Lancashire Police have “condemned” a “misleading” report by the BBC, claiming a ten-year-old Muslim boy’s family had been investigated after he accidentally wrote that he lived in a “terrorist” house in his homework, when he meant “terraced”.
The police said there were genuine concerns about the boys “safety”, which “the reporter was fully aware of this before she wrote her story”, however the BBC’s version of events was picked up by every mainstream news outlet in the UK, and seized upon by Islamists and opponents of the government’s new anti-terror laws.
“The level of debate about this story today is not warranted given the facts and misrepresents the role of all the agencies involved”, the police said.
The original report by BBC Asian Network claimed that police “over reacted to an innocent mistake”. It was based around a brief statement from police, simply stating they had investigated, and lengthy interviews with sympathetic family members.
The family denied all wrongdoing, claimed that incident had arisen from a spelling error in a boy’s homework, and that the unfortunate incident had left the boy “traumatised”. The BBC did little to question this account.
However, in a statement issued yesterday, Lancashire’s Crime Commissioner said that the report had paid “very little attention to the truth of the issue and the fact that concerns were raised by the school about the boy’s safety”.
Continuing: “The facts are that a young person disclosed a worrying issue in his school work – not just that he lived in a ‘terrorist house’ – and this was reported through the appropriate channels and subsequently a visit was undertaken by a neighbourhood police officer and a social worker.
“This was not responded to as a terror incident and the reporter was fully aware of this before she wrote her story”, the Commissioner said.
He said that the “false” report had “damage[ed] relationships with the police” and that he would be “writing to the BBC to ask why it has been reported in this way.”
The BBC told Breitbart London in a statement: “The BBC has a duty to report challenging stories in a responsible way. We firmly believe this story was in the public interest and that we acted properly.
“We reported the facts in good faith and after taking appropriate steps to check them with the authorities involved. A statement from the police was included. We updated the story immediately when the authorities released more information once the story was in the public domain.”
The government introduced changes to the PREVENT anti-terror legislation in July last year, such that teachers and other public servants are required to report children and members of the public who are at risk of radicalisation to authorities.
Organisations such as the hard-left National Union of Student (NUS), the Nation Union of Teachers (NUT), as well as Guantanamo Bay detainee group CAGE and other Islamist organisations have been lobbying hard against the change. These groups argue that reporting terror suspects is not the job of teachers, and that making it so unfairly stigmatises children.
Such campaigners ceased upon the BBC story as a perfect example of why their arguments are correct.
For example, the BBC Asian Network spoke to a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood linked Muslim Council of Britain at the end of their report, who claimed the story was one of many examples of how Muslims “going about their daily lives” were being targeted.