BBC Panorama, water companies, and antisemitism

  • Post last modified:February 20, 2024
  • Reading time:7 mins read

The Canary is excited to share the latest edition of our letters page. This is where we publish people’s responses to the news and politics, or anything else they want to get off their chest. We’ve now opened the letters page up so anyone can submit a contribution. As always, if you’d like to subscribe to the Canary – starting from £5 a month – to support truly radical and independent media, then you can do that here:

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This week’s letters

This week we have people’s thoughts on an upcoming BBC Panorama episode, water companies’ bonuses, and antisemitism. 

Panorama: more anti-Palestinian lies?

The upcoming and much-heralded Panorama programme, fronted by the “discredited” pro-Israel reporter John Ware, is based on lies promulgated by Shin Bet, the Israeli secret service.

Please investigate the ‘facts’ before broadcasting, bearing in mind that Israeli propagandists have a habit of lying.

Seek assurance that the “evidence” used in Panorama did not come from Israeli intelligence – because they lied about::

  • Shireen abu Akleh’s murder.
  • al-Ahli Hospital – the death of 500 innocents.
  • The use of white phosphorous being unequivocally false.
  • Bombing a media office in Gaza in May 2021.

And the largest lie of all – that Hamas did the entire 7 October killing – that Israeli attack helicopters were discriminate.

Given all of this, and much, much more – why does the BBC intend to broadcast a flagship program based on Israeli intelligence?

Ted, via email

ED: you can read more on the upcoming Panorama episode from the Electronic Intifada here.

Water companies’ rancid bonuses

After years of rampant, deliberate, willful, and illegal sewage “spills” (deliberately pouring sewage into rivers and the sea is not a spill), an ongoing public outcry and comments made by the Environment Secretary, Steve Barclay, that “no one should profit from illegal behaviour”, as reported by numerous media outlets on Sunday 12 February, the sociopaths sitting in the boardrooms of the UK’s water companies face losing their bonuses, but only for the most egregious of crimes (the narrow scope of when bans would be applied tells you everything you need to know about who the government is really siding with, regardless of the rhetoric), starting next year (oof!).

Deliberately discharging sewage into rivers and the sea is an incredibly serious crime in its own right, it is ecologically damaging, deadly to the plants and animals for whom the sea and rivers are their home, and impacts the people who might also enjoy and make use of their local rivers and the sea.

Moreover, what water companies have been involved in isn’t an occasional accident, but is rather a matter of policy. For years, the boards of water companies have knowingly overseen and been responsible for each of these crimes, which overall are massive in scale.

There is, however, another crime that isn’t being reported: fraud. Water companies have been charging domestic and business users for a service that they haven’t been providing (instead using the money to pay unjustified dividends to people who do literally nothing in return).

This fraud is also one of gargantuan proportions, perpetrated against possibly every home and business in the UK (you have to admire the gumption it takes to do this, or maybe the absence of a soul). Given the scale of the public outcry (and the claims that people who sit on company boards make about their superhuman knowledge, skills and abilities, which justify their obscene salaries), to claim ignorance would be laughable, and also entirely unsurprising.

Anyone who operates a business knows about externalities and how they benefit from these. Tipping sewage into a river rather than processing it externalises the problem (it becomes everyone’s), and if the business keeps quiet about it, they can keep charging people for what they’re only pretending to do.

So, let’s look at what happens to criminals. I’m using the Halifax Courier website, specifically the crime section (as I live in Halifax). According to the Courier’s website, police have seized the car of someone with no insurance. A man has also been arrested because he ran out of a shop with some perfume and aftershave. Police are also hunting for whoever has been throwing eggs at people’s houses.

In court, the overwhelming majority of cases heard were technical breaches of driving laws (no seatbelt, no insurance, no licence, speeding), with fines, victim penalties and so on, pushing up the cost to the convicted to around £700-£1000. We know about who gets policed and why. We could also focus on the prison sentences meted out to peaceful environmental campaigners in recent years, however, the class dimension to crime and punishment needs foregrounding.

Given the scale of corporate crime, you’d be forgiven for wondering why there isn’t a constant police presence in every boardroom in the world. You might also wonder, if the police will pursue people for throwing eggs, arrest people for trying to nick some fragrances, and seize whole cars, why they haven’t made any boardroom arrests at your local water company HQ.

After all, the scale of the crimes being perpetrated by the UK’s water companies is vast in comparison (environmental destruction, defrauding literally everyone), and the perpetrators are known (they have job titles, offices, we know their names). But equally, it isn’t surprising that none of these criminals has had their collars felt, and that no punishment will be meted out either commensurate with the crime, or even at all.

We need to be clear. The absence of a bonus payment for committing heinous crimes is not a punishment. Punishment would include massive individual fines, lengthy prison sentences, permanent bans from boardroom positions, inclusion on a corporate equivalent to the sex offenders’ register. None of these things is likely happen. Neither, ultimately, is the ban on bonuses.

David, via email


Whilst there are undoubtedly antisemitic attacks which can be characterised as motivated by an irrational hatred of Jews, it is clear from the Community Security Trust’s own reports that the majority are anti-Zionist or anti-Israeli apartheid and genocide.

The IHRA definition has been forced on many public bodies by MP’s who are members of Labour Friends of Israel and Conservative Friends of Israel; bodies funded by Zionists.

This definition has conflated anti-Zionism and anti-Israel statements with hatred of Jewish people.

It was said by many respected lawyers in 2018 that the IHRA definition would chill debate on Israel/Palestine against the interests of the Occupied Palestinians. And so it has.

Zionist propaganda dominates. There has been an explosion of anti-Zionism and anti-Israeli Genocide. The Board of Deputies are funded by Zionists and run by Zionists. They are not an impartial voice in this matter. Neither is the BBC or Guardian.

Alan, via email

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