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tv   Newswatch  BBC News  November 10, 2017 7:45pm-8:01pm GMT

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the headlines on bbc news: the eu's chief brexit negotiator michel barnier says the uk has two weeks to clarify how it will settle the so—called "divorce bill" — if trade talks are to begin next month. wales‘s first minister carwynjones has asked for an independent inquiry into how he handled allegations about carl sargea nt, who died earlier this week. a mother and father are fighting a high court battle to stop their eight—month—old son's life support machine being switched off. now it's time for newswatch. this week samira ahmed hears viewers‘ comments on the paradise papers. hello and welcome to newswatch with me, samira ahmed. a huge leak of financial documents dominated bbc news at the start of this week. did they deserve all that attention, or was this journalistic self—indulgence? and did the bbc unfairly suggest wrongdoing on the part of politicians, royalty and celebrities when they had broken no laws? another week, another departure
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from theresa may's cabinet. pressure had been building on priti patel since the emergence last friday of her undisclosed meetings while on holiday in israel. but was some of that pressure imposed in an unwarranted way by the media, particularly the bbc, which broke the story? yes, according to andy ramsbottom, who asked: and keith brown thought: the long predicted end came for priti patel after her hastily arranged journey home from africa, monitored at one point by 22,000 people on a flight tracking website, as shown on the bbc news channel. that prompted ian miller to tweet: while a user called kubrick's lens
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cap thought: when the soon—to—be ex—international development secretary reached heathrow airport, the coverage switched from flight tracker to helicopter camera, and the complaints continued. here's roy ramm: it was a huge information dump, the leak of over 13 million documents, worked on for a year by almost 100 different media organisations. a lot of work clearly went into the so—called paradise papers,
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and despite it being a busy news week as well, the bbc gave the story a lot of airtime. tonight on panorama,... it started at 6pm on sunday with a panorama special, and more than half of the news at ten was dedicated to the subject, pushing a report of the texas shooting and new allegations against damian green down the running order. on monday, there was another hour—long panorama special, watched by neil spellings: immediatedly following panorama was the bbc news at ten o'clock. this dedicated the first half of the show, so 15 minutes, covering exactly the same topics that had just been shown immediately previous to the news by panorama. i thought it was a strange editorial decision to repeat so much content immediately adjacent to programmes, especially when the news were using the same clips of richard bilton doorstepping celebrities outside the studios, and with the same infographics
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and pretty much everything. it was like a panorama—lite for 15 minutes. the paradise papers also led bbc one bulletins for a third night on tuesday, ahead of the death of welsh politician carl sargea nt and the ongoing travails of borisjohnson and priti patel. so was the big investigation worth the prominence given to it? not according to scores of viewers, including paul titley, who asked: 0thers targeted in the investigation, or hounded as several viewers saw it, were actors from mrs brown's boys, conservative party donor lord ashcroft, us commerce
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secretary wilbur ross and formula 1 driver lewis hamilton. the latter case prompted sandra lipscomb to record this video. i was really incensed the other morning, listening about lewis hamilton and his avoidance of vat. all of us, no matter who we are, it's human nature. if we can save a few pennies, we will. why aren't they going, or you going after the likes of these financial experts, who are being paid lots of money by celebrities to help save them money? and also, hmrc. they need some whizzkids to sort out these loopholes. with me now to explore coverage of the paradise papers story is james stephenson, news editor for bbc news. welcome to newswatch. we kept hearing the phrase "none of this is illegal",
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so who exactly were you targeting in this investigation? well, it's perhaps worth saying that, as you and many of your listeners will know, this was an enormous project over a long timespan and only began with the leak of the documents. after that, there was a great deal of journalistic work to sift through and identify stories that we should be doing, and notjust do stories because names were found in papers. we applied a very rigorous public interest test above and beyond "is it interesting ? " to the stories we decided to take on. which was? it varied from case to case, and that was part of the complexity that the panorama team and the wider news operation had to work through. each case was somewhat different, but where people were simply, to use that phrase, avoiding tax, we didn't think that that was in itself a reason to include them in our coverage. if it was aggressive tax avoidance or if it was tax evasion, or if there were some other big public interest element, we felt that was the reason why
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we would do a story rather than leave it to one side. of course, tax evasion is illegal whereas tax avoidance, even at the blurry line, is legal. why didn't you focus just on the firms and advisers, instead of tarnishing the reputation of, say, the queen? i think we did do that. we obviously thought carefully about what was a story and how we should present the story and whether it was newsworthy. as you saw, we concluded that it was. the most newsworthy thing was that these tax havens around the world had had all their documents from this company, appleby, but also from the company registers in these places revealed. and we felt that that was in itself a big story worthy of reporting. we then moved on to reporting individual cases where we felt there were controversial issues to be raised or issues of public interest to be considered. one of the other issues which came up is that it has been
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a very busy news week. the biggest complaint we got was how much airtime this got, sometimes half of a bulletin when there were important stories such as the foreign secretary's comments about a british citizen in an iranianjail. we feel we have done justice to those other stories as well. it's part of the nature of news and part of the nature of bbc news that we often have to do several very big stories at one time. it is worth saying that the priti patel story was broken byjames landale, our diplomatic correspondent. so it wasn't that we focused all our energies on one story and not on others. but we did feel that this long investigation with these high—profile companies and individuals was worthy of the time we gave it. we also gave some additional airtime to two things. one was to put into broader context what tax havens are, how they have grown up over the century, so people will have seen, on sunday night, our economics editor kamal ahmed
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stepping through that. and we also had reaction. we had an interview with wilbur ross after the revelation. so it wasn't just the original journalism. we were also doing the context and the follow—up. we can tell that it was a huge, coordinated news operation with international partners. it even had its own hashtag, paradise papers. again, viewers feel that in the end, this wasn't the big scoop that you are claiming and the amount of coverage was self—indulgent. people will have to judge that for themselves. i think different viewers will have different views on that. if you take one example, apple, apple is the biggest company in the world, and we've revealed where it places its funding, effectively its wealth, offshore. where did the papers come from? we actually don't know. in one sense, we do. they came from appleby originally, which is this law firm which has offices in these various tax havens.
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it came into the possession of suddeutsche zeitung, a german newspaper. they then collaborated with the icij, the international consortium of investigativejournalists, and bbc panorama is one of the partners among 100 partners in that consortium. but we don't know how the leak happened. are you comfortable with that? some viewers feel it is unethical for the bbc to publish them. we are. we have taken the decision that there is a public interest, but it takes us back to the point i'm making, which is that we haven't simply published what is in those documents, we have gone through a lengthyjournalistic, editorial and legal process including right to reply by the people concerned, to establish that we think there is a public interest above and beyond simply the fact that people appear in these papers. is there a risk to the bbc‘s values if it partners
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in this way in future, do you think? i don't. we didn't subcontract our editorial judgments to the icu. they have done an outstanding job in corralling this group of investigative journalists, something that a few years ago would have seemed a very improbable thing for investigative journalism. but we have made our own editorial decisions about which stories we thought we should do, which we thought were justified. if we didn't think they met the standards of what we wanted to broadcast, we didn't put them out on any of our platforms. james stephenson, thank you. finally, a very unusual picture appeared on the bbc news website on monday. this anonymous caller describes what she saw and what she thought of it. hello, i've been increasingly frustrated by the dumbing down of the bbc news web pages. i finally reached the limit when i looked and saw an item which was "my dog looks like donald trump's face". i think you're just trying to appeal
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to masses and dumbing down. if people want to read that stuff, they can read it elsewhere. that is not what bbc news is for and i hope you get that message loud and clear from other people too. thank you for your comments this week. if you want to share your opinions on bbc news and current affairs or even appear on the programme, you call us or e—mail us. you can find us on twitter, and do have a look at our website for previous discussions. that's all from us. we'll be back to hear your thoughts about bbc news coverage again next week. goodbye. hello. we have got some rain to come this evening and overnight. not everywhere. it is beginning to arrive across northern ireland into the far south—west of england and
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wales. we will see the rain pushing its way further across england and wales. some heavy bursts. further north, especially in scotland we have some clearer skies and wintry showers, maybe a touch of frost as well. more winter showers to come in scotland. the rain further south will tend to peter out a little. north where it stays cloudy and drier through the midlands and north, it will be cold. perhaps northern ireland as well. funniest quys northern ireland as well. funniest guys compensating for the low temperatures further north. some more rain to come this evening and overnight. that clears away. we get some proper cold airfor overnight. that clears away. we get some proper cold air for the second half of the weekend. initially lots of showers at the west and then running down the north sea coasts. for many inland it will be dry, sunny and cold. this is bbc news. the headlines: the clock‘s ticking in the brexit talks, the eu says britain has two
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weeks to agree its "divorce bill" before trade talks can begin next month. meanwhile, theresa may says she wants to enshrine the time and date of brexit into law and warns she won't tolerate attempts to block the process. wales‘s first minister carwynjones has asked for an independent inquiry into how he handled allegations about carl sargea nt, who died earlier this week. a mother and father are fighting a high court battle to stop their eight—month—old son's life support machine being switched off. remembering the sacrifices of world war i on the centenary of the end of one of the bloodiest battles of all — passchendale. also this hour — broadband providers are to pay
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