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Monday, 28 March 2011
Complaint response 16/03/11 - the second attempt
Email received from BBC Complaints Department, in which Jeremy Browne's surname is spelt incorrectly throughout:
Thanks for contacting us regarding ‘Jeremy Vine’ from 16 March on Radio 2.
I understand you were unhappy with the response you received previously from my colleague. You also reiterated that you felt an answer was given by Jeremy Brown MP which Jeremy Vine ignored, and you believe the interview ended with a statement from the rescue team which could’ve been put to Mr Brown earlier.
Having listened back to the interview in order to respond to your complaint I can assure you this interview was in keeping with BBC Editorial Guidelines and Jeremy’s own style of presentation. Jeremy Brown MP, minister of the State Foreign Office was being asked specifically why the ISAR team weren’t given the correct paperwork by the British Embassy in Tokyo upon their arrival, which resulted in them having to come home again.
Mr Brown continually spoke about the huge rescue efforts of the official UK rescue team already in Japan helping the government with their own efforts. He stated it wasn’t up to the British government to tell the Japanese how they should react in a crisis like this and how they’d asked for proper permission for their official team. He continued by saying they had to let Japan take the lead in the rescues as they have to manage all of the concerted efforts from various countries.
Jeremy Vine continually had to interrupt Mr Brown as he didn’t answer the specific question asked of him, which was why the team (who had gone to the Tokyo Embassy in London and given permission to fly over as long as the British Embassy produced paperwork upon their arrival) were denied said paperwork by their own country. As Jeremy stated, Mr Brown was simply stating a lot of very impressive facts about the official rescue team, a lot of things we already knew but still didn’t answer the question.
Eventually, upon the insistence of Jeremy, Mr Brown said they did meet with the ISAR team and tried to assist them. They tried to then produce the paperwork but the Japanese government, who he understands are extremely tied up at the moment, delayed this and so the team had to return. He wasn’t attacking the Japanese government, nor did our programme, both of which understood the pressures their government is under.
Jeremy, still unsatisfied as this contradicted the news story, explains very clearly once again that the team had permission by the Japanese Embassy in London as long as the British Embassy in Tokyo produced the correct paperwork on their arrival, but this wasn’t produced. At this point Mr Brown was given time to state the British Embassy were unaware of their arrival, however the embassy took it upon themselves to produce the paperwork for the group but this was apparently unsatisfactory and they were denied access.
Jeremy states that this meant the news story, which they’ve now been discussing for several minutes, must actually be incorrect as the only thing the Japanese needed was a covering letter from the embassy, otherwise they’d have been granted permission. In response Mr Brown reiterates the above and then explains further the efforts of the official teams.
In contrast, a second guest is brought on to the programme at this point, Douglas Alexander MP, the Shadow Foreign Secretary. He states he’s unhappy with the responses from Mr Brown. Jeremy Vine at this point, to maintain impartiality, then questions Mr Alexander’s points about this.
At the very end of the segment the rescue team do make a statement, but they actually confirm the questioning that was put forward by Jeremy Vine, that the Japanese government were granting permission and it was unfair of Mr Brown to blame them in any way. They were waiting on the letter from the British Embassy, a request which was refused.
I hope this can go some way to explain the reasoning behind the questions put forward by Jeremy, and explain how they resulted in clearer answers and opened up the story more for the audience. I hope it can also explain in more detail the previous response you received.
In closing I’d like to assure you I've registered your further complaint on our audience log. As previously stated this is an internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily and is available for viewing by all our staff. This includes all programme makers, such as the production team behind Jeremy’ programme and our senior management. It ensures that your points, along with all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.
Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.
BBC Audience Services