THE ALEX SALMOND WARKUMENTARY

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews the programme everyone in politics is talking about and asks: How can the BBC rake over Alex Salmond case but ignore what happened with Jimmy Savile?

 

 

Rating: 

BBC2 used to air a current affairs show called Brass Tacks, presented by the likes of David Dimbleby and Brian Trueman.

These days the channel could more honestly have a flagship programme called Brass Neck.

Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark fronted an hour-long report, The Trial Of Alex Salmond (BBC2), into the court case.

Last March the former First Minister of Scotland faced 13 charges of serial sexual assaults, including one allegation of attempted rape.

Salmond was cleared on all counts. But that didn’t stop Wark from raking up all the claims and interviewing three of the women who gave evidence.

The report ended with an actress reading the words of one: ‘I know I was telling the truth. I know what happened to me.’

Another grieved: ‘I’m worried about what this says more widely to other women, or just to us as a society. I mean, where does this leave us?’

Clearly, it leaves us in a situation where a BBC documentary can pour doubt on the findings of a jury that ‘fails’ to deliver a guilty verdict in a sex case. And it leaves us with a national broadcaster whose double standards are breathtaking.

Wark has been with Newsnight since 1993, after all, but as she lamented the damage wreaked by the Salmond trial to the #MeToo movement, she said nothing of the programme’s failings over an equally high-profile sex case.

After the death of BBC presenter and DJ Jimmy Savile in 2011, a Newsnight investigation into rumours of his appalling sex crimes was shelved.

It was deemed to clash with an adoring obituary and a planned Christmas special of his children’s show, Jim’ll Fix It.

Savile never stood trial and, even after he was dead, some at the Beeb tried to turn a blind eye to his vile activities.

Alex Salmond won his court case, and he also scored a victory in an earlier civil suit against the Scottish government, over its handling of the allegations against him.

Salmond conceded some of his behaviour towards women was boorish and shameful. But he maintained it fell far short of being criminal — and the jury agreed.

Unless the BBC is trying to argue Britain’s entire judicial system is unfit for purpose, Kirsty Wark should not be suggesting the trial has done serious damage to women’s rights across the country.

Instead, she should never lose sight of the fact that Jimmy Savile, a BBC employee, committed foul offences against women and children, sometimes within the BBC’s buildings. And the Newsnight report into that was dropped.

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Hannan Martin

Former Lennox Herald journalist Martin Hannan joined the debate on the Warkumentary yesterday.

Indeed, it may even have been Martin who coined the nickname for the programme which has caused such a stir.

One of the few Scottish journalists to declare publicly that he is an SNP supporter, Martin, who now works for The National,  is better known as a rugby and horse racing reporter.

And a good one at that. An award-winner in the Scottish Press Awards even.

He kicked off on social media with this post: “Just to let you know that as the result of the Warkumentary on Alex Salmond I have told the BBC not to bother contacting me for comment or participation in any programme.

“It would be hypocritical to be associated in any way with the purveyors of such absolutely biased shite masquerading as ‘journalism’. I can also assure you this issue of the Warkumentary is not going to go away. Even now a cold dish [revenge] is being prepared.”

His fellow rugby scribe, Matthew Vallance, responded: “Well done Martin. I would do the same, but, they never ask me anyway.”

Bill Heaney said: I have now watched it twice to make certain I wasn’t missing anything. I wasn’t. This was a very strange programme. It detracts from the BBC’s recent excellent Disclosure programmes on the scandal of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and Children’s Hospital in Glasgow and the Covid-related deaths debacle in our care homes.

“Kirsty Wark is an excellent TV personality, but she’s not a court reporter and, from what we saw here, never will be. I worry when I see ‘journalists’ working in packs as Kirsty appeared to be with Dani Garavelli, Sarah Smith and Maurice Smith, the elite who can still afford to eat out together in Edinburgh’s fine dining venues (no social distancing there for the elite either).

“I am waiting eagerly for someone to come up with the truth of what actually happened to cause Sturgeon and Salmond to fall out so spectacularly. You, Martin, are the very man to let us know. Now that you have time on your hands following your refusal to appear on any BBC programmes, you can put the true version of events together. [As your old editor] I know you can.”

Jack Irvine, of Media House, a grizzled veteran of public relations, posted: “Interesting to note that Ms Wark had never attended a High Court trial before. It showed. She came across like a wide-eyed trainee journalist.
“It reminded me of the hatchet job the BBC did before the Rangers trial and, guess what, they also walked free. I was also intrigued that other BBC journalists were used as camera fodder in a non BBC production. Is there anybody actually at the helm of BBC Scotland?”

Hamish Thom said:Well done Martin With you all the way! It was a very sad night for television in this country!”

2 comments

  1. Can’t but help think that Mrs Kirsten Anne Clements and her husband who may soon be having to defend themselves against legal action.

    The programme, as we all realise, was an utter disgrace. However, the legal ramifications from the broadcast are multi-facetted.

    Consider for example the voices of actors repeating, or allegedly repeating, allegations about the conduct of Alec Salmond. Who briefed or coached the actors in their delivery of what was said. Salmond won his civil case in the Court of Session and was exonerated in his was High Court criminal case!

    Or what of the aspect of a State Broadcaster breaking its charter of impartiality by smearing an individual and breaching their human rights.

    Or what of the impacts of the Clements breaching a Court Order and identifying one of the ” alphabet” women in a programme broadcast to a huge audience.

    Reporting that a Salmond aide met with the First Minister and “ one of the alphabet women” at a meeting the 29th March 2018, ( and a meeting widely reported in the media to have been attended by the FM and “ her aide “ ) Wark’s commentary has now ensured that many of the million or more people who watched the programme now know the identity of one of the hitherto unidentified “ alphabet “ women.

    And what of the impact on the trial of Craig Murray.who allegedly jigsaw identified some of these witnesses.

    Ah the British Bias Corporation and their hapless apparatchiks. They may well have set out to smear Alec Salmond with this absolutely disgraceful programme. But by their efforts they have opened up whole can of new legal fronts.

    And as for the vicious smearing Kirsten Anne Clements? Well as an individual she may pay a heavy price for indulging in gutter programming and must be now praying that she and her husband have good legal representation in the weeks, months and years ahead.

    They may have been dragooned to do a hatchet job on Salmond, may as hired guns have been paid very well for producing the programme that they did, but the legal ramifications are huge.

  2. Just read in one of the Sunday papers that Alex Salmond is going to sue the BBC and the Clements – and that will be most interesting.

    As I noted earlier, the programme had the voices, but blacked out faces of women giving statements against Salmond despite him having been exonerated. That these women then post the court case came forward under the cloak of anonymity to have another go at Salmond, despite him being proven innocent, there are some big questions now for Mrs Clements her masters in the BBC, and indeed the women who came forward to brief, coach and give the TV statements.

    But the BBC know that because after the screening of the programme a day or so later the BBC took the catch up down from I.Player for what is understood to be ‘ editing ‘ whereby it has been said that the BBC added text to programme to say that the statements made were the voices of actors.

    So ask yourself why and for what reason would the BBC take down an I.Player catch up, only to later reinstate it. Something stinks very very badly, we know that, so does Alex Salmond and his legal team.

    The fall out has just begun.

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