16 Jun 2011

BBC’s Primark apology over ‘fake’ child labour footage

The BBC is to make an on-screen apology to clothing chain Primark after a June 2008 edition of Panorama showed footage of child labour that was “more likely than not” faked.

BBC to apologise to Primark over

A report by the BBC Trust into an edition of Panorama entitled Primark: On The Rack, shown in June 2008, found it was “more likely than not” that the broadcast included footage that was “not genuine”.

The programme included undercover footage of three boys in a workshop in Bangalore, India, apparently testing Primark brown vest tops to ensure sequins on the tops would not fall off.

The trust investigated the scene following a complaint by Primark that it was not genuine, and found several discrepancies and inconsistencies.

The apology willl be broadcast on BBC One before or after an edition of Panorama at a date yet to be decided. It will also be shown on the Panorama website for one week.

Chairman of the BBC Trust’s editorial standards committee Alison Hastings 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.

The trust would like to apologise on behalf of the BBC to Primark and to the audience at home for this rare lapse in quality. Alison Hastings, BBC Trust

“The trust would like to apologise on behalf of the BBC to Primark and to the audience at home for this rare lapse in quality.”

In a statement on its website, Primark commented: “Millions of people have been deceived by Panorama. Viewers who watched the programme, shoppers who were then fed the lie, sourcing experts who believed the lie, teachers and pupils who viewed the programme in lessons, have all been badly let down.”

The statement continued: “It is now for others to decide what steps should be taken at the BBC. But Primark hopes that no other individual or company is again subjected to such deception and ill-treatment.”

Last December the BBC had to apologise when someone posing as a Liberal Democrat MP was interviewed on its World at One news programme on Radio 4.

In 2007 the corporation issued an apology to the Queen for mistakenly showing footage that incorrectly implied she had walked out of a portrait session during a documentary.