A Daily Telegraph reader writes:
Re: Humble pie hard to swallow
Date: 24 January 2004
Sir – The BBC deserved to see its audience share fall away during the Panorama special, which amounted to a no-holds-barred internal examination of the role of the corporation (and others) in the matter that is the subject of the Hutton inquiry.
It was both disingenuous and discourteous to broadcast this piece, no matter how much humble pie and some would say well-timed self-criticism it included, only a week before Lord Hutton is due to report.
If a multi-million-pound independent inquiry has taken place, surely the BBC needs to be neither defiant nor apologetic in advance of Lord Hutton’s findings and must have strayed perilously close to impinging on his unfettered jurisdiction.
Had the Government proposed a prime ministerial broadcast of even a few minutes in the same vein in advance of the Hutton report, there would have been widespread outrage, and rightly so.
The BBC has further undermined its reputation by once again perceiving itself in some way to be above or outside the conventions that attach to the inquiry.
Ultimately, the corporation will have only itself to blame should it find its supposed impartiality further questioned – as well as the issue of whether it should continue to have unique financial and editorial status in its present form – after this ill-timed, ill-advised and heavy-handed pre-emptive strike.
Simon Coulter, Fuengirola, Spain