Corrections and Clarifications

Date: 06.10.2016     Last updated: 10.05.2017 at 15.56

This page contains the BBC's responses to editorial, technical and corporate issues. It includes apologies, significant corrections, statements and responses, and findings from the BBC Trust.

It does not include routine corrections to news stories, minor on-air apologies and schedule changes.

Tuesday 9 May 2017: News at Ten, BBC One, Sunday 7 May and BBC News Online, Monday 8 May 2017

In a report on the pensions ‘triple lock’ a graphic showed a figure of up to £159.55 for the basic state pension. In fact this maximum applies to the ‘new state pension’ for individuals who reach state pension age after 6 April 2016. The basic state pension, available to older claimants, is £122.30 per week.

Friday 5 May 2017: Madeleine McCann: Ten Years On , Panorama , BBC One , Wednesday 3 May 2017

In the programme it was stated that Mr and Mrs McCann had set up a charity, the ‘Find Madeleine’ fund. In fact the fund was established as a not-for-profit company with charitable aims.

Thursday 13 April 2017: News at Ten, BBC One and BBC News Online, Monday 10 April 2017

In a report about the abuse of schoolboys and young people by John Smyth in the 1970s and 80s it was stated that he is accused of carrying out a series of brutal assaults “on pupils at Winchester College". We would like to make it clear that 12 out of 22 documented cases involved boys from Winchester College and that, as stated elsewhere in the reports, these assaults did not take place on college premises.

Tuesday 11 April 2017: News bulletins, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 2, Wednesday 5 April 2017

In a report it was stated that the Information Commissioner had fined Oxfam and other charities for having “secretly screened millions of donors and traded personal details with other charities to target people for further donations.” In fact Oxfam was fined for telematching (using existing data or phone numbers to obtain personal information not provided by donors) and not for wealth screening or data sharing.

Tuesday 4 April 2017: News at Six, Friday 31 March 2017

The opening headline stated “No talk on trade until there's a deal on the divorce - the EU rejects the government's Brexit plan.” In fact, as was explained later in the programme , draft guidelines issued by the Council of Ministersallow for preliminary and preparatory discussions as soon as sufficient progress has been made in the first phaseof negotiations.”

Thursday 23 March 2017: Watchdog, BBC One, Pets at Home investigation, 11 and 18 June 2015

In 2015 an edition of Watchdog included a report on the pet store chain Pets at Home. Pets at Home made a number of complaints about the programme, several of which the BBC Trust has upheld. Overall, the Trust considers that the report was not duly accurate and that some aspects were not duly impartial and not fair to Pets at Home. There were claims that were not duly accurate about pet welfare at some stores and the programme failed to reflect fairly the overall evidence gathered in the investigation, including examples of good practice. The BBC Trust acknowledges the strong public interest in Watchdog conducting investigations. However, on this occasion the Trust found that the failings were a serious breach of the BBC's editorial standards. 

Wednesday 22 March 2017: BBC News, Coverage of the death of Martin McGuinness, 21 March 2017

Complaint

We received complaints from some viewers that BBC News coverage of the death of Martin McGuinness was too positive, given his past role in the IRA.

Response

Martin McGuinness’ life and legacy divides opinion. We have reported his well-documented role in the Northern Ireland peace process, but have also placed his political career within the context of his earlier life and role within the IRA. Our coverage has included a range of voices and reaction, including from politicians and many of those directly affected by IRA and Troubles’ violence. We understand the sensitivities involved in this story and the strength of feeling that it has aroused. Our role is to reflect this reality and to provide a managed and inclusive forum in which different views can be expressed.

We remain satisfied that our coverage of this story has been proportionate, balanced and impartial.

Read the reponse on the BBC Complaints website. 

Tuesday 21 March 2017: Asian Network’s ‘Big Debate’. BBC Asian Network, 17 March 2017

In a programme on BBC Asian Network listeners were asked, “What is the right punishment for blasphemy?” The question was prompted by reports that Pakistan had asked Facebook to help investigate ‘blasphemous content’ posted by people in the country.  Despite widespread condemnation, blasphemy is illegal in Pakistan, in some cases it is punishable with the death penalty. We apologise for the poorly worded question and the way it was posted on social media, it was never our intention to imply that blasphemy should be punished. The question should have been better phrased and put into clearer context.

Monday 20 March 2017: You & Yours, BBC Radio 4, Wednesday 15th March 2017

A report into how services are charged for via mobile phone accounts mentioned a company called Mobster Ltd.  To clarify, Mobster Ltd is a Cyprus based entertainment firm offering subscriptions via mobile phones for games and other content.  It is not, and has no connection with the UK based company, Mobsta, which works in digital and mobile advertising. 

Tuesday 28 February 2017: BBC News, Coverage of The Oscars, 27 February 2017

Complaint

We received complaints from some viewers and listeners who felt there was too much coverage of The Oscars during BBC News programmes and bulletins.

Response

The Academy Awards are a very high profile, global event which many viewers and listeners here in the UK are interested in following, with a high level of interest in the story as reflected in online consumption and social media activity. 

Many British actors and actresses, directors, writers, animators, designers, production personnel and technical specialists feature among the nominations each year, and they are regularly award winners, so it feels appropriate for the BBC to comprehensively cover the event.

This year saw a terrible mistake whereby the prestigious Best Picture Oscar was awarded to the wrong recipient. The scale of the error and the highly unusual circumstances surrounding it - as well as the high-profile nature of it, being beamed live right around the globe - meant it was newsworthy in its own right, and so it's been reflected across BBC News output.

BBC News has continued to report on a huge range of other news stories, both domestic and international, thus ensuring we bring our audiences coverage of a wide and diverse mix of issues.

Read the full response on the BBC Complaints website.

Monday 27 February 2017: News at Six, BBC One, 23 February 2017

In an introduction to an item about migration it was stated that "49,000 fewer people came to live in to the UK than left it”. In fact data published by the Office of National Statistics for the year to September 2016 showed net migration to the UK at 273,000, down 49,000 from the previous year."

24 February 2017: SS-GB, BBC One, 19 February 2017

Complaint

We received complaints from some viewers who experienced audibility problems after watching episode one.

Response                                

We are disappointed to learn that some viewers experienced problems with the sound in this drama.

The BBC takes audibility very seriously and the producers of SS-GB thought carefully about audibility in advance of transmission, testing the drama in line with sound guidelines.

However, in light of viewer comments about audibility following transmission of the first episode, we have looked again at the sound levels to improve the audibility for those viewers who experienced any problems.

We hope that our actions demonstrate how important your feedback is to us and that you continue to watch this series of which the BBC is immensely proud.

Read about this on the BBC Complaints website

Tuesday 14 February 2017: Weekend News , BBC One, 13 November 2016

A report used an extract from Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on The Andrew Marr Show in which he condemned ‘this nasty thing..called xenophobia and intolerance’. It was stated that he made this comment about President-elect Donald Trump. In fact he was referring to Marine Le Pen of France’s Front national and UKIP.

Sunday 29 January 2017: News at Ten, BBC One, Friday 27 January 2017

In a report on the Holocaust we gave the impression that Polish train drivers had willingly collaborated with Nazi Germany.

This was not our intention and we fully accept that the drivers were not among those who collaborated but were in fact conscripted back into work by force after the German occupation.

Friday 20 January 2017: 5 Live Breakfast Show, BBC Radio 5 Live, 25 August 2016

During the BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast programme on 25 August 2016, in an interview with Omer el-Hamdoon, Deputy Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, we suggested that Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin had called for the lynching of Salman Rushdie. The BBC has been asked by Mr Mueen-Uddin to make clear, and it accepts, that while like many Muslims he found the Satanic Verses highly offensive to Muslims and their faith, at no stage did he advocate for or campaign for Mr Rushdie to be lynched or in any way harmed. The BBC apologises to Mr Mueen-Uddin for the distress and damage this statement caused him.

Friday 13 January 2017: Today, BBC Radio 4, 2nd December 2016 and 10th January 2017

In two editions reference was made to the dispute at Grunwick Film Processing Laboratories between 1976 – 78. On December 2nd it was stated that management had been racist, calling workers ‘monkeys’”. This was not correct . On January 10th it was said that the management lost and the striking women won. In fact the strikers called off their action on 14 July 1978 without their demands for collective bargaining being met.

9 January 2017: ECU Ruling - "Super-hard metal ‘four times tougher than titanium’", BBC News Online, bbc.co.uk

Complaint

The article reported the publication of a paper about a new alloy with potential applications in the field of medical implants.  A reader complained that the headline was misleading because it treated hardness and toughness as interchangeable qualities when they are in fact distinct.

Outcome

The paper in question focused on the hardness of the alloy, mentioning toughness only to make clear that it was not the quality under consideration.  While hardness and toughness may be interchangeable in many contexts, the result of confusing them in this scientific context was misleading.

Further action

The headline was changed to read "New alloy ‘four times harder than titanium’", and a reference to toughness was removed from the text of the article.

Read about this ECU ruling on the BBC Complaints website. 

9 January 2017: The World Tonight, BBC Radio Four, 28th December 2016

In an introduction to an interview it was stated that most Gulf Arab States 'now accept the existence of the Jewish State' of Israel. In fact no members of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf recognise the state of Israel.

5 January 2017: Robbie Rocks Big Ben Live, BBC One, 31 December 2016

We received complaints from some viewers unhappy with elements of the Robbie Williams concert broadcast in the build-up to and after the fireworks.

Read the full response on the BBC Complaints website

5 January 2016: ECU Ruling - "11 surprising facts that show how Scottish football has changed over the last 30 years", bbc.co.uk

Complaint

The article said that five Scottish Premier League clubs had survived administration while two (Gretna and Rangers) “were liquidated”. A reader complained that this conveyed the impression that the liquidation process applied to the club, as distinct from the company which had owned it, and that changes made to the article following his complaint had not corrected this impression.

Outcome

In response to the complaint, the passage in question was changed to read “Two entered liquidation proceedings: Gretna and Rangers”.  This was subsequently further changed to “Two entered liquidation proceedings: Gretna and Rangers FC PLC”.  The first change perpetuated the impression that the liquidation procedure applied to the club, while the second referred to a legal entity which entered liquidation proceedings and which (whether those proceedings had been completed or merely “entered”) might well have been understood by readers as encompassing the team on the field as well as the business entity. In fact, the business, history and assets of The Rangers Football Club PLC, which went into administration in 2012, had been sold as a going concern by the administrators before any relevant company entered administration. Upheld

Further action

BBC Scotland management has reminded staff of the importance, in its reporting, of clearly differentiating between Rangers FC as a footballing entity and the various legal entities which have recently had operating control over its business interests.

Read the ECU ruling on the BBC Complaints website.

Tuesday 6 December 2016: Reporting Scotland, BBC One Scotland, Tuesday 29 November

On the 6.30pm edition of the television news programme Reporting Scotland, broadcast on BBC One Scotland on Tuesday 29 November, an error was made in an on-screen caption naming the Irish Foreign Minister (where the word ‘Minister’ was inadvertently replaced by the word ‘Abuse’, which had been intended to relate to a different story).

We would like to apologise to the Minister for any embarrassment and upset this error may have occasioned. The correct caption was broadcast in the late evening edition of the programme on 29 November. 

Tuesday 6 December 2016: Six O'Clock News, BBC One, Friday 29 July 2016

The bulletin included a report on the Pope’s visit to Auschwitz.  Lord Alton and Fr Leo Chamberlain of Ampleforth jointly complained that the reporter had presented a disputed view of the stance of the Catholic Church in relation to the Third Reich as if it were established fact.

The reporter said “Silence was the response of the Catholic Church when Nazi Germany demonised Jewish people and then attempted to eradicate Jews from Europe”.  In the judgement of the ECU, this did not give due weight to public statements by successive Popes or the efforts made on the instructions of Pius XII to rescue Jews from Nazi persecution, and perpetuated a view which is at odds with the balance of evidence.

The complaint was upheld. The finding has been brought to the attention of the editorial team responsible for the report so that any future coverage might reflect historical understanding more closely.

Heysel disaster: 30th anniversary marked in England, Belgium & Italy; Heysel disaster: English football’s forgotten tragedy?, bbc.co.uk

A reader of these articles had complained about the statement (which occurred in both of them): Thirty-nine fans died when an internal wall collapsed at the ground in Brussels before the 1985 European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus”

As a result, it was changed to read: Thirty-nine fans died when people were crushed against a wall that then collapsed at the ground in Brussels before the 1985 European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus”. 

He then complained to the ECU that the new form of words was also inaccurate as a description of a situation in which deaths had occurred at some distance from the wall, and there was no reason to believe that the wall’s collapse had caused any deaths. 

In the ECU’s view, the revised statement did not convey the impression that deaths had resulted directly from the collapse of the wall, and was duly accurate as a description of a situation where the wall had blocked a possible avenue of retreat by the Juventus fans. 

This aspect of the complaint was therefore resolved.  However, the second article also contained the sentence: Fleeing the threat, the latter (ie the Juventus supporters) ran towards a concrete retaining wall, which collapsed as they began to climb over, killing 39 people” (which had been overlooked when the changes noted above were made). 

This perpetuated the impression the reader had complained of, and his complaint was upheld in that respect.

The complaint was resolved/upheld and the second article was corrected.

Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Two & BBC News Channel, 6 June 2016

A viewer complained that, during a debate on the issues in the referendum campaign, Victoria Derbyshire had misleadingly suggested that reallocating the UK’s net contribution to the EU budget to other areas such as the NHS would have a severe impact on farm subsidies.

Challenging a point made by Jane Collins MEP, Victoria Derbyshire said “if that £8.5bn went to the NHS, that would mean farmers who get more than 50% of their income from the EU would be decimated”.

This reflected a confusion between the UK’s net contribution (of £8.5bn after payments from the EU to the UK, including agricultural subsidies, have been taken into account) and its gross contribution. 

Although Ms Collins tried to rebut the suggestion, she did not do so in terms which would have removed the misleading impression.

The complaint was upheld and the relevant information was drawn to the presenter’s attention after the broadcast, and will be borne in mind when the programme returns to the subject.

Newshour, BBC World Service, 22 February 2016

News bulletins, World Service, 22 February 2016 

BBC Arabic online

Tweets, Mohamed Yehia, 22 February 2016

Yemen conflict: Al-Qaeda joins coalition battle for Taiz, bbc.co.uk

The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates complained that these items gave the misleading impression that troops from coalition forces (including those of the UAE) had been fighting alongside those of al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Although it was made clear in the body of Newshour that coalition forces had not engaged the Houthis on the same occasions and in the same places as al-Qaeda, the introduction to the programme, and the further items which drew on it, gave the impression that they had been fighting alongside each other.  This was misleading.

The complaint was upheld and online items were edited to remove the misleading impression.

Newsnight, BBC Two, 27 September 2016

In a Newsnight interview, Evan Davis said the Welsh government has “got the power to raise income tax. They are not using that power.”

In fact, powers to vary income tax are still in the process of being devolved in the Wales Bill currently going through Parliament.

It is, however, accurate to say that the current majority Labour administration in Wales went into the last election with a manifesto promising that it would “guarantee not to increase income tax in the next Assembly term when these powers are devolved to the Welsh Parliament."

'Women write better code, study suggests', BBC News online

A reader complained that the headline of this article was misleading, that the study on which it was based was so flawed as not to merit reporting, and that the terms of the report were not duly impartial in relation to the question of the benefits or otherwise of workforce diversity in particular fields of employment.

Whether the study should have been reported was a matter of legitimate editorial discretion and, in the ECU’s view, the article did not deal with matters which were controversial in the sense which would require a balance of views.  However, there were no grounds for believing that the women among the cohort selected by the study were representative of women in general, and thus no basis for generalising about women’s relative ability.  To that extent, the headline was inaccurate.

The complaint was partially upheld. The headline and the text of the article have been amended to reflect the finding.

Read the complaint and our findings on the BBC Complaints website. 

'Diabetes: The Hidden Killer', Panorama, BBC One, 3 October 2016

In this programme Type One Diabetes was referred to as “ the sort you’re born with.” We acknowledge that this is not a medically accurate description.  

Although it commonly develops  in childhood, often to genetically predisposed individuals, Type One diabetes can develop at any age. It results from immune mediated injury to the pancreas and it is not known exactly what triggers the immune system to attack the pancreas.