Friday, December 14, 2007

Newsnight branded 'libellous and perverse'

Chris Tryhorn, Guardian Unlimited (UK)

Last night Newsnight broadcast a 17-minute investigation into some of the evidence used for Policy Exchange's report The Hijacking of British Islam, published in October. This was followed by a heated interview between presenter Jeremy Paxman and the thinktank's research director, Dean Godson, a former chief leader writer for the Daily Telegraph. The Newsnight report included forensic analysis of five out of 25 receipts allegedly recording the sale of extremist literature to a number of British mosques. It featured a forensic expert who cast doubt on the integrity of the receipts by highlighting the alleged use of inkjet printing and handwriting similarities between receipts supposedly from different mosques. Earlier today Newsnight's editor, Peter Barron, defended Newsnight's journalism on a BBC blog ... "I had a brief and inconclusive conference call with Policy Exchange and one of the researchers on the day we planned to run the original report [in October]," he wrote. "When we started to investigate the discrepancies, Richard Watson asked to speak to the researchers who gathered the material but was told that wasn't possible." ... Policy Exchange defended its original report strongly in today's statement. "The substance of the report is unaffected by Newsnight's allegations about a small minority of the receipts," and that it had "acted in good faith", voluntarily handing receipts to Newsnight.

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