Media regulator Ofcom today rejected police complaints about an episode of Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches’ that exposed alleged extremism in British mosques.
West Midlands police claimed that the episode, ‘Undercover Mosque’, had misrepresented the views of Muslim preachers and clerics with misleading editing.
However, in a ruling published today Ofcom found that the programme was “a legitimate investigation” and said there was “no evidence that the broadcaster had misled the audience or that the programme was likely to encourage or incite criminal activity”.
Channel 4 said its programme had been fully vindicated by today’s ruling. The broadcaster described the police’s actions as “perverse” and said they had potentially given “legitimacy to people preaching a message of hate”.
The Channel 4 deputy head of news and current affairs, Kevin Sutcliffe, who oversees ‘Dispatches’, said: “This was a rigorous investigation conducted over nine months and involving great difficulty in its filming, substantial personal risk for the reporter and a great deal of considered judgment in the edit suite.
“All the preachers featured were offered a right to reply and none of these individuals complained to Ofcom about the way they were represented. In these circumstances it seems perverse that [the production company] Hardcash and Channel 4 should have found themselves the subject of a police investigation.
“West Midlands police acted in a calculated fashion – they made no attempt to discuss their concerns about the film with us in advance of going public with their complaint to Ofcom knowing that an allegation of ‘fakery’ would generate significant media interest.
“In the view of various commentators, their action gave legitimacy to people preaching a message of hate to British citizens and damaged the reputations of those involved in producing and broadcasting the programme.”
Extracts from MediaGuardian & Ofcom