BBC Horizon Scandal

Author of the Month

From Graham Hancock,
Email: graham@grahamhancock.com

Jane Root,
Controller, BBC2,
6066 Television Centre,
Wood Lane, Shepherd's Bush,
London W12 7RJ

CC: Bettina Lerner, Series Editor, Horizon; Fraser Steel, Head of Programme Complaints Unit; Greg Dyke, Director-General, BBC; Paul Ferguson, Solicitor, Broadcasting Standards Commission.

24 October 2000

Dear Jane Root,

Horizon: Atlantis Reborn. BSC Adjudication

I understand from the Broadcasting Standards Commission that the BBC plans to rebroadcast Atlantis Reborn on 14 December 2000. I am informed that immediately before the programme the BBC proposes to broadcast the BSC's summary adjudication partially upholding the complaints of unfairness made by Robert Bauval and myself. The BSC have further advised me that the programme that goes on air will be a revised version of Atlantis Reborn: "which has been edited to take full account of the Commission's findings and of the reservations which the BBC expressed. There would be no comment on the summary. There would be an opening announcement making viewers aware that the programme had been revised in the light of the Commission's decision."

I applaud the BBC for showing such a commitment to fairness by taking this decision to re-edit and rebroadcast Atlantis Reborn. I feel sure that the BBC would like to be fair in this matter not only in terms of the 'letter of the law' but also in terms of the 'spirit of the law'. To this end I humbly request that in your re-edit of the programme you respond to the Commission's observation that it would have been "preferable" if Atlantis Reborn had "explored Mr Hancock's reasons in more detail" for rejecting carbon dating as the final arbiter for the antiquity of megalithic sites. The Commission also notes: "Mr Hancock gave his views in some detail in the filmed interview, but none of his substantive points were included in the programme." My simple request to you therefore is that you consider putting back into the programme a few of the substantive points that I did make in the interviews! I attach as Appendix I to this letter a transcript of the entire on-camera discussion of carbon-dating that I had with Horizon over the two interviews. Passages in large bold type are what I was actually allowed to say in the programme as broadcast; passages in normal type are what was cut out in the editing. For reference on the matter where the Commission finds that the programme was unfair to me and the omission of my arguments unjustified I also attach as Appendix II a transcript of the on-camera discussion that I had with Horizon about Ed Krupp's critique of the Orion correlation. I hope you will find these documents helpful.

Can I make two further constructive proposals?

I would like the BBC's permission to publish the complete uncut and unedited transcripts of my two interviews with Horizon (in simple Q+A format) as an appendix to a new edition of my best known book Fingerprints Of The Gods -- which, to date, has sold more than four million copies around the world and which continues to be the book that the public most identifies me with. I feel it is important for both sides - Horizon and myself -- that the record of what was actually said in these interviews should be made completely transparent and accessible to the public. I assume the BBC will have no objection to such public transparency and accountability?

Please urgently consider the idea of broadcasting a one-hour (or half-hour?) LIVE debate about "Atlantis" (i.e. the possibility of a lost civilisation of remote prehistory) later in the evening of December 14 - moderated by someone like Jeremy Paxman, and perhaps with audience participation. The debate would not under any circumstances be about sour grapes but would move forward in a very lively, entertaining and controversial way on all of the many issues raised in Atlantis Reborn, and would involve the main protagonists: myself and Robert Bauval on one side and Ed Krupp, Ken Feder, Colin Renfrew, Eleanor Mannika, etc, etc, on the other. To spice things up further you might also consider including certain worthy protagonists who did not make it into the original show - for example Archie Roy, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at Glasgow University for his views on the Orion correlation, John Anthony West for his views on the antiquity of Egyptian civilisation and the Sphinx, Professor Robert Schoch of Boston University for his views on the antiquity of the Sphinx and of the Yonaguni underwater monument, and Professor Maasaki Kimura of the University of the Rykyus for his views on Yonaguni. Please consider this suggestion of a debate seriously. It must be obvious to you -- otherwise you would not have made Atlantis Reborn in the first place! - that there is enormous public interest in this issue which has never before been made the subject of a high-profile televised debate. Were you to air such a debate, with suitable advance promotion surrounding the controversy, then I think it is certain that you would get an extremely large audience and provoke a great deal of discussion at grass roots level all over the UK.

I hope to hear back from you urgently on both of these proposals.

Warm best wishes,
Graham Hancock


From Bettina Lerner to Graham Hancock 31 October 2000

Dear Graham Hancock,

Thank you for your letter of October 25th and for your suggestions.

We would of course want to ensure that any rebroadcast reflects the spirit as well as the letter of the adjudication, and we will give your points very careful consideration.

Yours sincerely
Bettina Lerner

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This e-mail, and any attachment, is confidential. If you have received it in error, please delete it from your system, do not use or disclose the information in any way, and notify me immediately. The contents of this message may contain personal views which are not the views of the BBC, unless specifically stated.
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From Graham Hancock to Bettina Lerner 31 October, 2000

Dear Bettina,

Thank you for this.

I would be most grateful also for your response concerning my request for the BBC's permission -- in the interests of transparency over a controversial matter -- to reprint in full in a forthcoming edition of my book "Fingerprints of the Gods" the complete unedited transcripts of my interviews with Horizon.

Please also be so kind as to let me know whether there is any interest on your side in the "live-debate" idea that I also proposed. Even if you were to run such a debate late in the evening of December 14th my guess is you would get a very large audience -- not only carrying over most of the audience from the "Atlantis Reborn" itself but picking up many other viewers.It would also leave no-one in any doubt as to which side of this debate about human prehistory has the most forceful arguments. And surely our academic critics would not shy away from such an opportunity to put me and Robert Bauval in our places once and for all?

Best wishes,
Graham Hancock


From Graham Hancock to Bettina Lerner and Jane Root 2nd November, 2000

Dear Bettina Lerner and Jane Root,

I would be most grateful, as a common courtesy, if you could give me some form of reply to the two constructive proposals I made to you in my letter dated 24 October 2000 and again in my email to Bettina Lerner dated 31 October 2000, forwarded below.

Yours, Graham Hancock


From Natasha Lewis, PA to Jane Root, to Graham Hancock 2nd November, 2000

Dear Graham,

I have seen a response to you already by the Horizon office but I can confirm receipt.

Yours sincerely,
Natasha Lewis

Natasha Lewis
PA to Jane Root
020 822(5 6918) fax: 020 8 740 7965
Room 6063
BBC TV Centre
Wood Lane
London W12 7RJ

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This e-mail, and any attachment, is confidential. If you have received it in error, please delete it from your system, do not use or disclose the information in any way, and notify me immediately. The contents of this message may contain personal views which are not the views of the BBC, unless specifically stated.
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From Graham Hancock to Jane Root and Bettina Lerner 8th November 2000

Dear Ms Root and Ms Lerner,

It is now 8 November, almost two weeks since you received my letter of 24 October setting out certain constructive proposals regarding the re-cutting of the unfair "Atlantis Reborn" programme made by yourselves and Chris Hale. In that letter I also, as a matter of politeness, sought the BBC's permission to reprint in full (in a forthcoming edition of my book "Fingerprints of the Gods") the complete unedited transcripts of my interviews with Horizon. Further I made the perfectly reasonable suggestion that the BBC should host a live debate on the night of December 14, at some point after the broadcast of "Atlantis Reborn", in which Bauval and I and other colleagues who I nominated, would confront our academic critics directly with no possibility of editorial intervention on one side or the other.

You have acknowledged receipt of my views on the minimum that needs to be done to clean up the corruption at the heart of "Atlantis Reborn". Since my points about publication of the transcripts and the live debate were made in the same letter, I take your long delay in responding even provisionally to these proposals as yet another sign of BBC 2's arrogance and of its continuing lofty remoteness from the ordinary people who provide all the Corporation's funding through the (increasingly unpopular) licence fee.

I think that most members of the public, whether they like or detest my work, would agree that I have made reasonable proposals both in terms of full transparency and accountability over "Atlantis Reborn" and on a subject of debate that you have already recognised as being both popular and of public interest by the very decision to make the two Horizons on Atlantis in the first place.

Please, therefore, at least extend yourselves so far as to give me the basic courtesy of a reply. The last time I prompted you to do this, on 2 November, I received this note [see above message] from Jane Root's personal assistant, which tells me nothing really.


From: John Lynch, Creative Director, Science, BBC Television

To: Graham Hancock

Cc: Jane Root; Bettina Lerner-Private; Fraser Steel; Valerie Nazareth

Date: 8th November 2000

Dear Graham Hancock

Thank you again for your message, which Bettina Lerner has passed to me.

We do not believe that it is appropriate to create an additional programme on the subject. I am afraid also that it is not the BBC's usual policy to approve the publication of interview transcripts, either in whole or in part.

I can assure you, however, that the points you have raised continue to receive our attention.

Yours sincerely

JOHN LYNCH
Creative Director, Science
BBC Television
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8752 6725
Fax: +44 (0) 20 8752 6155
Room 4523, BBC White City,
201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TS
e-mail: john.lynch@bbc.co.uk

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This e-mail, and any attachment, is confidential. If you have received it in error, please delete it from your system, do not use or disclose the information in any way, and notify me immediately. The contents of this message may contain personal views which are not the views of the BBC, unless specifically stated.
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From Graham Hancock to John Lynch November 8th 2000

Dear John Lynch

I am sorry you do not believe that a live debate on the issues raised in your programme Atlantis Reborn is appropriate. This proves that the BBC's attack on me in "Atlantis Reborn" was every bit as cowardly and underhand as I have suspected from the beginning. I suppose I should have expected that the kind of people who are happy to use academic "experts" to butcher my reputation from behind the shelter of the cutting room would lack the moral courage to pit those experts against me in a live debate -- where they might lose.

I am sorry, too, on your other point, that you cite "BBC policy" as the justifiction for keeping the full uncut and unedited transcripts of the interviews that I gave to Horizon out of the public eye. This is not about "policy", Mr Lynch, but about of the right of my readers to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about the interviews that I actually gave to the Horizon team for a programme that has already been judged unfair.

Surely nobody wins by the suppression of the truth?

And since it is my life and my reputation that are at stake in this matter I do not intend to allow you to suppress the truth. I shall publish the complete unedited and uncut transcripts anyway -- after all their content is more than 90 per cent my own words and only about 10 per cent those of your interviewer. Publication will take place some time before May next year.

Sincerely yours,
Graham Hancock

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