Belfast Telegraph

Doug Beattie accuses BBC of 'rewriting history' after equating security forces to paramilitaries

Speaking out: Doug Beattie
Speaking out: Doug Beattie
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

UUP MLA and ex-soldier Doug Beattie has hit out at the BBC for equating the actions of security forces during the Troubles with loyalist and republican paramilitaries.

Mr Beattie was speaking after the BBC wrote in an online article that "many acts of violence were carried out by republican and loyalist paramilitaries and security forces".

The line was carried in a piece with Pam Morrison who shared her continued pain at the killing of her three brothers by the IRA in the 1980s.

Part-time UDR men Ronnie, Cecil and Jimmy Graham were all killed in separate County Fermanagh attacks.

Mr Beattie said it was clear that the hurt caused by their deaths is still "felt to this day" by Mrs Morrison "who bravely and movingly told their story".

The piece was later amended by the BBC to say that "the majority of the violence (during the Troubles) was carried out by republican and loyalist paramilitaries".

"The security forces were responsible for about 10% of the 3,500-plus deaths," the new line said.

Despite the retraction the Upper Bann MLA said that the comment was "absolutely shameful" coming from a national broadcaster and that the damage had already been done to victims.

“It is deeply regrettable that not only was the BBC report incapable of using the word ‘murder’ or ‘terrorists’ it actually sought to equate ‘acts of violence’ by terrorists with the actions of the security forces," Mr Beattie said.

Pam Morrison. Pic BBC
Pam Morrison. Pic BBC

“This is exactly what we mean by the rewriting of history. The BBC could not even manage to handle a piece dealing with the murders of three off-duty members of the UDR without feeling the need to try to equivocate."

Mr Beattie served in the British Army for over 20 years, fighting in the Iraq War and was honoured with the Military Cross.

He said there could be no comparison between the "lawful forces of the state, whether police or army, and illegal terrorist gangs".

"The former were bound by the rule of law and sought to stop terrorist groups from committing murder on a daily basis; the latter sought to kill anyone who stood in their way, and accounted for 90 per cent of all Troubles related deaths, all of which were obviously illegal," Mr Beattie said.

“The BBC realised their mistake and amended the piece online, but the damage was already done.”

In response to Mr Beattie's comments a BBC spokesperson acknowledged that some of the language used in the piece "was clumsy and lacked clarity and precision".

"It has since been amended," the spokesperson said.

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