BBC 'must apologise' over Primark documentary
Published: 16th Jun 2011 14:56:28
The BBC must say sorry to Primark over a scene in a Panorama documentary showing boys in a Bangalore clothing workshop, the BBC Trust says.
The trust said it was "more likely than not" that a scene, which showed the boys "testing the stitching" on Primark clothes, was "not genuine".
It also apologised to Primark and the audience for a "rare lapse in quality".
The trust stressed that programme makers had found evidence that child labour was being used.
Primark fired three Indian suppliers after a six-month Panorama investigation found they had sub-contracted smaller firms which had used children to finish goods.
Primark: Behind the Label, shown on BBC One on 23 June 2008, included undercover footage of three boys in a Bangalore workshop "testing" Primark brown vest tops to make sure that sequins would not fall off.
The trust, investigating a complaint by the clothing firm that the scene was not genuine, examined original tapes and witness evidence.
Discrepancies included the use of large needles on intricate stitching, and the fact that there were no other Primark tops other than the three being worked on by the boys, the trust said its report.
While it's important to recognise that the programme did find evidence elsewhere that Primark was contravening its own ethical guidelines, there were still serious failings in the making of the programme”
It also found inconsistencies in evidence, including emails from a journalist in India to the UK production team.
Alison Hastings, chair of the trust's editorial standards committee, said the BBC's investigative journalism was "rightly held in very high regard" adding, "for more than 50 years Panorama has made a very significant contribution to that".
But the programme failed to meet the required "highest standards of accuracy", she said.
"While it's important to recognise that the programme did find evidence elsewhere that Primark was contravening its own ethical guidelines, there were still serious failings in the making of the programme," she added.
Primark welcomed the ruling saying the BBC's governing body had "confirmed that this footage was fabricated and the programme should never have been broadcast".
When the documentary was originally broadcast, Primark said information provided by the BBC had enabled the firm "to identify that illegal sub-contracting had been taking place and to take action accordingly".
It said the garments in question accounted for 0.04% of its worldwide sourcing.
An earlier investigation by the BBC's editorial complaints unit cleared Panorama of faking the footage but criticised Panorama for "inaccuracies in the scene".
But it said other evidence in the programme that Primark had broken its own ethical guidelines had been "fully authenticated".
Primark prohibits the use of child labour in its code of practice for suppliers.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2011. BBC 'must apologise' over Primark documentary. [Online] (Updated 16 Jun 2011)
Available at: http://www.manchesterwired.co.uk/news.php/162709-BBC-must-apologise-over-Primark-documentary [Accessed 18th May 2013]
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