Entertainment & Arts

BBC to apologise for One Show report about Dale Farm

Alex Jones and Matt Baker
Image caption A studio discussion with presenters Alex Jones and Matt Baker was also ruled "unfair"

The BBC is to apologise to Basildon Council over a report which was broadcast on The One Show in February.

The local authority said the piece, about the travellers' site at Dale Farm, was "inaccurate, misleading and biased in favour of the travellers".

The BBC Trust has partially upheld the complaint saying it was "unfair" and failed to achieve "impartiality".

In a statement The One Show said it would "continue to strengthen its editorial procedures".

It added: "Moving forward, The One Show has reviewed and will continue to strengthen its editorial procedures to ensure accuracy, fairness and due impartiality on all the programme's output."

The BBC Trust also said the five-minute report was "duly accurate" and "had not knowingly and materially misled its audiences".

The report claimed Dale Farm was "legal, but had been developed without planning permission".

The council complained that it was an inaccurate statement and the Trust said the programme had "failed to clarify that the site had been developed on green belt land".

Studio discussion

During the report a traveller was interviewed, who claimed the local authority was "throwing us out on the road" with "nowhere to go".

The Trust ruled that the show had been "unfair" as the council had not been given a right to reply to the accusation.

A studio discussion after the report with presenters Matt Baker and Alex Jones, and the evening's guest Neil Morrissey, was also found to be "unfair".

When asked what he thought about the Dale Farm controversy, Morrissey said: "I wonder if they've got the land earmarked for development."

The Trust stated that the actor has been placed in a "very difficult position when he was asked to comment" and it had created an "overall impression" that was "unfair" to the council.

Basildon Council leader Tony Ball said: "We are satisfied with the findings.

"The site clearance of Dale Farm has always been about the protection of the green belt, but this was not accurately portrayed by the One Show report, nor the fact that we had made several offers of housing to traveller families.

"Since we made the complaint, these key facts have been more accurately broadcast, helping to aid the public understanding of what the whole issue was about."

Basildon Council has been locked in a 10-year battle with the residents of Dale Farm over the legality of 51 pitches, which the local authority said were built without planning permission.

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