Britain’s media regulator, OFCOM has turned down a complaint made by Major General Suresh Sallay against the Dispatches: Sri Lanka’s Easter Bombings 2019 which was broadcast by Channel 4 in the UK.

Major General Suresh Sallay complained to OFCOM “of unjust or unfair treatment” by the broadcaster in the Dispatches program broadcast on 5th September 2023.

The British media regulator said in its 11-page report, “Ofcom considers, in the particular circumstances of this case, the complaint was unsustainable and that there was no case for the broadcaster to answer.

The ‘highly placed’ whistleblowers in the film, which was also broadcast in Denmark, alleged that the Group held responsible for the bombings of Churches and hotels on Easter Sunday 2019 had met Major General Suresh Sallay prior to the Bombings and provided other details including the location of the alleged meeting.

The film referred to Major General Suresh Sallay as “Sri Lanka’s most senior spy” and pointed out that Sallay was appointed to the position after Gothabya Rajapaksa became the President.

OFCOM’s findings are specifically to do with the nature of Major General Sallay’s complaint – that in the program he was given unjust or unfair treatment.

OFCOM also pointed out “It is important to note from the outset that Ofcom’s role is not to determine the factual accuracy (or otherwise) of statements made in the programme.”

OFCOM also noted in addition, that an anonymous government official alleged that the complainant – Major General Suresh Sallay – had “played a huge role, he facilitated it. He knew about the suicide bombers, especially Zahran and his involvement”

The OFCOM report continues, “Having viewed the programme in its entirety alongside considering the individual elements of the complaint, we considered that, even if some of the statements complained about were inaccurate (and we have not come to a conclusion either way as to the truth of the allegations), the allegations made by the whistle-blowers regarding the extent of the complainant’s involvement in the Easter bombings were not dealt with in a way that was unfair to him in the programme.”

OFCOM continued, “In reaching this view, we took into account that the allegations made by the whistle-blowers were not presented in the programme as unequivocal statements of fact, but rather as their own personal recollections and opinions of the complainant and events surrounding the Easter bombings.”

OFCOM noted in particular, “We considered that Mr Maulana and the anonymous government official’s views were clearly attributed to them throughout and were not endorsed by the presenter.”

OFCOM also pointed out that at the end of the programme, the presenter made clear that the testimonies heard raised “serious questions” and that the Sri Lankan Government’s investigations into the matter were “ongoing”.

The serious questions include,  did a senior intelligence official meet covertly with Islamic extremists before they committed the biggest terrorist attack in Sri Lanka’s history?

Did military intelligence mislead the police in their attempts to apprehend the terrorist group and prevent the attacks taking place?

Did Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government sabotage investigations into the bombings”.

A final caption at the end of the program read: “As a result of the allegations made in this programme, the Sri Lankan government has announced that a Special Parliamentary Committee will carry out an investigation”.

A fundamental question this Committee ought to look into is why the churches, the hotels and the public were not warned of the impending bombing attacks – which the intelligence services knew about. It follows that the Committee must identify the decision maker responsible for withholding the warning.

Meanwhile in Europe Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith met with officials of the UNHRC based out of Geneva and urged support for an internationally aided investigation about the Easter Bombings of Sri Lanka – four years after the incident.

Separately in Sri Lanka the President has appointed a Presidential Committee to look into the claims made in the Channel 4 program but the scope and Terms of Reference have not been published.

Sri Lanka’s mainstream opposition party the SJB have indicated that they will support a parliamentary select committee to investigate the details of the Easter Bombings if the government would stick with tradition and grant the SJB the Chairmanship of that select committee.

– staff writer –