From the Wells Journal
Two years of uncertainty ended this week for Wells adventurer Nigel Gifford with the acquittal of criminal charges brought against him in Kathmandu.
Nigel returned to Nepal to attend court proceedings that cleared his name.
He said: “The relief for my family and friends is enormous. My family and I can now happily return to Nepal, a country that we love, where we have so many good friends, and where much of my adult life is centred on expeditions and adventure.
“The help of Wells MP Tessa Munt was invaluable in achieving this. She asked the then Foreign Office Minister, Jeremy Browne MP, for confirmation from the Nepali Immigration Service that I had been in this country during the time I was supposed to have committed the crime. They confirmed that I had not been there; and this was a key turning point in the case.”
Nigel’s problems began two years after the closure of his adventure company, High and Wild. The firm was caught up in the financial meltdown of 2008 and went into liquidation.
In 2010 it was announced in the Nepali press that he was invited to return to the country to direct another Everest Skydive operation.
Shortly after the Nepali press covered the story in 2010, Nigel came under attack from anonymous postings on the internet, and then from a BBC Inside Out programme aired in November 2011 investigating him, his company and the skydiving event
Nigel said: “It appears that the Nepali authorities thought I was in Kathmandu with the intention of committing some kind of fraud involving the closure of the company two years previously. In fact at the time I was in the UK.
“There were also rumours that if I entered the country I would be arrested. I returned last month to clear my name and was made most welcome by old friends and colleagues. Happily the matter was resolved quickly once there.”
Tessa Munt has been asking the BBC questions during the last 12 months about the content of the Inside Out programme. These questions were raised prior to the present exposure of serious editorial failings at the BBC where basic journalistic checks that were not completed have been admitted.
She wrote to the Director General of the BBC on four occasions saying it would be appropriate for them to undertake an enquiry based on the information Nigel gave her. She received no reply and still awaits answers from Simon Willis of BBC Plymouth about other aspects of the Inside Out programme that she asked questions about. This included asking about any commercial advantage afforded to some of the participants in the feature.
Simon Willis wrote to Tessa Munt and has apologised for an inaccuracy over BBC correspondence following “an investigation of this relatively low level of complexity”.
Tessa Munt said: “I am very pleased that Mr Gifford has been cleared of all charges in Nepal and I trust he can now move on with his life and adventuring.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “We have given detailed and lengthy replies to correspondence received from both Tessa Munt MP and Nigel Gifford regarding this matter. Mr Gifford and Ms Munt were made aware of the BBC’s Complaints Procedure and they chose not to follow-up their complaints through this official process.”