Keith Allen Thinks The BBC May Have Faked 'Apocalyptic' Attack In Syria

"You can trust the BBC – or can you?"

Keith Allen is supporting a crowdfunding appeal that claims the BBC may have faked the aftermath of an incendiary airstrike on a school in Syria in 2013.

The actor, who is the father of singer Lily Allen, has fronted a promotional video that seeks to raise £70,000 to fund a documentary based on the claims of an amateur investigator called Robert Stuart.

Stuart says he has spent nearly six years compiling “a mountain of evidence” that shows the BBC’s footage was “faked”. He claims the national broadcaster worked “cheek by jowl with Isis” to produce the Panorama documentary, which was broadcast in September 2013.

In the promotional video on Indiegogo, which was launched last month and has so far raised around £7,500, Allen says: “The BBC, good old aunty. You can trust the BBC – or can you?”

He continues: “Did the BBC collude with interested intelligence agencies and proscribed terrorist organisations to stage an atrocity that would be filmed and then broadcast with a view to influence public opinion about going to war in Syria?”

The attack in question happened in August 2013, when Syrian government forces dropped an incendiary bomb on a school in Urm al-Kubra, Aleppo. Victims of the attack were taken to a medical facility in the nearby town of Atarib.

In an interview with TalkRadio on Friday, Stuart claimed “the only source of [this attack] is the BBC”. However, the strike was also reported by NBC News who interviewed doctors who described the “apocalyptic” attack in detail, documented in painstaking detail by the Violations Documentation Centre in Syria (VDCS), and confirmed by Human Rights Watch.

In the same week there were more than 20 airstrikes by Syrian government forces which resulted in the deaths of at least 117 civilians, according to the VDCS.

Kristyan Benedict of Amnesty International UK said his organisation had documented “many years” of “Syrian government forces carrying out indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas using aircraft, artillery shells, mortars, cluster bombs and incendiary weapons”.

He added: “We have extensively documented how the use of incendiary weapons are burning people alive who are literally left with nowhere to hide.”

But Stuart and Allen claim the evidence they will present in their documentary suggests the BBC faked the aftermath of the airstrike.

Stuart, about whom there is very little information available online, says his documentary “will strike at the heart of the BBC’s global reputation and will potentially reveal its hidden links with the intelligence services”.

He adds: “The impact could be earth-shattering.”

A key part of Stuart’s evidence is the footage from the Panorama documentary itself, excerpts of which are interspersed in the promotional video.

A slide from Robert Stuart's evidence.
A slide from Robert Stuart's evidence.
BBC/Robert Stuart

Concentrating on a segment showing a number of injured males, Stuart claims on the crowdfunding website: “I think the BBC’s footage was faked.

He adds: “I’m not alone. Hundreds of commenters on this Twitter thread agree with me – the most common comparisons are to The Walking Dead and Michael Jackson’s Thriller video.”

In an earlier presentation of his evidence in 2017, Stuart compared a grainy shot of one of the injured in Aleppo with “what we certainly know are napalm victims” during the Vietnam war, suggesting that the Syrian man could not have been the victim of an attack due to his apparently jovial demeanour.

A screengrab from a presentation Stuart gave in 2017.
A screengrab from a presentation Stuart gave in 2017.

HuffPost UK asked a team of ex-military and medical professionals who teach hostile environment training to view the full Panorama footage to comment on its authenticity.

They described it as “legitimate” and “consistent with chemical exposure”, adding the select footage in Stuart and Allen’s promotional video had been “cleverly” edited in a way to manipulate the viewer.

Stuart also takes issue with the fact the documentary makers – reporter Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway – worked alongside the armed Islamist groups that controlled the Aleppo region where Atarib is situated.

When required, all major media organisations negotiate access with whoever controls the area in question. Numerous journalists have risked their lives to report on what is happening inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, Hamas-controlled Gaza or Boko Haram-controlled Nigeria, for example.

Paul Conroy, a photojournalist who has worked in Syria and was injured in the same Syrian government barrage that killed Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin, told HuffPost UK that Stuart and Allen’s proposed documentary is “as foolish, as it is dangerous”.

“These kinds of allegations, though groundless, can follow people into the field, where, unlike these regime apologists, journalists are faced with the perilous realities of war.

“Lives can be lost on the basis of such spurious allegations.”

The BBC rebutted the claims made by Stuart and Allen in a statement to HuffPost UK, saying there is “absolutely no evidence that any part of the programme was fabricated”.

It added: “Any such suggestion is offensive to the victims, medics and reporters.”

Last year, Stuart was scheduled to give a presentation at an event to discuss whether British journalists reporting from opposition-held areas in Syria should be prosecuted under the UK Terrorism Act. The event was later cancelled by the venue after it was made aware of the subject of discussion.

Stuart’s campaign has been promoted by Russian-backed media channels and a number of UK-based conspiracy theorists.

An RT report based on Stuart’s work was found to be in breach of Ofcom broadcasting rules and described as “materially misleading”.

Allen has previously directed a documentary, Unlawful Killing, that details an alleged conspiracy to kill Princess Diana.

Neither Allen nor Stuart responded to requests for comment.


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