Sunday 21 April 2019

Heads must roll at BBC over Band Aid slur -- Geldof

Paul Vallely

Bob Geldof upped the ante in the row between Band Aid and the BBC yesterday by demanding the sacking of BBC World Service director Peter Horrocks.

The musician-turned-poverty campaigner also called for two other BBC journalists to be fired after various BBC news outlets claimed that 95pc of the €75m aid donated, by Live Aid and others, to fight famine in northern Ethiopia in 1985 was diverted to be spent on weapons.

Geldof, who organised the Live Aid concerts to tackle famine in Africa, also lamented the "intense systemic failure of the World Service", which he said was once the jewel in the BBC's journalistic crown.

He claimed there had been a "total collapse of standards and systems at the World Service which has a special and particular duty of care to the truth".

The Band Aid Trust is preparing an official complaint to the British broadcasting regulator Ofcom about the BBC story.

Last night, the Live Aid organiser called for the sacking of Mr Horrocks, Andrew Whitehead, the World Service news and current affairs editor, and Martin Plaut, the originator of the story, which he claimed was "discredited and sexed up".

Geldof said he was doubly disappointed because he had always been a great supporter of the World Service.

He said it "beggared belief" that BBC journalists could take seriously a claim that 95pc of the aid to Tigray was spent on weapons.

"Where were all the dead people then? If no one was getting food, why was nobody dying? That would have been one of the first questions I'd have asked," Geldof added.

In addition to the sackings of the three journalists, he wants an immediate investigation into what he claims went wrong.

"Steps should be taken to rectify the identified faults," he said.

"The World Service must work very hard to re-establish its hard-won and trusted reputation as the world broadcaster of excellence."(© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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