Pan·o·ram·a (pn-rm, -räm) n.
1. An unbroken view of an entire surrounding area.
Feudal dynasties will lock horns tonight. Old scores will be settled between those with limitless pockets. Panorama is in danger of becoming the vehicle of choice for those with past grievances and a newsworthy nose to present their version of events.
A version of events which is controlled by the Programme Producer who chooses which shots to include, who to interview. You would expect that a programme which names itself ‘Panorama’ would live up to the ‘comprehensive’ definition by being careful to balance their reporting – whether they do so is a matter you can judge for yourself tonight.
In the week that the Pollard report is expected to emerge, which will tell us whether the benighted Editor of the infamous ‘Newsnight’ programme was right to incur the wrath of the egotistical Meirion Jones by not showing us the result of his ‘investigation’ into the Savile affair and its connection with his aunt’s old school, Duncroft – which led directly to the paroxysm of the BBC, and to Meirion’s defection to the ever accommodating Panorama; another journalist has fled to Panorama to take a poke from a safe distance at another old grievance.
The Observer journalist John Sweeney was sued by the Barclay Brothers for defamation of character during a radio broadcast from the safety of Guernsey. It cost him 20,000. Tonight Sweeney is reborn as ‘Panorama Presenter du jour’ – and the libel letters are flying already. Not as you might imagine between the Barclay Brothers and Panorama, but between Panorama and a lowly on-line blogger/newspaper.
Whilst Panorama reserves the right to pick and choose interviewees and to make its claims in the name of a ‘free press’ and investigative reporting – they are not so keen on others doing the same.
Kevin Delaney is the blogging newspaper man on the Island of Sark. He is also the Barclays manager on the Island. He has for years maintained a courageous published stance against the powerful vested interests on that Feudal island in the midst of the English Channel wherein the Barclay Brothers live. He has good reason to fear for his life – the Guernsey Police were forced to visit Sark and remove a number of firearms from a Mr Wilson, a resident who had threatened to shoot Mr Delaney. If you have never lived on a small island such as this (Disclosure: I used to live in Guernsey, went to school there, and have many friends still on the islands) it is hard to understand the bitterness which can build up over generations, fuelled sometimes by such insignificance as the firing of an unsuitable employee; undiluted by fresh blood coming to live in the community you can end up with people who have never even met, who refuse to meet, vowing death and destruction on later generations.
Fair comment to say then, that in that atmosphere, Kevin Delaney had every reason not to wish to be publicly interviewed by the Panorama team, and subsequently cut and edited to show support for any particular thesis. He prefers to pick his own battles rather than be used as a pawn in someone else’s battles. That was unacceptable to the Panorama team. They decide who appears in their programmes; they decide the agenda. It’s not their problem how people manage to live together after they have departed the rigours of Sark for the safety of Shepherd’s Bush.
Thus they pursued Kevin Delaney across the island with their cameras. They barged into his office and intimidated his staff. They hired a local photographer to take secret photographs of him.
Now we have the farcical situation whereby Panorama, or rather John Sweeney, reserves the right in the name of a ‘free press’ and ‘investigative reporting’ to speak freely about the Barclay Brothers and their employees, whilst at the same time, threatening to sue for libel Kevin Delaney if he reveals his version as to how they went about getting their report. Tom Giles, the Editor of Panorama demands to know the ‘source’ of Mr Delaney’s information – though anybody demanding to know the source of Panorama’s information would get short shrift from the same person!
I quote from the letter Kevin Delaney’s lawyer sent to Tom Giles:
As mentioned in my letter of 16th November, Mr Wilson is not a political figure on Sark. There would be no reason to interview him. The idea that Panorama randomly interviewed a man who was going around making such threats (including to the retired police officer) is difficult to believe. There would have been no reason to interview him unless it was anticipated that he would say something which the team regarded as of potential value to the programme. This is a fair assumption given the way in which Panorama has gone about making its programme in terms of its pursuit of Mr Delaney on three separate visits to the Island, the commissioning of a local filmmaker to film him in spite of his express wish not to be interviewed or filmed and the unremittingly hostile and one-sided nature of your enquiries. Not once has there been any indication of any attempt to tell a balanced or fair story and the interviewing of Mr Wilson is yet another confirmation of that apparent bias.
[…] Again note that this interview was carried out in a pub which has a bad reputation locally, and where the atmosphere was described as one of “intense hatred”. Mr Sweeney had himself drunk in the pub and would have known what this pub was like. Indeed it was the subject of a separate complaint that Mr Sweeney had been behaving drunkenly in the same Mermaid pub where Mr Wilson made the threats and had fallen from his bicycle in the dark afterwards.
Tom Giles has demanded, on threat of libel proceedings, that Kevin Delaney does not publish his version of events. Kevin Delaney has today published a full note of correspondance between his lawyer and the Panorama team. I commend you to read it in full.
It makes for interesting reading as we digest the Leveson report and its implication that the main stream media is responsible, and it is only unreliable bloggers who need to be regulated…
You can e-mail your support for the blogging Kevin Delaney here – firstname.lastname@example.org.