BBC parrots Police untruths over rendition protests 3

Having spent so much energy denying all knowledge of the procession of CIA torture flights passing through UK airports, it was perhaps only natural that the UK government would also seek to deny the existence of the protests against such flights. What’s more surprising is that the BBC seems to be faithfully toeing the party line.

“‘No show’ for rendition protests”, declares today’s BBC headline, claiming that “Demonstrations at Edinburgh and Prestwick failed to materialise.”

“Evidently I hallucinated the whole thing”, says Craig Murray, who joined yesterday’s demonstration at Edinburgh airport. As this report from Indymedia shows, the protest was highly visible, and the Police were well aware that it was going on.

UPDATE – by the magic of the memory hole, the BBC has now corrected its story, but the original has been helpfully archived here.

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3 thoughts on “BBC parrots Police untruths over rendition protests

  • Richard II

    A rather long post about protesting, but this strikes at the heart of our civil liberties:

    Free speech is being criminalized thanks to Tony Blair. Now, along with Craig Murray, the vice president of CND is being vigorously attacked for speaking out.

    Blair is hoping to put Helen John behind bars for a year. Blair doesn't have to do this, he doesn't have to try to wreck a person's life, but he is determined to demonstrate to everyone what a thoroughly deranged madman he is:

    "Pensioner in anti-US protest to be prosecuted":

    (Article hosted on's server, because "The Independent" charges ?1 to download a mere 137 words.)

    The government is using its new anti-terror laws banning people from demonstrating outside military bases and nuclear research facilities to bring charges against two women for staging a peaceful protest outside an American Spy Base run by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire.

    For stepping inside the grounds, Helen John, vice president of CND and Nobel Peace Prize nominee <a href="http://(,” target=”_blank”>(, aged 68, and Sylvia Boyes, aged 62, face up to a year in prison.

    On Saturday, 1 April, 2006, they turned up at Menwith Hill to denounce U.S. military policy, and express their support for the people of Diego Garcia:

    But before they could get more than a few metres inside the base, they were arrested.

    In 2001, Helen John was sentenced to three months in prison, possibly the harshest sentence ever meted out to a peaceful protester. It is quite possible that, this time around, she will be given a year in prison, and be forced to serve the full sentence. But none of this will happen UNLESS the judge regards Blair's freedom to do what the hell he likes in government as more important than the rights of the British people to live in a democracy.

    To sentence Helen John and Sylvia Boyes for what they did would be equivalent to putting someone behind bars for merely stepping inside a corporate building.

    Soon, protesters who target non-military sites – such as Royal palaces and government buildings – will find themselves confronted with similarly repressive legislation.

    The Ministry of Defence says it has chosen these sites because they are popular with protesters. In other words, the British government is silencing opposition to its policies.

    Just as Tony Blair used terrorism as the pretext to illegally ban the Chagossians from returning to their homeland <a href="http://(,” target=”_blank”>(, so terrorism is now being used as a pretext to illegally silence political dissent at home.

    A spokeswoman for the MoD said: "Persistent activity by protesters places them at risk of being mistaken for terrorists."

    At risk of being mistaken for terrorists? Do the police now employ a shoot first, ask questions later policy, as standard? After the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes last July, it's very possible. I suppose if you randomly shoot everyone, you'll kill a terrorist eventually – maybe!

    Last year, Blair said terrorism is the inevitable result of a lack of opportunity and a lack of freedom. But, hang on, according to the MoD, it is now easy to mistake British protesters for terrorists. The conclusion? Britain is now swarming with terrorist activity, the result of a lack of opportunity and a lack of freedom – the government says so itself! Perhaps this explains the 35% surge in homicides since Blair took office.

    Evidently, the solution is to curtail our freedoms still further, by doling out long prison sentences to those whose only crime is to have a sense of right and wrong, and the gumption to protest. The British government is giving honest, peaceful citizens criminal records, and depriving them of opportunities. These are people who care passionately about democracy and human rights, citizens we ought to cherish – not slander and incarcerate!

    For every innocent protester the government bangs up, tens of thousands are left feeling intimidated. But many are also radicalised.

    Blair talks about defending British values and the British way of life – what kind of values are these?

    These are values of a man too frightened to walk the streets of Baghdad and survey his handiwork, a man with so little moral fibre he refuses to speak to the families of dead British soldiers. Blair likes wars, all right, just so long as it is others who are risking their lives. He visits Iraq secretly, amid a news blackout, and then only to the Green Zone, the bosom of the U.S. military in Iraq. What courage and bravery!

    Now this HERO wants to incarcerate a 68-year-old woman – a woman who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize – for up to a year for exercising her democratic right. Hell, you could probably rape a small child and get a lesser sentence.

    Helen John and Sylvia Boyes are not terrorists; they have never been involved in any kind of terrorist activity. We know this for a fact! They are British citizens who regularly take part in non-violent protests. If they MUST appear in court (Tony Blair is determined that they will), then a jury should try them; and the jury should decide the sentence – if any! – NOT a judge.

    This is a matter for the British people to decide. It is OUR country, NOT Tony Blair's; therefore, WE decide what kind of protest is and is not acceptable.

    Helen John and Sylvia Boyes will appear in court this week. Let's hope the judge they face is of a higher calibre than those presiding over the courts in Uzbekistan.

    Trying the innocent:

    Harsh Prison Sentence for Blair Opposition Candidate:

    Helen John's 2001 election campaign page:

    Women for the Nobel Peace Prize:

    Perhaps Blair will soon send us all to the gulags.

    Finally, here are the names of a few terrorists who have passed through the British justice system thanks to the sterling work of the British police force, and Bush's "War on Terror" (extracted from an article in "The Independent" –

    John Catt

    AGE: 81

    CRIME?: Wearing an anti-Blair T-shirt in Brighton during the Labour conference.

    WHAT HAPPENED: He was stopped under section 44 of the 2000 Terrorism Act as he walked towards the seafront for an anti-war demonstration outside the conference. His T-shirt accused Mr Blair and George Bush of war crimes. He was released after signing a form confirming he had been questioned. The police record said the purpose of the stop and search was "terrorism" and the official grounds for intervention were "carrying plackard + T-shirt with anti-Blair info" (sic).

    Walter Wolfgang

    AGE: 82

    CRIME?: Heckling Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, during his speech to the Labour Party conference.

    WHAT HAPPENED: The veteran peace activist shouted "That's a lie" as Mr Straw justified keeping British troops in Iraq. He was manhandled by stewards out of his seat and ejected from the Brighton Centre. When he tried to re-enter he was briefly detained under Section 44 of the 2000 Terrorism Act. Amid the disastrous publicity, senior ministers, from Tony Blair down, apologised.

    Maya Evans

    AGE: 25

    CRIME?: Protesting over British casualties in Iraq.

    WHAT HAPPENED: Standing on the Cenotaph in Whitehall, she read out a list of soldiers killed in Iraq. She was arrested under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, which requires police permission to make a protest within one kilometre of Parliament. She was given a conditional discharge after being found guilty. Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Lord Chancellor, later denied that the prosecution was an "undue infringement" of individual liberties.

    Flt Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith

    AGE: 37

    CRIME?: Refusing to serve in Iraq.

    WHAT HAPPENED: The RAF doctor served in Iraq twice, but refused to return for a third spell of duty last June. He argued that the military action was not justified as Iraq had not attacked the UK or one of its allies. He is being court-martialled, facing five charges of refusing to comply with an order. After a pre-trial hearing rejected his argument that the orders were unlawful, the court martial will open at Aldershot next week.

    Brian Haw

    AGE: 56

    CRIME?: Maintaining an anti-war vigil outside Parliament.

    WHAT HAPPENED: Mr Haw has become a permanent fixture in Parliament Square since June 2001, when he erected a series of placards berating Tony Blair and President George Bush. The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, was designed mainly with his vigil in mind. But the High Court ruled that the legislation did not cover his protest as it could not be applied retrospectively. The Government is appealing against that decision.

  • Richard II

    >"'No show' for rendition protests",

    >declares today's BBC headline,

    >claiming that "Demonstrations at

    >Edinburgh and Prestwick failed to


    >"Evidently I hallucinated the whole

    >thing", says Craig Murray…

    The BBC also seems to want it to appear that Craig Murray hallucinated the headline, for it has changed:

    The headline was "'No show' for rendition protests"; it's now "'Rendition' protests at airports".

    Go here to see the old headline:

    Also go here:
    <a href=" <a> <a href=";” target=”_blank”>" target="_blank"&gt ; …" target="_blank"> <a href="” target=”_blank”>

    (Scroll down; old title highlighted in yellow; but as this is in Google's cache, it might disappear in a few days)

    The article has also been re-written. I've included the original article at the end of this post. Alternatively, read the article from Google's cache (provided it's still available, that is):
    <a href="; rel="nofollow"&gt <a href="http://;…” target=”_blank”>;…

    However, even when you include the Edinburgh protest, the turn-out is still very low.

    Of course, low turn-outs at protests are no indication of public opinion. A lot of people in Britain, unfortunately, view protesting as a waste of time – including my father!


    'No Show' For Rendition Protests

    Last Updated: Saturday, 24 June 2006, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK

    Demonstrations against "rendition" flights landing in Scotland have

    attracted just a handful of protesters.

    A recent Council of Europe inquiry said CIA flights carrying terror suspects used the Prestwick airport to stop off on route to secret detention camps.

    Previous reports have suggested other Scottish airports have been used.

    Police said about six campaigners joined a protest at Glasgow Airport. Demonstrations at Edinburgh and Prestwick failed to materialise.

    The article wrongly states that demonstrations at Edinburgh failed to materialise.

  • Richard II

    For anyone who thinks Craig Murray is merely nitpicking, that the BBC made a minor mistake – "So what!" They are missing the significance.

    The BBC is a major news organization, reporting on events across the globe, yet it can't even discover whether a protest was staged at Edinburgh or not.

    A member of the public who does not have much time to spare and only the Internet – yes, for them, it would be a minor mistake. But for a company that receives billions of pounds in taxpayer and non-taxpayer money, it's nothing less than a glaring error that exposes managerial incompetence.

    Try to imagine how the information for the original article was researched. Here is one scenario:

    A reporter walked into a busy BBC newsroom, and said, "Anyone know if people turned up for the rendition protests in Edinburgh, today?"

    Someone replied, "No, not that we know of."


    "No!" someone else shouted.

    The reporter then sat down at his cubicle, took a sip of coffee, and typed: "Demonstrations at Edinburgh and Prestwick failed to materialise.

    Well, whatever happened, it's clear that the BBC dedicates the minimum amount of resources to news gathering, and nothing at all to investigative reporting.

    How can we trust the BBC to give an accurate portrayal of events in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, when it can't even find out what is going on in its own backyard?

    NOTE: The original article said no protesters had turned up at Prestwick airport. The revised article says nothing at all about demonstrations at Prestwick.

    The BBC doesn't know if protests were held at Prestwick airport or not – incredible!

    Postscript: The BBC makes a big deal about the small minority (7%) of people who "refuse" to buy a TV licence. If the BBC is going to make the poorest members of society cough up ?132, the least it can do is make an effort to provide a service.

    Right now, the BBC is little more than a cash cow for its executives.

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