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Last Updated: Monday, 6 December, 2004, 14:03 GMT
We'll learn from hoax, says BBC
By Matt Holder
BBC NewsWatch

Richard Sambrook
BBC policy will be examined, says global news chief Richard Sambrook

As the BBC continues to investigate the Bhopal hoax, its world news chief has promised the corporation will learn from the experience.

World Service and Global News director Richard Sambrook said editorial controls were being examined to avoid a repeat of the deception.

And he said he was delighted with the "speedy, frank and open way" in which the BBC acted to correct the mistake.

BBC World broadcast an interview on 3 December in which a bogus Dow Chemical official - Jude Finisterra - admitted responsibility for the Bhopal disaster in 1984 and offered $12 billion in compensation.

That interview was then used on BBC News 24 and domestic radio stations Radio 2, Radio 4 and Radio Five Live.

However, Mr Finisterra turned out to be a hoaxer from a group called the Yes Men, online activists who create fake but well-crafted web parodies to make political statements.

'Completely open'

Mr Sambrook said: "Clearly we need to review our editorial controls to understand how to prevent this kind of hoax in the future.

"However, as important as that is, it was also essential for us to be seen to act quickly to correct this error and to be completely open with our audiences about what had happened and what we were doing about it."

He continued: "If audiences have confidence in us acting responsibly when this kind of thing happens, they will continue to trust our journalism.

"I am pleased to say that our response on Friday was speedy, frank and open.

"That kind of transparency and accountability to our audiences is as important as the journalism itself."

BBC Falls Prey to Hoax on Anniversary of Bhopal Disaster - The New York Times
Bhopal Anguish as BBC hoaxed - The Telegraph
Bhopal hoax haunts BBC - Times of India
Jolt to BBC's credibility over Dow 'interview' - Central Chronicle, India
Bhopal blunder hurts BBC - The Age, Australia
'Cruel' Bhopal hoax rapped - Gulf Daily News, Bahrain

As the BBC inquiry into the deception reaches its conclusions, certain facts are becoming clearer.

BBC World

A producer on BBC World had been asked to book a representative from Dow for the 20th anniversary of the disaster, which has claimed the lives of 20,000 people.

He went to the fake Dow website, and was directed to the media relations section.

E-mail correspondence and phone calls followed, which resulted in Friday's interview with Mr Finisterra from the corporation's Paris office.

It appears that part of the Dow website had been hijacked in a detailed and carefully planned operation.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 on Friday, Mr Finisterra admitted to being part of the Yes Men.

He said: "I was speaking on behalf of Dow in a certain way. I was expressing what they should express.

"I have enough connection with Dow as everybody else on the planet. I use many of their products."

BBC caught out in Bhopal hoax
03 Dec 04 |  Corrections


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