Ian Paisley Jr has launched a furious attack on BBC Spotlight programme over a forthcoming programme that links his late father with terrorism in 1969.
The Spotlight programme reports on a claim from a former Army colonel, David Hancock, that police had evidence the future First Minister Ian Paisley supplied the money for at least one of the first bombs of the Troubles.
Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster this morning, Ian Paisley Jr described BBC Spotlight programme as “filth” and “pathetic”.
He said the “thing that is probably most hurtful and disgusting” is the timing of the broadcast, which is set for Tuesday — the fifth anniversary of his father’s death.
“That’s particularly hurtful to my mother and particularly hurftul to the rest of our family,” he said.
Mr Paisley Jr continued: “Let’s turn to the substance of the yarn that they’re spinning. They claim that this Colonel Hancock, a minor functionary in a garrison who has heard something from a police officer, who heard some other gossip, showed him something which no one else is allowed to see — and that was evidence that my father financed a terrorist campaign. At the time, of course, my father happened to be in jail for civil disobedience in 1969 when this thing actually took place.
“And of course, if there had’ve been in the words of the programme ‘evidence shown to him by the police’ I think my father would have been questioned about that. And, indeed, that evidence would have been used to convict him. So it’s complete and total poppycock.”
He continued: “So this story isn’t a new story. Dara McIntyre hasn’t become a genius and suddenly found something. This has been a rumour that has been circulating and written about many times and has been dismissed because there is no evidence. And the evidence that Dara, the great Dara, has provided to us is third-hand gossip from an unnamed police source and unrevealed police material — gossip says a soldier says he picked up on from a police man.
“And I mean, it’s utterly incredible that someone would go on to the television and say ‘well this man financed a terror campaign’.”
He added: “The link is so tenuous it’s see-through.”
Asked by presenter Stephen Nolan if his mother had spoken to him about the allegations, Mr Paisley said: “Yes, yes. She completely dismissed them out of hand, incandescent that the BBC would do it, wouldn’t even approach her to speak to her about it. She’s not of a mind to speak to them now, I can tell you that.
“And to put those things out in the way that they have done, and to time them in the way that they have done, I think that hurt will sink in probably more next week whenever the BBC have decided to calculatedly hurt her feelings in that particular way. My mother, intimately, knew every action that my father was engaged in and is, I think, a woman above reproach in Northern Ireland. Her word is highly regarded.”
A BBC Spokesperson said: “The BBC has complete confidence in the editorial integrity of the programme. As no allegations were made against the wider Paisley family it was not necessary to offer them a right to reply.
“The series leads our autumn programming and was scheduled to follow on from BBC Northern Ireland’s portfolio of news-related content recognising the 50th Anniversary of troops entering Northern Ireland in 1969.”