Belfast Telegraph

Channel 4 claims Smuggled is of ‘public interest’ after Home Office criticism

The new show follows efforts to evade border security.

Channel 4 has responded to the Home Office (Philip Toscano/PA)
Channel 4 has responded to the Home Office (Philip Toscano/PA)

By Craig Simpson, PA

Channel 4 has defended its new series Smuggled as being of “urgent public interest” following criticism from the Home Office.

This followed the discovery of 39 bodies in Essex, believed to be Vietnamese nationals.

The Home Office branded the broadcaster “irresponsible” for releasing the programme so soon after the bodies were found in a shipping container in Grays.

Smuggled follows voluntary attempts to enter the UK without documentation, evading border security.

Organised crime gangs have no respect for human life so it is reckless to provide a platform for the illegal activity that they facilitate Home Office

Producers of the show believe they have shown major weaknesses with border checks, and there is a public interest in showing UK audiences these flaws.

A Home Office spokeswoman said “broadcasting this programme so soon after the tragic incident at Grays is both insensitive and irresponsible”.

She said: “Organised crime gangs have no respect for human life so it is reckless to provide a platform for the illegal activity that they facilitate.

“Doing so can encourage them to exploit our border for profit, risking the lives of vulnerable, desperate people as they do so.”

Channel 4 initially delayed the broadcast of the new series, but has said its findings are important in the national discussion of events in Essex, where the bodies of 39 people were found.

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Participants in Smuggled (Kevin Baker/PA)

A spokesman for the broadcaster said: “This documentary series investigates concerns that the UK Border Force is failing to adequately secure the UK from clandestine entrants.

“Filmed this summer, the programmes question the security of UK borders and give the viewing public a much broader insight into an important issue facing this country – which is part of our remit as a public service broadcaster.

“More than ever, following this awful tragedy, the shocking findings of the films have become a matter of urgent public interest.”

Responding to accusations they are giving a platform for the work of smuggling gangs, a Channel 4 statement continued: “All of the methods of entry into the UK tested in the programme are well documented and publicised methods used by illegal entrants and refugees.

“The only surprise in the programme is just how easy it is to enter the UK undetected. The shocking findings of these films are a matter of urgent public interest.”

Smuggled airs on Channel 4 tonight at 9pm.

PA

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