BBC News refuted the TV2 allegations unequivocally and we absolutely stand by the validity and professionalism of Hilary Andersson’s reports.
The BBC reported the events in Niger in 2005 as faithfully and precisely as we saw them. Hilary Andersson, a journalist who is praised across the media industry for her work, led much of that reporting.
As the BBC’s Africa correspondent she was a permanent presence in the area for over three years and her reports from Darfur in 2004 were duly acclaimed when the BBC won the coveted RTS award for its coverage from the region.
Hilary approached the story of what was happening in Niger with the same diligence and professionalism she has always shown in her work.
Reports of crisis in Niger were circulating in the British and international media weeks prior to Hilary’s arrival in the country, so it would have been plain wrong of us not to have examined the story.
Significantly, the BBC was not urged by the UN to visit Niger at this time. The BBC’s decision to cover the developments in Niger was taken on the ground and after Hilary and her team had witnessed for themselves the ongoing situation – a situation that clearly justified wider exposure.
Hilary and her team spoke to locals in eastern Niger whose crops had been wiped out by the locusts.
Importantly, the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission of December 2004 documents that 26% of crops in affected parts of Niger were wiped out by locusts.
The BBC filmed many dead cows, including a huge pile in a village east of Maradi in eastern Niger. Hilary and her team also witnessed people eating the rotten meat of their dead cattle.
The BBC included the sequence re eating leaves after the team had questioned those involved on whether it was “normal behaviour” and been told that it was not.
The BBC will continue to strive to earn the trust of all its audience and this, we believe, will be best achieved by continuing to deploy remarkably talented reporters like Hilary Andersson to cover news wherever and whenever it’s breaking with accuracy and impartiality.