Inappropriate BBC skewered over Epsteins former lawyer interview ‘Formidable conflicts

Samira Ahmed addresses viewers issues with Epstein coverage

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Newswatch host Samira Ahmed revealed the disappointment and annoyance BBC viewers felt after Alan Dershowitz, the late Jefferey Epstein’s lawyer, was interviewed shortly after Ghislaine Maxwell received her guilty verdict. The broadcaster questioned Dershowitz, who gave his opinion on the ruling and shared his thoughts about what had happened throughout the trial. However, the BBC failed to inform the viewers Dershowitz was Epstein’s former lawyer, and in fact, had been accused himself by Virginia Giuffre.   

Introducing the topic to the programme, Ahmed explained: “The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell on charges of helping the late Jefferey Epstein to abuse girls was avidly followed in the media around the world.

“So, when she was found guilty in the New York court last week, it was of course breaking news on the BBC news channel, a few minutes after the verdict came in, the channel interviewed this man.”

A clip of Dershowitz’s interview with the BBC was shown, as he said: “The Government was very careful who it used as witnesses.

“It did not use as a witness the woman who accused Prince Andrew, accused me, accused many other people because the Government didn’t believe she was telling the truth.

“In fact, she, Virginia Giuffre, was mentioned in the trial as somebody who brought young people to Epstein for him to abuse.”

As the clip ended, Ahmed continued: “Although this was not made clear on-air, Alan Dershowitz used to be a lawyer for Jeffery Epstein.

“And as mentioned there as along with Epstein was accused of abuse by Virginia Giuffre, a charge he denies, many viewers expressed shock at the BBC for their lack of research.”

Viewer Michael McElfresh wrote in and fumed: “What an amazing lapse in good judgement, allowing Alan Dershowitz to comment on the Maxwell trial without first describing his very formidable conflicts.”

John Moyes also added: “Only the slightest knowledge or research would demonstrate that he is entirely inappropriate as an independent observer.

“Furthermore, no mention was made of his connections to Epstein and the Maxwell trial.”

The following day the BBC acknowledged those criticisms had a point, putting out a statement.  

It read: “Last night’s interview did not meet the BBC’s editorial standards, as Mr Dershowitz was not a suitable person to interview as an impartial analyst and we did not make the relevant background clear to our audience.”

Ahmed added: “There has been no further word yet on that, but in the meantime, there have been more objections to another BBC interview about this case, and it took place on New Year’s Eve on Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Clips of it were shown during the day on the news channel, the guest, Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother, Ian, who challenged the version of events that were set out in court by her abusers.”

A clip of Ian Maxwell was played to which he said: “I’m not saying that they are lying, I mean it may well be they were victims of Jeffery Epstein.

“But I do not accept that they were victims of Ghislaine, and that’s my position and also her position.”

Many viewers were once again concerned about the interview with Maxwell’s brother, with Kate Hahamis writing in: “Why is the BBC now running an interview with Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother.

“Pleading her innocence, on its main bulletin? Would they do that for any other child sex offender?”

Once again, the BBC put out a statement in response, but this time defending the broadcast.

The BBC statement read: “The interview on Today with Ian Maxwell was about the family’s decision to appeal the verdict.

“He was robustly challenged, and his arguments were critiqued directly afterwards by a barrister, the BBC has covered the guilty verdict against Ghislaine Maxwell extensively, including interviews with her victims on multiple outlets.”

BBC Newswatch returns Friday 14 January 2022, at 8:45pm on BBC One.  

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