BBC apologises for wrong facts on Wilberfest reporting
By The Ligali Organisation | Sat 8 March 2008
Toronto Star: Front Page story across the world is deliberately buried and misrepresented by the British media
The BBC has issued the Pan African human rights activist, Toyin Agbetu a personal apology for publishing an incorrect account of events during the bicentenary abolition celebrations held at Westminster Abbey last year.
Several changes have now been made to various pages on the BBC News website to correct the BBC’s false and widely publicised account of what occurred on 27 March 2007 in Westminster Abbey during the Wilberforce Abolition celebrations. Writing to Toyin Agbetu of the Ligali Organisation, Patrick Heery, UK Editor of BBC News Interactive apologised for the corporation getting its facts wrong and made amendments and textual changes to the main article and captions in the picture gallery containing errors.
The changes were instigated after the BBC received a personal complaint from Toyin challenging the BBC claims that he ‘ran from the congregation… to a space close to where the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were seated”. The article also falsely claimed that Toyin had demanded an apology. Acknowledging these facts as wrong the BBC altered the article to read Toyin stated that “…the Queen should say sorry for her ancestors..” and corrected another two pages in order to ‘make it clear that [Toyin] walked to the south transcept’.
There was much media reporting claiming that Toyin the “lone madman” forcibly “gatecrashed” the proceedings despite him holding a valid press pass enabling him to enter without any security checks, nonetheless Heery refused to change the text claiming Toyin was searched or scanned by security despite this being untrue. On this matter he responded “[The BBC] were simply quoting the Abbey figure on the day. He was not necessarily aware of what had actually happened”. The BBC made no effort to ascertain the truth.
The BBC has long held a grudge against the Ligali organisation. Its 1xra website still hosts malicious captions attempting to portray Toyin as a “lone madman”.
Unfortunately any new reader of the associated BBC News articles will be unaware of these corrective changes as the BBC has decided not to update the timestamp on the pages. Unlike printed media where the original text of a story remains static, online content can be and is often updated frequently as more information on a story becomes available. Electronic time stamps are published on news based articles as an accountability mechanism to prove trustworthiness by providing a time based audit trail of an articles changes or updates.
With the BBC deliberately choosing not to update the timestamps, the editorial team seeks to hide the fact that the original pages contained factual errors for almost a year. Heery attempts to justifies this and writes “on small textual changes like this, the original timestamp is retained to avoid confusion”.
Nonetheless this managerial decision gives the misleading impression to the public that the article was accurate at time of publication and downplays the fact that the BBC deliberately published material written in a manner that intentionally misled and distorted the events being reported on in order to cultivate a defamatory opinion of Toyin’s character and generate slanderous responses towards him from the public.
In a personal attack attempting to portray Toyin as a “lone madman” a malicious caption on the BBC 1xtra website still reads: "Some people climb buildings in costumes, others march the street in protest, but Toyin Agbetu chose the service marking the bicentenary of the Act to abolish the Slave Trade. He bellowed down the Abbey saying black Christians attending should be ashamed. Five minutes of fame... over."
Many see this fact as a clear example of the BBC's long held grudge against the Ligali Organisation and African people in general.
In April 2007, the BBC London presenter George Webley came under criticism after advocating that Toyin should have been executed during his non-violent objection to the Wilberfest celebrations at Westminster Abbey.