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Shanene Thorpe left angry after BBC ‘apology’

PUBLISHED: 13:43 01 June 2012 | UPDATED: 15:17 01 June 2012

Disgruntled Tower Hamlets council employee Shanene Thorpe has lodged a formal complaint to the BBC after she felt she was misrepresented in an interview with Newsnight.

As we reported previously, Ms Thorpe, who lives in Bethnal Green, was interviewed by Newsnight’s Political Editor Allegra Stratton in connection with changes to housing benefit and welfare reform.

Ms Thorpe, who receives housing benefit, complained that the report created an unfair and inaccurate impression of her situation, by implying that she is unemployed, when in fact she works for Tower Hamlets council.

Despite the BBC issuing a statement of apology on Wednesday, Ms Thorpe, 24, has now proceeded to lodge a formal complaint, after being left dissatisfied with the way in which the incident has been handled.

Speaking to The Advertiser, Ms Thorpe said: “It felt like a half-hearted apology, which was made without any sincerity, I was completely misrepresented in the report, particularly by the things which were said around the interview, which gave the impression I was unemployed.”

In fact, Ms. Thorpe, who was born and raised in the borough, is part of the Tower Hamlets apprentice scheme, which she balances with raising her daughter, who is three.

The pair live in a two-bedroom flat, and Ms Thorpe relies on housing benefit for around a third of her monthly rent, something which she says was not an easy decision: “Claiming housing benefit was something I struggled to come to terms with, especially because I have worked since I was 16. I found it embarassing.”

In her complaint to the BBC she outlined the ways in which she believes they breached their editorial guidelines.

In the meantime, her online petition has gathered more than 25,000 signatures, and Ms. Thorpe says she is ‘overwhelmed’ by the support.

The BBC have since released the following statement: “Newsnight did contact Shanene Thorpe to hear her concerns after the broadcast and following receipt of her official complaint yesterday, we have responded apologising for her experience and for not making her situation clear.”

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