Channel 4 series 'Smuggled' sparks Ofcom complaints as it airs following postponement

Journalist Khurram is one of the Channel 4 show's participants. (PA)
Journalist Khurram is one of the Channel 4 show's participants. (PA)

Ofcom have received eight complaints about Channel 4 programme Smuggled after it aired last night.

The documentary, which sees eight members of the public attempting to gain entry to the UK by evading border checks, screened its first episode last night on Monday 4 November after being postponed from its original Monday 28 October slot. It was delayed following the discovery of 39 bodies in a lorry in Essex on the morning of Wednesday 23 October.

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The regulator is currently investigating whether the programme broke broadcasting rules before deciding whether or not to launch an investigation.

Read more: Channel 4 postpones Smuggled documentary after bodies discovered in lorry

It comes after the Home Office branded the broadcaster "irresponsible" for releasing the programme so soon after the bodies of the 39 people, who are all believed to have been Vietnamese nationals, were found.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Broadcasting this programme so soon after the tragic incident at Grays is both insensitive and irresponsible.

Police and forensic officers investigate a lorry in which 39 bodies were discovered in the trailer on October 23, 2019. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Police and forensic officers investigate a lorry in which 39 bodies were discovered in the trailer on October 23, 2019. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

“Organised crime gangs have no respect for human life so it is reckless to provide a platform for the illegal activity that they facilitate.

“Doing so can encourage them to exploit our border for profit, risking the lives of vulnerable, desperate people as they do so.”

However, Channel 4 defended the series by claiming it was in "the public interest".

A spokesperson said: “This documentary series investigates concerns that the UK Border Force is failing to adequately secure the UK from clandestine entrants.

David and Carolynne planned to smuggle Carolynne into the UK in their motorhome. (PA)
David and Carolynne planned to smuggle Carolynne into the UK in their motorhome. (PA)

“Filmed this summer, the programmes question the security of UK borders and give the viewing public a much broader insight into an important issue facing this country – which is part of our remit as a public service broadcaster.

“More than ever, following this awful tragedy, the shocking findings of the films have become a matter of urgent public interest.”

Channel 4 added: “All of the methods of entry into the UK tested in the programme are well documented and publicised methods used by illegal entrants and refugees.

Channel 4 put up a message at the beginning of the programme highlighting that it was filmed before the 39 bodies were found. (Channel 4)
Channel 4 put up a message at the beginning of the programme highlighting that it was filmed before the 39 bodies were found. (Channel 4)

“The only surprise in the programme is just how easy it is to enter the UK undetected. The shocking findings of these films are a matter of urgent public interest.”

Before the episode began, a message on screen noted that the series was filmed before the discovery of the bodies.

It read: "On October 23rd 2019, 39 people were found dead in the back of a lorry on an industrial estate in Essex.

"This series was filmed before these tragic events took place."

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