Ian Paisley’s devastating critique of the party and church that he founded will be broadcast on Monday night as planned, the BBC has confirmed.
After more than a day of fevered speculation as to why an embargoed Press screening of the interview was cancelled at short notice on Thursday, there were claims of DUP pressure on the broadcaster to alter the film.
The party denied that it had attempted to use the courts to block the film and late yesterday afternoon the interview, as it will be broadcast on Monday, was shown to journalists at the BBC’s Ormeau Avenue headquarters.
A room crowded with reporters watched the 87-year-old’s frank interview — which is expected to be his last on television — with the veteran journalist Eamonn Mallie.
However, media outlets are not allowed to report on the contents of the film until Monday morning.
There is intense interest in the contents of the interview.
Senior politicians and Free Presbyterian ministers were phoning journalists last night in an attempt to find out what was in the film.
Amid some concern that the BBC had been put under political pressure to alter the programme, the corporation defended its practices.
A BBC spokesman said: “We are confident of our editorial independence.
“The programme adheres to strict BBC editorial guidelines around balance and impartiality and follows rigorous BBC programme making procedures.”
Last night the BBC also dismissed suggestions that members of the Paisley family were unhappy with the first programme, which was broadcast on Monday, and had asked for changes to the second programme.
A spokesman for the BBC said: “As a courtesy, Ian Paisley and members of his family were able to view the programmes shortly before broadcast with the understanding that the BBC would have full editorial control. No issues were raised.”
Although there is a strict embargo on reporting what was revealed at yesterday’s press screening, a trailer for next Monday’s programme has already made clear that the Paisleys speak out against how Lord Bannside was removed from leadership.
Asked ‘what was it all about?’, Dr Paisley says: “Getting rid of Ian Paisley.”
When then asked: In whose interests [would that have been], Dr Paisley says: “In the interests of the people who took over.”
Baroness Paisley says: “They did a dirty trick on him; dirty deeds on him and in the end he was really left with no option but to stand down.”
Asked how hurtful certain unspecified remarks were to him, Dr Paisley says with venom: “They were absolutely disgraceful and they were disgraceful because the man that they put in my position couldn’t keep his own seat.”
That personal attack on his successor is understood to have caused particular fury among some DUP members.
It is unclear from the trailer whether church or party is referred to when Baroness Paisley says “they assassinated him by their words and by their deeds”.
Dr Paisley adds: “Those people only had one thing to serve and that was their own ego.”