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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 May, 2003, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
BBC defends Al-Jazeera programme
Staff Sergeant Simon Cullingworth and Sapper Luke Allsopp
The soldiers were members of a bomb disposal team
The BBC has defended its decision to broadcast footage of soldiers who died in the war in Iraq as part of a documentary about Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera.

Some of the soldiers' family members criticised the decision, saying it was "absolutely devastating for the families".

But a BBC spokesman said that although the corporation understood the families' concerns, it was going ahead with the programme.

Footage of the dead soldiers, Staff Sergeant Simon Cullingworth, 36, and Sapper Luke Allsopp, 24, will be featured in a Correspondent programme on 1 June.

Sympathetic

The programme explores the influence of Al-Jazeera and the differences in reporting between the Arab media and the West.

The BBC's cameras were there to reveal how the war was being covered from an Arab perspective

A BBC spokesman said the corporation had approached the families from the outset so they would understand what the programme was about.

"The BBC is sympathetic to the feelings of everyone who lost loved ones in the war and we do understand the distress they are going through," he said.

The broadcast date was changed when the BBC found out that it coincided with the funerals of some of the soldiers killed in the war.

Wounded Al-Jazeera journalist
Al-Jazeera journalists help a wounded colleague
But the spokesman said it would be impossible to do a programme on Al-Jazeera without showing some of this footage.

"We have kept it to a minimum - literally a couple of seconds - and there are no close ups and those featured are heavily disguised," he said.

But Alison Cullingworth, the wife of Simon Cullingworth, criticised the decision in The Sun on Saturday.

Went missing

She told the mass-circulation newspaper: "As a mother of young sons, I'm very upset and annoyed the BBC should show the film of Simon and Luke at this time of great sadness for my family."

The two soldiers, who both came from Essex, were members of a bomb disposal unit of the 33 (EOD) Engineer Regiment.

They went missing on 23 March after an attack near Al Zubayr, although the exact circumstances of their deaths are not yet known.

Lieutenant Colonel Tony Troulan, the soldiers' commanding officer, said: "All I would say to the people at the BBC is that, if it was your husband's body lying in the dirt, being bayed over by an unruly mob, would you want that footage shown."

Al-Jazeera attracted widespread criticism during the war in Iraq from Britain and the US after showing footage of dead soldiers and prisoners of war.




SEE ALSO:
Al-Jazeera
01 May 03  |  Correspondent
US protest over al-Qaeda tape
22 May 03  |  Middle East
Media incensed at journalist killings
09 Apr 03  |  Middle East
Al-Jazeera broadcasts to US
09 Apr 03  |  Entertainment
'POWs and dead' shown on TV
27 Mar 03  |  Middle East
Bodies of missing soldiers found
21 Apr 03  |  England



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