The Issues In a Nutshell

Ralph Feinnes as Norman Darbyshire in Coup 53

Coup 53 is a documentary about the MI6 and CIA-led coup to remove democratically
elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran.

It draws heavily on the 1985 Granada TV documentary End of Empire: Iran and in
particular on the transcript of a research interview we did with the MI6 agent, Norman Darbyshire, who managed the coup. This transcript, along with other research conducted by us, was willingly shared with Coup 53’s film makers in 2014. We also facilitated their access to a complete set of our programme “rushes” stored at the BFI including interviews, extracts from most of which Coup 53 uses (without credit). We were more than happy to help the film because we believed that the story of Britain’s role in Iran and the coup should be retold to a new generation. Watch End of Empire: Iran here.

The problem is that Coup 53 builds a bogus narrative in its first hour, relying on two major falsehoods:

  1. That the Darbyshire transcript was not a research interview but that of
    a filmed interview, when it is clearly a background off-the-record research interview.
  2. To explain the ‘lost footage’, for they found no rushes of this alleged filmed
    interview, they peddle the bogus conspiracy that Granada TV’s End of Empire team–Brian Lapping, Norma Percy, Alison Rooper and Mark Anderson–colluded with MI6 or another government agency to cut Darbyshire from our programme.

This is a thoroughly scurrilous use of false claims which sacrifices the truth in service of spicing up a dramatic narrative. It is also an attack on the End of Empire film makers and their professional integrity as investigative journalists. Coup 53 effectively imply that our clear assurances on film that Darbyshire was not filmed and not censored are lies.

We challenged these false claims with unequivocal evidence of their mistaken interpretation of the facts and urged Coup 53 to amend the film to remove the falsehoods.  They refused to do so, but hired lawyers who advised they make some minor commentary amendments and add end captions by way of right to reply.

The cameraman  has since withdrawn his evidence believing he was misled by Coup53 , as does the film’s MI6 expert witness, Stephen Dorril, who has called it ‘f***ing bullshit’, ‘fraudulent’ and without integrity. Amirani Media’s small amendments do not remedy the untruths and falsehoods which still scar Coup 53. We continue to urge its film makers to amend their film – an otherwise gripping and well-told story of a shocking event of great historical importance.


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