The BBC Panorama documentary titled “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” has been nominated for an accolade at next month’s British Academy Film and Television Awards (BAFTA). The programme created by veteran filmmaker John Ware, aired on July 10, 2019, and is on a shortlist of four in the current affairs category.
The hour-long programme featured a number of whistleblowers who claimed the Labour hierarchy had failed to tackle allegations of anti-Semitism.
The documentary interviewed party activists and officials who said they were undermined by senior Labour bosses in their attempts to tackle claims of anti-Semitism – something the Labour Party denied.
In a letter sent to BAFTA and published on social media by the Media Reform Coalition, the group has called on the British charity to reconsider the nomination citing “serious editorial flaws”.
It has been signed by left-wingers Professor Natalie Fenton, chair of Media Reform Coalition, British filmmaker and BAFTA fellow Ken Loach, Human Rights lawyer Sir Geoffrey Bindman, BAFTA fellow Mike Leigh and former BBC Middle East correspondent Tim Llewellyn.
The letter states the nomination should be dropped as it “risks embroiling the BAFTA awards in a political controversy”.
The letter states: “The programmes central thesis was that the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership was engulfed by anti-Semitism, and that the former leader and his allies had acted to obstruct or undermine the party’s internal complaints process.
“Yet at the time the programme was being made, evidence surfaced in the public domain which directly contradicted this narrative, revealing repeated efforts by the former leadership to expedite investigations and escalate sanctions.
“The programme made no mention of this evidence. Instead, it gave an unchallenged platform to former staff and others with partisan affiliations that were not revealed.
“BBC Panorama was entirely within its rights to cover this controversial issue, and give voices to those Labour party members, former staff and others who believed that anti-Semitism was rife within the party and that Corbyn was responsible.
“But it was absolutely wrong to ignore the hundreds of Jewish members and independent experts who were on record at the time offering a very different perspective.
“The limited inclusion of the Labour Party’s reply and a single interview with a front bench Labour MP did not come anywhere close to achieving balance on this highly controversial issue.”
It adds the documentary “should never have passed the BBC’s editorial compliance regime in the first instance”.
The BBC defended the programme and insisted it had “undoubted public interest” and featured “powerful and disturbing testimonies from party members who’d suffered anti-semitic abuse”.
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Following the decision a Labour spokesman said: “We have not changed our view that the programme lacked balance and was unfair.”
The “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” documentary is up against two Channel 4 programmes and one ITV documentary in the current affairs category.
They are Growing up Poor: Britain’s Breadline Kids, The Hunt for Jihadi John and ITV’s Undercover: Inside China’s Digital Gulag.
Following the nomination a BAFTA spokesman said: “Our voting processes are fair and robust, with voting for the winners of the Virgin Media British Academy Television Awards already complete and under verification.”
The BAFTA awards will be held behind closed doors and broadcast on July 31.
Express.co.uk has contacted BAFTA for further comment.