BBC World Service boss: Giving mass murderer airtime was a ‘lapse in standards’

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BBC World Service boss: Giving mass murderer airtime was a ‘lapse in standards’

Jamie Angus says sorry after boastful murderer behind 2001 Sbarro bombing, Ahlam Al-Tamimi, was given a sympathetic platform.

Aftermath of the Sbarro bombing in 2001, with a smiling Ahlam Tamimi
Aftermath of the Sbarro bombing in 2001, with a smiling Ahlam Tamimi

The head of BBC World Service has personally apologised after the corporation rolled out the red carpet to the remorseless murderer of 15 Israelis.

Jamie Angus, director of the broadcaster’s international arm, said giving a sympathetic platform to Ahlam Al-Tamimi, the unrepentant mastermind behind the Sbarro pizza restaurant attack in Jerusalem in 2001, on BBC Arabic TV was a “lapse in our editorial standards”.

This comes after Arnold Roth, whose 15-year-old daughter Malki died in the attack on the attack, told Jewish News that the BBC’s apology for inviting her was “empty, cruel and pointless”. He said he was “stunned by the coldness of the BBC’s formalistic, paint-by-numbers reaction to the torrent of criticism they received from an enraged public”. He also accused the BBC of having “misplaced their moral compass”.

Bob Blackman, the Tory MP and Conservative Friends of Israel officer, wrote to the BBC Director General Tim Davie asking for an apology to the families of Tamimi’s victims.

Responding to his plea on Thursday, Angus said after an “editorial review, we found that this segment was in breach of our editorial.

“Al-Tamimi has been convicted of serious crimes” he said, and it was “therefore not a suitable subject” to broadcast.

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He said the programme “did not follow the correct BBC procedures by failing to refer the matter to the BBC’s Editorial Policy team or to senior editors in BBC News Arabic. Had they done so, the segment would not have been authorised for broadcast.”

I have been reviewing with my senior management team in BBC Arabic how we came to put out the item in the way that we did and will ensure that the appropriate lessons are learned across all our editorial teams. I apologise for this lapse in our editorial standards.”

Tamimi proudly claimed credit for the attack in 2001, admitting to scouting the location of Sbarro – a popular eatery in downtown Jerusalem – because it was known to be a favourite for families, she previously said that she only felt disappointed as she had “hoped for a larger toll”.

She was released from an Israeli prison as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011, her husband was also released in the Shalit prisoner exchange after being convicted of terrorism for murdering an Israeli student in 1993.

The response to Bob Blackman’s letter
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