BBC apologizes to Geldof for aid-for-weapons story

Thu Nov 4, 2010 3:25pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - The BBC apologized on Thursday for reports this year which gave the impression that millions of pounds raised for Ethiopian famine relief by the Band Aid music charity were used by rebel groups to buy weapons.

Bob Geldof complained bitterly about the March reports, which originated from "Assignment" on the broadcaster's World Service radio program.

He challenged the BBC to substantiate its stories. At the time the World Service said it stood by its report.

"Since their inception over 26 years ago, Band Aid and Live Aid have been subject to meticulous governance, auditing and independent reviews," Geldof said.

"The BBC's misleading and unfair coverage had the potential to be extremely damaging to public faith, not only in Band Aid, but also other charitable campaigns and people's willingness to donate their cash to disaster funds."

Geldof added in a statement that it was an "unusual lapse" in the broadcaster's standards, and said it was BBC journalist Michael Buerk's dispatches from Ethiopia which prompted him to raise money for famine relief in the first place.

"I recognize the important journalistic and humanitarian role the BBC has played in our story," he said.

Geldof welcomed the BBC apology and hoped they would repair "some of the appalling damage done."   Continued...