Cameraman retracts statements made in Coup 53

Letters from Humphry Trevelyan, End of Empire: Iran cameraman to Taghi Amirani, director of COUP53

24th September 2020

Dear Taghi,

I am aware that there is a discussion underway between yourself and the End of
Empire producers about the sections of Coup 53 that refer to the existence of an
interview with Norman Darbyshire. I am bound to tell you that I have reached my
own position on this controversy, as someone who played a significant role in
supporting your theories about the interview.

Humphrey Trevelyan in COUP 53

You may recall that when I received your invitation to participate in the online screening and Q & A, I mentioned that I had seen the letter to the Observer from Alison Rooper and Mark Anderson, and that I would not be able to ‘swear on the
bible’ that I had witnessed an interview with Darbyshire. Given the nature and detail
of the refutation that Alison and other members of the End of Empire production team have mounted, I have taken time to look carefully at their evidence, and dig deep into my own memories of the interviews that were filmed at that time. 

I have had to reach the conclusion that my ‘memory’ of my involvement in a filmed
interview with Darbyshire was erroneous. Alison’s explanation of the origin of the transcript of Darbyshire is convincing, and there are now several confirmations of this from other members of the End of Empire team. I have myself looked carefully at the record of all the interviews filmed at the Savoy, helped by records kept by other researchers on the End of Empire series, and it is clear that an interview with Darbyshire was not among them. In fact, the Sam Falle interview was the only one for the Iran programme that I shot at the Savoy: the others were for the Egypt programme. 

My first indication that all was not as it seemed was after the screening at the Curzon Mayfair. After seeing the range of interviews that we filmed for the Iran programme for the first time in over 30 years, I started to realise that my memory of Darbyshire as a person was in doubt – the image that I had constructed of him began to dissipate when confronted with the physical appearance of all the interviewees. I mentioned this to one of your assistants at the Savoy tea party, and was told that it was not important since there so much other evidence that an interview had been filmed. 

Humphrey Trevelyan (1983)

Since then, of course, so much more evidence has come to light. I wish only that
Coup 53 had been screened for the End of Empire team before it was finalised; and
that I had not allowed myself to be persuaded that the interview had been filmed, and had not allowed myself to construct what was in effect a false memory. In the end, 35 years is a long time to remember that kind of detail – too long a time, sadly.

I would like to thank for your kindness and generosity in the time that I was working
with you. The film is still an outstanding piece of work, and I wish it a successful life, even though I can no longer support the statements that I made to you about the Darbyshire interview. I hope that a positive agreement can be reached between yourselves and the End of Empire team.

Best wishes,
Humphry


7th January 2021


Dear Taghi,

I have recently learned that Coup 53 is to be screened this evening at BAFTA for the BAFTA membership. I have also recently been updated by Alison Rooper and the End of Empire team about progress in the negotiations between themselves and Amirani Media to correct the inaccuracies that the first version of the film contained. It is very disappointing that the segment that contains my statement that you obtained when we first met, in which I claimed to remember filming an interview with Norman Darbyshire, is still in the latest version of the film. 

I made it clear to you in my email below that my ‘memory’ of filming an interview with Darbyshire was erroneous, and that I fully accept that there was no filmed interview with him.

I made it clear to you in my email below that my ‘memory’ of filming an interview with Darbyshire was erroneous, and that I fully accept that there was no filmed interview with him. I believe that my contribution to the film should be removed as it is completely inaccurate. 

I cannot stress enough my feelings of dismay that my completely inaccurate statement is still in the film, and I sincerely hope that it will be removed without further delay. I will be making my position clear in social media and the press whenever appropriate. 

Yours sincerely,
Humphry Trevelyan

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