The BBC will apologise for “faked” Panorama footage on Primark: On The Rack, a 2008 program that investigated whether the cheap clothes giant could manufacture its products without breaking ethical guidelines.
The footage in question, shown as part of Panorama’s Primark: On The Rack, showed three boys in a Bangalore workshop, apparently testing stitching on Primark clothes.
A BBC Trust investigation said: "Having carefully scrutinised all of the relevant evidence, the committee concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, it was more likely than not that the Bangalore footage was not authentic."
In its ruling, the BBC Trust's editorial standards committee (ESC) said the documentary had broken editorial guidelines on accuracy and fairness.
The Panorama investigation came after Primark lodged a complaint about a scene that showed footage obtained in a Bangalore workshop of three boys carrying out an activity described in the programme as "testing stitching" on Primark garments.
Primark has repeatedly complained about the Panorama documentary, which disputed that the company could produce "cheap, fast fashion" without breaking ethical guidelines.
The BBC is to make an on-air apology to Primark.
Chairman of the BBC Trust's editorial standards committee Alison Hastings said:
“The BBC's investigative journalism is rightly held in very high regard, and for more than 50 years Panorama has made a very significant contribution to that.
''But great investigative journalism must be based on the highest standards of accuracy, and this programme on Primark failed to meet those standards.
''While it's important to recognise that the programme did find evidence elsewhere that Primark was contravening its own ethical guidelines, there were still serious failings in the making of the programme.
''The Trust would like to apologise on behalf of the BBC to Primark and to the audience at home for this rare lapse in quality.''
Six points in the Bangalore footage have been cited as indicating that the footage may be fake. Firstly, no garments other than the three being worked on in the film can be seen in the footage. Also, the large needles used in the workshop are said to be were unsuitable for "delicate and intricate stitching of the Primark sequinned tops".
There are also said to be inconsistencies in "some evidence including emails from the journalist in the field to the UK production team".
However, freelance journalist Dan McDougall who obtained the Bangalore footage has hit back at the ESC’s claims and is seeking a judicial review.
“I have rarely seen a finding so unjust in outcome, flawed in process, and deeply damaging to independent investigative journalism," McDougall said.
BBC News staff are also said to be up in arms over the decision, saying that is points to a flawed complaints procedure within the corporation.
Panorama's Primark: On The Rack is no longer available on BBC iPlayer, but you can get more info here: bbc.co.uk