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BBC response to my complaint about "Unvaccinated"

Updated: Aug 28, 2022

Two weeks ago I submitted a complaint to the BBC about it's "Unvaccinated" documentary based on the details in this critique. Today I received the following pathetic response.


Dear Prof Fenton, Thanks for contacting us about ‘Unvaccinated’, broadcast on 20 July. With UK Covid infections on the rise, this programme sought to understand why some people remain unvaccinated against Covid-19. To fully explore this debate a group of unvaccinated strangers, each with their own different reasons for not getting the vaccine, were brought together to discuss their views and the programme fairly represented what happened over the 6 days of filming. As the programme said, there are still around four million adults who remain unvaccinated - this is based on government figures and Office for National Statistics estimates. To assist with the science, the programme included Professor Finn of the University of Bristol and Professor Khalil of St George's University Hospital (University of London). In his capacity as an employee of the University, Professor Finn leads a research group within the Pfizer Vaccine Centre of Excellence - where his work in relation to Covid-19 vaccines is independent of Pfizer and he did not lead or conduct any trials of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. Similarly, Prof Khalil is an employee of St George's Hospital and in that capacity is the Principal Investigator of Preg-CoV - the largest clinical trial in the UK, funded by the government, investigating the best gap between first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses for pregnant women. Professor Khalil has not conducted any independent paid consultancy work for Pfizer or any other pharma company relating to Covid-19 vaccines and her position at St George’s is not dependent on Pfizer funding. Professor Khalil receives no payment or benefit directly from Pfizer. The programme acknowledges that in some rare circumstances the vaccine has been shown to cause harm. Your feedback is valued and has been seen by the ‘Unvaccinated’ team. Thanks again for taking the time to contact us. Kind regards,


BBC Complaints Team


The response completely fails to address most of the points in my complaint, choosing to focus only on the concerns I raised about a) the undeclared conflicts of interest of Prof Finn and Prof Khalil and b) the accuracy of the "4 million unvaccinated adults" claim.


Note that they try to downplay Prof Finn's Pfizer association by saying he "leads a research group within the Pfizer Vaccine Centre of Excellence" whereas - as this announcement on his own University's website announced on 28/5/2021 - Finn leads the whole Centre which was set up then with an initial investment of £4.6 million from Pfizer.



As for Prof Khalil, they seem to be claiming no Pfizer association at all, but in the Nature article she co-authored she declares in "competing interests" that she is PI of the Pfizer COVID in pregnancy trial:



I already pointed out those details, so I am not sure why the BBC is trying to ignore and/or downplay these conflicts of interest.


Finally, regarding my complaint about the "4 million unvaccinated adults" claim - which amounts to just 8% of the adult population. They claim "this is based on government figures and Office for National Statistics estimates." Well I already pointed out to them that I knew this figure was based on ONS estimates, but we know they are wrong, not least because they are completely contradicted by data from another government agency - the UKHSA - which estimates 20% of adults are unvaccinated. If the BBC choose to ignore the "government figures" of UKHSA , then why do they at least not trust their own extensive survey of a representative sample of 2570 adults carried out explicitly for the programme. Of these 664 were unvaccinated, which is 26%. Based on that survey, there is essentially zero probability that the true population unvaccinated percentage is less than 20%. In fact, there is a 99.973% probability the proportion of unvaccinated is at least 23%.




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12 Comments


Their second sentence: ‘With UK Covid infections on the rise, this programme sought to understand why some people remain unvaccinated against Covid-19’, alone shows that they are either wilfully or stupidly ignorant. For how many months have we been told that these ‘vaccines’ do not stop transmission or infection. That fact alone should have meant that this programme should never have been made.

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Despite half a million complaints, BBC employee, Fraser Steel and Ofcom members have found the BBC to be almost perfect. An investigation found that over the last year, the BBC received almost a half a million complaints. These complaints are sent to an office in Darlington that also does the TV licensing job for the BBC. The complaints are then forwarded to a 400 strong office in Belfast that deals with complaints under an audience services contract with the BBC. Almost all the complaints are dismissed, but about 0.2% of these complaints finally go to the BBC. A team of about 30 people in the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) in London, process about 1,000 complaints. Only about 12 of…

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James Good
James Good
Aug 06, 2022

There is no point complaining to the BBC. They will ignore the points you make if you make several points. And if you just make a single point and focus on that they will change the meaning of words to defend their position. If you persist they will finally say that everything is subjective and point to someone who believes the opposite of you regardless of objective reality.

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Replying to

Yes, but it is worth complaining anyway, to keep alive the spark of doubt that many people who work there must feel. If they are never challenged that spark will die.

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If you receive a less than satisfactory response - and it is very difficult to conclude that The BBC have dealt with any point raised by Prof Fenton's complaint, then this is the process( Source: BBC Complaints Framework), with apologies if this is "old hat":


Stage 1b: If I'm not satisfied with the reply, what can I do next? If you are dissatisfied with the reply at Stage 1a, please write back to BBC Audience Services, as set out in under ‘Where to direct complaints’ above, within 20 working days of the date on which you received the response at Stage 1a. If you write after that time, please explain why your complaint is late. Exceptionally, the BBC may still consider…


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Norman Fenton
Norman Fenton
Aug 10, 2022
Replying to

I submitted a follow-up complaint

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I don't think we can hope to get BBC officialdom to say "oh yes! you are right! Out mistake!". I think we need a smaller ambition - repeated precision strikes that starkly force individuals to confront their cognitive dissonance. For example asking on what basis they chose the ONS figure of 8% rather than the UKHSA figure of 20% will force the individual to think and may have a cumulative effect. Perhaps I should do this...

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