"Derision greets BBC plan to turn asylum into a game"

From The Guardian:

The BBC is about to take the reality game show format to a new low - by asking the public to vote on whether individual asylum seekers should be thrown out of the country...

The format of the programme, to be made by the BBC current affairs department, has provoked an angry reaction from some MPs and refugee groups.

Emails sent out by BBC staff to asylum organisations seeking suitable candidates to feature in the programme say it will be "an hour-long studio show" and will examine real case studies of people seeking asylum.

The programme makers want to feature half a dozen cases with actors playing asylum seekers who have already had their cases decided by the Home Office.

"Having heard the arguments, the audience then vote by phone, online, interactive television, etc, and have their say on what they think should have happened. The real outcome will then be revealed to see whether the majority of our viewers and studio guests agreed with the immigration officer..."

Neil Gerrard, Labour MP for Walthamstow and chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on refugees, said: "This is a really stupid idea. How is an asylum seeker who has been given refugee status supposed to feel if the public votes to throw him out?"

Mike Jempson of the PressWise asylum seekers, refugees and media project, who was approached by the BBC for help in providing participants, said: "This is a ludicrous and ill-thought out idea."

Now, read the BBC's Q&A: North African terror in the UK: "Britain let [Algerians who had been expelled from France after Algerian-related terrorist bombings] stay here because the authorities didn't see them as a threat to the country, nor did they appear to be breaking any laws..."

While this show is still in the planning stages, in its current form it's along the same lines as Dragnet. I.e., a dramatic recreation of a real case. Using actors. No one's going to get deported based on an audience vote. In other words, the first paragraph of The Guardian's article is completely misleading.

The only way in which someone could object to this is if they don't want to see attention brought to the process by which refugees are allowed to stay, and which evidence is presented for and against them. That's probably why the refugee groups would consider this a "ludicrous and ill-thought out idea."

(Via Oraculations.)