Sunday 29 November 2020

By Far The Biggest Story

It is now a year since I travelled to a safe house in a major European capital in search of the alarming story of how a key report had been sexed up to excuse a missile attack on Syria by Britain, the USA and France. 

The censored report removed vital material strongly suggesting that there had, in fact, not been a gas attack on Douma, the pretext for the missile raid. This was by far the biggest story I have handled in more than 40 years of journalism. It is absolutely true. 

But, with a very few honourable exceptions, British journalists have not followed it up. Instead several of them have joined in failed attempts to discredit me or my sources. The latest is a BBC reporter called Chloe Hadjimatheou, who recently made a Radio 4 programme The Canister On The Bed. There is much that is questionable in it.

But worst is a segment in which she insinuates that ‘Alex’, a whistleblower in the poison gas watchdog, the OPCW, may have been persuaded to go public about his doubts by the offer of a $100,000 reward from WikiLeaks. I have checked (as the BBC apparently did not) with WikiLeaks, who state no such payment was made.   

Ms Hadjimatheou also suggested Alex ‘believed the attack was staged, and he thought the evidence bore that out’. This is simply untrue. ‘Alex’ is wholly apolitical, a serious scientist who deals in the proven, not in wild conspiracy claims. I challenged the BBC on both these matters. 

Ms Hadjimatheou said she was too busy to reply. But a bureaucrat said this behaviour ‘meets the BBC’s editorial standards’. Well, do you know, I tend to agree with them. A reputation built up over a century is disappearing with amazing speed.

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