COMPLAINT against dishonest BBC
Below you can see the dismissive letter I received after writing a formal complaint to the Head of BBC World Service about the conduct of Navin Singh Khadka. I have numbered my responses to the paragraphs. It is abundantly clear, this was just a standard letter to be sent to those making complaints, just inserting the name of the journalist! Ms Unsworth obviously did not check even the basics. I certainly did not have a lengthy TV interview. She does not even appear to understand what 'broadcast' means! The BBC treats those who make complaints with utter contempt, knowing that hardly anyone will have the finances to take them to court. In essence, go away you ignorant toe-rag and don't bother us important people. Mr Khadka considers he is a "law unto himself", which he can be because he knows the likes of Ms Unsworth will "cover his back". Well, whilst I do not have the money to RAISE THE LITTLE MATTER OF THE NINE LIES IN THE ARTICLE WRITTEN BY MR KHADKA, IN COURT, BUT CAN SHARE OUR CORRESPONDENCE and DRAW ATTENTION TO THE LIES AND MISLEADING INFORMATION AND LET READERS MAKE UP THEIR OWN MINDS WHO IS BEING ACCURATE AND TRUTHFUL...
There is also the matter of Ms Unsworth's and Mr Khadka's FAILURE to answer the numerous questions I put to them. Why are they free to do this, yet if members of the public failure to answer the pathetic questions Mr Khadka puts, he is ENTITLED to door-step me! You can see a copy of the letter of complaint I sent below the comments in response to Mr Unsworth's letter, immediately below. Both Ms Unsworth and Mr Khadka failed to address the matter of Mr Khadka and his cameraman FAILING to WARN me that a car was reversing into me - ONLY LAST MINUTE EVASIVE ACTION BY ME SAVED ME BEING KNOCKED DOWN, WHICH COULD HAVE CAUSED SERIOUS HARM, DUE TO MY HEALTH PROBLEMS & POOR BALANCE, DUE TO NUMB FEET. THIS WAS INEXCUSABLE AND I DESERVE, AT THE VERY LEAST AN APOLOGY (as does the caretaker of the hall I spoke at where I was door-stepped, who had been troubled by the two men 'hanging about outside) though the DAMAGE to my REPUTATION is what CONCERNS me the MOST:
KINDLY NOTE THAT I WAS SERIOUSLY ILL AT THE TIME, REQUIRING MY YOUNGEST SON TO TYPE OUT THE LETTER ON MY BEHALF ONTO THE COMPUTER, WHILST I LAY ON A RECLINING CHAIR (OBTAINED FOR £30 FROM A CHARITY SHOP, DUE TO CIGARETTE BURN). MY MIND WAS NOT CLEAR AND I COULD NOT RECOLLECT IMPORTANT FACTS AT THE TIME. I HAVE CHANGED MY WEB-SITE LINKS BECAUSE MY CHADWELLSEEDS.CO.UK SITE HAS BEEN CLOSED, REPLACED BY SHPA.CO.UK
Dear Sir or Madam, 2/2/16
I am writing to you concerning the conduct of Navin Singh Khadka. His behavour has caused me much distress. I consider what he has done is out-of-order. “Taking on” the BBC is intimidating. I HOPE I shall be treated in a fair and objective fashion from now on – this has NOT happened up to this point. Sorry but that is what I expected from the start. For Mr Khadka to take it upon himself to “go after me” when he is not displaying the skills I expect from a BBC World Service reporter, leaves me troubled.
It is not easy to find out much about Mr Khadka. His twitter site (I am NOT a twitter person), tells me little, at is mainly consists of re-tweets.... Have never been comfortable voicing criticism but Mr Khadka has obliged me to speak out both to defend my good name and protect others from being subjected to the ill-informed attentions of this ‘journalist’.
May I ask that you take a look at my web-site: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/home, particularly the parts covering the Himalaya/my expeditions and Chadwell Seeds (including P.Kohli & Co.). Kindly read (and digest) what I have to say – something which Mr Khadka has singularly failed to do. I find it alarming that a journalist working for BBC World Service does not undertake even basic background research.
I am reluctant to take on the might of the BBC (and it seems that Mr Khadka views that just because he is a reporter for BBC World Service, it permits him to do exactly as he wishes). He feels that is in itself sufficent an introduction and to act as “judge, jury and executioner”; I do not.
I was particularly bothered and upset by being confronted by Mr Khadka (with a cameraman), unsafely, in a very dark car-park just prior to delivering a lecture in Hampshire on the 21st January (2016). More about this will follow. Once I have elaborated, my expectation is that Mr Khadka will write a letter of apology to the caretaker of the hall where I spoke. I only agreed to go outside (which interferred with my preparations to speak and delayed the start) in an attempt to address this person’s concerns about two men who had been “hanging about” for some time. As you can tell from the details I have left on my web-site for your benefit, Mr Khadka did “track me down” as a result of masterly detective work “under cover” – nor “caught” me speaking to a “secretive” society; quite simply, I give details of my lectures to come, so that programme secretaries wishing to book me, can check my availability. It also allows interested persons to attend one of my talks – this I would expect, involves them contacting me and the society involved, so that that courtesies are observed, such that they can attend as my guest. Mr Khadka, had he asked correctly, would have been most welcome to attend one of my talks to research what I do further (and ask questions afterways, like any member of my audiences can). Of course, he is no longer welcome (not that I have anything to hide) but if you or other BBC World Service reporters wish to, they would be welcome. I gave a digital presentation: LILIES, LAMAS and LEECHES: plant hunting in Nepal. Of course Mr Khadka had no wish to objectively investigate what I do. Just as, in all probability, he had no wish to give examples of his interviews or subsequent articles. Who in their right mind would agree to being ‘interviewed’ by Mr Khadka, after viewing or reading examples?
Incidentally, a collection afterward my talk raised £82.50 for The Britain-Nepal Medical Trust (see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/britain-nepal-medical-trust). This, when spent in Nepal represents a meaningful amount. I do NOT make a big deal out of it but directly and indirectly, I have helped raise useful amounts over many years, The BNMT enjoys a good reputation. I regularly make the point that donors to charities should be street-wise. Individuals like myself have a responsibility to make potential donors aware of this and recommend trustworthy charities. The fund-raising is directly related to last year’s earthquakes in Nepal – of course the media have moved on to the next story.....
As for me, I was paid the princely sum of £75 (my travel expenses by train and bus were covered). I left my house (I do not drive, travelling around the country by train and bus) at 1520hrs, returning at 0030hrs. In light of preparation time, the total involved to deliver this lecture ran +/- to 12 hours i.e. £6.25/hour. My talks (when I charge £100) requiring overnight stays use up the best part of 2 days with a FULL day away from home. These work out less than the MINIMUM WAGE for anyone 21 or over (which I am) – and less than the LIVING WAGE for those 25+ from April. I gave 2 talks in January and have none this month. I imagine that most people working for the BBC earn a trifle more? Even the cleaners? I have two bookings specifically in aid of the BNMT later this year (am actively seeking more) when I will not even receive my normal modest fee plus a lecture tour for the same purpose next year. I wonder how much fund-raising (for free) you or Mr Khadka would be doing if he earnt what I do.
I have ALWAYS operated off a shoe-string budget, often struggling to pay basic bills.... Must be mad? Especially when treated like I have been by the BBC World Service. Am I mistaken to have expected better? I EXPECT the BBC to “set an example”, to be responsible for journalism of the highest standard. Is this a false expectation?
Has any BBC World Service reporter ever actually taken an interest in what I have been doing? Mr Khadka did not. What about the various projects I am involved in and ones I wish to pursue further? A modicum amout of interest, praise, support or encouragement would have been appreciated but NO, instead an ill-informed reporter is determined to portray me in a bad light! I am rightly insulted. Does my reputation matter to me. Am I an honourable person? Yes. Was Mr Kohli who established P.Kohli & Co. an honourable person, setting a fine example? Yes.
I hope, having read through at least some of the content of my web-site, you might just be able to work out that I (and indeed P.Kohli & Co.) are the GOOD guys, not the BAD guys! MIGHT I actually know VASTLY more about many aspects relating to the ENVIRONMENT of the Himalaya than Mr Khadka does! MIGHT I been vastly more experience and have travelled MUCH more widely in the Himalaya than Mr Khadka? MIGHT I not know more about and understand better the assorted RULES and REGULATIONS than Mr Khadka? I cannot be accused of not sharing quite a lot of what could be described as peronal and private details on my site? Why on earth would I do this, IF I was a dodgy character and/or P.Kohli & Co. were? It makes no sense. See: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/kohli-commemorative-events; https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/p-kohli-co-established-1928; https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/p-n-kohli-s-sugestions-to-the-indian-government
I appreciate that it is decidely un-English to say so but I am more much more knowledgeable (overall) about the flora of the Himalaya (its study, cultivation and conservation) than any botanist in the West (or Japan, which has botanists undertaking expeditions to Nepal) or in any other country in the Himalayan region (India, Nepal, Bhutan). Do I know more, historically, about plant exploration (including in recent years/decades) than ANY current official in these countries and the permissions required? Yes. So I do not know what questions Mr Khadka has put to these governments but what he claimed when he ‘interviewed’ in the car-park was INCORRECT. Are ‘foreigners’ ever given permission to collect seed? Yes. I shall elaborate next time. Have I ever been given permission to collect seed in a Himalayan country? Yes. Did I ever secure permission to carry back seed collections from a Himalayan country from the relevant Department of the appropriate Ministry? Yes. But as most of my seed comes through P.Kohli & Co. (there have been other sources, which I can name) which enjoy an export license, so they are permitted to send seed to me, which I subsequently attempt to sell. Some of my trips to the Himalaya, I describe as “plant hunting” expeditions. This involved looking for and photographing flowers; I was not aware that the host government’s permission was required to do this.
Did I undertake other “activities”? Yes. See: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/flowers-for-a-dalai-lama
I was not aware that I required the host government permission to undertake these. Perhaps Mr Khadka has been informed of the Indian Government’s disapproval of such constructive projects? Also see the Kohli Gold Medals: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/kohli-memorial-gold-medals I was not aware I required the host governments permission to present these awards? Perhaps Mr Khadka has been informed of the Indian Government’s disapproval of giving international recognition to its citizens? The amounts are small. Something else he claimed about my web-site was also incorrect. I shall elaborate. Quite why Bangladesh was mentioned, is a mystery to me. I have, as I said, travelled extensively in the Himalaya but I did not think any part of that country could be described as ‘Himalayan’? Presumably Mr Khadka knows better?
Did I lead flower holidays/botanical tours which the participates viewed as “plant hunting expeditions” where I escorted trips to show the clients flowers (and identify them) organised and arranged by specialist travel companies. I was not aware I required the host government’s permission to do this?
And as for “plant hunting”, even “seed collecting” expeditions. Does this automatically mean I collected the seed myself? No. Was this the case for the famous plant hunters? They OFTEN were not the ones to collect the seed. I shall elaborate and explain further.
Would you accept that if I am not in a country a particular year or years, I CANNOT have collected any seed? Would you accept if I visit at a time when the seed is not ready, I CANNOT have collected the seed?
Through Chadwell Seeds, I have (for almost as long a period as I have offered seed from the Himalaya) offered seed from Japan. As I have never been to Japan, I CANNOT have collected seed there....
Through Chadwell Seeds, I offered seed from time-to-time, from other countries e.g. USA. Yes, I have been to North America on lecture tours but always in the spring months – when there is no seed. So do you accept I have never collected seed in the US?
Now, since this matter has been raised, there could have been a Chris Chadwell Seed Collecting Expedition to the Pacific NW in 2015. But this never got past the most basic idea. IF I had gone through with this, it would have involved a reconnaisance (in the spring/early summer) to check things out and discuss in details with the American who then ran a seed company, who would have collected the seed for me. Just as the famous plant hunters often had locals to collect seed for them in the Himalaya, a century or so ago........
Having said all this, I am obliged to Mr Khadka for alerting me to how DUMB (and innocent) I have been. I had assumed that what is on my web-site could be appreciated at different levels (as I state in the first paragraph of my Home Page). One can enjoy the images with brief captions. I had imagined, falsely it seems in Mr Khadka’s case, those wishing to take a greater interest would ACTUALLY read and be able to digest the more detailed content. Mr Khadka has NOT done this and JUMPED TO CONCLUSIONS. Much of my web-site content was designed to inform and educate (since it was accuarate and reliable which is NOT the case for so much that is published about Himalayan plants). Seems I should greatly reduce what is on the site and avoid aggravation from ignorant individuals who put 2 and 2 together and make 5.....
He made NO attempt to intelligently inquire, learning about what I do – which would have enabled him to discover IF there were grounds for concern DESPITE my apparently good deeds! Oh no, that would have taken too much effort and destroyed the potential headline. How about RARE AND ENDANGERED PLANTS UNDER THREAT IN THE HIMALAYA FROM ILLEGAL FOREIGN PLANT HUNTERS! Yes, one cannot always trust what is on a web-site but COME-ON....
Perhaps he considers it such an HONOUR to be ‘interviewed’ by the GREAT NS Khadka? Or ‘interrogated’ by him, would be more accurate. He is awfully good at attempting to ‘twist’ what has been said and throwing in irrelevant and false information.... Would you be kind enough to confirm that I was under NO obligation to accept his ‘request’ (demand?) to be interviewed? And that declining was NOT an indication that I had anything to hide. I have never been keen on interviews, even by those guaranteed to give me a GLOWING write-up. Once I have had a response from you, I shall explain in full, WHY I declined to be interviewed or answer his ‘accusations’ – they were not normal questions.
May I also ask you to confirm that I was under NO obligation to answer his ‘questions’ – and that doing so was not an indication that I had anything to hide? I shall be more than happy to provide you with ‘answers’ to these questions, which any reasonable person would accept.
Would you advise Mr Khadka that he is much more likely to receive a favourable reception from thoughtful, intelligent people like myself, if he bothers to read the information I “share with the world” on my web-site, first! But it was clear, Mr Khadka was NOT interested in FACTS or producing a BALANCED REPORT, just after some ‘sensationalist’, ‘tabloid’-style, superficial MISREPRESENTATION. Having read a number of Mr Khadka’s articles I see this is typical of his approach. How many others have been subjected to similar treatment? I shall explain further next time.
These are not the standards I expect of the BBC World Service. Mr Khadka’s behaviour (heaven knows what he will do next), leave me no option but to defend myself. Does he have any RELEVANT training or qualifications to cover the ENVIRONMENT and such an important subjects as CLIMATE CHANGE? He obviously knows NOTHING about plant exploration/botany. His article on ILLEGAL HUNTING ON THE RISE IN AFGHANISTAN (for the BBC) illustrates well, serious flaws – despite ‘WILDLIFE’ having once been his favourite “beat”. Yes, I can back up this claim. Is the BBC World Service in agreement that what matters most in an article is that it is factually accurate? The BBC enjoys a world-wide reputation, is widely respected and TRUSTED. This article is unquestionably misleading..... Could I have done better? Yes!!! For a start, my background research would have been far superior. A member of the University of Southampton Ladakh Expedition in 1980 (my first to the Himalaya), whom I know well, spent 2 ½ years WORKING in the Arabian Peninsula, including spells conducting RESEARCH on the Houbara Bustard..... I shall provide supporting evidence about this article, next time. Though it is not how much “background” reading one does that is important, rather a person’s ability to assess the RELIABILITY of what has been published/written.
Why, did Mr Khadka not inquire about the worthwhile projects I have been working on? He was not even interested by my concerns about the SAFETY of ordinary guides and porters in Nepal (See KEEPING SAFE IN THE HIMALAYA : https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/keeping-safe-in-the-himalaya-1) He is supposed to have made a documentary about the risks Himalayan porters take! I find it extraordinary that he failed to mention this when he contacted me.
He was not interested in my proposals about the GIANT HIMALAYAN STINGING NETTLES being a potential saviour of landslip-prone villages in Nepal (see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/giant-himalayan-stinging-nettles---saviours-of-landslip-prone-nepalese-villages – represting a positive step, which could be taken at minimal cost, EMPOWERING Nepalese people. I understand he is from Nepal? This is STAGGERING, yet he has time to HARRASS ME! It seems his SPECIALITY is being NEGATIVE not actually proposing positive SOLUTIONS to IMPROVE THE ENVIRONMENT OF THE HIMALAYA – which he SPECIALISES IN... IF he had mentioned these to have meant that I was more likely to respond POSITIVELY to him?
Or TURNING LADAKH DESERTS GREEN (see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/turning-ladakh-deserts-green). Or the benefits of PLANTING NATIVE TREE SPECIES (awaiting replacement page). What about the FLOWERS FIT FOR A DALAI LAMA Plant Conservation Project (see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/flowers-for-a-dalai-lama)?
The substantial PHOTOGRAPHIC REFERENCE and IDENTIFICATION GUIDE for FLOWERS FROM THE WESTERN HIMALAYA (see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/a-z-north-west-himalayan-flora---virtual-photographic-herbarium – which is DESPERATELY needed because INDIAN botanists cannot RELIABLY and ACCURATELY identify plants from this region. This has contributed to the incorrect submissions to the CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES (C.I.T.E.S.); (see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/cites. No these very SERIOUS matters, where I present solid EVIDENCE do not interest him. Instead, he writes FLAWED articles about SUPPOSEDLY ‘Endangered’ species.
On a personal level, I consider that I have been SETTING AN EXAMPLE for others to follow, in terms of “putting something back” to the Himalaya (and her peoples). Not one word of acknowledgement, let alone encouragement or support from Mr Khadka – quite the opposite..... Strange old world.... I am DISMAYED.
Then, there is the matter of my health. I have not been in good order for several years, struggling to prepare for and complete my 2013 lecture tour in N.America and my ‘expedition’ to Nepal, when I photographed plants, scenery and people (useful for my lectures and web-site). On the latter I was unable to explore up in the mountains. Yes, I was planning to visit the Himalaya in 2015 but was not able to on health grounds. I got in a bad state in the summer of 2014 and was diagnosed. Since then I take a daily cocktail of medication including prescription-only painkillers wich are ESSENTIAL for me to cope satisfactorily. I am in major pain for significant parts of every day. I have, JUST, managed to honour all my lecture commitments to-date. I replied to Mr Khadka’s first e-mail, which I assumed was about what the CURRENT rules and regulations were about expeditions, following the Nagoya Protocol, which is gradually coming into force. As I do not expect to undertake any expeditions to the Himalaya in the future, I felt I could be of no use to him information-wise, even for questions asked by e-mail. I added, “on the basis I did before” – which again, he misunderstood. What it means, is FIRSTLY being ABLE , physically (to have the necessary strength to explore in the mountains) and be mentally alert enough to be methodical and get good pictures. SECONDLY, to be alert enough to keep myself and those with me (including locals – who almost always do not have the experience and know-how, I do) SAFE. I consider that MY responsibility. Whilst I do not know the details, perhaps if Mr Khadka had approached his trip to the Everest region in 2005 in a similar way, he would NOT have suffered from altitude sickness – you put the lives of others at risk (every helicopter flight is a risk) ‘rescuing’ you! Whilst at one point in 2015, there had been an improvement in my health, I WISELY decided, I could note cope.
Look forward to hearing from you. Fingers crossed, my concerns are going to be addressed. I REALLY do not deserve this. Obviously, my energies would be better spent devoted to other things. That is down to The BBC World Service...
NOT ONE OF MY QUESTIONS WAS ANSWERED. I WAS NOT APOLOGISED TO FOR NEARLY KNOCKING ME OVER (AS THE FILM TAKEN AT THE TIME WOULD SHOW BUT MS UNSWORTH DID NOT BOTHER LOOKING AT THIS - OTHERWISE SHE COULD NOT HAVE DESCRIBED IT AS A LENGTHY INTERVIEW). NO LETTER OF APOLOGY HAS BEEN WRITTEN TO THE CARETAKER.