BBC Trust rules Silent Witness sexual violence scenes breached guidelines

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By John Glenday, Reporter

February 27, 2013 | 1 min read

The BBC Trust has moved to censure an episode of BBC One drama Silent Witness over scenes of sexual violence which breached the corporation’s guidelines.

One scene depicted a prison officer attacking an inmate in a toilet cubicle with a bloodied stick – drawing over 600 complaints from viewers outraged by the ‘upsetting’ and ‘nasty’ scene.

In its ruling the BBC Trust concurred with the complainants, agreeing that although no actual violence was shown ‘viewers were left in no doubt that an act of sexual violence was being carried out’ which was ‘too explicit for this series… in the first hour after the watershed.’

A pre-programme announcement warning viewers of violent and upsetting content had been aired but the show overran by 90 seconds, meaning many tuning into the Ten o’Clock News were unexpectedly confronted by the material.

The BBC has apologised to anyone ‘taken unawares’ by the closing scene.

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