May 14, 2007 / 1:05 PM / 12 years ago

Editor defends Panorama "shouting match"

LONDON (Reuters) - The editor of Panorama defended a BBC documentary on the Church of Scientology during which one of the programme’s reporters tries to shout down a representative of the group.

A man stands on a ladder to clean the entrance of the new office of the Scientology Church in Berlin January 13, 2007.The editor of Panorama defended a BBC documentary on the Church of Scientology during which one of the programme's reporters tries to shout down a representative of the group. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Reporter John Sweeney is seen bellowing and gesticulating during a clip videoed by the Scientologists and shown on the social networking site YouTube.

The BBC is to include its own clip of the scene during the programme, to be shown on BBC1 on Monday May 14.

Panorama’s Editor Sandy Smith said that although he was disappointed by Sweeney’s actions, the church was an “extraordinary organisation” which had “no way of dealing with any kind of criticism at all”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “As you go in as a journalist to try and deal with that, it’s explosive.

“Very quickly, two stag beetles were locked.”

A BBC spokeswoman said viewers will see the full story and the background to the incident.

“While John Sweeney’s behaviour at one point in the filming is clearly inappropriate, he has apologised,” he said.

“The BBC is, however, happy that taken as a whole the filming was carried out properly and fairly.”

Sweeney writes on the BBC Web site that he was followed and spied on in the run-up to the incident.

The award-winning journalist wrote that he had fallen into an “elephant trap” by getting into an argument.

“He shouted at me and I shouted back, louder,” he wrote.

“If you are interested in becoming a TV journalist, it is a fine example of how not to do it.”

No one was available for comment from the Church of Scientology.

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