BBC ‘Troubles’ Series Hit With Plagiarism Charge

Having recently endured a somewhat similar experience with The New Yorker’s Patrick Keefe, over his account of the disappearance of Jean McConville, I have to say I feel deeply for ex-QUB academic, Stuart Aveyard over his complaint that his work was filched by the BBC for their headline-making series on the Troubles.

Aveyard researched diaries kept by Derry businessman Brendan Duddy who  played the role of intermediary between the IRA and the British during a mid-1970’s ceasefire, and discovered that Duddy had advised the IRA to intensify its economic bombing campaign so as to increase pressure on the British to deal with the IRA.

The discovery, which Aveyard wrote up in a book titled ‘No Solution’, casts doubt on Duddy’s carefully manicured image as an independent, unaligned man of peace who took no sides in the conflict, and it added significantly to what is known about this important phase in the Troubles.

But the revelations were presented on the BBC series to mark the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Troubles as the exclusive work of the ‘Spotlight’ team, headed by Jeremy Adams, when in fact Aveyard, who once worked at Queens University, Belfast had conducted the original research.

The BBC episode was headed up by Darragh MacIntyre who was assailed by Aveyard for plagiarism in a series of angry tweets on the internet.

While Aveyard’s accusations are hard to deflect, I have to say that I am also torn, because I like and admire Darragh MacIntyre. Nonetheless, when all is said and done, this was indisputably the theft of someone else’s work, it was wholly unwarranted but also I’d like to think, out of character.

Aveyard’s scholarship could have been properly credited, MacIntyre would have basked in reflective glory, and the BBC would still have had a scoop. Pressure from above, perhaps? Or worse still, bad judgement from above? Ormeau Avenue needs to explain and apologize to the academic. See tweets below:

4 responses to “BBC ‘Troubles’ Series Hit With Plagiarism Charge

  1. “MacIntyre would have basked in reflective [sic] glory”

    Only if he had thought deeply on it.

  2. I have very serious doubts about the validity of the claim that Brendan Duddy advised the IRA to intensify their bombing campaign or that they would have even listened to them. He may have been a go between but I doubt an adviser on military strategy.

  3. Your talking very early on the provo campaign that he offered this advice. How much of the british mindset would he have known and how much would the provos be inclined to take advice from someone like Duddy on military tactics? I find this claim and the claim that he helped get the weapons out of Derry before motorman highly doubtful. I have no doubt he was more trusted later on by the brits and McGuinness especially during the hunger strikes but this early on to have that much influence on both sides just does not ring true to me.

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