Monday, 13 December 2010

The BBC and Jody McIntyre

The following is the text of an email I have written to the BBC news with regard to their appalling interview with Jody McIntyre, a young man of whom footage has come to light of police dragging him from his wheelchair at the student protest in Parliament Square last week.

Dear BBC News

I am writing to express, in the strongest terms, my dismay at your broadcast interview on News24 with Jody McIntyre, a disabled young man who was talking about his experiences with the police at the demonstration in Parliament Square on 9 December 2010. The attitude taken by your interviewer was condescending and accusatory. He even stooped to imply that Mr McIntyre shouting was in some way justification for the police pulling him out of his wheelchair. The interviewee was rightly taken aback by the suggestion and stood up for himself admirably. But the point is that you were not dealing with a convicted criminal nor a career politician and such a bellicose interview technique on a young man who has clearly been the recipient of violence (we have evidence on film of this) is quite beyond the pale.

What I will finally ask you is, if you had interviewed the Prince of Wales or his wife about their experiences that night, would you have taken such a confrontational stance in questioning them? I think that we all know the answer and so we are faced with the truth, that the BBC are taking the side of power and privilege in the reporting of this story - and how many other stories might we say that about? Mr McIntyre was correct to draw a comparison with your reporting of the Palestinian conflict.

I work at a University where we all work very hard at ensuring that especially vulnerable students and staff, for example those with disabilities, are treated with respect and allowed to recount their experience with dignity. No doubt the BBC believes that it practises to the same standard. On the evidence of this interview, in which your journalist showed his opinions and colours only too clearly, you have failed to live up to any kind of civilised standards. If your interviewer were a member of staff here and had spoken to a disabled student in that fashion when listening to a complaint, he would be on disciplinary as a result.

You can follow Jody Mcintyre, and offer your support, on twitter. Details of how you complain about BBC news are here.

UPDATE: The interview is on YouTube now. Every one can see and hopefully many will complain about Ben Brown's appalling behaviour. 


  1. I too have made a complaint, absolutely disgusting.

  2. Well done! This needed saying.

  3. Saw the Sky interview earlier and was NOWHERE near as bad. Following the footage, Jody was interviewed and allowed, very eloquently, to state his experience of being assaulted. Interviewer made no attempt to disparage him in any way. Shame on the BBC. Disgusting.

  4. I haven't seen the BBC interview , but have read a lot of reports regarding this incident in the blogosphere.

    I'm always tempted when you see something which is so far off the map that it's scarcely believable, like this, to hang on a bit and look for some kind of explanation. I've found that often things aren't quite what they seem.

    I'm not saying that this isn't what it seems, but I can't help but wonder why policemen would do this - he couldn't seriously have been causing a threat to their security, or anyone else's really. They also don't have much of a motive for man handling him either - what have they to gain - and what have they to lose ? A hell of a lot considering they must have been only too aware that the pictures of this would be going live around the world and analysed for weeks afterwards.

    Some of the early reports I read (and I'm sorry I didn't make a record of the links) mentioned that the police had repeatedly asked this man to move out of the way because they said that they were bringing police horses through - which of course they did - and that he would be at risk if he was in the path of horses.

    I think it's just possible that their motive for moving him may have been (I'm not saying it was) - that they would have more to lose by having him trampled by horses, than they would by forcibly moving him out of the way. Which would put a different slant on things.

    The reports also mentioned that this happened to him more than once - he got back in his chair and went back for more.

    In case you're wondering I don't have a position on this incident - I'd like to know more about it - but suspect I may never do.

  5. If the police wanted to move him, as has been suggested then it's really easy to do without assaulting him. He is in a wheelchair, work it out. The fact remains that unless he was weilding some sort of weapon, and was going crazy, there is no justification for physically knocking someone out of a wheelchair and dragging them across the pavement. In any case, exactly what kind of threat would he be? The police were dressed in full riot gear, helmets, armour, steel toe capped boots etc etc. I am still in shock that Ben Brown has the audacity to imply that a man with cerebal palsy posed a threat to a riot officer. Going to write my letter of complaint now that I am able to without swearing. I'm proud of Jody McIntyre and I hope Ben Brown gets sacked.

  6. @ northernheckler - as you will have seen, my complaint to the BBC is in reference to their attitude towards their interviewee; I say next to nothing about the behaviour of the police, although as DarkestAngel says "unless he was weilding some sort of weapon, and was going crazy, there is no justification for physically knocking someone out of a wheelchair and dragging them across the pavement"...

    northernheckler, you make assumptions as to why the police might manhandle a wheelchair-user at a protest; you might easily make as many assumptions about why protesters might attack a car carrying Charles and Camilla (there will be as many possible justifications). The fact remains that, had Charles come onto News24 to talk about the incident, the reporter would not have spoken to him in the same way as he spoke to Mr McIntyre. Would he have barked at Charles - "You're an unelected, hereditary aristocratic heir to the throne" in the same way as he barked at Mr McIntyre "you describe yourself as a revolutionary"? Would he have quizzed Charles about why his car was taking a route through a protest, in the same way as he quizzed Mr McIntyre as to what he was doing?

    Btw, thanks to DarkAngel for naming the interviewer as Ben Brown; I've seen this person many times but he has never made an impression on my consciousness which would warrant me finding out his name. Now he certainly has.

  7. I'm Maham Hashmi NUS BSC Mature student Rep and I was wondering if you would like to send it as an open letter in the guardian or any other broadsheet signed by you but also as many people we can get on board?

  8. Hi Maham, that sounds a good idea - not sure how to go about it. Am on twitter - @jmc_fire - and you can PM me there you have any suggestions or would like to email correspond about it.

  9. Thank you JMC for speaking against Ben Brown/BBC interview with Jody. I have a disabled son & am disgusted & incensed at Brown's attitude & his accusatory interview "techniques."
    Not sure if you allow links but if you do, this is a video link to the interview for the benefit of those who haven't seen it:

    Thanks again, because disabled people in general are taking a bashing via Govt & media propoganda.

  10. i've complained, too. it hurts me to slam the BBC, but if they're going to pick sides, they can't expect any of us mere licence-payers to lift a finger to help them when the cuts hit them in turn.

    on a positive note, jody makes the interviewer look like a debate club debutante - it's like a lion fighting a weasel.

  11. I agree with Maham, this should be a piece on CiF. I've sent my complaint to the BBC too. I'm glad Jody held his own but it was completely unnecessary for Ben Brown to be so aggressive.

  12. I have made an official complaint too. I also posted on their messageboard, the more the better. If we all voice our opinions in an articulate way through official channels, they will have to listen.

    I you too feel strongly about this, make an official complaint here:

    and post a comment on their messageboard here: