BBC defends Shamima Begum documentary after hundreds complain

Shamima Begum loses legal appeal to return to UK

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The BBC has defended its recent coverage of Shamima Begum following hundreds of complaints against the broadcaster. In January, the BBC launched the Shamima Begum Story, a 10-part podcast and accompanying BBC Two programme in which Ms Begum discusses her decision to join ISIS. According to the most recent figures, the BBC has received 387 complaints who felt it was “inappropriate to feature a podcast and documentary about Shamima Begum”.

This comes after Ms Begum lost her appeal against the Government’s decision to revoke her British citizenship.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) said the Government’s decision had been lawful but acknowledged there was “credible suspicion” she was trafficked to Syria for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

The loss means the 23-year-old, who left Britain at the age of 15, will remain in a detention camp in northern Syria indefinitely.

Despite the recent decision, the BBC has defended its coverage: “The Shamima Begum Story podcast is important investigative journalism from BBC News.”

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The corporation continued: “This is not a platform for Shamima Begum to give her unchallenged story.

“This is a robust, public interest investigation into who she really is and what she really did.

“We’d encourage people to listen and watch in full.”

The BBC added that filmmaker Josh Baker asked “key editorial questions about how she got to Islamic State Group territory in Syria, what she did when she got there, and the consequences of her actions”.

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Mr Baker interviewed Ms Begum in the northern Syrian camp where she had lived since 2019.

The BBC added: “We also explore radicalisation in the UK, issues of national security and features testimony by those impacted by the group.”

Sue Reid, Special Investigations Editor of the Daily Mail, blasted the BBC’s coverage for aiding Ms Begum “slick PR blitz” ahead of the legal decision.


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Ahead of the podcast’s release, Mr Baker was asked on the BBC’s Media Show about a potential backlash to the programmes.

He said: “I can understand people’s anger. Obviously going towards this I knew there would be a backlash.”

The 23-year-old from east London joined ISIS with two school friends in 2015.

Within ten days of her arrival in Syria, she had been married off to an ISIS member and had three children with him, all of whom died young.

Following the SIAC’s decision, Labour leader Keir Starmer said that the court decision was “the right one”.

This marked a huge U-turn for the opposition leader who said in 2019 when Sajid Javid revoked her citizenship that it was “the wrong decision and a rushed decision”.

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