BBC says sorry to Heroes over misleading report

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THE BBC has apologised for a report on current affairs programme Newsnight which mistakenly accused charity Help for Heroes of misspending cash.

A report by the BBC’s editorial complaints unit said there was no evidence to suggest any shortcomings.

The BBC conceded the coverage was “misleading” and “unfair” to the charity which helps military personnel.

BBC2’s Newsnight had already been under fire for dropping a report into Jimmy Savile’s years of sex crimes.

This was compounded by the mistaken suggestion that Lord McAlpine had been linked to a sex abuse probe. That slur led to legal action and the BBC paid out £185,000 in damages to the peer.

The broadcast about Help for Heroes, screened on August 9, involved the independent Bureau of Investigative Journalism, based at City University in London, which was also behind the Lord McAlpine report.

The BBC has admitted that editing of the report into the charity misrepresented the views of two contributors, including Diane Dernie, the mother of wounded paratrooper Ben Parkinson, from Doncaster.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Help for Heroes estimated that it lost more than £100,000 in donations as a result of the bad publicity.

Charity co-founder Bryn Parry added: “We are grateful the BBC has admitted it got the story completely wrong and has finally apologised.

“We are pleased the BBC has taken this matter seriously, and issued what we believe to be one of their biggest apologies in the last four years.”

He said the Newsnight report came as a “complete shock to us, but an even bigger shock to the men and women we’re helping to recover.”