The BBC has denied ignoring reports of a mass child grooming scandal in Telford in which up to 1,400 young girls and women are thought to have been sexually abused over a period of 40 years.
The scandal, revealed following an investigation by the Sunday Mirror, was reportedly widely, but critics have accused the BBC of deliberately playing down the story.
They pointed out that the story was noticeably absent from the BBC’s main front page, news page and Shropshire page for much of Monday.
The broadcaster has denied the claims, saying the story had been “covered widely” across its output.
A spokesperson said: “It is incorrect to suggest that the BBC has ignored this story which has been covered widely across our output for two days including twice on the Victoria Derbyshire programme, on the BBC News Channel, BBC News website, paper reviews, Radio 4’s World at One and Six O’ Clock News, 5 Live Drive and the Emma Barnett Show as well as featuring prominently across regional TV, radio and online news in the Midlands.”
Nick Sutton, editor of the BBC News website, pointed out that it had linked to other media coverage on Sunday and Monday in its paper reviews and had run its own story about calls for an inquiry – though this was seemingly published at least 24 hours after the story initially broke.
Much of the criticism appeared to come from right-wing quarters, including former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who shared a link to a report on the issue on the ‘Westmonster’ website, saying: “The BBC need to take a good look at themselves”.
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The verified Leave.EU twitter account tweeted a picture of 16-year-old Lucy Lowe, who it said was murdered by her 26-year-old abuser, adding: “She is just one of a thousand grooming victims in Telford that the BBC is now refusing to talk about…”
And Paul Joseph Watson – a leading voice of the alt-right in the UK – levelled a similar criticism, tweeting: “Biggest ever industrial scale child abuse scandal in the U.K. and the BBC hasn’t even reported on it. I wonder why?”
Other articles pointed out the lack of coverage as the story broke, and later lack of prominence.
LBC presenter Nick Ferrari said the story ‘didn’t fit the BBC’s agenda’ while Douglas Murray – author of The Death of Europe, who works at neo-conservative British foreign policy think tank The Henry Jackson Society – wrote in a blog on The Spectator that the lack of coverage it was due to the fallout of coverage of previous scandals.
His comments follow claims that the BBC’s dramatisation of the Rochdale abuse scandal – which was apparently the trigger for the radicalisation of Finsbury Park attacker Darren Osborne.
(Top picture: PA)