Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley blasts 'sick' BBC over claim late father financed UVF bomb

Ian Paisley has reacted angrily to a claim in a BBC Spotlight documentary that his late father financed a UVF bomb.

The North Antrim MP said he was "not surprised at all by the depths to which the BBC would sink in its hatred of my late father and my family".

A BBC spokesperson denied Mr Paisley's claims and said they had "complete confidence" in the integrity of the programme.

The allegations against the late Dr Paisley will be aired next week in the first episode of an eight-part series on the Troubles made by BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight team.

It includes a claim from a former senior Army officer that Ian Paisley helped fund a loyalist terror campaign in the 1960s.

Among the targets were the Silent Valley reservoir near Kilkeel and the Annalong viaduct.

DUP MP Mr Paisley told BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show that the allegations were completely untrue and were only being aired because his father had passed away in 2014.

He said that it was "sick" to air the documentary so close to the anniversary of his father's death on September 12.

"There is absolutely no truth whatsoever in what I can only describe as a filthy story designed to try and impugn the reputation of a dead man," the North Antrim MP said.  

"Of course I'm not surprised by the lies and the tactics that are deployed by certain people in the media against my father, that's been their style for many years, things they couldn't say about him when he was alive now they try to say about him when he's dead.

Ian Paisley and Ian jnr eating buns in the campaign trail in March 1982.
Ian Paisley and Ian jnr eating buns in the campaign trail in March 1982.

"There are two things I would say. The thing that is probably most hurtful and disgusting and filthy about this particular story is the BBC, the Spotlight team, has planned to broadcast this on the fifth anniversary of my dad's death."

Mr Paisley said that the airing of the documentary was hurtful to his family, particularly his mother Eileen, and rejected a claim by host Stephen Nolan that the Spotlight team had no control over the air date of the documentary.

He said that he believed the decision to be calculated, "deliberately so".

The North Antrim MP rejected the evidence put forward in the documentary.

"The claim that this Col Hancock, a minor functionary in a garrison unit, heard something from a police officer who heard some other gossip and showed him something that no one else is allowed to see. That was evidence that my father financed a terrorist campaign," Mr Paisley said.

"At the time of course my father happened to be in jail for civil disobedience in 1969 when this thing actually took place and of course if there had of been, in the words of the programme, 'evidence shown to him by the police', I think my father would have been questioned about that and that evidence would have been used to convict him.

Ian Paisley junior left pictured with his father during the Drumcree stand off in 1996. PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/04/98
Ian Paisley junior left pictured with his father during the Drumcree stand off in 1996. PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/04/98

"It's complete and total poppycock."

Mr Paisley rejected the BBC's claim that the fact that the RUC were recording extracts from his father's speeches and sermons were "exclusive" saying it was "well known" at the time.

"If evidence had of been found between any of his speeches and sermons that could have led to his conviction I think that money that was spent would have been used to have done that, but it wasn't," he said.

"The story is completely and totally refuted, I think that it's sensationalism."

Mr Paisley said that he had spoken to his mother Eileen about the documentary and said that neither he nor his mum were contacted by the Spotlight team in connection with it.

He said that she had "completely dismissed the allegations out of hand".

"Instead they just decided to do a filthy scum programme on my father," he said. 

A BBC spokesperson said that they did not feel it necessary to contact the Paisley family.

“The BBC has complete confidence in the editorial integrity of the programme. As no allegations were made against the wider Paisley family it was not necessary to offer them a right to reply," the spokesperson said.

“The series leads our autumn programming and was scheduled to follow on from BBC Northern Ireland’s portfolio of news-related content recognising the 50th Anniversary of troops entering Northern Ireland in 1969.”

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