'Mr Cameron is keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process.'Following our previous correspondence, here's their latest letter and my further response.
[9 June 2014]
Dear Mr Hilley
Thank you for your further contact regarding the BBC News at Six broadcast 13 March on BBC One.
Firstly, please accept our sincere apologies for the delay in responding to your complaint.
We raised your concerns with the relevant editorial staff at the News at Six. They would like to reiterate our previous response and added that the very brief introduction to the report sought to be straightforward and made no judgement about the nature of the Prime Minister's thoughts on Middle East politics. He is on record as having said he is keen to help the peace process and it wouldn’t be practical or possible to question his intentions during such a brief intro.
Instead, we sought to summarise the reasons for his visit and reflected the PM’s push for the Israelis and Palestinians to sign up to a framework for a final settlement by the end of April – as originally initiated by John Kerry.
If you would like to take your complaint further, you can contact Stage 2 of the complaints process, the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit, within 20 working days, and they will carry out an independent investigation. You can email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org , or alternatively write to them at the following address:
Editorial Complaints Unit
201 Wood Lane
Should you choose to escalate your complaint we would ask that you include the reference number provided above in your correspondence.
Thank you again for taking the time to be in touch.
13 June 2014
Dear Patrick McManus
Thanks for writing back.
You say that the BBC:
"made no judgement about the nature of the Prime Minister's thoughts on Middle East politics."That's clearly false. The judgement involved the BBC stating Cameron's supposed motives as a given fact, rather than reporting it as a proclaimed view. That loaded judgement clearly underpins all such BBC presentations.
"He is on record as having said he is keen to help the peace process and it wouldn’t be practical or possible to question his intentions during such a brief intro."
Why not? Why on such a crucial issue is the BBC prepared just to assume Cameron's 'noble intentions' and 'good motives'? Just because he's on record as having stated something doesn't mean the BBC have to accept it without qualification. The excuse that it 'wouldn’t be practical or possible' to question his intentions is risible. Whether or not there had been a time constraints 'problem', where was the simple, essential insert 'Cameron says' or 'Cameron claims'?
"Instead, we sought to summarise the reasons for his visit and reflected the PM’s push for the Israelis and Palestinians to sign up to a framework for a final settlement by the end of April – as originally initiated by John Kerry.
No, you summarised, without qualification, your own assumed reasons for his visit, and reflected, again without questioning, the supposedly 'benign purpose' of that visit - just as you invoke Kerry's role here as somehow neutral, rather than noting that America, like Britain, is a strong supporter of Israel.
Overall, the words you continue to use in assuming Cameron's 'fair and neutral' intentions only reinforces the substance of my initial complaint.
I will now pass this on to the Editorial Complaints Unit for further investigation.
Editorial Complaints Unit
Following another unsatisfactory response to my complaint of 13 March 2014, I'd like the ECU to consider the matter further.
To reiterate my intial complaint:
On tonight's 6 O'Clock News newsreader Sophie Raworth ended her piece on David Cameron's visit to Israel and the West Bank with the following statement: 'Mr Cameron is keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process.'
1. What is the BBC's precise evidence for this claim?
2. Shouldn't this comment more precisely read: 'Mr Cameron says/claims he is keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process'?
3. Why does the BBC so readily accept that there is an actual 'peace process' to 'rekindle'?
4. Have the BBC breached their guidelines on 'impartiality' by speaking for Mr Cameron?
5. Have the BBC breached their guidelines on 'balance' by failing to provide a counter-view to that expressed by the BBC/Mr Cameron?
Please can you answer these questions specifically. Previous correspondence can be viewed here: http://johnhilley.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/david-camerons-benign-part-in-middle.html
I look forward to your deliberations.
Further update. Response from Editorial Complaints Unit:
16 June 2014
Dear Mr Hilley
Thank you for your email of 13 June regarding an item on the BBC News at Six broadcast on 13 March 2014. I’m sorry you’re dissatisfied with the BBC’s response to your complaint. We’ll now begin an investigation into the concerns you have raised, which will include a review of the correspondence so far, a discussion with the programme-makers and any other enquiries that might be appropriate.
As you may know, the remit of the Editorial Complaints Unit is to investigate cases where there may have been a serious breach of the standards expressed in the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines (http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines/). In summary, I have understood you to say it was inaccurate to say "Mr Cameron is keen to rekindle the Middle East peace process" and stating this as a fact rather than attributing it to Mr Cameron was evidence of a lack of due impartiality. I will consider each of your five points in the course of my investigation.
I will aim to let you know the outcome of our investigation by 14 July. I should explain that when we have completed our investigation we will send you our provisional conclusions. If you disagree with our finding, you will have ten working days in which to let us have your comments, and we will only finalise our conclusions once those comments have been taken into account.