ECU Ruling: East Midlands Today, BBC1 (East Midlands), 12 January 2011
Publication date: 30 May 2011
The programme included a brief exchange between a reporter and Goncalo Amaral (a former policeman who had worked on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and had since written a book on the case). One word in the exchange was bleeped, and the report gave the impression that this was because Sr Amaral had used offensive language about the McCanns. A viewer complained that this was inaccurate and unfair to Sr Amaral.
The reporter’s belief, reinforced by others on the programme team who viewed the recording, was that Sr Amaral had indeed used an English phrase which included an offensive term applied to the McCanns. On further examination, however, it became clear that Sr Amaral had been speaking Portuguese, and that an inoffensive phrase had been misconstrued. Upheld
The Editor of the programme has discussed the outcome with the producer and reporter involved. In future, the team plans to use interpreters if clips from interviews are unclear.
While some jumped eagerly on the chance to make Mr Amaral out to be the bad guy without checking their facts, Martin Brunt (Sky News Correspondent) was the only journalist at the time with guts enough to tell the truth in his article ‘Spare a thought for my new best friend Goncalo Amaral':
Spare a thought for my new best friend Goncalo Amaral.
I’m beginning to think the former detective in the Madeleine McCann case has a point when he complains about the British media attacking him.
My Beeb colleague accused him of saying “F*** the McCanns” in an alleged off-guard moment when we all followed him out of court the other day.
What he actually said was “Fala com McCanns” which means “Ask the McCanns”.
The rest of us, through our interpreters, understood perfectly what he was saying.
I think he needs a good libel lawyer.
Isabel Duarte may be free when she has finished pursuing him over his book on the Madeleine case.