Mother dies after GP says DVT is cramp
A 29-year-old new mum died from a blood clot hours after her GP told her she had cramps in her leg and gave her painkillers, an inquest has heard. The hearing was also told by a doctor representing the family that he felt the blood clot should have been spotted at an earlier hospital visit.
Alison Taylor – who had complained to doctors and nurses for days after birth about a possible deep vein thrombosis (DVT) died after collapsing at home following seeing family doctor Philip Hussey.
Mrs Taylor’s husband Darren told the inquest he was downstairs at their home in Abbotts Close, Syston, Leicestershire while his wife had a bath at about 8.30pm on March 31 last year.
He said: “I heard her shout. I went upstairs. I had our baby daughter Evie with me. “I ran upstairs with Evie and opened the bathroom door and looked at Alison. She was pale and her lips were blue. “I put Evie in the bedroom and phoned the ambulance.”
Mr Taylor said he tried but could not get his wife out of the bath. He said on the way to Leicester Royal Infirmary the ambulance stopped in Ashby Lane. Mr Taylor said: “A paramedic got out of his car and two of them were working on Alison in the back of the ambulance.”
When they got to the hospital they took his wife away and did not allow him to follow. Wiping away tears, Mr Taylor said: “Later, they came out and told me she was dead.” Mr Taylor said his wife had seen four midwives, a hospital doctor, her GP and a trainee GP over a period of 16 days after giving birth to Evie on March 15.
He said: “We said DVT all the way through.” He said his wife had had an ultrasound test for suspected DVT after she gave birth to their second child, Christopher, in 2004. Mr Taylor said he and his wife were told that pregnant women were particularly prone to the condition and that it could prove fatal.
He said that despite the test being negative it preyed on his and his wife’s mind after she started to complain of pains and swelling in her right leg. Mr Taylor said: “Dr Hussey put it down to cramp-like pain. He only mentioned DVT when we did. “When we said ‘Is it DVT?’ he sort of dismissed it.
When you go to the doctor and they say it is okay, you take their word for it, you trust them, don’t you?”
Pathologist Lawrence Brown said Mrs Taylor had died of a pulmonary embolism caused by DVT in a leg, which was due to pregnancy.
Dr Jonathan Punt, representing the Taylor family, said the DVT should have been diagnosed on March 20 when she was admitted to Leicester Royal Infirmary.
He said registrar Dr Vijay Kumar Kalathy should have sent Mrs Taylor for a blood test and an ultrasound scan after he had seen her with a reported a swelling in her right leg. Dr Kalathy said he examined her and could not find any swelling or tenderness and was as sure as he could be that she was not suffering from DVT. He said: “I made my clinical diagnosis on the symptoms she presented.” [What about history?? A patient’s history is very important to diagnosis]
Dementia patients ‘suffer under care of undertrained NHS staff’
Thousands of dementia patients are suffering at the hands of undertrained hospital staff who fail to treat them as individuals and ignore their calls for help, a report has found.
Patients are deprived of the simple comfort of seeing family photos or cards. On almost two out of three wards, or 59 per cent, personal items are not situated where they can reassure patients who are often frightened and confused, the first National Audit of Dementia, covering 210 hospitals in England and Wales, says.
Just one in three staff said they had sufficient training in caring for those suffering from dementia and half are not properly trained to communicate with those suffering from Alzheimer’s or deal with aggressive behaviour.
The report criticised the ‘impersonal’ way in which dementia patients are treated – despite them occupying a quarter of beds. Staff do not always greet or talk to patients during care. They do not always explain what they are doing or offer a choice, and sometimes they do not respond to requests for help, the report added.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘This shocking report proves once again that we urgently need a radical shake-up of hospital care. Given that people with dementia occupy a quarter of hospital beds and that many leave in worse health than when they were admitted, it is unacceptable that training in dementia care is not the norm.’
Care services minister Paul Burstow said: ‘We set this audit up to put dementia care in hospital under the spotlight. ‘It has found some excellent practice, but it has revealed far too many hospitals failing to put in place dementia-friendly care.
‘That is why we are putting in place a new financial incentive for hospitals that identify patients at risk, so they get the specialised care they need.’
Paracetamol kills mother who took a ‘few extra’ pills a day
I have been warning of the dangers of paracetamol for years so it is very sad to read this. She should have been encouraged to take a combination medicine like Di-Gesic — as its smaller paracetamol content and greater efficacy make it much safer. So guess which one of those two is at present being banned around the world? It is Di-Gesic!
Desiree Phillips, a young mother who took “a few extra” paracetamol tablets to relieve the pain of a minor operation died after suffering irreversible liver damage.
The death of Desiree Phillips, 20, follows studies showing that “staggered overdoses” of paracetamol over the course of a few days can be more dangerous than a single, massive overdose.
Miss Phillips, of Llanelli, South Wales, had a routine procedure to remove several benign lumps on her breast earlier this year.
Doctors prescribed antibiotics and over-the-counter paracetamol to help her cope with the discomfort.
Nine days after the operation, she was taken to hospital in excruciating pain and diagnosed with liver failure. She underwent a liver transplant but died a week later at Birmingham Queen Elizabeth hospital.
Her father, Des, said he believed his daughter had been taking only “a few extra tablets” than the recommended dose of eight every 24 hours.
“She seemed fine to us, then out of the blue her boyfriend found her stretched out on the sofa and he rang an ambulance. The whole thing came as a terrible shock. When we heard she was in hospital we never expected that she might die.
“People don’t realise – they think an extra two won’t harm, that extra two over a period of time can harm your liver if you keep taking that over two to three weeks,” said Mr Phillips.
Last month research published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that taking just a few extra paracetamol tablets a day can be fatal. The study of 663 patients with paracetamol-induced liver injury found that those who took “staggered overdoses” over the course of several days were a third more likely to die than those who took a single overdose of pills.
Dr Kenneth Simpson, of the University of Edinburgh, who led the research, said: “Those who’ve taken a staggered overdose do worse, paradoxically, than the people who’ve tried to kill themselves.”
Although an inquest is yet to be held into Miss Phillips’s death, her family has spoken out in the hope of preventing similar tragedies.
Mr Phillips , a chef, said: “If a painkiller is that dangerous, it should be prescribed. You should not be able to buy them over the counter. Cigarettes have a label saying ‘smoking kills’. Paracetamol can be fatal, but when you look at the packets, they don’t look dangerous.”
Miss Phillips’s one-year-old son, Jayden, is now being cared for by his father, Simon Dewi-Jones. Mr Phillips added: “It was awful, in the end she couldn’t even give him a cuddle goodbye. He’s too young to know what happened now, but I’m sure it will be something that affects him in the future.”
Miss Phillips’s mother, Ayshea, 38, said: “Desiree was taking painkillers because she had three lumps removed from her breast and she was in pain. She didn’t know what was going to happen. Jayden doesn’t deserve to be growing up without a mum because of this.”
A spokesman for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said: “Paracetamol is a safe and effective painkiller for a range of conditions when used correctly and when the dosage recommendations are followed.”
Twisted sex stories
The BBC has a report up this morning that claims that the number of students in sex work has doubled. But the story is paper-thin – the NUS says they’re being misreported, and the BBC gives no useful figures to support the claims in their report.
The article’s headline says “NUS: Students turning to prostitution to fund studies”. The basis of this claim is not an NUS report or even an NUS press release, but a comment given by an NUS officer on the BBC’s own story. And the content of the story is weak, to say the least.
To begin with, the story is based on a statistical fudge. It reports the change, without any concrete numbers. But relative figures are only useful if you have the original numbers to see where the change has taken place. An increase from two people to four isn’t very significant but, if expressed in terms of the change, it’s the same as an increase from 10,000 to 20,000. And, obviously, if you’re dealing with very small numbers it’s hard to say that a “doubling” of an extra ten or twenty people is statistically significant. That the number of students who know someone working in the sex industry has risen from 3% to 25% in the last ten years doesn’t say very much about the actual numbers doing so, especially given the nebulous status of the term “sex industry”.
Next, the BBC story interviews a woman who “turned to escorting during her A-levels when she found out her education maintenance allowance (EMA) was in danger of being cut.” Note the weasel words there – if Clare was studying for her A-levels and getting an EMA, she would continue to get it until June 2012. So Clare hasn’t actually been getting less money from the government at all, and won’t until June next year.
Far from being forced by poverty into sex work, Clare says “I began looking for jobs, but the hours were unsociable.” I’m sympathetic to Clare – she says that she was misled by a “friend” into escort work, which is grotesque. But for the BBC to appropriate this story to support their flimsy thesis about students being forced into sex work is exploitative to her and deeply misleading to its readership.
There are people resorting to illegal sex work because of poverty. This is very, very bad, especially because the prohibition of a lot of sex work has made it a violent and dangerous type of work. But this BBC article has hijacked this very real problem in order to promote a specious non-story that misleads readers.
British Teachers giving students exam questions before they sit High School exams
Teachers are giving students the exam questions before they sit GCSEs and A-levels after secret conversations with examiners, whistle-blowers have told The Daily Telegraph.
Secondary school teachers have alleged that they are under so much pressure to deliver high exam grades that they have been forced to adopt questionable tactics.
The information given to pupils is so detailed that earlier this year a teenager disclosed a forthcoming question for an A-level law exam on an internet bulletin board after his teacher had a meeting with an examiner.
One whistle-blower, an examiner for one of the main exam boards, said the “cause of the rot, ultimately, is competition between exam boards”.
The heads of the country’s main exam boards will be questioned by MPs today over the growing scandal in the examinations system after disclosures by The Daily Telegraph last week.
This newspaper reported that teachers were paying up to £230 a day to attend seminars with chief examiners, who advise them on exam questions and the wording pupils should use to get higher marks.
One examiner from WJEC, the Welsh exam board, was recorded by this newspaper saying: “We’re cheating.”
Another, Steph Warren, the chief examiner for Edexcel GCSE Geography, told an undercover reporter considering taking the company’s tests “you don’t have to teach a lot” and there is a “lot less” for pupils to learn than with rival courses.
The exam boards are expected to claim today that these examiners spoke out of turn and there is no evidence of widespread wrongdoing.
However, The Daily Telegraph has been contacted by dozens of teachers, pupils and examiners who allege a system riddled by dubious practices. Last night, a dossier of evidence provided by whistle-blowers was passed to the committee of MPs who will question examiners, exam board executives and regulators about the system.
The latest claims include:
Allegations that one of the main exam boards was warned that a teenager had posted a correct exam answer online before an A-level law test after his teacher met an examiner. Last June, students at two high-performing schools were also allegedly openly discussing the content of a forthcoming A-level history paper on Facebook.
An English examiner who says that over the past decade the standard to receive a C grade has “markedly deteriorated” and that “what has happened is a travesty against learning”.
A teacher who was visited by chief examiners who dropped “big hints on what to expect in the summer exam”. The teacher left last year, disillusioned with the system.
A science teacher from Wales who said he and colleagues were told by their head of department to “leave information up on the board” or “displayed on the power point [presentations]” so pupils could “copy it down” in an exam.
Teachers who contacted The Daily Telegraph raised concerns that they were being urged to help students “cheat” to increase grades.
One science teacher said he and colleagues were put under pressure to help students with the answers during an exam. “Basically, it was said to us to cheat,” he said.
Another teacher from south London said students’ coursework grades were being inflated to increase the pupils’ marks. The same teacher claimed that students were given answer booklets when completing an online test.
There is also evidence that teenagers are being told of forthcoming questions. In the case of the law A-level, a student wrote on an internet forum last Jan 26 about “a few hints” from his teacher.
He wrote: “If it is (and he is sure) general defences, then this will be the question, (again from the examiner dude). Evaluate any two genera; [sic] defences that you have studied and put forward proposals for reform of any one. And he also said, they will not specify which defences you do.”
The following day, the exam question was: “Write a critical analysis of any two of the general defences (insanity, automatism, intoxication, consent, self-defence/prevention of crime). Include in your answer a consideration of any proposals for reform of one of your chosen defences.”
An A-level law teacher from Formby in Merseyside, who has also acted as an examiner, said her school had complained to AQA, the board that set the paper, after seeing the student’s posting. “He clearly had insider information,” she said.
After receiving the complaint, AQA said there were “no irregularities”. A board spokesman said: “This case was drawn to our attention and we conducted a thorough investigation which found no evidence of malpractice.”
AQA said it had not informed Ofqual about the incident because its own investigation had not found malpractice. Headmasters have raised concerns that the increasing commercialisation of exam boards has led to a fall in standards.
Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said there would be “major changes” to GCSEs, including marking papers on the basis of spelling and grammar – and scrapping modules.
Black British watchdog head attacks ‘bonkers’ use of Human Rights Act
Trevor Phillips, the head of Britain’s equality watchdog, has attacked the “thoroughly bonkers” misuse of the Human Rights Act – and warned that it must not become the “exclusive property of minorities”.
Mr Phillips, who supports the Act, claims that it has “fallen into disrepute” – blaming “grandstanding lawyers” as well as politicians.
The chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission called for the application of the law to be refocused to protect victims rather than criminals.
In a newspaper article, he said the Act had “come to mean the defence of the rights of unpopular minorities – of criminals, terror suspects and illegal immigrants – at the expense of everybody else”.
Mr Phillips said the legislation when used properly could be the “last line of defence” for elderly and vulnerable people who are “at the mercy of people who mistreat or neglect them”.
But he blamed lawyers for using it in other situations as a “combat weapon” in court and also said parliament had set the “pattern of misunderstanding and trivialisation”.
He described one example of how secularists wanted to use the Act to prosecute town councillors for saying prayers before meetings as “nonsense on stilts”.
In the article for the Sunday Times, Mr Phillips wrote: “Almost every morning I am confronted with examples of how the Human Rights Act is being used which any reasonable person would describe as thoroughly bonkers.
“Prison service vans that travel 90 miles to take a prisoner 90 yards; paedophiles free to leer at children in the very parks where they have committed horrific crimes.
“Human rights are not worthy of the name if they do not protect the people we don’t like as well as those we do. “But they must not become the exclusive property of minorities. In a good society, human rights should be about balance and fairness for everyone.”
It comes after earlier this year Mr Phillips’s own organisation came under fire for promoting a culture of “false and petty” complaints about injustice.
A report in August by think tank Civitas claimed the EHRC wasted millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money a year on “slighting” British society, contributed “very little” to creating a fairer society, and ought to be abolished.
Lord Monckton to sool the law onto climate fraudsters
By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley in London
Now that six policemen from the Norfolk and Metropolitan forces have invaded the home and “borrowed” the computers of “Tallbloke”, the first blogger in the UK to reveal the existence of the 5000 Climategate 2.0 emails, you may ask why the British police seem so much more interested in tracking down and punishing the whistle-blower/“thief” than in dealing with the many crimes by crooked IPCC “scientists” that the emails expose.
There is a good reason why the police have gone after the whistle-blower and yet have not moved against those whose far more serious crimes the emails he released expose. Though the University of East Anglia has complained to the police about the “thief”, no one has complained about the climate crooks whose crimes the University seems so zealous to conceal.
Until now, those of us who have dared to question how much “global warming” a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration this century may cause have been altogether too nice to lodge a criminal complaint with our local police precinct. That must now change. This note proposes a way forward.
What offenses have been committed? Serious frauds, that’s what. Some of the most prominent Climategate emailers appear, on the face of the evidence in the emails, to be engaged with each other and with others in an elaborate series of connected deceptions calculated to enrich themselves and their associates, impoverish everyone else and destroy key industries and national economies wholesale by systematically and often greatly exaggerating the supposed threat and costs of anthropogenic “global warming”, the certainty of the science that underlies the IPCC’s claims, and the effectiveness of the various methods proposed for the attempted mitigation of anthropogenic “global warming”, while correspondingly understating the benefits of that warming and the costs of its attempted mitigation.
So, why don’t the police go and feel their collars rather than picking on the blameless “Tallbloke”? Not least because the police are by no means as expert in understanding the ins and outs of climate physics and economics as we are. They simply don’t get the significance of the emails because no one has ever explained it to them.
The true significance of “hide the decline”, for instance, is not at all evident on a superficial reading of the emails. The police will not, therefore, read the emails with our eyes, unless we help them to understand their shocking significance.
If we explain to the police how the various frauds evident in the Climategate emails work, and how they are connected to each other and to additional frauds designed artificially and dishonestly to magnify the supposed threat of “global warming” in the IPCC’s documents and to minimize the egregiously disproportionate cost of trying to make “global warming” go away, they will understand and – more importantly – they will act, for that is what the law requires them to do.
In many jurisdictions, fraud is a common-law offense: that of obtaining a pecuniary advantage for oneself, or inflicting a pecuniary disadvantage upon another, by deception. The twin tests are money gain or loss, and deception.
In the United Kingdom, the Fraud Act 2006 has given fraud a very detailed, statutory definition, which may be summarized as the obtaining of a temporary or permanent gain (whether by keeping what one has or by getting what one does not have) or the infliction upon another of a temporary or permanent loss (whether by not getting what one might get or by parting with what one has), the gain or loss being in money or other real or personal property (including things in action or other intangible property), with the intent either of obtaining a gain for the offender or for another or of causing loss to another or of exposing another to a risk of loss, whether by dishonestly making an untrue or misleading express or implied representation that the offender knows is or may be untrue or misleading; or by dishonestly failing to disclose to another person information which the offender is under a legal duty to disclose; or by dishonestly (by act or omission) abusing a position in which he is expected to safeguard, or not to act against, the financial interest of another person.
In some jurisdictions, “serious fraud” is defined as a fraud that either involves offenders in a position of public trust or very substantial sums of money or both. The connected frauds revealed in the Climategate emails involve both.
The test for money gain or loss is automatically passed by all of the connected frauds that have led to the exaggerated claims of the IPCC and its supporters: for the massive loss to taxpayers and to users of gasoline and electricity, to name but many, is already well documented.
Each fraud that we allege, therefore, must be a clear, demonstrable instance of a specific deception by an identifiable person that contributes to the overall deception. Some examples –
Suppose, for instance, that a particular graph appearing thrice in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report uses a bogus statistical technique so as falsely to demonstrate that the Earth is warming ever faster and that we are to blame. That may be a mistake.
However, if a report by a competent statistician demonstrates that the technique is indeed bogus, and if, say, a lead author of the Fourth Assessment Report is asked to have the error corrected but refuses to do so and instead writes attempting to justify the false graph on deceptive and erroneous grounds, then that lead author may be guilty of fraud.
It is then open to any citizen of his or her nation to go to the police and make a complaint. The deception lies in the willingness of the lead author to leave the erroneous graph uncorrected, knowing that it conveys incorrect information calculated falsely to exaggerate the influence of Man on the climate. The perpetrator’s omission to act as a reasonable lead author would act is fraud.
Suppose that the lead author of an IPCC chapter admits that he allowed a flagrantly incorrect value to appear in the Fourth Assessment Report because “I wanted to influence governments”, and suppose that notwithstanding the objections of the “reviewers” the erroneous value was printed, and suppose that for several months the IPCC, at the highest levels, tried to conceal the deception. That is fraud.
Suppose that a politician has gotten rich by preaching about “global warming” in an unduly alarmist way. Suppose that in a widely-publicized presentation he shows details of an experiment that was not conducted in the purported fashion and did not, therefore, confirm the official story-line to the degree he was suggesting. That is plainly a deception. It is fraud.
Suppose that a senior official of an international meteorological organization is filmed saying that global mean surface temperature trends should be taken over 30 years, and that his interlocutor politely points out that those 30 years largely coincided with the warming phase of the great ocean oscillations and that, therefore, the trends should be taken over 60 years so as to remove the exaggeration by including the cooling phase as well.
Suppose that the official then tells his interlocutor that he does not wish to be lectured, and then makes a false complaint to the UNFCCC secretariat that he has been harassed. In isolation the episode is insignificant. But in the context of the wider series of connected frauds by this and other organizations, the official has furthered or attempted to further the deception by initially attempting to conceal the fact that the 30 years in question fell largely in the warming phase of a natural ocean oscillation and then, upon being challenged, by making a false allegation against his interlocutor. The official’s misconduct – in the wider context – is not merely gross unprofessionalism. It is fraud.
Suppose the keeper of a global temperature record, on receiving requests to supply the data and methods underlying the compilation of that record, refuses to comply, corresponds with other “scientists” about how to avoid complying with freedom-of-information requests, and thereby succeeds in concealing for many years several fundamental defects in the keeping and processing of the data. In isolation the episode may be put down to mere incompetence combined with an understandable desire to avoid a deserved professional humiliation. However, in the context of the wider series of connected frauds, a jury might well find such an episode to constitute fraud, in that a false air of reliability and respectability has been created so as to give the IPCC process a specious air of scientific integrity.
Notice how each such episode – in isolation – might well provoke little more than a shrug of the shoulders from the prosecuting authorities, because they do not realize how the fraud fits into the grander scheme of those who are by a multitude of related artifices and deceptions driving the climate scare beyond all scientific justification. However, look at the frauds I have described, but this time look at them not in isolation but together. It is only then that the sheer, breathtaking, arrogant enormity of the overall scheme of deception becomes visible to those who have not observed it before.
Next steps: I have begun drafting a memorandum for the prosecuting authorities, together with all evidence necessary to establish not only the existence of numerous specific instances of scientific or economic fraud in relation to the official “global warming” storyline but also the connections between these instances, and the overall scheme of deception that the individual artifices appear calculated to reinforce. In each instance, the perpetrators of the fraud will be named and their roles described.
Once the report has been completed, it will be reviewed carefully by experienced criminal lawyers in each of the national jurisdictions in which the perpetrators reside. The report will then be submitted to the prosecuting authorities in each jurisdiction, with a complaint lodged by lawyers acting for citizens of that jurisdiction against perpetrators there. No complaints can be lodged against the IPCC or the UNFCCC, for they are beyond any national jurisdiction. However, individual “scientists” can be brought to book in the countries where they normally reside.
Here is how you can help. If you consider any specific aspect of “global warming” science to contain an element of fraud as defined and illustrated here, then please – in strictest confidence – get in touch and let me have as much detail as possible. Be specific. Name names. Give details. If you can, supply or point me to backup evidence.
Since the information you will be supplying to me is in contemplation of criminal proceedings, it is privileged and no libel suit would succeed even in the unlikely event that the perpetrators discovered you had contacted me. Your details will be kept confidential, and will not appear in the report or be passed to any authorities.
Don’t be coy. It is all too easy to fall for the line now being ever-more-anxiously peddled by some of the more notorious fraudsters – that science cannot thrive in an atmosphere where scientists who publish honest research in good faith can find themselves having to answer charges in a criminal court.
Let one thing be quite clear: the test for the felony that is fraud is a high one. The lawyers who will be reading the memorandum when it is complete will not allow any element of the fraud to go forward as a complaint to the prosecuting authorities unless there is a clear, prima-facie case that wilful deception has occurred. Honest science is not under attack here: only dishonest science. And a dishonest scientist can no more claim immunity from prosecution than anyone else.
Don’t hang back. This is your chance to make the police state work not for Them but you, and to bring this costly scare to an end.
As regular readers of this site will know, I have long been troubled by the systemic political and cultural bias at the BBC. It is not just that I am so concerned about the effects of this distorted world view, refracted through such a uniquely influential lens upon the world, upon public discourse. It is also because such an abdication from the founding principles of the BBC, one of the pillars of British society and the erstwhile crucible of some of its noblest ideals of the public good, seems to me to strike at the very heart of not just the Beeb itself but of all that I most loved and admired about Britain. As with the BBC, so it is with the country.
Throughout the relentless escalation of such concerns, however, there were a few oases in the Beeb’s output in which those otherwise rapidly diminishing ideals seemed to continue to flower. One such was its natural history programmes, which became ever more glorious, astounding and mesmeric, and their iconic presenter, Sir David Attenborough, widely considered to be one of Britain’s national treasures, largely because of his wonderful voice and magisterial presence.
Some may have winced at the anthropomorphism of these programmes and the grating implicit message that the animal world was far superior to the human race. But the real draw was of course the footage of the animals in their habitats, filmed by the most incredible photography which produced images of outstanding beauty.
Well, now we know some of this photography seemed incredible because it was just that — incredible. It was not what it made itself out to be at all. It was a fake, a fix, a fraud. It emerged last week that shots of newborn polar bear cubs, which viewers were led to believe had been shot in the Arctic like the rest of the programme, had actually been filmed at a wildlife centre in the Netherlands – interspersed with actual pictures of the Arctic. The programme did not tell viewers that the cubs were born to a polar bear in a zoo. This was only revealed in a video among 14 other clips accompanying this programme on the BBC website.
The BBC claimed that Sir David’s narration was carefully worded so that it did not mislead audiences. Yet as the camera followed a female polar bear in the Arctic, he said: ‘“She starts to dig a shallow nest… once the snow here is deep enough, she’ll dig down to make a den. She’ll then lie waiting for her cubs to be born as winter sets in…On these side slopes beneath the snow, new lives are beginning.”’
The viewers were thus led to believe that this was the bear which gave birth to these cubs. Much of the wonder and attraction of such footage derives from the impression that viewers are actually watching these events in their spectacular natural habitat – that they are watching nature in the frozen wild. For this particular sequence, viewers were therefore grossly misled.
That in itself was shocking enough. What was far worse, however, was the reaction to this revelation. For many seemed not to care in the slightest. The BBC justified it with an apparently uncomprehending insouciance which totally missed the point. Sir David’s own response, when he was asked about the fake footage, was quite jaw-dropping.
‘“During the middle of this scene, when you’re trying to paint what it’s like in the middle of winter in the Pole, do you say, ‘Oh, by the way, this is filmed in a zoo? It would completely ruin the atmosphere and destroy the pleasure of the viewers. It’s not a falsehood. How far do you take this? This is a penguin but actually it’s a different penguin colony than we did for that one’ – come on. We’re making movies.”’ Making movies?
He said also: ‘“If you had tried to put a camera in the wild in a polar bear den, she would either have killed the cub or she would have killed the cameraman.”’ –a response echoed by Lord Patten, chairman of the Beeb’s own regulatory body, the BBC Trust, who said: “The alternative was either been dead bears or dead people.”
Well maybe so; but what kind of an excuse is that? What if, during last summer’s riots, broadcasters had arrived in an area after the looting had finished — and had then got some young people to put on hoodies and smash a few more windows so they could film them?
What if it footage of, say, a war reporter pictured running the gauntlet of roadside bombs in Afghanistan had actually been filmed in a mocked-up sandpit in Shepherd’s Bush? What would be the reaction if the producer had then justified this on the grounds that actually filming in Afghanistan would have got the film crew killed, but that telling viewers it was filmed in Shepherd’s Bush would have ruined the atmosphere because after all – come on! — they were making movies?
The vacuity of these responses was excelled only by the BBC’s Director-General Mark Thompson, who had the gall to suggest to a Commons committee that this was a non-story that newspapers had whipped up in revenge for the Leveson inquiry into phone hacking—and that BBC surveys showed that viewers didn’t want programmes interrupted by disclaimers.
Among the media, various commentators too sprang to the BBC’s defence with some even more astonishing arguments. One declared it was mean and how ludicrous to charge Sir David with falsehood — even though she went on to describe how she herself had been with him on a previous occasion when he went to film birds in the rainforest , but when the birds failed to materialise for the benefit of the cameras other birds were filmed in a cave elsewhere and spliced into the rainforest sequence.
Another expressed fury – not with Frozen Planet but with those in the press who had attacked: ‘…a completely standard and legitimate technique, openly explained on the BBC website, of filming in zoos, or the studio, images that cannot conceivably be recorded in the wild… No one who has admired these programmes can take the accusations seriously… The sheer abundance of rare and unprecedented images in these programmes dwarfs the supposed flaws their critics fixate on. For me it raises a horrible question. Is newspaper journalism a destructive enterprise?’
Exposing a deceit is a destructive exercise, eh? Of course, because this deceit was exposed by the Daily Mirror – and since the tabloids are held to be the incarnation of evil, any truths they report must be damned as an attack upon the righteous, and any lies they expose must be defended at all costs.
Even more dismaying still was the huge number of comments by readers on newspaper websites stating that indeed they didn’t care if the footage was faked because the films were so gorgeous and so who cared whether the Arctic was in fact a Dutch zoo and Sir David was a national treasure and how dare anyone attack him. Yet there are others still who have been appalled by these revelations:
‘Tory MP Therese Coffey said she was one of those that ‘did believe that the extraordinary coverage of the polar bears was genuine’. She said the BBC had ‘spoilt’ the ‘fantastic’ programme, adding: “For me I will probably never look at a BBC nature programme in the same way, [but instead] to see, was it trick cameras.”‘
There is more than shock in such a reaction. There is deep disappointment and even sadness. For the BBC is more than just a venerable British institution. It is an emblem of the nation. As it is with the BBC, so it is with the country. The dismissal and even defence of the BBC’s polar deceit is an emblem of a culture that no longer understands the distinction between fact and fakery. I think that for those who have understood the significance of this deception for both the BBC and for Britain, their hearts are simply broken.
‘Sexist’ signs go at British store, as pink and blue is replaced by toy categories instead
“Pink is for girls and blue is for boys – unless you are shopping at Hamleys that is. After being accused of sexist stereotyping by feminists, the world famous London store is now organising toys by category instead of gender.
Pink and blue signs from the floors selling ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ toys have been removed from the flagship Regent Street store and replaced with gender neutral red and white ones.
Toys are now categorised by type, such as ‘arts and crafts’, ‘dress-up’ and ‘dolls’, without specifying whether they are for boys or girls.
Laura Nelson, 34, a political blogger from Ealing, in West London, yesterday described the move as a ‘victory’ after having previously accused the store of ‘gender apartheid’.