BBC told to hand over raid tapes

Chris Ward spoke to the BBC's Spotlight programme

A judge has told the BBC to give tapes of an interview with a Northern Bank employee forced to co-operate with a gang who stole £26m to police. Chris Ward, abducted by the thieves during the robbery, gave an account of his ordeal to the Spotlight programme.

A week after the programme police applied for any unbroadcast material and notes to be handed over.

Judge Tom Burgess said the robbery investigation outweighed the BBC's right to retain its own material.

In the course of the hearing the judge heard evidence from officers leading the hunt for the robbers, including sensitive intelligence information provided to him in closed court.

The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Superintendent Andrew Sproule, said the unbroadcast material would be useful, because Mr Ward might have mentioned things in his television interview he had not mentioned to police.

Mr Sproule said having access to that material and any notes would allow police, and eventually the prosecuting authorities, to establish the consistency of Mr Ward's account for the purpose of determining his credibility as a witness.

The court heard that Mr Ward had been informed about the police application and had indicated that he had no objection to it.

Ordering the BBC to hand over any unbroadcast material and any notes of direct quotes of Mr Ward, Mr Burgess said the public interest in the investigation of the crime and the prosecution of those who committed it, outweighed the BBC's right to retain its own material.

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