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BBC Bites Watchdog Again

December 03, 2006

The bizarre effort by Radio 4's You and Yours to discredit the whistleblower who (along with this column) campaigns against the "great asbestos scam" seems to have backfired.

The bizarre effort by Radio 4's You and Yours to discredit the whistleblower who (along with this column) campaigns against the "great asbestos scam" seems to have backfired. Thanks to the publicity given by the programme in October to Asbestos Watchdog, a company set up with the aid of Prof John Bridle to rescue thousands of businesses and homeowners from the clutches of unscrupulous asbestos removal firms, the company's business has gone up by "around 30 per cent".

In a second broadcast as inaccurate as the first, You and Yours recently insinuated that Asbestos Watchdog was breaking the law by inviting members of the public to send small, carefully packaged samples of material containing asbestos through the post. At their instigation, Prof Bridle received a visit from a Royal Mail manager, who confirmed that the methods recommended by Watchdog were entirely safe, legal and in accord with Royal Mail guidelines. (He did ask for a minor change in the wording of the company's website.)
Unabashed, You and Yours persisted in its claim that Watchdog operated dangerously and illegally by using the post in this way, clearly not understanding the law or the difference between loose asbestos and asbestos-containing materials.

Comically, however, the programme-makers clearly did not realise that a similar method for sending samples through the mail is legally used thousands of times a week by hundreds of asbestos removal companies, including those many "rogue" firms whose lucrative defrauding of the public the BBC seems so keen to defend.

Christopher Booker

The Sunday Telegraph

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