Readers no doubt recall that last October the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit recommitted to BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality which state:
“We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”
Specifically regarding BBC News, the ECU stated:
“The production team have been reminded of the importance of clearly summarising the standpoint of any interviewee where it is relevant and not immediately clear from their position or the title of their organisation.”
In the video below – filmed in London in 2006 at a Hizb-ut-Tahrir rally– the speaker makes his “standpoint” very clear.
“We embrace the mercy. We embrace every single thing that is set upon us and we deal with it because we have no fear. So when we see the example of our brothers and sisters fighting in Chechnya, Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan then we know where the example lies. When we see Hezbollah defeating the armies of Israel, we know what the solution is and where the victory lies. We know that it is incumbent upon all of us to support the jihad of our brothers and sisters in these countries when they are facing the oppression of the west.”
The speaker is Asim Qureshi of the organization formerly known as ‘Cageprisoners‘ and recently revamped as ‘Cage’, which was founded by Moazzam Begg who currently awaits trial in the UK on terrorism charges.
“…Asim Qureshi, who’s research director of ‘Cage’ and that is a charity that campaigns for those detained on terrorism charges.”
Here is how Qureshi and his group were introduced by James Menendez on the BBC World Service programme ‘Newshour’:
“…Asim Qureshi who’s research director for the human rights group ‘Cage’ that has a particular focus on the war on terror.”
In both these interviews the subject under discussion was an initiative by the British police to prevent British Muslims from going to fight in Syria.
It was therefore obviously necessary for representatives of an organization which claims to be committed to “clearly summarising the standpoint of any interviewee where it is relevant”, to make it clear to audiences in the introductions that Mr Qureshi – in his own words – sees it as “incumbent…to support the jihad” of insurgents in Iraq or terrorists in Gaza, Lebanon or Kabul whom he regards as “an example”.
That, however, did not happen.