By Jessica Rodgers
The family of a BBC producer shot dead in Somalia have today questioned the BBC’s lack of planning in sending her to the war-torn country without vital information that could have prevented her death.
Kate Peyton, 39, from Beyton, Suffolk was shot in the back outside the Sahafi Hotel in Mogadishu in February 2005. An inquest into her death begins today at Ipswich Crown Court. The family will argue that she was not warned about the dangers of the country ahead of her trip, due to ‘lack of planning’ on the BBC’s behalf.
Peyton, accompanied by reporter Peter Greste had been due to film a series of reports in the country when a militiaman fired at them. Greste was unharmed but Peyton died in Mogadishu hospital from internal bleeding.
The militiamen surrounded the hotel where Somali politicians stayed to discuss the transfer of their government from neighboring Kenya. Classified as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for over two decades, it is rare for journalists or aid workers to be sent there. Peyton’s family claim she was ‘under pressure’ from the BBC to complete this assignment.
Her mother, Angela Peyton said: “She came home from work and said, ‘Sorry, I’ve got to go to Somalia next Tuesday’. I have to say that my heart sank but I don’t think I fully understood how dangerous it was.
“She said, ‘This will prove to them that I’m committed’. She told me she had felt under pressure over her contract.” Peyton’s contract was due to end in Summer of 2005.
Ms Peyton’s sister, Rebecca, an actress who lives in Brixton, south London, said: “All the journalists we’ve spoken to who have been to Somalia or who know about it have been quite shocked that she was sent. We say that she didn’t have access to all the information before she went.
Her brother Charles hopes one outcome of the case will be better planning and more information for journalists before being sent to hostile countries. Her family will remain supportive of the BBC, as her sister says “We don’t want anyone’s head on a plate, we don’t want to shut down foreign news – we just want some answers.”