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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 July 2005, 18:16 GMT 19:16 UK
Burglar documentary to be shown
Brendan Fearon
Brendan Fearon was wounded at the Norfolk farm
A documentary about Tony Martin, who was jailed for shooting dead a burglar, will be shown on the BBC despite controversy over payment to a criminal.

Brendan Fearon, who was wounded in the shooting after breaking into Martin's Norfolk home, was paid 4,500 by the BBC to appear in The Tony Martin Story.

News of the payment sparked outrage, and prompted the BBC to reconsider.

The director-general and the director of television have now ruled the programme is in the public interest.

Director-general Mark Thompson had stepped into the row earlier this year, saying the programme would be viewed before being broadcast.

He and Jana Bennett, director of television, said they were "happy" that it was in the public interest.

Several leading politicians, including the Lord Chancellor and Tessa Jowell, the culture minister, criticised the BBC payment in March.

Mr Fearon was wounded and his 16-year-old accomplice Fred Barras killed when the pair broke into Mr Martin's home in 1999.

Editorial policy

Shadow culture secretary Theresa May questioned the decision to broadcast.

"How can it be in the best interests of the public to broadcast a programme that rewards a convicted criminal?

"This raises serious concerns about the editorial policy and decision making of the BBC."

Mr Martin was initially convicted of murder and given a life sentence.

The conviction was reduced to manslaughter on appeal and the sentence cut to five years.

He was freed from jail in 2003. He has earlier said he was interviewed for the documentary but not offered payment.

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