After nearly 3 months, BBC finally corrects Manchester inaccuracy

Back in May an edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The World Tonight’ was broadcast from Manchester following a terror attack in the city the previous day. As was noted here at the time, during a discussion about “tensions that have riven the city in the past”, listeners heard presenter Ritula Shah refer to “Jewish riots in the 1940s”.

Contrary to that claim, records show that in early August 1947, during a bank holiday, rioting against Jews took place over a number of days in Manchester, Salford and additional towns and cities.

BBC Watch submitted a complaint about that error, requesting that audiences be relieved of the inaccurate impression of a seventy year-old event in the history of their own country by means of an on-air clarification in the same programme. The response received was unsatisfactory.

“I understand you found presenter Ritula Shah made an inaccurate comments about Jewish riots in the 1940s in Manchester.

Firstly, I’m sorry about the delay in getting back to you. I know people appreciate a prompt response and unfortunately we’ve taken longer to reply than usual – please accept our apologies.

I appreciate your comments and this was a discussion about the tensions in cities across Britain that have occurred throughout recent history. Please be assured it is never our intention to mislead our listeners Ritula was trying to provide some context to this discussion and was discussing how different communities in Manchester have at one time been divided.”

A second complaint was submitted and in its reply, BBC Complaints acknowledged the error but declined to take any corrective action.

“It’s clear you remain unhappy with Ritula Shah’s reference to the riots in 1947. Ms Shah had intended to refer to anti-Jewish riots in reference to the events in Manchester and elsewhere that year. This was a live interview and we accept that she could have been clearer in making this reference.

However the general point was, that despite the earlier comments made by a contributor that Manchester is a ‘tolerant’ city, there is a history of tension towards ethnic minority communities.

We’ve noted your points but do not consider they have suggested a possible breach of the BBC’s standards to justify further investigation or a more detailed reply. Opinions can vary widely about the BBC’s output, but may not necessarily imply a breach of our standards or public service obligations.

For this reason we do not feel we can add more to our reply or answer further questions or points. We realise you may be disappointed but have explained why we are not able to take your complaint further.”

BBC Watch then submitted a Stage 2 complaint to the Executive Complaints Unit to which we have yet to receive a reply. However, eight days later the following communication was received from BBC Complaints:

“Thanks again for raising your concerns with us about ‘The World Tonight’ as broadcast on May 23.

As part of your complaint we referred the reference to the programme’s editor. As a result of this, we’ve now published a statement on the Corrections and Clarifications page below:

We hope this helps resolve the matter to your satisfaction. Should you have any remaining concerns, the ECU can consider these as part of any appeal you wish to pursue.”

The published statement reads as follows: 

While that statement is obviously welcome, the likelihood that the listeners who were misled by the original inaccurate claim almost three months ago will see it is of course minimal.

This should have been a very simple issue to resolve. A genuine error was made and listeners to ‘The World Tonight’ could and should have been informed of that fact shortly afterwards. Instead, it took nearly three months of repeated communication to extract a simple correction that most members of the BBC’s audience will not see.

Related Articles:

BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World Tonight’ inverts history in Manchester 

10 comments on “After nearly 3 months, BBC finally corrects Manchester inaccuracy

  1. First-Why was the apology so late in coming-? Its always late- They wait till its forgotten and the apology becomes meaningless.

  2. A classic case of ‘why bother’? Like all damage limitation, especially when practised unwillingly, the BBC’s behaviour (once more) is a brazen example of ‘too little, too late’. I have read a fair amount about the episode, especially via the vivid ‘New Statesman’ feature by Daniel Trilling. The very fact that it caused one man to start spouting naked, flagrant anti-Jewish hate speech is yet more proof that even in the early post WW II years, anti-Jewish sentiment lay just beneath the surface of British life.

  3. I think in the BBC complaints system public consultation, people should write in and recommend that complaints process should go to an extremal public adjuducator one the BBC had failed to address adequately the complaint after appeal. The BBC should not be allowed to close down complaints of they alone think the master is can’t with. This defeats the object of having a transparent complaints system. The BBC has a long history of trying to suppress criticism and complaints through its internal management processes.

  4. If he bbc had to amend all of its inaccuracies it would take more than …100 years. The causes are I would say 2 : 1. It deems Israel weak which is a cause to take on people or nations for cowards. 2. They think multicuturalism is a solution to war which of course it is NOT, in fact it’s the other way around and extreme left which is nazism is to blame on the same level as white supremacists because both want to impose their DIKTATS. President Trump is right to consider them identical.

  5. Why does the BBC ignore the most obvious method of informing its audience: have Ritulah Shah read the correction on air? In this case, the error was particularly egregious in suggesting the very opposite of what occurred. Surely Shah could take one minute out of her program to educate her listeners that she meant to say “anti-Jewish riots” and that there never were any “Jewish riots” in Manchester, ever.
    It seems a pretty simple fix, actually. That this option seems rarely if ever exercised would point to a systemic problem with BBC factual corrections.

    • Because, Charles, the BBC is deliberately demonising Jewish people, religion and culture. It is their undisclosed charter to do so.
      The BBC is nothing more than Islamist play thing and willing Islamist propaganda sewerage outlet.
      These anti-Semitic “accidents” are subtle on-going smear campaign. Until there is a complete BBC personnel clean out, the Islamist infection will remain.

  6. “It’s clear you remain unhappy with Ritula Shah’s reference to the riots in 1947. Ms Shah had intended to refer to anti-Jewish riots in reference to the events in Manchester and elsewhere that year. This was a live interview and we accept that she could have been clearer in making this reference.”

    BULLSHIT …..

    If only the BBC “apology” was true. It is established fact, that the default BBC policy is always anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and pro-Islamist.

    Shah’s “accident” was nothing more than Islamist propaganda, by the Islamist propaganda wing, the BBC.

  7. I fail to understand how and why the BBC is allowed to get away with handling all complaints against the BBC. There should and must be an external body set ps now to deal with complaiints on a neutral basis – such body NOT for once being infiltrated with arabists and jew-haters.

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