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Undercover journalist. BBC sinks to new low.

(33 Posts)
j08 Sun 14-Apr-13 12:52:33

story here

Surely this could have endangered the students themselves, and the standing of the LAW.

j08 Sun 14-Apr-13 12:53:45

Should read LSE. Kindle thinks it knows best again.

Bags Sun 14-Apr-13 13:04:34

It is a troubling story, certainly, though I see the person in charge of the undercover arrangements says the students were fully informed of the risks beforehand. Hmm. I suspect that the college fears it will lose its tenuous links with N Korea because of the BBc's underhandedness.

Galen Sun 14-Apr-13 13:12:33

Rather dubious goings on?

nanaej Sun 14-Apr-13 13:14:01

I bet we will never know it all !

Sounds intriguing.. the project was 'approved at the highest level' it just said on the Radio. But are we too precious? These students are over 18s and in the past such age groups were often recruited by secret services etc. If they did know what was happening (sounds like they did know what was happening) they had a choice to go or stay having been warned that they could be detained if the journalist and film crew were discovered. Acceptable risk??? That is for each to judge. Did it hapen before or after current N Korean tension..if before students probably thought it was OK..I guess now they might make a different decision!

sunseeker Sun 14-Apr-13 13:19:43

I have just heard on the radio that the BBC did a "risk assessment". The Students Union have said the students were not fully informed before they actually went into N. Korea

Bags Sun 14-Apr-13 13:21:14

Good points, ej.

Wonder if we'll ever get to see the results of these students' research?

POGS Sun 14-Apr-13 14:08:04

I am no fan of the BBC, I think some of you may have noticed that. smile

I am not using this to soap box I genuinely think the BBC have overstepped a line on this one. I think the LSE students have expressed the fact the entourage concerned were 'recruited' by the wife of the BBC journalist in the frame, John Sweeney, whilst she was a student at the LSE, I believe last year. They are adament they did not know there was to be a party of 3 BBC staff. They thought initially it was just them and the one journalist.

I am concerned having watched his performance on t.v. today to hear him say that he obviously had to lie to the North Koreans to get into the country. I think he 'did' use the students to get what he wanted and like a lot of jouralists didn't care who could have suffered for the sake of his own ends.

At the end of the day the students were put in danger by Sweeney and the BBC. It has done untold damage to the relationship between the LSE and N Korea. His arrogance now to say something on the lines of the Panorama show should go ahead 'For the Greater Good' is typical of the BBC and it's belief it is somehow a superior power for good.

Maybe there is more to come out on this matter but it has signalled a warning shot to the BBC it is in danger of further distrust by the public over how it handles it's affairs. That might be a good thing.

POGS Sun 14-Apr-13 14:13:23


Why won't the BBC say who ordered the go ahead for this debarcle. Is it a name that has been in the frame before. I don't know but I am interested to see.

The spokesman on the BBC News said. 'We thought the most 'likely' outcome, had they been caught, was deportation' What kind of idiot organisation feels that is acceptable. Absolutely no concept that lives could have been at risk. angry

To make matters worse they say they are dissapointed the LSE have raised this issue.

absent Sun 14-Apr-13 14:21:39

I think the water on this is very muddy and I shall wait for more information before drawing a conclusion.

Bags Sun 14-Apr-13 18:07:35

The Telegraph view by Tim Stanley who says what I was vaguely thinking, that the research benefits of remaining on good terms with N Korea are not obvious!

annodomini Sun 14-Apr-13 18:37:25

Typical knee-jerk reaction to immediately blame the BBC without having actually seen the programme.

Bags Sun 14-Apr-13 19:09:12

I think LSE are asking that the programme is not shown. That's why the whole thing takes on a mysterious aspect because the first thing one thinks is Why not?

POGS Sun 14-Apr-13 19:35:06

It's not about the showing of the programme though is it!!.

It's about the underhanded way the LSE students were used. It's about the fact the students have reportedly said they have been lied to.

It's about the possible loss of trust for the BBC in N Korea in the future. It's about the fact the students could have been arrested.

It's about the BBC and it's attitude. It's about a lot more things.

FlicketyB Sun 14-Apr-13 22:16:45

Loss of trust for the BBC in North Korea? As far as I know North Korea sees the BBC as an organ of the enemy anyway.

Having, in my student days, been involved in organising international tours, including, at the height of the Cold War, a tour for a group of visiting Russian 'students'. I am very conscious of how peoples memories can be very feeble when dealing with what they knew/didn't know, agreed/didn't agree before the event.

I suspect that the LSE is looking after its own interests and students who agreed to everything before hand in a state of high excitement are getting cold feet after the event in case it means they have blackened their copybooks with the LSE authorities.

POGS Sun 14-Apr-13 22:34:29


Can I respectfully ask if you have watched the interviews toady with John Sweeney and the BBC representative.?

glassortwo Sun 14-Apr-13 22:36:47

I think there is more to this than meets the eye.

j08 Sun 14-Apr-13 22:40:00

D'you know something we don't Glass?!!! shock

nanaej Sun 14-Apr-13 23:04:44

I understand they were told about Sweeny before they left UK and met the 2 film crew in China en route. They were offered opportunity to drop out and told what the 'risks' were in UK and again in China. They were adults.

If the BBC underplayed the risks or were economical with the truth that is an issue. If the LSE knew more info and did not communicate with students that is an issue. We can speculate but these situations are often 'he said' 'she said' accusations and counter accusation as all parties try to take the moral high ground.

j08 Sun 14-Apr-13 23:11:38

You would have thought the BBC would have squared it with the LSE beforehand though. Not just with the students.

POGS Sun 14-Apr-13 23:14:47

I am beginning to wonder who actually watched the two interviews I have spoken of.

They were very direct in their questioning and the answers given were ,IMHO, unable to deflect the accusations levelled at the BBC.

I agree absolutely that there will be more to come on the story and it will be interesting to follow.

j08 Mon 15-Apr-13 08:18:16

I think we already know quite enough about N Korea anyway. They have nuclear capabilities and an unstable leader.

I would not have wanted my kids in that group.

j08 Mon 15-Apr-13 08:26:22

Perhaps they want to show the British people how awful the regime is to the people in case it comes to military measures being taken against N Korea. Sort of "softening up".

sunseeker Mon 15-Apr-13 09:47:28

On local radio this morning there was the comment that questions should also be asked as to the appropriateness of sending students to a country which had told governments that it could not guarantee the safety of their ambassadors.

I think the BBC should come clean as to who made the decision to send a group of journalists with the students and exactly what the students were told and the LSE should reconsider sending students to countries where there are threats of war.

absent Mon 15-Apr-13 09:54:09

sunseeker I think the trip took place before the North Korean government made that announcement about the safety of diplomats but am not sure.

These are LSE students who, presumably, had a political interest in North Korea or they would not be going on a trip there in the first place. I would have thought that they would already have had some sort of grasp of the political implications of travelling with an undercover BBC journalist. They are not school kids. I am, therefore, a little puzzled about some of the apparent innocence and some of the things that have been said. I think a proper explanation may be required to the students and perhaps the LSE. I'm not sure that it's anybody else's business.