Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Channel 4 defends Harry kidnap film

The Taking of Prince Harry depicts what could have happened to the prince if he had been taken prisoner in Afghanistan

Channel 4 has defended its broadcast of a "dramatised documentary" showing Prince Harry taken prisoner in Afghanistan as "sober and responsible".

The programme included scenes showing the Prince, played by actor Sebastian Reid, being held behind enemy lines while negotiations were carried out to free him.

A spokesman for the channel said it had received around 180 complaints before the programme, called The Taking of Prince Harry, was broadcast and none after transmission.

He said: "The film raised important questions around whether we want to expose members of the Royal Family to the new kind of risks that modern warfare poses. Once viewers actually watched the programme they would have seen that this was a sober and responsible documentary."

The channel went ahead with the 90-minute broadcast against the wishes of the head of the Armed Forces who wrote to its chairman, Lord Burns, asking that it not be shown.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup argued the programme would be distressing for the families of service personnel and potentially undermine the security and morale of troops serving in Afghanistan.

The film featured contributions from former hostages and intelligence experts and included scenes where the Prince is recognised by a British-born radical Islamist and made to appear in Taliban and al Qaida propaganda.

Harry, younger son of the Prince of Wales, served in Afghanistan's Helmand province. His presence in the country was "hush-hush" because of worries he could become a Taliban target if it became widely known he had been deployed.

He spent 10 weeks working as a forward air controller until his cover was blown on the internet. Harry was flown home in February 2008 when the secret was leaked.

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