“Panorama’s stupidity” led to a terror alert at MediaCityUK, according to Greater Manchester Police Commissioner, Tony Lloyd.
Police were called to a sorting office on Pacific Way in Salford on Wednesday, when a package, addressed to the BBC at MediaCityUK was deemed to be suspicious. People were evacuated from the building and road closures were put in place as the bomb squad arrived to examine it.
It appears that just before they sent in the robot to destroy the package, police received a call to say it was a mistake.
“Whatever has happened here, whether a deliberate hoax or a stupid mistake, it caused severe disruption to the emergency services and the local community in Salford,” said Lloyd in a statement.
“The cost of this operation to the police alone is likely to be around about £5,000 and I will be sending the bill to the BBC’s Director General. It’s not right that the people of Greater Manchester should have to pick up the tab for Panorama’s stupidity.
“There is a police investigation ongoing and it needs to run its course, but I will also be writing to James Harding, the new Director of News at the corporation, as I expect him to carry out a full review of the circumstances. The BBC owes it to the people of Greater Manchester to explain how Panorama caused this farce to happen, and what they will do to avoid a repeat of it.”
Greater Manchester Police added that they were investigating the matter and didn’t believe there was “criminal intent.”
We are awaiting an official comment from the BBC, but according to the Manchester Evening News, which broke the original story, the package contained “a tiny recording device inside a plastic bottle of drink.” This had reportedly been sent by a Panorama journalist in Belfast to their counterpart at MediaCity.