BBC Airs Edited Video Alleging Police Brutality, Journo Threatens ‘Defamation’ Claims Against Critics

The BBC has been accused of disseminating fake news with a report which suggested that a police officer had used excessive force in making an arrest. The Police Federation have defended the officer’s actions.

In a report released on Saturday, BBC South East appeared to suggest that a police officer in Newhaven, Sussex, had acted out of turn in attacking a man during an arrest. The video aired by the BBC had been edited.

The man was charged with being drunk and disorderly and assaulting a police officer. However, the reporter, Jon Hunt, described the officer “striking a man”, before the report cut to witnesses, one of whom said that the officer repeatedly hit the man “in the face”.

Hunt tells viewers that, according to the man’s friends, he had been at an office Christmas party and was on his way home when he was arrested, the suggestion being that the officer had acted out of turn in using force against the man.

However, the source footage for the incident tells a rather different story.

In the unedited version, the man is clearly drunk and appears to grab hold of the police officer, who strikes him in order to release the man’s grip. A policewoman also at the scene can be heard shouting “Let go! Let go!”

Home Office guidelines do allow police officers to use proportional force in self-defence.

Blogging account ‘Bullshire Police’ confronted Hunt with the footage on Twitter, asking him why an “edited version” of the video was used in the report and accusing him of “agenda driven bias”.

Hunt replied that the report was “edited fairly” based upon available evidence.

When the blogger suggested the BBC was promoting fake news, Hunt warned them to “desist” with making “defamatory statements” before blocking their account.

Mark White, secretary of the Sussex Police Federation confirmed that officers are allowed to use reasonable force to defend themselves, and that officer in question had the “full support” of the Federation.

He said: “During the weekend, footage emerged of a Police Officer ‘punching’ a man in Newhaven. A large number of people, especially on social media, have been quick to condemn the officer’s actions without knowing the full facts, without knowing the circumstances of the arrest or without knowing the events which led up to the officer having to restrain the male.

“When Police Officers are attacked, it seems to come as a shock to some people that we are allowed to use force to protect both ourselves and the public. There are varying degrees of approved and permissible force which can be used by officers and some of these do involve the use of a fist if the circumstances require. In this incident, the officer was dealing with a violent man having been called to the scene to back up two PCSOs. The officer was then attacked and sought to defend himself and arrest the male using Home Office approved techniques.”

In a statement on Facebook, BBC South East said: “We work extremely hard to ensure our reports are fair, balanced and accurate.

“We acknowledge that the video shared with the BBC only captured part of the incident, and so this was highlighted by our reporter who said that the totality of the arrest wasn’t filmed. We are confident that the editing in this report did not remove any pertinent sections of the original video, and did not alter or skew the facts of the matter.

“We also gave our viewers the Sussex Police right of reply, which states that approved techniques which officers use on arrest can appear very robust, but that the force has referred the matter to its professional standards department for an investigation.”

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