Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Pan Am 103 families lodge objection to BAFTA over nomination for "actionable" STV documentary

[This is the headline over a news item published this afternoon on the website of Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm.  It reads in part:]

The UK relatives of families killed in the Pan Am 103 event have lodged an objection with BAFTA over its nomination in the current affairs category for the documentary "The Lockerbie Bomber- Sent Home to Die", claiming that the film's "facile acceptance of the theory that the Lockerbie bomb had been carried on an Air Malta flight (KM180) was actionable."

The film drew criticism from Dr Jim Swire and MSP Christine Grahame at the time of its broadcast amidst claims that its central thesis had already been challenged in civil court, resulting in an out of court settlement to Air Malta from Granada TV. Grahame issued a press statement at the time claiming the film was "deeply misleading."

This morning the UK families have written to BAFTA and challenged the investigative merit of the film, which they say "could not be regarded as investigative journalism", and have said "it will not look like an honourable move" for the programme to be given recognition by BAFTA.

"May I point out that this programme was based upon the official version of how the Lockerbie bombing came about and who was responsible, without any apparent attempt to question what we, as citizens, are expected to accept from 'the authorities'. As such, it seems that this programme could not be regarded as investigative journalism, which one would have expected from a documentary on such a subject," a letter to BAFTA sent this morning read. (...)

"Obstructed as we are by those in official positions who have a great deal to lose if the truth of this gross deception becomes public, we are involved in a search simply for the truth as to who murdered our loved ones, and why they were not prevented from doing so in the face of all the warnings extant back in 1988.

"Of course STV have every right to air whatever programmes they choose within the law, but to give your accolade to them for this programme would be detrimental to the interests of those who still need to know who really murdered their families, and why they were not prevented from doing so.

"In this search we have the support of human rights within the law, as well as, surely, the common humanity of ordinary people to support our right to these truths. When the truth comes out, as eventually it always does, it will not look like an honourable move to have given recognition to such a programme.

"BAFTA (Scotland) might give an evening of joy to STV, we have a lifetime to face without those we loved, and we intend to get to the real facts, to which we have every right." 

[This story has now -- Wednesday, 19th October --  been picked up by various newspapers.  The Herald's report can be read here and The Scotsman's here. The Firm reports STV's reaction to the controversy as follows:]

STV, who produced and broadcast the film "The Lockerbie Bomber: Sent Home to Die" also issued a brief statement in defence of the film, acknowledging that the documentary did not address any of the concerns that have been raised regarding the legitimacy of the conviction of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi since his trial concluded in 2001.

"We are confident that the recent STV documentary reported the facts of the case, as legally established in court,” the statement said.

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