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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 July, 2003, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Shipman TV complaints rejected
James Bolam as Harold Shipman
James Bolam played Shipman in the drama
A TV watchdog has dismissed complaints made about ITV1's drama-documentary about serial killer Harold Shipman.

The three daughters of one of Shipman's victims, Winifred Mellor, said in a submission to the Broadcasting Standards Commission that the programme, Shipman, had been factually inaccurate.

Kathleen Adamski, Susan Duggan and Sheila Mellor also said the programme, broadcast 12 months ago, had been misleading in the way it portrayed them.

Shipman, a family doctor in Hyde, Greater Manchester, was found guilty of murder in 2000 after he killed 15 of his women patients. A public inquiry later found he was responsible for the deaths of more than 200 patients during his career in Hyde and Todmorden, West Yorkshire.


Among the relatives' complaints, they said the drama had shown Shipman telling them a post-mortem on Ms Harris would not be necessary, when in reality he had not, and also that the drama omitted to show them challenging Shipman over the circumstances of their mother's death - which did happen.

Harold Shipman
Harold Shipman was jailed in 2000
Granada, whose subsidiary Yorkshire Television made the programme, said some changes had been made to real-life events in the drama to make it easier to understand for viewers.

Kathleen Adamski had also complained that the programme made it look as if she was "cashing in" on her mother's death.

But Granada said neither she nor her family had responded to requests to discuss the programme before it went out, and only a legal representative of theirs had attended a pre-transmission screening.

The screening had been held to make sure no inaccuracies made it into the final version, said the broadcaster.

The family also said their privacy had been intruded upon by the programme's screening, especially as it was shortly before the public inquiry report into the killings was released.

'Dramatic licence'

But the Commission rejected the complaints. While it noted Granada had admitted to the inaccuracies, it also said the company "went to considerable lengths to ensure the family had the opportunity to view the programme in advance" and to request any amendments.

"The dramatic licence in taken in the scenes in question did not act to the detriment of the family, which was sympathetically presented," the adjudication says.

It also said the family's privacy had not been unfairly infringed, as the story was already in the public domain and would be in the spotlight again when the inquiry report was released.

The commission is in charge of taste and decency matters on all TV and radio networks. The government plans to make it part of its new Ofcom body by the end of the year.

ITV defies Shipman drama protest
09 Jul 02  |  TV and Radio
Shipman draws 7.3m viewers
10 Jul 02  |  TV and Radio
Nurse sobs over 'trusting' Shipman
22 May 03  |  Manchester
Shipman to appeal
12 May 03  |  Manchester


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