Jonathan Cook Blog
Robert Stuart, a tenacious blogger, has been picking away at a scab the BBC would rather leave firmly in place.
His forensic research concerns an edition of the BBC's flagship investigative current affairs show Panorama called Saving Syria's Children. It was broadcast more than three years ago, as many in the media were trying to push the British government into intervening in Syria with bombing raids against the Syrian government - in a move that would effectively have bolstered ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria.
The Panorama programme was one important piece of evidence advanced for such intervention. The footage it included was broadcast in several different formats, and purported to show the victims of a chemical weapon, or possibly incendiary, attack by the Syrian military on a school. The BBC reporter for Panorama was Ian Pannell.
From the outset, there were concerns about the authenticity of the footage, as I noted in a piece on my own blog in October 2013.
But Stuart's sustained research and questioning of the BBC, and the state broadcaster's increasing evasions, have given rise to ever greater concerns about the footage. It looks suspiciously like one scene in particular, of people with horrific burns, was staged.
Rather than confront these concerns and dispel them, the BBC and Pannell have tried a mixture of going to ground, stonewalling and misdirection. That has included trying to remove the footage from social media sites where it had been available.
Even by the BBC's current dismal standards, its behaviour has been, on the best view, outrageously arrogant. Remember that the BBC is a publicly funded broadcaster. And yet the corporation appears to think it is not even minimally accountable to the British taxpayers who fund it.
In a fascinating new development, a leading freelance TV and radio producer Victor Lewis Smith - and one with a rare conscience and backbone - has intervened after viewing the footage.
He raised troubling questions with the BBC about the Panorama programme and threatened to tear up his contract for a forthcoming radio comedy pilot unless the corporation provided satisfactory answers.