Skip to comments.BBC Apologizes For 'Misleading' Paxman Editing
Posted on 02/05/2004 4:13:28 PM PST by blam
BBC apologises for 'misleading' Paxman editing
By Matt Born
The reputation of BBC news suffered another blow yesterday after the corporation said a Jeremy Paxman interview with a police chief had been "edited misleadingly", casting the guest in a bad light.
The BBC apologised to David Westwood, Chief Constable of Humberside, after he complained that the interview had been edited to make it look as though he stormed out under difficult questioning.
David Westwood: lasting damage
Mr Westwood welcomed the apology but said he had been the victim of a "serious injustice". "The damage done by Newsnight's manipulation of the original interview to create that which was broadcast was, in my view, calculated, serious and lasting," he said.
"The editing contrived to produce the impression I was being evasive and defensive and walked off the Newsnight set rather than answer difficult questions. That was quite untrue."
The apology was being seen yesterday as further evidence of the BBC losing its nerve following the Hutton inquiry. Radio 4 was accused this week of "editorial cowardice" after it edited a political satire that referred to Tony Blair as a liar.
Mr Westwood appeared on Newsnight in December following Ian Huntley's conviction for murdering Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. He was repeatedly questioned by Paxman about why his force had deleted crucial computer records about Huntley which would have prevented him getting the job as a caretaker at Soham school.
The pre-recorded interview ended abruptly when Mr Westwood removed his earpiece and walked out. Mr Westwood is understood to have complained to Greg Dyke, the then director-general.
Mr Dyke took personal control of investigating the matter - in stark contrast to the BBC's handling of Alastair Campbell's objections to Andrew Gilligan's weapons dossier story.
Yesterday, the corporation's programme complaints unit said Newsnight had been wrong to show Mr Westwood walking out of the interview without showing that he had answered the question the first time around.
The investigation found that Paxman asked the question a second time because he believed a technical fault had caused the first answer to be lost.
The BBC was at pains to point out yesterday that "there was no criticism of Jeremy Paxman in all of this". It added that the Newsnight editor had briefed his team on "the lessons to be learned".
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