The BBC has apologised to Band Aid over reports claiming millions of pounds raised by the charity for famine relief in Ethiopia had been used to buy arms.A report on World Service’s Assignment in March claimed large sums of charity money had been diverted by rebels.Although the report did not directly link Band Aid, other BBC outlets suggested its money had been involved.The corporation said it apologised unreservedly for the “misleading and unfair impression” which was created.The original investigation by BBC World Service Africa editor Martin Plaut included claims that substantial amounts of aid from Western governments and charities went into rebel-held areas of Tigray province in 1985 and was used to buy weapons.In a complaint to the BBC.
The Band Aid Trust said the programme and subsequent coverage by other outlets including Radio 4, BBC News and the BBC News website gave the impression most of the money raised by the charity had been diverted.After an investigation by the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit, the corporation concluded there was no evidence relating to money raised by Band Aid or Live Aid.The BBC also apologised to Band Aid Trustee Bob Geldof for implying he declined to be interviewed “because he thought the subject too sensitive to be discussed openly”.In response, Mr Geldof said: “This was an unusual lapse in standards by the broadcaster and, most critically, the World Service. “It was Michael Buerk’s frontline reports for the BBC from Ethiopia which prompted me to act and establish Band Aid in the first place and I recognise the important journalistic and humanitarian role the BBC has played in our story.
“We welcome the BBC’s apologies and hope that the public corrections can begin to repair some of the appalling damage done, and move forward.”In a statement, the BBC said it regretted the error and “accepts we should have been more explicit in making it clear that the allegations did not relate specifically to Band Aid”.”Assignment did not make the allegation that relief aid provided by Band Aid was diverted. However the BBC acknowledges that this impression could have been taken from the programme,” it said.”We also acknowledge that some of our related reporting of the story reinforced this perception.”It added: “We note that the ruling validates the main thrust of the programme’s journalism; that there was evidence from a number of sources that the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front had diverted money intended for famine relief and that some of this was spent on weapons.”On-air apologies will be made on all the BBC outlets that broadcast the claims – Bbc