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Loach slams Panorama documentary as a ‘dishonest hatchet job’

The legendary film director puts forward a motion to condemn the BBC for breaking its own codes at his constituency Labour Party

KEN LOACH has put a motion to his constituency Labour Party slamming a Panorama documentary on alleged institutional anti-semitism in the Labour Party as a “dishonest hatchet job” and condemned the BBC for breaking its own code.

The film director – known for classics such as Cathy Come Home and I, Daniel Blake –  said that the Is the Labour Party Anti-semitic? documentary was fundamentally biased.

Backlash from the programme’s airing and accusations of “institutional racism” within Labour intensifies with Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) and constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) having expressed concern over the legitimacy of the claims.

JVL said that the documentary heavily featured advocates for Israel, while a number of CLPs including Bath, Cambridge, Liverpool Riverside and Hornsey and Wood Green have backed the leadership over the party’s handling of anti-semitism claims.

Mr Loach accused the programme of failing to comply with BBC Editorial Guidelines 4.3.12 and 4.3.1.

The first guideline states that the BBC “should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities and think tanks) are unbiased.

“Appropriate information about their affiliations, funding and particular viewpoints should be made available to the audience, when relevant to the context.”

The Panorama show has been slammed for failing to reveal the affiliations of interviewees attacking Labour — with one, Ella Rose, having previously worked at the Israeli embassy while another, Alan Johnson, being editor of the journal of pro-Israel lobby group Bicom.

The second guideline states that a “diversity of opinion” should be included.

In a motion to his Bath CLP earlier this week, he wrote: “There was no attempt to put accusations of anti-semitism in a statistical context. The authoritative figure for reported cases given by [general secretary] Jennie Formby in Feb 2019 was the equivalent of 0.1 per cent of the membership.

“With such a tiny fraction of members involved, how can the case for ‘institutional anti-semitism’ be substantiated?

“Allegations were made without evidence or corroboration and were unchallenged by the interviewer. None of the many Jewish members who hold opposing views were interviewed.

“Two academics expressed opinions that have been fiercely contested in public debate, but this was not acknowledged, nor alternative views allowed,” he added.

He also expressed concern over the “manipulative” use of visuals and “sinister music” to put Jeremy Corbyn in a bad light.

He added that the programme’s potentially undemocratic consequences are revealed in its closing line that “asks for an alternative leader to replace Jeremy Corbyn.”

“It pretended to ask a question but had a pre-determined answer. It disgraced the name of Panorama and exposed the bias endemic within the BBC.”

His motion, which was seconded by Bath CLP member Lesley Bees, demands that the BBC makes a comparable documentary on whether the Labour Party is anti-semitic based on evidence.

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