Private Eye: Police Complaint over Documentary “a Stunt”

CPS admits to having no details about allegations

Police account differs from that of Ofcom

The latest Private Eye magazine (1191, p. 8) has an article on the decision by West Midlands police to refer the makers of a television documentary to Ofcom, the UK television regulator. As was widely blogged a few days ago, the documentary had uncovered evidence of extreme Islamist sentiments being expressed in (or on videos for sale at) a Birmingham mosque, and the police and Crown Prosecution Service had subsequently investigated. Rather unexpectedly, they announced that the documentary had “distorted” the speakers they had featured in the programme, who were shown expressing views such as this:

…No one loves the kuffaar! Not a single person here from the Muslims loves the kuffaar. Whether those kuffaar are from the UK or from the US. We love the people of Islam and we hate the people of kuffaar. We hate the kuffaar!

Another speaker made joking pig-snorting sounds as he suggested all Jews should be killed.

Now the Eye gives a bit more context to the police complaint:

Had [Assistant Chief Constable Anil] Patani bothered to check the CPS website beforehand he’d have realised that, under the legislation governing Ofcom, complaints about unfairness can only come from “the person affected”…the “formal complaint” looks like a non-starter. It appears to be little more than a publicity stunt.


The Eye asked the West Midlands police why they hadn’t read the rules before lodging the complaint. A spokeswoman told us that they had “liaised” with Ofcom in advance…But this true?

“No,” said an Ofcom spokeswoman… “We certainly didn’t.”

The police also told the Eye that the formal complaint to Ofcom came jointly from themselves and the CPS. Again, this turns out to be untrue. But the confusion is understandable, since Bethan David of the CPS certainly aided and abetted the stunt.

The Eye also asked the CPS for evidence that the sanguinary views of the Islamist speakers had been taken out of context. Reply:

“We don’t go into that level of detail.”

The report ends by noting that the documentary-makers are considering suing for libel. I drew attention to this possibility a few days ago; in 2002 journalist Donal MacIntyre won a libel action against Kent Police in similar circumstances. He received £15,000 damages and reportedly £650,000 in costs.