Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Just Five Activists Left as BBC Is Accused of Sending 40 Staff to Cover Dale Farm

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Just Five Activists Left as BBC Is Accused of Sending 40 Staff to Cover Dale Farm

Article excerpt

Byline: Laura Roberts

The BBC was today forced to defend coverage of the Dale Farm eviction amid claims its staff outnumbered the protesters.

The corporation was accused of "ludicrous overstaffing" after it emerged it had even set up its own caravan.

As a digger smashed its way into the illegal travellers' site in Essex and demolished the gates, there were claims that the broadcaster had 40 staff at the site -- compared to just five activists who were still there this morning.

Don Foster, Liberal Democrat culture spokesman, said: "That is ludicrous overstaffing and hardly a good way to get public sympathy for the 20 per cent budget cuts facing the BBC."

The corporation has also rented a caravan to cover the eviction -- triggering bizarre claims from rival ITV that it was "making do" with a tent.

ITV News correspondent Damon Green tweeted: "We have a tent, the BBC have a caravan at DaleFarm. Delivering Quality First."

The BBC said there were "around 20" employees present.

Inside the campsite, the eviction of the 10-year-old site was finally getting under way as the last of the activists were removed. The site is being cleared in a [pounds sterling]22 million project overseen by Basildon council.

Today bailiffs worked to free two activists who had chained themselves to a pipe encased in concrete within an old washing machine. The pair spent the last 24 hours attached to the block and lying under a Soviet military truck.

Josh Liron, a theatre set designer, and computer worker Kat Fisher, in her fifties, were greeted with a kiss each from fellow activist Marina Pepper as they were led away by riot police. Miss Pepper, a former model, said: "They needed a kiss."

Soon after Mr Liron and Ms Fisher were arrested, a Cambridge researcher was also led away. The woman activist, in her twenties, had been attached to a concrete block in a car. Bailiffs used tarpaulins to shield two young protesters who had put their hands in a barrel of concrete. Aaron and Danya, thought to be in their twenties, had been attached to the barrel since 7am yesterday.

Aaron said: "I can't feel my arm. I'm upset that we are going to go. …

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