Saturday 7 December 2019

Geldof to report the BBC over aid 'rumour'

Paul Vallely in London

BOB Geldof and the Band Aid trust are to report the BBC to Britain's broadcasting regulator Ofcom over a World Service report that claimed millions of pounds raised for famine victims in Ethiopia in 1985 were actually spent on weapons.

A group of Britain's most respected agencies, including Oxfam, the Red Cross, Unicef, Christian Aid and Save the Children, are joining Band Aid in writing an official complaint to the chairman of the BBC Trust, Michael Lyons.


They are to complain of the "false and dangerously misleading impression" created by a report by the BBC World Service's Africa editor, Martin Plaut, which alleged that 95pc of the $100m (€73m) in aid which went to the northern province of Tigray in 1985 had been diverted for military use by the rebel forces which held the area.

A draft of a letter written by the agencies, seen by reporters, speaks of "disgracefully poor reporting by the BBC which relied on dubious sources and rumour" and which was "designed to leave an overall impression that the vast majority of resources raised by aid efforts in the mid 1980s largely went on buying arms".

In a clearly angry tone the agencies say: "There is not in fact a shred of credible evidence that this happened.

"There is overwhelming evidence that tens of thousands and even millions were saved by these efforts, which were in fact spurred by reporting by the BBC." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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