The BBC’s outrageous Gunpowder error

SIR – Many readers will have seen the second episode of the BBC series Gunpowder, in which is it suggested that my great, great … (10 greats) uncle, Fr John Gerard, played a role in the Gunpowder Plot, at the very least being aware of the conspirators’ intentions.

In his capacity as a Catholic priest, he undoubtedly knew some of the alleged conspirators, but there is not a shred of credible evidence that he was aware or involved in the manner suggested. Furthermore, while it is true that he made a daring escape from the Tower of London after gruesome torture, this had nothing to do with the Gunpowder Plot, and took place seven years earlier, when the authorities were trying (unsuccessfully) to persuade him to reveal the whereabouts of his friend and fellow Jesuit priest, Fr Henry Garnett.

The contemporary evidence surrounding the Gunpowder Plot is lengthy, complex and contradictory, and all the more confusing because the facts were probably distorted and spun by the authorities to influence public opinion. The facts are thus open to widely differing interpretations, but merging two quite separate events to link Fr Gerard’s escape from the tower with the Gunpowder Plot is a clear and deliberate act of falsification, which the BBC should now correct.

In an age of “fake news” the BBC greatly values its reputation as the world’s most trusted broadcaster. This will not last long if it continues to broadcast “fake history”.

Michael Maslinski

London SW1

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