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BBC to apologise for B'lore footage

The BBC Trust, the governing body of the BBC, has sought an apology from the makers of BBC Panorama documentary for using allegedly Bangalore-based footage that has turned out to be "fabricated" following complaints and an inquiry.

world Updated: Jun 17, 2011 02:45 IST

The BBC Trust, the governing body of the BBC, has sought an apology from the makers of BBC Panorama documentary for using allegedly Bangalore-based footage that has turned out to be "fabricated" following complaints and an inquiry.

The trust said that the BBC must say sorry to clothes major Primark over the scene broadcast in the Panorama documentary shown in June 2008, which alleged that child labour was being used to manufacture products for Primark.

The trust on Thursday said it was "more likely than not" that the scene, which showed three 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.

The documentary, Primark: Behind the Label, shown 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 Primark 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.

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. Primark prohibits the use of child labour in its code of practice for suppliers.