BBC admits 'We were wrong to let the BNP insult soccer's Ashley Cole'
By Jason Lewis, Security Editor
Last updated at 1:16 AM on 17th January 2010
The BBC has admitted breaching its editorial guidelines after The Mail on Sunday revealed how two leading BNP activists were allowed to make unchallenged ‘racist’ statements on a flagship news broadcast.
A special edition of Radio 1’s Newsbeat programme introduced the two interviewees as ‘young guys who are members of the BNP’ but failed to say the pair were, in fact, key members of the far-Right party’s leadership.
The activists – identified at the time only as Joey and Mark – went unchallenged when they claimed black England footballer Ashley Cole was not ‘ethnically British’.
BNP members said east London-born Ashley, pictured here with wife Cheryl Cole, was 'not ethnically British'
They also spoke of him ‘coming to this country’, even though Cole was born in East London.
Now the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit has ruled that BBC Newsbeat was wrong not to reveal the two men’s standing in the BNP, and that their views should have faced ‘rigorous challenge’.
The ruling on the October 2009 broadcast was published last week.
Newsbeat was ‘reminded of the need to ensure listeners have enough information to assess the status and credentials of interviewees’.
And programme editor Rod McKenzie was instructed to discuss with his team ‘the need for rigorous challenge within interviews of this kind’.
Party officials Joey Barber and Mark Collett pose as 'BNP supporters' for Radio 1 Newsbeat but they have senior roles in the organisation
The ruling added: 'The concept of British ethnicity, introduced by the interviewees in connection with the example of a black, British-born footballer, was not tested in the way its controversial character called for.’
The complaints unit confirmed The Mail on Sunday’s disclosures that ‘at the time of the interview, one of the interviewees was the BNP’s publicity director and the other ran the record label which promotes and sells BNP CDs’.
The Mail on Sunday established the men were Joseph Barber, also known as Joey Smith – who runs the BNP’s record label Great White Records – and Mark Collett, the party’s head of publicity.
A BBC News spokeswoman said: ‘We note the findings.’