In ironic twist, BBC producer is accused of bribery

A producer of the BBC's "Panorama" is accused of attempting to bride a source for information.

A producer of the BBC’s “Panorama” is accused of attempting to bride a source for information.

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 28, IWN — In an ironic twist, a producer working on the BBC programme about Harlequin, the company that owns Buccament Bay Resort, has been suspended amidst an allegation that he attempted to “bribe” a Harlequin consultant. 

The news came to light on Thursday, four days after the programme, dubbed “The Great Savings Wipeout”, was scheduled to have been broadcast.

BBC journalist Matthew Hill and Paul Kenyon, who worked on the programme, had put to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves in Barbados on Feb. 17 an allegation that Dave Ames, chair of Harlequin, had gone to Gonsalves’ office with a briefcase of money and left without it.

Both Ames and Gonsalves have denied the allegations.

Gonsalves further said the journalists were “rude” and “accosted” him during their encounter — on board a landed aircraft and wrote to the BBC complaining about the encounter.

Read: PM Gonsalves says BBC journalists accosted him

Matthew Chapman is producer of the Panorama episode about Harlequin.

The Times reported that Chapman emailed Sean Ghent, a Harlequin security consultant, describing himself as an award-winning Panorama producer, and saying: “I was wondering if I could be a bit cheeky here. It’s unlikely that Ames and maybe Harlequin will be around for much longer, nor will he have money to pay people for much longer.

“There are a long list of creditors already I understand. Panorama and the BBC is always using security and protection officers and although I cannot guarantee anything we may be able to put things your way.

“Or we could work together on stories. It’s always good to keep one eye on the future! How would you feel helping me out in a totally confidential way.”

Read: British PMs won’t behave like Gonsalves – BBC producer

Ghent told The Times he was shocked by the producer’s approach to him via the Linkedin website on March 13.

“He was suggesting my job might disappear. It seemed to me he was trying to offer me an enticement,” Ghent said.

The BBC’s guidelines say the media entity has a “zero-tolerance” approach to bribery and is committed to acting professionally and with integrity in all its business dealings.

The BBC said it had initiated disciplinary procedures and was “reviewing the facts”.

“In light of information received late in the production process of this film, the BBC decided to postpone broadcast. We are currently reviewing the facts. As a result a member of the team has been suspended and a disciplinary procedure is under way,” the BBC said in a statement.

The BBC last weekend removed from its website a promo, for the Panorama episode.

The promo said, “A twice-bankrupt, former double glazing salesman from Essex has collected an estimated quarter of a billion pounds from investors, which is now at risk. In one of Britain’s biggest ever pension scandals, he promised to build luxury rental homes in the Caribbean, some on the island of St Vincent, where the film Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. Wimbledon tennis champion Pat Cash and golfing legend Gary Player helped promote the property scheme. However, reporter Paul Kenyon finds most of the planned properties have yet to be built and there are disputes over planning permission and land ownership.”

Journalist Matthew Hill told I-Witness News on Monday that he couldn’t say why the programme was no longer going to broadcast and that he “can’t comment … at the moment” about when or if the programme will be broadcast.

But a well-placed source, citing a BBC insider, told I-Witness News that the BBC is hoping that the programme will air in the near future.

The situation was described as “sensitive” at the moment, the source further said, adding that the impression was that the BBC was still gathering information.



11 thoughts on “In ironic twist, BBC producer is accused of bribery

  1. So let me get this straight, the BBC contacted a “Consultant who is employed by a shady company”, is this (commonsense, intelligence, slick or just simple stupidity)? you decide. Before the programe was to be aired, you had the ULP and their supporters anxious to defend their leader while the NPD and their supporters anxious to see their nemesis crumble. Then, we were told that vinlec was about to distrupt electricity throughout the entire island etc(even though the program could have been viewed at a later date on youtube etc). A few days before the “Panorama” program was to be viewed, thousand of Vincentians both home and abroad(including myself)had our expectations on cloud nine, ready to prove the innocence or guilt of Dave Ames and Harlequin then, the unexpected, the postponement of the program. We anticipated upon a later date, only to be dissapointed once again. After a sudden dissapointment, we now hear ” The great BBC has now been accused of bribery”. Was the BBC lacking of evidence on Dave Ames that part of the program had to be fabricated or are they patiently awaiting enough evidence to be presented to a worldwide audience at a later date? but, wait a minute, in a world where one can simple research anything from the touch of a cell phone to the click of a mouse from almost anywhere on the face of this globe, maybe it’s time for us to do our own research.

    Posted by Bond Jamesbond | March 28, 2013, 11:22
  2. What? The program was not postponed because of a call made by Gonsalves to the BBC? GTFOOH!

    And the bribery talk was not about Eustace but about a BBC producer? I am confused.

    With all these allegations of ponzi schemes;Thailand fiasco; freezing assets; FSO investigations; unpaid wages, work stoppages; questionable land dealings; ongoing court hearing with rogue business partners in Ireland; allegations of close personal relationships with Prime Ministers in small island states; having expressed a dislike for the Caribbean, done a 360 and obtained citizenship; some folks are wondering why the sudden change of mind; allegation of brief case of money delivered to a Prime Minister’s office which could be proven by three eyewitnesses: the duplicitous role of a “professional gentleman” between Eustace and Gonsalves; the role of the Opposition Senator’s brother in chaperoning the BBC around SVG;..With all these story lines that make up this soap opera of BBC AND EUSTACE VS DAVID AMES AND GONSALVES,ETC, one has to wonder WTF did the BBC was really planning to show folks in that program? Is it case of too many ingredients and a poor chef…or is it that the ingredients were of poor quality, resulting in the chef abandoning the pot?…lol…

    Now, if I am to use a card game analogy on how I see this saga playing out, here it is:I think Eustace played a poor hand of PEDRO in this game…he should have called with BUSH first-the revelation that he had some “secret” meeting with the BBC didn’t help the NDP of seemingly removed from the ongoing saga-Eustace needed to get a sense of what the other players have and see if your partner(BBC) will take the lead and bail you out…instead Eustace came out with TRUMPS(king) looking for the PEDRO(whatever political mileage he believes he could get from this drama) Gonsalves cover it with the ACE(being “accosted”)now the BBC has no choice, they can’t throw the PEDRO(video of bribery allegation)if they have it(assuming of course they have other trumps)…now Eustace has one piece of trump left and its the JACK(allegation of bribery)…the other players throw in bush and trumps but no PEDRO! Eustace is sweating now…Gonsalves turn to play…does he come BUSH or call looking for the PEDRO?(Eustace political head on a platter)…well Gonsalves has the Queen, he knows Ace and king gone…his partner Ames can’t have the PEDRO, he not that stupid, to hold it up and not throw it on the ACE…mm…maybe Gonsalves pull a fast one to throw off Eustace and the BBC?…who got the PEDRO? OR DID THE PEDRO SLEEP?


    PS: for those not familiar with the Vincy style of playing Pedro…this analogy may fly over your head…please feel free to visit a rum shop near you when the next time you visit Vincyland for a lesson…your fee? Just buy the next round.

    Posted by Teacherfang (@Llijame) | March 28, 2013, 17:42
  3. When I looked at programs produced by the BBC such as “Spies among us”, a program focused on President Bush and Toney Blair concerning the lies on the iraq war. One can’t seriously help but to wonder what the heck is going with the mighty BBC that they will cancelled a program on Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, a man who dominates a small Caribbean Island un-known to many. Again, is it because the mighty BBC is scrutinizing ever detail before proceeding with the program, is it because part of the program was fabricated or is it because they have come to realized that Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is simple a no push over. Some(including myself) may not agree with everything Dr. Ralph Gonsalves does. Some call him a liar, some call him a marxist, some love him, some hate him, the NDP despises him. We can always change our opinions about him from time to time, but fact about him we cannot change. Is it because Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, a man who received his PHD at the age of 25 (Open to correction), a criminal attorney for over thirty years, a policitian for decades, a man who many consider one of the most influencial, and powerful leaders in the region today that he sent a panic wave among one of the most powerful media on the face of the globe. Just wondering.

    Posted by Bond Jamesbond | March 29, 2013, 11:21
    • Bond Jamesbond,

      The BBC’s programme is NOT about Gonsalves. It is about Harlequin and British pensioners who are at risk of losing their investment.

      Posted by Admin | March 29, 2013, 11:29
  4. ADM I agree with you, but many Vincentians wanted to hear what the BBC had on gonsalves connection with Ames. Thanks for the reminder anyway.

    Posted by Bond Jamesbond | March 29, 2013, 12:10
  5. Matthew Chapman:…. “I’m a Bafta award-winning producer so I don’t mess about with offers like this – nor would I piss you about.”… this seems to convey a level of desperation that will cause him to risk everything for this story. How desperate was he while in St. Vincent, and is this a common practice accepted adopted by the rest of his team?

    Posted by des1994 | March 31, 2013, 21:41
  6. Knowing what the alleged evidence is, who is involved and who did what, I am sure that after thorough investigations and enquiries by the BBC, it will come back.

    Posted by peterbinose | April 1, 2013, 19:03
  7. Yes…. Now we eagerly await the outcome of their investigations into the integrity of the BBC.

    I don’t expect too much from the BBC internal investigations though….. unless a third party gets involved to do an independent investigation involving all uncut recordings from the making of the documentary.

    I just find it interesting that soo many media houses in the UK, Australia and elsewhere around the Globe considered the suspension of Matthew Chapman as news worthy, however I have not been able to find a single line about it on the BBC site.
    The BBC Panorama is big on exposing bribery so I am just wondering… At what point will the Chapman story become news worthy enough for the BBC?

    Makes me think of the fiasco at News of the World.

    Posted by des1994 | April 1, 2013, 21:49
  8. All I can do now is LAUGH at PETERBINOSE and the REST of the NDP CLOWNS on this BLOG.

    Let this be another LESSON for those Vincentians who are QUICK to BELIEVE a FOREIGN NEWS AGENCY over that of the LEADER of their own COUNTRY.


    Posted by VINCYPOWA | April 6, 2013, 09:49
  9. It seems more than strange that there is a significant development to this story and its not covered by I-witness News.
    Isn’t the resignation/ Sacking of Matthew Chapman a BFTA awardee not news worthy?
    Considering the potential implications of the full investigation and what can eventually become of I-witness will be well advised to stick with the story… Here is an opportunity to do some real investigative journalism of your own and become a key contributor to the exposé into BBC investigative tactics.

    Posted by des1994 | April 7, 2013, 22:47
  10. YOOoooooooo HOOooooooooooo VINCYSTINKAPOOPOWA, Mathew Chapman has now resigned his BBC job whilst in suspension of his job.

    The BBC say they are going to air the programme, having seen some of the evidence I am pleased that the expose was not going to be a waste.

    See stinker, the Karma has got you again.

    Posted by peterbinose | April 9, 2013, 20:04

I-Witness News’ tweets


%d bloggers like this: