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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 February, 2003, 15:12 GMT
What the Papers say 2003
Press reports about Panorama


British people are finding it easier than ever to borrow on credit. But how long can Britain continue to Spend it like Beckham and is payback just around the corner?

David Stephenson - Sunday Express - 17 December 2003
"According to Panorama we've collectively caught "luxury fever", the symptoms of which can be described as "spending like Beckham". You know the one - designer this, designer that, sarongs, sunglasses, tattoos and hair grips. I daren't look in my stocking on Christmas morning.

The remedy, in my view, is for us to start spending like Wilkinson. This involves a more reserved, dignified approach to High Street shopping and definitely no women's clothes, fellas. It also means saving up patiently for that car or hi-fi, rather than splashing out with someone else's cash.

I confess I enjoyed every minute of this film but for all the wrong reasons. The reporter, on a "reasonable salary" (undisclosed, boringly) managed, in six hours, to rattle up GBP 52,000 credit! Wow! What am I waiting for? And then there was the mortgage expert. He had some great news for anyone with a 15 per cent deposit on a home. Basically, borrow what you like for that mansion you had your eye on. I was left feeling dejected. The big consumer and property boom has been happening elsewhere.

I also discovered that there was a whole group of lenders described as "sub prime" - loan sharks to you and me - who would kindly offer me a way out of my new-found penury. Then, when things got really difficult, all I'd need to do is have myself declared bankrupt, wait a couple of years and I could start all over again. Thank you, Panorama - I am a new man, complete with my palatial mansion and designer sarong.

The Observer - 30 November 2003
"It's a peculiar statistic, but the British public is in collective debt to the tune of nearly three trillion pounds. Reporter Justin Rowlatt presents this alarming documentary and asks: are we simply storing up problems for the future by allowing interest rates to continue to rise?"

Independent on Sunday - 30 November 2003
"Britain has caught luxury fever. Millions want to buy into the lavish lifestyle they see the rich enjoying, and are able to fund extravagances because the consumer-credit market makes it easy for even those on modest incomes to open lines of credit. The country's addiction to spending has helped keep us out of recession, but asks reporter Justin Rowlatt here, are we simply storing up problems we'll be forced to confront in the future? "

Mail on Sunday - 30 November 2003
"Spend it like Beckham examines our national addiction to borrowing. It's never been easier to rack up debts as lenders fall over each other for custom. With a staggering debt mountain of £905,782,000,000 (that's £15300 per man, woman and child), is the UK storing up major economic problems for itself? This report asks how long we can continue to spend, spend, spend and wonders whether payback time is around the corner"

Sunday Times - 30 November 2003
"We're not trying to keep up with the Joneses any more", says Dr Clive Hamilton of Cambridge University. "These days everyone's trying to keep up with the Beckhams". Despite the title blatant attempt to win viewers, this programme takes a look at Britain's spending habits, explaining how the nation's addiction to credit has kept recession at bay but will lead to economic problems in the long term. Pensioners who owe £79000, students with £37000 hanging over their heads - it is no wonder that the country has debts worth more than £1530 for very man, woman ad child."

Panorama has had exclusive access to the work of the Iraq Survey Group as they hunt for Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.

Sunday Times - 23 November 2003
"Following the Iraq survey group as they continue their search for Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. The reporter Jane Corbin visits Camp Slayer - not, unfortunately, a gay thrash-metal band, but the centre of operations for the intelligence analysts examining the evidence, and asks whether the political futures of George Bush and Tony Blair will be guaranteed by the group's findings."

For three months, a member of the Panorama team worked as a care worker with elderly people living at home, secretly recording her experiences.

Sunday Times - 23 November 2003
"Panorama may now be 50, but age does not mean pulling punches. Last Sunday's undercover investigation of the so-called care services for the elderly was exemplary."

Sunday Times - 16 November 2003
"Despite starting with the unpromising line, "Once upon a time, everyone was young and then we get old," this harrowing film raises painful and provocative questions about the attitudes of society towards the elderly. Testing the government's desire to see more people looked after at home, the BBC's Fran Baker went undercover as a careworker for three months this summer. She discovers a care industry that could not care less: underpaid, untrained staff, neglectful agencies and unmanageable schedules leading to a situation in which the most vulnerable elderly people are harried, ignored and, in some cases, endangered by the very system that is supposed to protect them and their dignity."

30,000 bombs were dropped on Iraq during the Gulf War. This is the story of just one of them.

Guardian - Review of 2003 - 28 December 2003
"Panorama celebrated turning 50 with a bruising, brutal look at the outcome of 'friendly fire' that came too close to John Simpson for comfort."

Broadcast - Philip Reevell's review of 2003 - 19 December 2003
"I thought I'd make some observations about key moments of the television year. Jonny Wilkinson, obviously, Baghdad being blitzed in the early days of the war and John Simpson's documentary about being bombed by the Americans in northern Iraq all leapt to mind. But after that I ran out of TV memorable moments."

Daily Mail - 10 November 2003
"This gripping programme marked Panorama's 50th birthday. The best present the BBC could offer to mark the anniversary would be a prime-time weeknight slot."

The Independent - 10 November 2003
"It was a fascinating film - illuminating the hazards and frustrations of television journalism."

Mail on Sunday - 9 November 2003
"John Simpson takes a sobering look at the reality of modern war, in which 'immensely powerful weapons' are fired by fallible human beings. He shows the horror of what happened in northern Iraq when 18 people were killed, including his BBC colleague of just six weeks, when they came under 'friendly fire' from a US Navy jet."

Sunday Times - 9 November 2003
"John Simpson's documentary about the "American own goal" that occurred just outside Kirkuk, might illustrate the strange egotism of the war reporter but as this vivid and remarkable film unfolds, the terrifying realities of war start to push through. While the commentary of the journalists convey the fear, horror and ferocious camaraderie, it is the blood that drips onto the lens of Fred Scott's camera that will be the lasting image."

Sunday Telegraph - 9 November 2003
"This shocking and violent documentary describes the worst friendly fire incident in the Iraq war, which was caught on camera by John Simpson and his team. Their translator was killed and the most moving part of the film was when the normally loquacious Simpson goes to visit the man's family, and is absolutely lost for words in the face of their grief."

Observer - 9 November 2003
"Undeniably exciting but terrifying footage of life on the front line, plus an intelligent analysis of the aftermath."

Weekend FT - 8 November 2003
"The philistines may have tried to bury Panorama in a graveyard slot but excellence will out. Tonight's Panorama Special is a reminder of the unflinching reporting that made the corporation's reputation."

Weekend FT - 8 November 2003
"If you watch nothing else this weekend, see this. Panorama, which has made some outstanding films this season, excels itself with this shocking film about the ghastly friendly fire incident in April...It's a moving and at times angry film which should particularly be required viewing for politicians."

Panorama investigates the infamous Clydach murders and finds similarities between this case and earlier miscarriages of justice which happened in south Wales.

Western Mail - 4 November 2003
"Victims of miscarriages of justice in South Wales yesterday called for a public inquiry into the activities of South Wales Police. It follows Sunday night's BBC Panorama programme, which raised questions of misconduct by the force in the Clydach murder inquiry...Panorama suggested a serving police officer should have been arrested as a potential suspect. At a press conference yesterday, Michael O'Brien, Annette Hewins and Adrian Stone called for a public inquiry into South Wales Police. All had themselves been involved in cases in the past."

Daily Star - 4 November 2003
"A police chief yesterday blasted the BBC over a programme casting doubt over the conviction of a builder for the brutal murdering of a family of four. Panorama claimed to reveal "disturbing new evidence" over the jailing of David Morris for the killings of a grandmother, mum and two daughters. A six-month investigation by Panorama claimed there were "serious failings" when potentially vital leads were not properly followed up by police at Clydach, near Swansea. But South Wales Chief Constable Sir Anthony Burden said the force has been "honest, professional and transparent" in reviewing controversial murder cases. "

South Wales Echo - 3 November 2003
"Chief Constable Sir Anthony Burden said that Panorama had 'clearly set out to undermine all the excellent work this force does in investigating major crime'. He said: 'Between 1980 and 2000 South Wales Police dealt with 356 murder investigations - of these, five fall into the category of 'miscarriage of justice'.'"

Western Mail - 3 November 2003
"A BBC Panorama programme last night looked at several cases investigated by South Wales Police."

OTV - 2 November 2003
"In June 1999, Mandy Power was beaten to death along with her two daughters and mother in their home in South Wales; the house was then set alight. Later it emerged that she had been having a lesbian affair with the wife of an officer in the South Wales police force; yet David Morris, a local builder, was jailed for the murders in spite of a lack of forensic evidence. Fair Cops? investigates."

Sunday Times - 2 November 2003
South Wales Police come under the Panorama microscope tonight as the 1999 murders of Mandy Power, her two daughters and their grandmother are examined in the light of the force's recent history. South Wales Echo - 24 October 2003
"A television documentary will suggest that the man convicted of the Clydach murders could be another victim of a police miscarriage of justice."

Western Mail - 24 October 2003
" NEIGHBOURS of a family murdered in their home have reacted with fury to a planned BBC Panorama programme which aims to 'look again' at the conviction of labourer David Morris of the horrific Clydach killings. A complaint has already been lodged with the BBC about the content of the programme."


Panorama investigates the proliferation of the crack cocaine trade and how police forces are struggling to cope.

The Herald - 27 October 2003
"This solid, Scottish-made investigation of the crack cocaine pandemic unearthed enough entrepreneurial ghouls to give any society nightmares. It showed crack to be the most capitalist of stupid drugs. Fifty pounds for a "nifty", a tiny rock, will give you perhaps 10 minutes of intense pleasure and, in short order, an intense craving.

Soon enough, as a youngster named Caroline explained, (pounds) 400 will buy no more than a brief day's fun with a purified coke appetiser and a heroin entree. The market is less captive than bound, gagged, and immobilised.

As are the forces of law and order. Panorama set out to show police forces, Grampian in particular, fighting against a tidal wave as the pushers cast their nets beyond inner cities awash with class A drugs. It revealed sensible attitudes among the cops and a lot of hard, painstaking work. But simple statistics served to crush hope: Fraserburgh has a population of 20,000 and 500 registered addicts. Scary? Try soul-destroying.

The Guardian - 27 October 2003
"Panorama's statistics were scary enough, but the grief of some of its interviewees was more saddening. How, they wondered, could drugs gain such a foothold in their safe and well-off communities and ruin their children? They spoke, baffled, as if affluence is a guard against "the evils of drugs". Certainly, deprivation can be a factor in drug usage, but money is no insulation against addiction. A drug dealer is a businessman, Panorama noted. Capitalism abhors a vacuum. There are casualties everywhere."

Sunday Times - 26 October 2003
"Crack cocaine might be perceived as the scourge of the grim urban wasteland, but as this programme shows, it is not just London, Birmingham and Manchester that are fighting a growing crack problem. Thanks to dealers who realised they could swerve the gun-infested waters of the city trade by moving to smaller towns and villages, even the most bucolic areas of Britain are now struggling with the drug. Leaving aside the fact that affluent areas have to be affected before anyone starts panicking, this programme presents an alarming picture of the state of play in the British war on drugs."

With a nod to one of Britain's favourite TV quiz shows, Panorama examines the government's proposals to allow universities in England and Wales to charge up to £3000 a year for a course - to be paid back after graduation.

Sunday Times - 19 October 2003
"With the government's proposed tuition fees set to cause a backbench rebellion, Panorama uses the University Challenge format to quiz two teams of politicians on the policy's effect on education."

Panorama investigates how Pope John Paul II came to be accused of ruining thousands of lives.

Humo, Belgium - 21 October 2003
"Sunday night October 12, BBC ONE broadcast a shocking Panorama report called Sex and the Holy City. 'The consequences of the criminal dogmas of that senile man from Rome for some Third World countries provoke every imagination'. It's likely that Canvas is going to adapt and broadcast the report one of these days. The writer is wondering if this will be uncensored or not."

Financial Times - 18/19 October 2003
"The relationship between the spread of Aids in Africa (home to 120m Catholics) and the Vatican injunction against condom use appears to escape him (the Pope)."

Simon Jenkins in The Times - 17 October 2003
"At a time when world leaders are grappling with the scourge of African Aids, the Vatican contribution is to spread lies about condoms. The thesis that they do not impede the transmission of HIV and should therefore be banned displays the same mindset as hauled Galileo before the Inquisition."

Polly Toynbee in The Guardian - 17 October 2003
"Steve Bradshaw's brilliant Panorama came as a timely reminder...In all three continents, catholic-dominated communities repeated the Vatican lie that condoms have holes in them that let the Aids virus through. The president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, explained that the Vatican's scientific committee had proved it was true - but despite promises, never produced the committee's evidence."

Los Angeles Times - 17 October 2003
"The Vatican has also forced its opposition to condom use -- even to prevent the spread of AIDS -- onto the U.N. stage and elsewhere. This kind of ignorance is not just unfortunate; it is murderous. And this energetic pope has personally taken this message around the world."

Daily Telegraph - 14 October 2003
"On Sunday night, the BBC chose to mark the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's election with a Panorama documentary that accused him of causing death and misery in the Third World. The central charge was that the Roman Catholic Church is helping to spread Aids in Africa by teaching that condoms are useless because the virus passes through the rubber. Most scientists think this is rubbish: the Church has a case to answer. But this accusation lost its force because the programme was so relentlessly one-sided."

NRC Handelsblad (Dutch newspaper) - 13 October 2003
"Good TV journalism occurs less frequently in the Netherlands, than in Britain. The BBC's Panorama programme yesterday broadcast Sex and the Holy City, which had already made the international news days before; thorough research resulted in a scoop with far-reaching consequences."

Sunday Times - 12 October 2003
"Making an unexpected detour away from Iraq, this week's edition of Panorama marks Pope John Paul II's 25-year reign with an examination of the Vatican's policy on sex. While many western Catholics have found a way to reconcile a need for contraception with their faith, Catholics in the world's poorest countries are still instructed by priests who are hardline advocates of the Pope's beliefs on contraception and abortion. The effects are appalling, as this documentary reveals, travelling to Nicaragua, Kenya and the Philippines to witness increased HIV infection, illegal abortions and a destructive absence of family planning."

Independent on Sunday - 12 October 2003
"Steve Bradshaw investigates the legacy of Pope John Paul's war on contraception, abortion and promiscuity. In poorer countries, the pronouncements of God's representative on earth are taken literally. Here, Bradshaw travels to Africa, South-East Asia and Latin America, where he talks to some of those directly affected by the Pope's hardline doctrine, including the pro-lifers who have taken control of Manila's health clinics and banned the use of the pill and condoms".

Panorama uncovers the true picture of this new system of arrest, detention, interrogation and eventual trial by military commission, a key part of America's war against terror following the events of 9/11.

Yasmin Alibhai Brown, The Independent - 16 Feb 2004
I have just re-watched the extraordinary Panorama programme about the camp. For that alone the BBC can have my licence fee

VPRO Gids, Netherlands - 31 October 2003
"During the past few weeks there has been enough attention for the living conditions of more than 650 Moslems who are captured in the American army base Guantanamo Bay. But nobody really knows what's going on in that prison. Even the documentary of the BBC programme Panorama recorded in June this year didn't change this. Not that the reporter Vivian White and his team didn't do their very best: just the permission to film in the camp was a big achievement."

De Standard, Belgium - 25 October 2003
"According to Bush the 600 men who are captured in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba are 'bad people'. Americans think their new punishment system is an essential part of their war against terrorism. The BBC reporter Vivian White travelled around the world for six months to talk with people who where confronted with this form of American justice: arrest, imprisoning, questioning and an eventual condemnation by a military commission. White also travels to Guantanamo."

Financial Times - 4 and 5 October 2003
"An important and damning film in which the veteran member of the journalistic awkward squad Vivian White visits Guantanamo Bay. The footage of American soldiers repeating their mission as if by rote is chilling, but more disturbing is the reaction to White's questioning by defensive American officials".

Mail on Sunday editorial - 5 October 2003
"Among the worst examples of the new ruthlessness has been the treatment of prisoners at the US base in Bagram, Afghanistan, and at the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, a site deliberately chosen because it was beyond the admirable protections of the American Constitution. T

The release of small numbers of these men is proof that some - and perhaps many more - were not guilty of anything. How many others will eventually have to be freed too? Will America have to apologise for Guantanamo, as it has had to do for the roundup of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbour in 1941?


Panorama filmed US troops in Baghdad as those who came to rebuild Iraq were sucked into an urban guerrilla war.

The Spectator - 11 October
"Last month Panorama showed an American major confronting a civilian lying in a Baghdad hospital with a bullet wound in his chest. The Officer believed that the Iraqi was responsible for an attack on American forces and wanted him to reveal the names of his supposed c-conspirators. "Tell him", the major said to the interpreter, "that if he co-operates with us, we can save his life. We have good doctors. But if he doesn't co-operate - it's bad for his health." I am happy to say that this was later revealed to be an unpleasant - and unsuccessful - bluff. It did, however, remind me of the reasons why America is in such trouble in Iraq; namely, its insistence on others' total submission, and its failure to comprehend the wider consequences of such hubristic behaviour.

Observer Review - 5 October
"Indeed if you wanted a reality check last week, you needed to watch a blistering Panorama: The Price of Victory", in which the foot soldiers in the ranks of the US peacekeeping force in Iraq despaired of their out of touch superiors, while the Iraqi people merely despaired. "Soldiers are bad Policemen", the UN Envoy Sergio Viera de Mello, told Panorama in his final interview , 48 hours before he was killed, thereby writing his own epitaph. This was a powerful and important film in which, tragically, there was no hint of a happy ending".

The Sunday Times - 28 September
"Filmed over the summer, this grim documentary records life on the streets of Baghdad since the war in Iraq's supposed end. By following coalition soldiers who were sent over to help rebuild a crippled country, but became increasingly embroiled in the guerrilla war unfolding daily on the city streets, the film highlights their almost impossible task.

Yet it is the record of ordinary Iraqis who have lost relatives in the violence and lost faith in the promises of regime change that make this Panorama so depressing. Featuring the last interview with the late UN special Envoy Sergio Viera de Mello, this programme looks for light at the end of a dark and dangerous tunnel"

The Independent on Sunday - 28 September
"Despite President Bush's hubristic pronouncements, the war in Iraq is palpably not over. Each week, coalition troops die in a country increasingly beset by guerrilla activity. The Beeb's flagship documentary strand meets the soldiers of Thunder Battalion who came to rebuild a country. The programme also includes an interview with UN Special Envoy Sergio de Mello just 48 hours before he was killed by a car-bomb attack"

The Observer - 28 September
"This Autumn sees Panorama celebrate 50 years of broadcasting, thus making it the longest-running current affairs series in the world. Tonight's documentary The Price of Victory starts the new season with a look at coalition soldiers in Iraq: a story of men who came to rebuild a country but who instead found themselves sucked into an urban guerrilla war. A hugely powerful piece of television reporting"

The Times - 27 September
"Panorama spent three months filming on the streets of Baghdad in order to produce this sharp, balanced portrait of life under the US occupation. Most of the American soldiers they filmed were committed and professional, while DVDs depicting scenes of torture do lively trade as a reminder of Saddam's regime. But there are too many worrying examples of crude, heavy-handed US policing. Soldiers swear at Iraqi women; suspects are threatened, hooded and incarcerated in makeshift barbed-wire compounds, and a spirit of lawlessness has replaced Saddam's state-sponsored terror"

Financial Times - 27 September
"Thought provoking stuff"

JULY 2003

For six months a Panorama reporter went through Britain's asylum system. Her task - to find out why so many people seek asylum in the UK and why the system cannot cope?

Melanie McDonagh, Sunday Times - 27 July

"Just as we thought there was a limit to public tolerance of hissy rows between the government and the BBC, another one has come along, nicely timed for the summer holidays when there's so little in the newspapers. This time, please God, the eye scratching between new Labour and the corporation will not end up with the self-slaughter of a decent civil servant. Instead, the argument has merely boiled down to bad-tempered slurs about sloppy journalism and xenophobia.

I refer, of course, to the intemperate response of David Blunkett, the home secretary, to John Ware's Panorama programme, Asylum Day. The documentary pointed out the ease with which a supposedly Moldovan refugee could make a bogus claim for asylum and how the processing of the claim could be indefinitely prolonged, enabling the woman concerned to disappear into those parts of the British economy that officialdom does not reach.

The moral of the programme, as I understood it, was that the asylum system needs a swift processing mechanism for appeals, together with an efficient means of deporting those whose applications are unsuccessful. The home secretary, whose reputation on this subject to date has been the reverse of pinko-liberal, responded that the programme embodied crude anti-immigration prejudice. "It is, in fact, a return to the Powellite anti-immigration agenda," he declared.

It's remarkable, don't you find, that Enoch Powell, three decades after his misapplication of a quote from The Aeneid (just shows where a classical education can get you), is still good for frightening the horses in the contemporary immigration debate. But what's interesting about this latest argument on asylum is quite how far we have moved on from Enoch Powell's terms of reference.

The Panorama programme didn't show a black man trying to fiddle the asylum system. It depicted a white, supposedly Moldovan, woman. And in so doing it was true to the picture of much contemporary immigration, only part of which is black or Asian."

Yorkshire Post - 27 July

"Anyone who expressed criticism of asylum policy can expect to be smeared, and accused of xenophobia at best or racism at worst. The BBC's Panorama programme last week exposed many of the immigration rackets and was immediately subjected to a smear from Home Secretary David Blunkett. If Blunkett were honest, he would say that he has done his best but cannot cope with the problem, hemmed in by foolish laws and zealous lawyers. Much easier to accuse critics of Powellism. Critics are accused of being anti-immigrant when they are merely demanding immigration control."

Evening Standard leader - 25 July

"Mr David Blunkett, has been fulminating about the criticisms of Britain's asylum and immigration policy by the BBC Panorama programme this week. Indeed, he went so far as to accuse the programme-makers of a "Powellite anti-immigration agenda". It was a curious observation from a Home Secretary who has himself been criticised for using inflammatory language on this subject. Is Mr Blunkett saying that the whole area of asylum and immigration should not be honestly discussed - except on the Government's terms and by institutions of whom he approves?"

Daily Mail leader - 25 July

"How sad that our normally level headed Home Secretary seems to have succumbed to New Labour's hatred of the BBC. David Blunkett's attack on Panorama for allegedly playing into the hands of a Powellite anti-immigration agenda is simply unworthy of him and so serious a subject.

What, after all was Panorama's offence? In a piece of first-rate journalism that dispassionately explained the facts, it used an undercover reporter posing as a refugee to show how easily people with spurious claims can get round immigration controls and disappear into the black economy.

When the Home Office has just slipped out news - conveniently after the Commons rose for the summer - that hundreds of thousands of immigrants are working here illegally, the expose could hardly be more timely. Yet for telling the truth, the BBC is denounced and demonised...

The purpose is obvious: the smears are intended to stifle debate on an issue of deep concern and cow millions of decent, tolerant people into silence."

Daily Telegraph leader - 25 July

"A return to Powellism" is how David Blunkett labels the Panorama programme about the confusion that bedevils the Government's handling of asylum. "It played into the hands of those who use the issue of asylum to attack immigration per se," he declares. But there is legitimate public concern about aspects of immigration that have nothing to do with so called Powellism."

The Guardian leader - 25 July

When the BBC's Panorama team began filming this week's special programme in January, a new asylum act had just come into force which had stark consequences for those seeking refugee status in Britain. Some of those consequences were shown in the early parts of the programme - the destitution into which applicants who delayed lodging claims were plunged through the withdrawal of rights to shelter, food and clothing. But this was incidental to the main thrust of the programme. Rather, as its writer and presenter John Ware wrote in Wednesday's Daily Mail, its main purpose was to explore "Why has Britain become the asylum capital of the world?"

That claim has to be put into context, though Mr Ware made little effort to do so in his programme or his Mail article. The UK received a record 86,000 asylum applicants (with 24,000 dependents) last year. This does not even put this country at the top of the European league, let alone the world, in terms of applications per head of population. The UK was eighth in the Western Europe league in 2002, with four states - Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Austria - receiving proportionally twice our number. In 2001, Britain ranked 10th. In the decade 1990-2000, we accepted less than a quarter of the number Germany absorbed (454,000 compared to 2m). In a global context, the UK's 85,000 pales by comparison with the 2 million refugees Pakistan has accepted or the 1.8 million in Iran in 2001. As the United Nations high commission for refugees always reminds people, out of 12m refugees in the world, the west has fewer than 1 million.

What Panorama set out to show was that it is very easy to get around the current strict procedures. Of course the law can be bent. It has become so strict that it often has to be broken - as successive home secretaries have conceded - for a genuine refugee to find asylum. But there were other serious defects in the BBC analysis. First, a reporter who pretended to be a Moldovan refugee, was already in the country. Yet the barriers to British entry begin far beyond our shores. Panorama did not even begin to look at these, let alone report on the genuine refugees that they are shutting out. Then the reporter was a former interpreter in the heart of the immigration department. This was absurd. Of course she knew the loopholes.

It is not often that we find ourselves in agreement with the home secretary on asylum, but the main thrust of David Blunkett's demolition job on the programme that we published yesterday is absolutely right. It was, in his words, both "a poorly researched and overspun documentary". For John Ware to suggest that immigration has been a taboo subject for the last 35 years only demonstrates how out of touch the programme was. You do not pass four asylum acts in 10 years without heated debates."

Daily Telegraph - 24 July

"Last night's Panorama seems unlikely to reconcile the BBC and the Government. As part of BBC 1's night on asylum-seekers, the programme set itself the familiar question of whether Britain is a soft touch. It's answer though - certainly for those who regard the Corporation as either reliably or incurably liberal - was more unexpected: a firm and indignant yes....

...In many ways you had to admire Panorama's bravely unfashionable line - mainly because it seemed to have been dictated by the facts. Even so, the programme offered no solutions to the problems it so spectacularly unveiled."

The Times - 24 July

"What we do know, having watched John Ware's Panorama report, is that the Government has lost the reins of the asylum system, which is now, like a bolted horse that gallops across the nation, inspiring - by turns - admiration and panic. Admiration, because watching the way Panorama's undercover reporter was treated by police, immigration officials and charities after pretending to have just arrived in Britain from Moldova, hidden in a lorry, you'd have to conclude that the British are generally kindly, hospitable people...

...And panic because the Home Office doesn't seem to have a clue about how to monitor the asylum system. As John Ware puts it "The original concept of asylum solely as a sanctuary for the oppressed has become discredited. Over the past ten years the system has descended into chaos and abuse. Panorama's reporter Claudia Murg, justified this verdict. She was able to pretty much as she pleased...

...Ware's thesis is that a well intentioned policy has gone wrong. He would seem to have a point."

Daily Mail - 24 July

"As part of the debate, Panorama - the former flagship of the BBC's current affairs coverage - was moved from its disgracefully obscure Sunday night ghetto to contribute to the asylum-fest with a hard hitting special edition. Asylum (as the programme was modestly called) employed an undercover reporter to expose the degree of racketeering that is rife among what we must call the illegal asylum seekers population, frequently aided and abetted by the legal profession's asylum gravy train."

Guardian - 24 July

"Murg became Moldovan Mihaela as part of BBC's Asylum Day. For six months she maintained her fictional persona trying to ascertain why Britain is the asylum capital of Europe. There wasn't a conclusion as such, though it's pretty obvious that Britain is actually quite nice when compared with poor countries that used to have dictators and bread. And it's much better than France of course...

...Mihaela met a dodgy lawyer and a dim recruitment agency worker, packed ready meals and bits of fish in a bag, and after making another asylum claim under another false name, finally got herself caught by the Home Office. While not quite throwing herself at them wearing a sign that said "I'm an undercover reporter. I have just made you look inept", she nevertheless made her point effectively.

Amid this, there was also a reminder that some asylum seekers are really fleeing horrors beyond your bourgeois imagination. But legitimate refugees just aren't as interesting as dodgy Albanians and sneaky Arabs."

The Independent - 24 July

"Panorama tackled the problem in an even more ingenious way, with an unusual programme in which the film footage and the narration were subtly at odds. If you were a Daily Mail reader then you could have taken satisfaction from the tetchy implication of John Ware's voiceover that Britain is a paradise for those attempting to get round the immigration regulations. If, on the other hand, you take the view that our treatment of asylum seekers is shameful, you could have concentrated on Claudia Murg, the reporter who had adopted the persona of a Moldovan asylum seeker in order to experience at first hand the disincentives that David Blunkett has built into the system. It was possible to reconcile those two opposing views with a third - that the system is chaotic and arbitrary, punishing genuine refugees without effectively deterring those who simply want to suck at the welfare teat."

Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun - 24 July

"The three-hour blitz included a devastating report by the flagship Panorama programme."

JUNE 2003

Panorama uncovers disturbing evidence about what some hospitals are doing to achieve the government's NHS targets.

British Medical Journal - July 5

"The picture that emerged, through interviews with managers and clinicians in Oxford and London, was one of an NHS in which patients were being deceived.

"Hospitals appeared gripped by a culture of fear in which managers, like conscientious pupils sitting standard assessment tests, seemed terrified of not getting full marks. A former chief executive claimed that not hitting certain targets was "a sackable offence" and a consultant described how managers gave him zero minutes to see a patient whom they didn't deem to be a clinical priority. Several of the managers who spoke to Panorama about the ruses used to hit targets did so anonymously, their words spoken by actors. It seemed that talking openly could be career limiting...

"Panorama did not pull its punches. But in explaining the conflicts that managers, doctors, and nurses face as they try to balance targets against clinical priorities, the programme was a model of clarity."

The Independent - July 1

"Sunday night's Panorama had caught a whiff of sharp practice in the NHS and had followed the scent to a good story - one that provided a neat prelude to the BMA chairman's attack on the distortions that targeting has introduced to the Health Service. It wasn't targets that were the problem. It was the absurd way in which they were policed. Hospitals were told which week's Casualty lists would be assessed, broke their backs to meet them for seven days, and slumped back exhausted the following Monday. Guess which week the Government boasts about?"

Melanie Reid, Glasgow Herald - 1 July
"The madness of the government's target-driven reform of the NHS has finally broken cover with yesterday's explosive speech from the outgoing chairman of the British Medical Association, and a damning edition last Sunday of Panorama....revealed the scandalous tricks which hospitals are using to please their NHS masters (and betray their patients)."

The Observer - 29 June
"An alarming investigation which brings to light new evidence about what some hospitals are doing to meet the Government's National Health Service targets and the pressure being put on the NHS staff to deliver results. Consultants reveal how clinical priorities are being distorted so that hospital managers can meet waiting-time targets to the point that one says he was allocated "0 minutes" to see a follow-up patient. An eye opener.

Panorama enters the dark and sinister world of the Ulster Defence Association, whom the programme has followed for nine shocking months.

The Newsletter - 23 June
"Last night's BBC Television Panorama programme revealed the full extent of the loyalist paramilitaries' descent into crime and it provides little comfort or hope that the bad old days of the Troubles are totally at an end.

"The Government, our politicians, churchmen and leaders of the wider community cannot wash their hands completely and blithely say that this matter is absolutely nothing to do with them.

"It should matter to all with responsibility in this Province that terrorist paramilitary violence is continuing on our streets and efforts should be made at all levels to steer young, impressionable people away from sinister influences and organisations with a nefarious, criminal agenda."

The Observer - 22 June
"Reporter Kevin Magee enters the dark and sinister worked of the largest paramilitary organisation in Europe, the UDA, and exposes the extraordinary level of violence associated with the group.

"Knee cappings, pipe-bomb attacks, arson and murder are all commonplace, but distressingly, UDA terrorists appear to be able to operate with impunity. Magee tells the story of a bitter and deadly gangland feud and reveals that few arrests are made and no members of the organisation have been charged with any of the murders committed during the feud. Powerful television."

Belfast Telegraph - 21 June
"Having had a preview of tomorrow night's Panorama special on the UDA feud, I advise you not to miss it. It proves that when the established order in the Protestant heartlands, which used to consist of the UUP, the Orange Order and the Churches is overthrown, far worse takes its place.

"Corruption and criminality rule, in the wake of the political revolution, and there is little the forces of law and order - or ordinary decent people - can do about it. Zero tolerance would be a start, if we had enough police."

MAY 2003

Panorama investigates the use of protein additives made from the remains of cows and pigs, which are used by some areas of the frozen chicken industry.

The People, 25 May
"This was stomach-churning stuff, and nearly made you want to become a vegetarian. Nearly, but things aren't that drastic."

The Guardian - leader, 24 May
"If you are what you eat, then this week's big food story was difficult to stomach. Large food processors, it was revealed, were bulking up chicken destined for hospitals, schools and restaurants with beef bits, pig waste and poultry skins. The industrialisation of the food chain means that the search for ever-bigger profit drives companies to seek cheaper ways of producing food. So bony and bloody waste is transformed into meat for the kitchen table. That beef products are being used rightly alarms people in a country which is still spooked by mad cow disease. If concealing extra water and meat-based additives in low-cost chicken meat sounds disgusting, then that is because it is.

"Yet instead of stating the obvious, the watchdog for food safety has barely bared its teeth. Instead the food standards agency called sotto voce for improved labelling. Applying labels to novel foods is often a good way of balancing the opposing wishes of producers and consumers. But the reality is complex. In this case the labels that the agency wants, describing what was contained in the meat, would be read by wholesalers, not by the public. It is those who eat chicken injected with beef that need to be told about it.

"The government needs to respond to consumer concerns - not see them as an obstacle to progress - and as a first step it should prevail upon the food standards agency to stand up and say the result of injecting beef into chicken is a fowl foul."

The Independent, 23 May
"Last night's Panorama offered two powerful arguments against eating cheap processed chicken - or any products that might contain it...

"People might forget what exactly it is that hydrolysed proteins do, but they're not likely to forget what they look like, oozing from a freshly injected fillet like an alien's phlegm...

"The BBC has been trying to produce water-cooler current affairs for some time now - serious reports that get ordinary people talking the next day. If this film didn't do it, then frankly it can't be done."

The Times, 23 May
"In The Chicken Run, the Panorama team set out to expose abuses in the processing of frozen chicken. This was the hidden camera at its most devastating and used entirely in the public interest. It was a truly revolting story, which is already causing a minor scandal."

Daily Mirror, 22 May
"In March this year food inspectors revealed that many shipped-in frozen chicken breasts contained added protein - designed to retain water. BBC's Panorama programme will reveal tonight how most is being supplied from Holland."

The Guardian, 21 May
"In what is likely to be a major food scandal, secret filming for BBC1's Panorama has revealed that vast quantities of frozen chicken coming into the UK each week have been injected with beef proteins."

London Evening Standard, 21 May
"In an interview with reporters from BBC's Panorama programme, the head of a German company which extracts the meat proteins claimed that his firm, Prowico, had developed ways of refining them to such a low level that the FSA would not be able to detect them."

Daily Telegraph, 21 May
"A scandal in which fraudsters developed new methods of subterfuge to prevent inspectors from detecting tens of thousands of tons of chicken adulterated with proteins from pig and cow remnants will be exposed on television tomorrow night.

"In a special investigation, Panorama has uncovered the "breathtaking lengths to which some protein manufacturers are now going to keep adding cow and pig to your chicken" without the knowledge of consumers, caterers or the regulators."

Irish Times, 21 May
"Secret filming for BBC's Panorama has revealed that vast quantities of frozen chicken coming into the UK each week have been injected with beef proteins. BBC reporters were told by Dutch manufacturers that beef DNA can now be manipulated in such a way that the safety authorities' tests cannot detect it.

Adulterated chicken has been imported widely by British wholesalers. Brakes, a leading supplier to schools, hospitals and restaurants, has unwittingly imported chicken with beef DNA, according to laboratory tests for the BBC. On Panorama tomorrow, a German protein supplier for huge Dutch chicken companies tells undercover reporters his firm, Prowico, has developed secret methods to break down the DNA of the proteins so that no government tests can detect the beef.

Sunday Times, 18 May
"In Britain, where we eat more chicken than any other nation in Europe, consumption has more than doubled in the past 20 years; and some 50% of the frozen chicken imported into Britain comes from Holland. It is very big business and aspects of it are ripe for scrutiny by the BBC's current-affairs flagship.

"Extensive research and covert filming sheds light on this area - and further cause for consumer alarm is revealed though investigations in Germany and product testing at home. The reporter Betsan Powys and the producer Howard Bradburn went undercover, posing as venture capitalists interested in investment opportunities in the meat trade, and found themselves openly welcomed in European boardrooms, sometimes in the same plant as another of the programme's team was working on the shop floor."

They brought us war against Iraq - what do the hawks in Washington have in store for us now? Panorama investigates the "neo-conservatives", the small and unelected group of right-wingers, who critics claim have hijacked the White House.

The Observer, 18 May
"An eye-opening investigation into America's neo-conservatives - a political group which some claim has hijacked White House foreign policy. They have been described as 'pro-bombing, pro-empire Washington policy wonks who have filled the vacuum on the right, where most Americans have little interest in foreign policy and know little about foreign nations."

The Independent on Sunday, 18 May
"This illuminating edition of the investigation show asks whether the neo-conservatives have hijacked US foreign policy. Reporter Steve Bradshaw has spent the last two months mingling with neo-cons and assessing their influence on President George W Bush's world view.

The programme reveals that the hard right were pushing for a strike against Iraq even before 9/11. Now they are coldly eyeing up other nations in what Bush, in his State of the Union address, famously called "the axis of evil". Which "rogue state" might be next on the hit list?"

Last year Panorama revealed the dark side of Seroxat, one of the world's favourite anti-depressants. The response was so large it led to a second investigation into the drug

Scotsman, 19 May
"The recent Panorama television programme on Seroxat, an antidepressant, revealed to the experts just how this should be done. Here is a riveting programme, to which thousands responded, and immediately patterns can be recognised."

Gareth McLean, The Guardian, 12 May
"A follow-up to an investigation into the possible side-effects of the anti-depressant Seroxat, it was as urgent and chilling as its predecessor, using the thousands of viewers' emails that the original programme prompted. Relaying terrible stories of suicide, murder and addiction, this was important, relevant and confident current affairs.

"It was a challenge to the government body that regulates prescription drugs, a j'accuse for the pharmaceutical industry and an opportunity to be heard for people who suffer in silence every day. It also underlined the stigma still attached to mental illness, the perverse picturesque of suicide spots and the high price some pay for peace."

The Sunday Telegraph - 11 May
"Last October, Panorama screened a programme about the allegedly harmful side-effects of Seroxat - an anti-depressant drug close to replacing Prozac in popularity. Inundated by 67,000 phone calls, Panorama has decided to revisit the issues raised in its first programme. In this bleak and perturbing report, we hear from the relatives who believe the drug drove members of their family to suicide."

Sunday Times - 11 May: Critic's choice
"Update programmes can often be an excuse for reruns with a few token inserts. But in Seroxat: E-mails from the Edge, the new material is substantial and amounts to a significant body of evidence: the response of viewers to the original film, which consisted of 67,000 calls to the helpline and 1,400 e-mails. Analysed by two experts, the latter link 16 suicides and 47 attempted suicides to Seroxat. Many patients had not connected their own or their loved ones' problems to the drug until they saw the Panorama report.

"With its arguments for disquiet thus strengthened, Shelley Jofre's report accuses the medicine regulator, the MHRA, of failing to listen to patients and of failing to ensure that they receive full information about possible side effects. The MHRA, however, insists there is "no need for a new concern"; while GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of the drug, is equally adamant that, "we do not believe Seroxat causes suicide or self-harm".

Financial Times - 10 May
"The eclectic but always serious current affairs programme turns its gaze away from Iraq and instead looks at an anti-depressant which apparently has some pretty nasty side effects including addiction, violence and self-harm."

The Independent - 10 May
"When Panorama investigated the anti-depressant Seroxat in October, its helpline was inundated with 67,000 calls. This follow up probes personal experiences of the drug, and the alleged side effects of violent mood swings, self-harm and even suicide. Since its launch in the early 1990's, Seroxat, the "Rolls Royce" prescription for depression, has made a fortune for the manufacturers. However many patients feel they were given insufficient information by their GPs. Has the government regulator failed in it's duty to oversee patients' safety?"

APRIL 2003

The report into the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane concludes that some British army intelligence officers and police helped loyalists to murder Catholics. The latest enquiry by John Stevens was set up after the Panorama programme 'Licence to Murder' was aired

The Observer - 20 April
"Men like John Stevens, journalists like John Ware at Panorama and organisations like the one that pushed for an enquiry are the awkward heroes of our democracy"

Richard Ingram: The Observer - 20 April
"The Army and the Government must have known for some time what had been going on, even if, like the rest of us, they only saw it on Panorama. Yet the officer in charge of the operation, Brigadier Gordon Kerr, far froar from being cashiered or court-martialled, is currently the military attaché at our embassy in Beijing and was described last week as 'one of the Foreign Office's most prized defence experts'."

Irish News - 17 April
"Stevens II was set up after a BBC Panorama programme, The Dirty War, revealed how Nelson had warned his army handlers in late 1988 that Pat Finucane was being targeted by the UDA. It further revealed that far from being a lone 'bad apple' Nelson had been assisted by his handlers in collating intelligence and had been provided with the personal details and photographs of intended targets."

MARCH 2003

Panorama has been following the opposition to Tony Blair, in the anti-war movement, the Labour Party, and in Parliament and asks if the Prime Minister could lose his job over the Iraq crisis?

New Statesman - 31 March
"The BBC does not need to find authority, merely its tone, but it too showed an excellent sense of perspective in Panorama (BBC1, 23 March) on Blair's war, which reminded us just how far out on a limb Tony has taken us. Much of Vivian White's report recapped the tidal shift in defence policy from deterrence to pre-emption, the breadth of British opposition and the damage it may cause relations with Muslim countries and citizens. What else it strongly suggested, however, was that the war was also raging as a psychodrama inside the Prime Minister's head.

"Well done, BBC1 for airing it and actually transmitting Panorama an hour earlier than usual. Its courage recalled a similar Panorama about opposition to the Falklands task force 20 years ago."

"For Comic Relief, Panorama sets celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson a challenge: to create a world-class meal from ingredients that reporter Steve Bradshaw has bought from some of the world's poorest farmers. From voodoo villages in Haiti to tomato fields in Ghana. The film investigates whether we harm the world's poor more through unfair trade than we help them through aid."

Sunday Times - 9 March
"An ingeniously conceived programme"

Sunday Telegraph - 9 March
"Shocking film - how trade rules are set up to benefit the rich and punish the poor"

Observer - 9 March
"Antony Worrall Thompson (above) is challenged to use these ingredients to create literally the world's most unfair meal - ever. Food for thought."

Emily Bell, Media Guardian - 3 March
"It is fair to say that the current affairs series (Panorama) has had an excellent year."


Two weeks ago after a flurry of snow Britain's transport system collapsed. Whatever happened to New Labour's radical vision of a "renaissance" in transport which the Government said would rival the best in Europe? Find out from Panorama's John Ware in "Promises, Promises".

Mail on Sunday - 16 February
"Transport is the acid test of the Government's ability to deliver public services. Unlike crime and education, transport has no alibi. It has none of the complicating social factors which are arguably beyond Government control. You can either get Britain moving, or you can't. It's that simple. "
From an article by John Ware


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