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Dear Professor Corner
Cathy Come Home
I was pleased by the amount of space you devoted to this film, for which as you know I did the research and wrote the screenplay, in your recent book ‘The Art of Record’.
However, I much regret having to say that allegations made in para.4 on page 106 are inaccurate and libellous, and immensely damaging to my own credibility and to that of the film and the other people involved (Ken Loach, Director, and Tony Garnett, Producer).
I appreciate that you most probably made these allegations in good faith. They are, however, incompatible with other easily available published accounts; for example in Alan Rosenthal’s ‘The New Documentary in Action’ in which there is, as I am sure you know, a long and detailed section on ‘Cathy’; my own published writings including the essay ‘What I have written is true’ included in the novelisation published by Pan; and my letter to The Independent dated March 3rd 1993, which specifically refutes the allegation of changes being made before the second transmission.
A viewing of the film discloses a very dense sound track with a number of voice overs giving statistics and three sets of captions giving statistics in the last moments of the film. Any allegations of omission of ‘most of the background comments giving statistics’ would have to show where in the film there would have been room for so large a number of statistics or alternatively, if they were removed, what has been inserted to replace them.
For these two reasons, common sense would suggest that the allegation was very unlikely to be true.
In addition to this, it has been fairly widely reported that the BBC establishment made a public announcement after the first transmission in which they stood behind the accuracy of the film. They also invited me to speak on television after the third transmission to inform the public of how the situation of the nation’s housing and its homeless people had altered between the two transmissions. Is it seriously suggested that, while giving this public display of official support, the BBC establishment had clandestinely connived in hoodwinking the public by making changes?
As regards the invitation to spot ‘mistakes’ the Local Government Office tells me that this is something they would never do since they would be quite incapable of dealing with two million replies. It does seem likely, however, that some such question was asked in one of their news sheets, and I accept that some sort of invitation was made along the lines alleged. However, it seems to me most unfortunate that you did not quote the upshot as reported in the press, which was that it was not possible to spot any mistakes. One example was a cartoon showing two officials saying to each other, with reference to Cathy, ‘The only boobs we could spot were our own.’
I, Loach and Garnett are easily contactable. Our addresses, for instance, could easily be obtained from BECTU, PACT, or the Writers Guild.
A reputation for accuracy is the most valuable asset of any writer in the field of journalism, documentary, or academia. The allegations have brought the reputation of myself and my colleagues (particularly myself, since I wrote and researched it) into disrepute.
I appreciate that the flavour of the piece as a whole is favourable to ‘Cathy’. I am writing at this point to share my thoughts and in the hope that yourself and the publishers can suggest any way that you feel the situation might be rectified.
With best wishes
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