Archbishop issues protest over behaviour of BBC reporters

  Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham issued a statement this morning, protesting at the behaviour of BBC TV reporters involved in making an undercover programme about old child abuse cases in Birmingham. Speaking at a press conference at the RUSI (The Royal United Services Institute) in London, the Archbishop revealed that during the past nine months, several priests in the diocese have been approached by BBC reporters in 'unacceptable' ways. Cases included: on one occasion a reporter called a Birmingham priest at two in the morning; in another a 79 -year-old priest was telephoned the day after coming out of hospital where he undergone major surgery; one elderly priest in an old people's home was questioned by a reporter who gained access to the home by claiming to be a friend. The Archbishop said he understood the reporters were gathering information for a documentary for a programme which has in the past dealt with stories about people who faked their own deaths, dog fixing, drug dealers and bogus marriages. The BBC has not yet responded to a letter the Archbishop sent them about this. They also declined his offer to give them a live interview. The programme makers wanted a taped interview that could be edited. The Archbishop to the press conference he did not think the programme had discovered any new cases of abuse, (if they had, he said he would want to know straight away, in order to immediately report this to the police) but was re-visiting past allegations, most of which were dealt with many years ago. The Archbishop stressed that he did not object to the Church being criticised, but the style and approach of the proposed programme, which is due to be televised around the time of the Pope's Silver Jubilee, and Mother Teresa's Beatification was unacceptable. During the same week, he pointed out, Panorama is screening a documentary about Mother Teresa called 'Sex and the Holy City' - and a satirical cartoon called Popetown is due to be televised soon. The Archbishop said: "These are offensive initiatives... The Catholic community is fed up seeing a public service broadcaster using the licence fee to pay unscrupulous reporters trying to re-circulated old news and to broadcast programmes that are biased and hostile. Enough is enough." To read the full text of Archbishop Nichols statement - check ICN's latest news.

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