacific Quay spokesman said BBC Scotland “knew what the production was for and editorial policy were aware of it”. He went on: “There has been no breach of editorial guidelines as BBC facilities are made available to organisations and businesses who want to use them, including political parties, on a commercial basis. “During the 2012 local election campaign, the SNP produced a party election broadcast in our Dumbarton studios. Again, that was hired out in accordance with our fair trading policy and there was no editorial association with the BBC in the broadcast.”
A spokeswoman for the BBC Trust said: “We note BBC Scotland’s statement that there has been no breach of the BBC’s editorial guidelines and correct policy was followed. The trust has no plans to investigate this.”
They follow months of allegations from politicians and soldiers who told The Associated Press that some senior officers were helping the Islamic extremists and that some rank-and-file soldiers even fight alongside the insurgents and then return to army camps. They have said that information provided by army officers has helped insurgents in ambushing military convoys and in attacks on army barracks and outposts in their north-eastern stronghold.
Leadership newspaper quoted one officer saying that four other officers, in addition to the 15, were found guilty of “being disloyal and for working for the members of the sect.”
Defence Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, who last week denied reports saying senior officers were being investigated, reiterated in a statement on Tuesday that defense headquarters “wishes to state once again categorically that there is no truth whatsoever in the report.”
He called it a “falsehood” concocted by those who “appear hell-bent on misleading Nigerians and the international community to give credence to the negative impression they are so keen to propagate about the Nigerian military.”
Nigeria‘s military often denies substantiated reports, such as on extrajudicial killings of civilians and detainees.
It is accused of such gross human rights violations that the U.S. efforts to help in the rescue of nearly 300 abducted schoolgirls have been limited by U.S. law restricting sharing of some types of information and technology with abusive security forces.
The alleged sabotage by senior officers could explain the military’s failure to curb a 5-year-old Islamic uprising by Boko Haram that has killed thousands despite a year-long state of emergency in the north-east.
Additional news (BBC) June 04 – Boko Haram militants have killed dozens of people in fresh attacks on villages in Borno state in northern Nigeria, the BBC has learnt.
In one attack, gunmen reportedly fired on a crowd in a church compound.
#AceWorldNews – EGYPT – March 29 – Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s announcement that he has resigned as defence minister to run for the presidency was broadcast live by Egyptian broadcast media. This is what he said:
“In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Proud and honourable people of Egypt, today I stand before you in my military uniform for the last time after I decided to end my service as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the minister of defence and military production.
I have spent my entire career as a soldier of this homeland serving its hopes and aspirations and in this way I shall continue.
This is a very significant moment for me. The first time I wore military uniform was in 1970 as a 15-year-old cadet at the Air Force High School, almost 45 years ago. And I take pride in wearing this uniform to defend my country. Today, I am taking off this uniform to defend this homeland as well.
These recent years of our nation’s history have shown conclusively that nobody could become president of this country against the will of the people or short of their support. Never can anyone force Egyptians to vote for a president they do not want. This is a fact.
Therefore, I am here and, in all humility, I come before you to announce my intention to run for president of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Only your support will grant me this great honour.
I stand directly before you to speak to you from my heart, as usual. I want to say to you that I am answering the demand of a wide range of Egyptians who have called on me to run for president, to attain this honour.
I consider myself to be what I have always been – a soldier who is charged with serving the homeland.
And I will always remain in the service of this country in any post desired by Egyptians.
Read More – BBC – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-26764201
#AceWorldNews – EGYPT – March 29 – Brutal beatings, sexual abuse, and electric shocks are being carried out on detainees, including teenage children, in Egypt, according to testimonies gathered by the BBC.
As many 20,000 people are estimated to have been held since last July in a sweeping clampdown on dissent.
A growing number are now emerging from police stations and prisons with serious allegations of torture.
The claims are denied by the military-backed interim government.
For 15-year old Ahmed Abdel Fattah, the trouble began on 24 January, when his fondness for his mobile phone cost him his freedom.
He was using the phone to film an Islamist protest near his home in Sharqiya Province, north of Cairo.
“I was curious,” he said. “Why shouldn’t I film something that I see every night on TV?”
When some local thugs tried to steal the phone he refused to hand it over, so they handed him over to the police.
The softly-spoken and neatly dressed teenager says that was the start of 34 days of torture at a local police station.
“They electrocuted me in sensitive places like my spine, here and here on my arms, and in sensitive areas like between my legs,” he said, gesturing to the areas.
“And when they electrocuted me I used to fall down on the ground, and I could not stand up. At the same time they were beating me. And sometimes they would throw water to increase the voltage.”
Ahmed said he got special attention from the police – in spite of his youth – because he was suspected of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Courtesy of BBC – Read More including Videos of interviews – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-26790381
#AceWorldNews – WASHINGTON – March 26 – Officials in Washington confirmed Tuesday evening that searchers had recovered an additional 8 bodies following a massive mudslide three days ago, reported the AP.
The total number of deaths so far currently stands at 16, as authorities continue to comb through the debris field of the 49 structures devastated by the landslide in a rural area 55 miles north of the city of Seattle.
So far search teams continue to operate off a list of 176 individuals who remained unaccounted for, though some of these may be duplicates.
Another 8 bodies were believed located at the scene, which would bring the death toll to 24 once confirmed.
Reports from the BBC News has stated “We haven’t lost hope that there’s a possibility that we could find somebody alive,” local fire chief Travis Hots told reporters on Tuesday night.
“We are coming to the realisation that that may not be a possibility – but we are going full steam ahead.
“We are going at this hard to get everybody that’s out there that’s missing”
The sudden, catastrophic mudslide on Saturday destroyed about 30 houses, temporarily damming a river and leaving a square-mile field of muck and debris in its wake.
Survivors were last pulled alive from the mud on Saturday.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-26743714
Ace Related News – March 23 – 11.57 GMT – http://wp.me/p165ui-4uy
#AceWorldNews – AFGHANISTAN – March 25 – Afghan insurgents have attacked the headquarters of the electoral commission in Kabul, the BBC reported, citing police.
Initial reports said the home of candidate Ashraf Ghani was attacked – http://wp.me/p165ui-4wB
However, police now say the militants targeted the election HQ. Insurgents gained access to the main compound, police said.
No casualties were reported. Deputy Interior Minister Gen. Mohammad Ayub Salangi told TOLO News that the IEC Kabul office attack was over and all 30 people trapped rescued.
Ace Related News – Earlier Reports – March 25 – 10.01 GMT – Extract – Reuters – #AceWorldNews – AFGHANISTAN – March 25 – An explosion and gunfire rattled the house of Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday, Reuters reported. http://wp.me/p165ui-4wB
#AceWorldNews – PRETORIA – South Africa – Police photographs of the blood-spattered scene where Oscar Pistorius shot dead his girlfriend indicate that evidence was moved around in violation of procedure during the investigation of the killing, the athlete’s chief defence lawyer said Tuesday.
Warrant officer Bennie van Staden, a police photographer, took hundreds of photos of the scene, including of blood stains, bullet casings, a gun and a cricket bat found inside Pistorius’ bathroom in the hours after the double-amputee Olympic runner shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp before dawn on Feb. 14 last year.
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AFP – AP – Reuters – BBC – CNN – ABC
#AceUKNews The combined fortunes of Britain’s five richest families are worth more than the poorest 20 percent of the population, says an Oxfam report.
The organization has appealed to the government to take action over the UK’s widening wealth gap.
In a report published on Monday entitled “A Tale of Two Britain’s,” the charity revealed the scope of the UK’s wealth divide. It calculated that Britain’s five richest families have a fortune of £28.2 billion ($46.9 billion), more than the £28.1 billion ($46.7 billion) of the poorest 20 percent of the UK population.
The study also said that over the past two decades the richest 0.1 percent of the population has seen its wealth grow almost four times faster than the 90 percent of population who are considered well-off.
In real terms in means the rich have seen their income rise by £24,000 ($40,000) every year.
The authors of the study said the new figures were “deeply worrying” and indicative of an “economic failure” on the part of the UK government.
“Britain is becoming a deeply divided nation, with a wealthy elite who are seeing their incomes spiral up, while millions of families are struggling to make ends meet,” said Bill Phillips, Oxfams director of campaigns and policy in a statement.
Phillips said the current system had led to a “vicious circle” where the rules are constantly being re-written in favour of the super wealthy.
Topping the list of Britain’s richest is the Duke of Westminster, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor who has a fortune of £7.9 billion ($13 billion), according to Forbes.
The Duke owns thousands of acres of real estate, including 190 acres in Belgravia, an area adjacent to Buckingham Palace and one of London’s most expensive neighbourhoods.
Second on the list are real estate moguls David and Simon Reuben, with a combined wealth of $11.5 billion.
The Hinduja brothers Srichand and Gopichand come in third place with a fortune of $10 billion.
Bringing up the rear with respective fortunes of $6.9 billion and $5.5 billion, are Charles the 8th Earl of Cadogan,
Then finally reclusive billionaire Michael Ashley.
#AceWorldNews A Paris court has sentenced Pascal Simbikangwa, a former army captain and intelligence officer, to 25 years in jail for genocide and crimes against humanity in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide where up to 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus died.
Simbikangwa was arrested in 2008 on the French island of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean.
Throughout the six-week trial he maintained that he was the victim of a “witch-hunt” originating from the now ruling Tutsis, and insisted he had never seen any of the bodies that littered the towns and roads of Rwanda at the time.