The BBC probe into all aspects of its Sinhala Service’s activities is still proceeding, Colombo Telegraph learns. The BBC Sinhala Service journalists are being asked by the BBC to participate in the ongoing investigation accompanied by lawyers or trade union representatives if they wish.
Following the suspension of BBC Sinhala Service Editor Priyath Liyanage – and, while a rigorous investigation into all Sandeshaya producers’ activities is in progress in London – the BBC has stopped all Sinhala Service’s Sri Lankan reporters’ contributions to the program outright, Colombo Telegraph learns.
Surprisingly, the BBC has recalled a recently retired Colombo reporter, Elmo Fernando, to send dispatches as the service’s sole Sri Lanka contributor. This action seems to have dismayed the London journalists in view of Fernando’s scandalous record trying to obtain a government interest-free car-loan from a state bank in Colombo with Sandesaya editor Priyath Liyanage’s direct support.
Following Colombo Telegraph’s exposure of this sting, the BBC had to discipline Elmo Fernando, his colleague Chandana Keerthi Bandara and the editor Priyath Liyanage by compelling all three of them to undergo a training program on journalistic ethics.
Recently, the BBC suspended the Sinhala Service’s editor, Priyath Liyanage in response to a serious complaint from former BBC correspondent in Colombo, Frances Harrison.
Presently, the Sinhala Service is completely under the control of newly appointed authorities from the top and all independent program-making by Sandesaya journalists is being fully curtailed. “There was a serious editorial lapse in a programme on the BBC Sinhala Service on Friday 8 November. We have removed the story from our website and are investigating how this happened to ensure nothing similar happens again. While this investigation is underway, the Sinhala Service Editor will not be editing the output or managing the team. A temporary editor will ensure the service will continue to broadcast.” BBC World Service spokesman Paul Rasmussen told Colombo Telegraph last week.