Colombo Telegraph can now reveal some details about BBC Sinhala Service’s alleged ‘editorial lapse’ that triggered the immediate suspension of the editor Priyath Liyanage and installing a thorough investigation. We understand Frances Harrison, a former BBC Colombo correspondent has made a strong protest about the programme in question to the highest BBC authority.
The forty minute long BBC radio programme that looks into the ongoing abuses and human rights violations in Sri Lanka north has been the centre of the controversy, Colombo Telegraph learns. In contrast to several other World Service sections’ coverage of this documentary, the Sinhala Service is reported to have produced a roughly 3 minute programme that manifestly does injustice to the BBC documentary produced by Francis Harrison, a well-known authority on the subject.
Out of the three minutes, the Sinhala ‘Sandesaya’ has dubiously allocated just around one minute to cover the wide-ranging interviews of Tamil victims’ harrowing stories, using Sinhala voices. The programme in question was produced by the editor himself. The Sinhala programme produced by its head, Priyath Liayange, has been filled with his own interview with Sri Lanka’s military spokesman who merely used his time to attack Francis Harrison with allegations that are totally irrelevant to the issues raised in the main BBC programme. Francis Harrison herself has not been given the opportunity to respond.
Colombo Telegraph’s efforts to get reactions from Francis Harrison and the BBC press office to the above mentioned findings of the CT investigative team have failed so far.
Early this year the BBC Sinhala head was sent to follow a BBC course on Journalistic ethics after he was caught giving letters of recommendation to Sri Lanka government to approve interest free loans to his deputy Chandana Keerthi Bandara and to the Colombo reporter Elmo Fernando.