The Report

The Report

United Kingdom

The current affairs series combining original insights into major news stories with topical investigations


Psychedelic Science  

Jamie Bartlett asks if new research into psychedelic drugs will lead to them being accepted as mainstream medical treatment - or whether their controversial history will prove insuperable. After lying dormant for decades, scientific research into psychedelics is experiencing a renaissance. Academics at some of the world’s leading institutions are exploring the potential of these drugs to treat a variety of medical conditions, from addiction to anxiety and depression. The findings so far are astonishing. Admittedly the sample sizes are small and there are methodological problems, yet it appears that psychedelics can help where other treatments before them have failed. So is there any chance that substances like LSD and psilocybin – the psychedelic ingredient in magic mushrooms – will ever become accepted medical treatments? We have been here before. In the 1960s, researchers published thousands of scientific papers on the potential medical benefits of psychedelics and there were four international conferences on the subject. Within the space of just a few years these efforts came shuddering to a halt, as the recreational use of the drugs ballooned and stories of ‘bad trips’ hit the headlines, leading to strict legal restrictions, which still remain in force. Jamie examines the latest scientific findings and asks whether the drugs’ cultural stigma can ever be overcome. Producer: Hannah Barnes

Dublin's Gangs  

Extra armed police have been put on the streets of Dublin after two murders within just four days of each other. It's being blamed on a flare up of gang wars more akin to Sicily. The first involved gunmen carrying Ak47s disguised as police who burst into a respectable hotel packed with people. The next was assumed to be a swift reprisal: a man was shot several times in his own home. Melanie Abbott travels to Dublin to find out the background to this bitter gang feud and talk to the community caught in the middle. Producer: Anna Meisel.

Jimmy Savile and the BBC  

How did Jimmy Savile get away with it when so many people appear to have known so much? Media and Arts Correspondent David Sillito tracks down former presenters, producers and BBC executives who worked with Savile. On the day that the Dame Janet Smith Review is published, some speak publicly for the first time and reveal a shocking list of missed warning signs. Producers: Steven Wright Researcher: Kirsteen Knight You can find details of organisations which offer advice and support with sexual abuse by visiting

7-Day NHS  

This drive for changing the way the NHS operates has been frequently used by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as the reason why a change to junior doctor and consultant contracts is needed. But what does it actually mean? John Ware explores what a seven-day NHS would look like, what evidence there is that it's needed, and, crucially, whether we can afford it. Reporter: John Ware Producer: Hannah Barnes Researcher: Kirsteen Knight.

Trump v the Republicans in New Hampshire: PJ O'Rourke on the campaign trail  

The New Hampshire primary is the first proper vote of the American Presidential election. Finally, after all the debates, polls and bluster, voters get to choose their preferred candidate for president. This year, New Hampshire is seen by many as the moment of truth for the Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. The polls say he is on his way to the nomination, but the pundits are almost universally sceptical. Conservative satirical journalist PJ O'Rourke is a long time watcher of the Republican Party and a veteran at covering elections. He is also a long term resident of New Hampshire, a state so small where you do not have to go looking for the candidates - they will find you. In the last week of the New Hampshire primary, PJ O'Rourke goes on the campaign trail to discover whether voters will really choose a candidate who breaks all the rules of US politics.

Lord Bramall: A Failure to Investigate?  

Lord Bramall, a former head of the British army, has now been told he will face no further action by the Metropolitan Police following thirteen months of investigation into allegations of paedophilia. The Met has so far refused to apologise for the way its inquiry, "Operation Midland", was handled. In his first broadcast interview, Lord Bramall speaks to BBC journalist Alistair Jackson. The programme also hears from Met insiders and other key witnesses. Their accounts raise serious questions about how the investigation was run and why the allegations against Lord Bramall were not dismissed earlier. Reporter: Alistair Jackson Producer: Anna Meisel Researcher: Kirsteen Knight.

Tommy Robinson's Pegida Ambition  

Tommy Robinson was the most high profile figure in the English Defence League. Then he apparently abandoned his hostility towards Islam and aligned himself with the counter extremism think tank Quilliam. Now he is back on the anti-Islam beat, helping to launch the UK branch of the German pressure group Pegida, with the first rally planned to take place in Birmingham. Reporter and Birmingham resident Adrian Goldberg spends time with Robinson and gets him to meet some of his fiercest foes in the city. Producer: Smita Patel Researcher: Holly Topham Editor: Innes Bowen.

Litvinenko: The Miniature Nuclear Attack  

It was a death in Britain like no other seen in living memory. The gaunt and agonised face of the former Russian security service officer, Alexander Litvinenko, stared out of television screens and newspaper front pages in November 2006 as his painful end approached in London's University College Hospital. His poisoning by a radioactive isotope was a bizarre death. It baffled the experts and transfixed a horrified nation. As the public inquiry into this mysterious death got under way in 2014, reporter Peter Marshall investigated the evidence suggesting that the Russian state might have been behind the fatal poisoning. Eighteen months later, as the inquiry publishes its findings, The Report returns to the story. This is an updated version of a programme first broadcast on 7 August 2014. Reporter: Peter Marshall Producer: Simon Coates.


Should Labour MPs be scared of Jeremy Corbyn-supporting movement Momentum? The group says it is attempting to build on the the groundswell of support for Jeremy Corbyn. Still in its infancy it has already drawn the ire of Labour MPs and activists and sections of the press. They've been compared to the Militant Tendency that took over Liverpool Council in the early 1980's. They've been accused of aspiring to deselect disloyal MPs and have been described as a hard left rabble. Some Labour MPs are worried about their rise, but what is Momentum and what do they want? Stephen Bush of the New Statesman has been to Walthamstow, home of just one of these new groups, to find out.

Afghanistan: Time for Truth?  

In 2014 the prime minister said that Afghan security forces were now ready to take over from NATO to secure Afghanistan. Yet 2015 was the most violent in the 14 year conflict with record numbers of civilian and Afghan security force casualties. With the official end of NATO led combat operations, the Taliban have resorted to a new tactic of mass attacks. A US Department of Defence report acknowledges that despite being less well armed or trained, the Taliban have outmanoeuvred the Afghan security forces, recapturing several districts in Helmand province once held by the British and Americans at such a high cost in blood and treasure. The Taliban even captured the country's fifth largest city, Kunduz, for a while last autumn. Meanwhile Al Qaeda re-established training camps, and ISIS now has a foothold in the country. Denying Afghanistan to jihadists targeting the West has always been the bottom line justification for expending so much blood and treasure. In The Report this week John Ware asks if Mr Cameron spoke too soon, and poses this question to Western leaders: are they still up for the wars of 9/11? Reporter: John Ware Producer: Tim Mansel Researcher: Holly Topham.

Changing Jihadi Minds  

How do you go about trying to change a person's fundamental beliefs? And how do you decide who is in need of state intervention to do so? Public sector workers now have a legal obligation to refer suspected Islamist and far right extremists to a local body known as a Channel panel. Referees deemed to hold extremist views are offered ideological mentoring, usually on a voluntary basis. The government says its Channel deradicalisation programme is a success, helping prevent vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism. But some British Muslims see it as a Big Brotherish state spying operation, wreathed in secrecy and suspicion. John Ware enters the "pre-criminal space" to find out - from the inside - how Channel works. Producer: Simon Maybin Researcher: Kirsteen Knight.

A not so merry migrant Christmas in Vienna  

Thousands of migrants are stuck in Vienna, their journey to Germany cut short. Will they ever realise their European dreams? Frances Stonor Saunders reports. Producer: Lucy Proctor.

Al Qaeda in Syria  

Peter Oborne investigates claims that Britain and the West embarked on an unspoken alliance of convenience with militant jihadi groups in an attempt to bring down the Assad regime. He hears how equipment supplied by the West to so called Syrian moderates has ended up in the hands of jihadis, and that Western sponsored rebels have fought alongside Al Qaeda. But what does this really tell us about the conflict in Syria? This edition of The Report also examines the astonishing attempt to re brand Al Nusra, Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, as an organisation with which we can do business. Producer: Joe Kent.

Young, Tory and Bullied  

In September, Elliot Johnson, a 21 year old member of the youth wing of the Conservative Party took his own life. He left behind a note saying that he'd been bullied by a 38 year-old Tory activist called Mark Clarke. Since then there have been almost daily reports of allegations of bullying, harassment and intimidation at the hands of Mr Clarke, all of which he denies. Accusations that a toxic environment had developed in the Conservative youth wing - Conservative Future - have also emerged. The Conservative Party is currently investigating what went wrong, but the ensuing scandal has already forced the ministerial resignation of former party chairman Grant Schapps. More may well follow. In this edition of The Report Jon Manel investigates what's become the murky, often nasty world of some young Conservatives. He explores the culture of two organisations thrown into the spotlight by this story - Conservative Future and the Young Britons' Foundation - and, in a rare media appearance, speaks to YBF's founder Donal Blaney. Producer: Hannah Barnes Researcher: Kirsteen Knight.

Paris: Could it Happen Here?  

David Cameron says seven terrorist plots have been thwarted in the UK this year alone. Mass casualty attacks, like those seen in Paris, are on the agenda too according to the head of MI5. What is going on in the communities from which this largely "homegrown" threat has emerged? In an attempt to understand, Edward Stourton gathers a group of Muslim journalists with grassroots knowledge of the British Muslim community. Contributors: Sabbiyyah Pervez Mobeen Azhar Fayaz Rizvi Secunder Kermani Producer: Sally Abrahams

Peter Oborne's Chilcot Report  

The inquiry into the UK's involvement in the Iraq war started 6 years ago - and there's still no sign of a report. Political columnist Peter Oborne can't understand why: "Come on Sir John! It's not that difficult. I reckon I could get something together in 3 weeks." To prove his point, Peter Oborne attempts to put together a definitive 30 minute audio report into Britain's involvement in the Iraq war... within budget and on time. Using evidence provided to the Iraq Inquiry and that already publicly available Oborne delivers his verdict on the key questions relating to the British Government's decision to go to war with Iraq. The programme hears from those in key positions in the lead up to the conflict, including: Dr Hans Blix, Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), 2000 - 2003 Sir Christopher Meyer, British Ambassador to the United States, 1997 - 2003 Sir Stephen Wall - European Adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair and head of the Cabinet Office's European Secretariat, 2000 - 2004 Carne Ross - First Secretary, United Kingdom Mission to New York, 1998 - 2002 Producer: Hannah Barnes Researcher: Phoebe Keane.

Salad v Surgery: Treating Type 2 Diabetes  

In June of this year, presenter of Radio 4's Woman's Hour, Jenni Murray, underwent an operation which removed 75 per cent of her stomach. A few months later, she has lost over 4 stones in weight and her symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes have gone into remission. Once a purely cosmetic procedure, bariatric surgery procedures like this have been described as the greatest advance in the history of treatment of Type 2 diabetes - so why aren't more patients being treated in this way? The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), which provides guidance and advice to the NHS, has said obese patients with diabetes should be rapidly assessed for surgery - but that's yet to happen. The treatment has been met with fierce criticism, especially from the tabloid press, which declared it undeserved: fat people should just stop eating instead of using up valuable resources to pay for vanity operations. Furthermore, Britain's leading diabetes charity, Diabetes UK, has also warned of the 'serious risks' posed by the procedure - even though the NHS has itself stated it is not more risky than a routine gall bladder operation. The irony here is that increasing the number of bariatric procedures could actually save the NHS millions of pounds, as patients are weaned off costly diabetes drugs - the NHS currently spends around £12bn a year treating the disease. With round 700 people diagnosed with diabetes in Britain every day, are we letting misguided morality get in the way of an opportunity to save money - and lives? CONTRIBUTORS INCLUDE: Jenni Murray, presenter Radio 4's Woman's Hour Simon O'Neill - Director of Health Intelligence, Diabetes UK Prof Roy Taylor, Professor of Medicine and Metabolism, Newcastle University Prof Francesco Rubino, Professor of Metabolic Surgery, King's College Hospital Prof Mark Baker, Director of the Centre for Clinical Practice, NICE Mr Andrew Mitchell, Consultant General Surgeon, Darlington Memorial Hospital Presenter: Adrian Goldberg Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith Note: A version of this programme was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in June, 2014.

The 'Pink Pill': The Female Viagra?  

The 'pink pill' flibanserin has been called 'the female Viagra', but critics argue its benefits are few and side effects many. Melanie Abbott investigates how the failed anti-depressant came to be licensed in the USA, and what the future plans are to bring the drug to Europe. Presenter: Melanie Abbott Producer: James Melley Researcher: Phoebe Keane.

My Big Fat Greek Crisis  

Greece's future in Europe dominated headlines throughout the summer, but can the country turn its fortunes around? While it's true that the country owes hundreds of billions of euros and is facing austerity for years to come, Frances Stonor Saunders finds that Greece has plenty going for it - and not just its idyllic islands where Brits like to holiday. Frances takes a trip to picturesque Skiathos, with its sandy beaches and boutique hotels, before exploring the 'real' Greece on the mainland of Volos. Along the way she discovers that, contrary to the popular narrative, the Greek people are accepting responsibility for the crisis that now engulfs them, and are coming up with innovative solutions to fix the future. Presenter: Frances Stonor Saunders Producer: Ben Crighton.

The Hollywood Spy  

British writer, Cedric Belfrage, avoided prosecution after passing top secret documents to Russia in World War Two. But was he acting under orders or was he a Soviet spy? Gordon Corera examines new evidence from recently declassified MI5 files, which help explain how Belfrage went from being a Hollywood film critic in the 1930s to having access to highly confidential British and US intelligence material in the 1940s which he later admitted passing to Russia. After being named as a Soviet spy in 1945, Belfrage appeared before The House Un-American Activities Committee and was later deported from the US for having been a member of the Communist Party. We talk to some of those who met him after he later settled in Mexico, including the son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed by the US in 1953 for being Soviet spies. And we explore why MI5 was anxious to avoid prosecuting Belfrage in case it proved embarrassing for the British security service. Producer: Sally Abrahams.

Video player is in betaClose