BBC admits using private detectives

19th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

The BBC has hired private detectives to help make its investigative programmes, the corporation's director-general admitted Saturday, amid an ongoing row about underhand reporting methods.

"Occasionally BBC investigative programmes have used and do use private investigators, always under the BBC's editorial guidelines and under the control of the editors of the programme involved," Mark Thompson told The Times newspaper.

But he insisted: "I don't think there's any suggestion that I can detect of any wrong-doing."

The revelation came just days after a BBC television programme on Monday accused an executive at the Irish edition of the News of the World of snooping through a former army spy's emails.

It accused Alex Marunchak, a former senior executive editor, of employing a detective to illegally obtain emails from an ex-army intelligence officer.

The Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid is already under pressure over allegations that it hacked into the phones of leading political figures and celebrities.

It emerged after the programme aired that the private detective had also been employed at the British Broadcasting Corporation.

However, Thompson said it was a "bit of a smear" to suggest the corporation had done anything wrong in hiring outside help.

Marunchak is the most senior figure to be implicated in the long-running scandal, which saw a News of the World journalist and a private detective jailed in 2007 for hacking the voicemail messages of Princes William and Harry.

© 2011 AFP

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