THE MADELEINE FOUNDATION’S MAKING OF A PROGRAMME WITH BBC EAST MIDLANDS’ ‘INSIDE OUT’ TEAM:
The Madeleine Foundation decided in early 2010 to co-operate with BBC East Midlands in the making of a programme, said to be of 8 to 10 minutes’ length, about our work. It was to be part of the BBC’s ‘Inside Out’ series, which examines organisations - often highly controversial ones - in depth.
The decision to co-operate was close-run and taken only with a certain amount of reluctance and misgivings. The reasons for these misgivings included:
1. the previous history of The Madeleine Foundation’s treatment by the press, which had been universally hostile
2. concern that the BBC’s agenda was not to paint a fair picture of The Madeleine Foundation but to attack us
3. the previous conduct of BBC East Midlands, notably their hostile interview of our former Chairman Debbie Butler on 14 August 2009 after what became known as the ‘Rothley Leaflet Drop’, and the way they reported on Mr Amaral’s appeal against his book ban in Lisbon. Alone amongst many media, BBC East Midlands’ reporter John O’Sullivan had claimed that Mr Amaral had said, in answer to a question, ‘F___ the McCanns’, whereas all other media said he had simply said ‘Forca los McCanns’, meaning: ‘Ask the McCanns’. Mr Amaral does not speak English.
In favour of co-operating with the programme were the following considerations:
1. even previous adverse publicity had led to renewed interest in The Madeleine Foundation. Despite hostile publicity, The Madeleine Foundation had received thousands of extra hits to its website, two dozen new people joined, other people wished to distribute our controversial ’10 Reasons’ leaflet, we received many offers of help, and hundreds of extra copies of our book ‘60 Reasons’ were sold
2. there remained large numbers of people who had not heard about the work of The Madeleine Foundation, amongst a population we believe to be still overwhelmingly sceptical about the McCanns’ claims
3. the BBC has a duty under OFCOM codes of practice to produce a ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ programme about us. Indeed, Simon Hare of BBC East Midlands, who first approached us about making a programme, promised that his programme would be fair to us
4. we would certainly be given a fair opportunity within the programme to explain why we were set up, what our aims are, and how we set about achieving them.
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