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BBC defends decision to include history-making Dragons' Den product despite safety fears

BBC defends decision to include history-making Dragons' Den product despite safety fears

The broadcaster has removed the episode featuring Giselle Boxer from iPlayer, but defended the decision to air it.

Despite major backlash and outrage from medical professionals, the BBC has defended its decision to feature a controversial 'ear seeds' pitch on Dragons' Den.

The broadcaster announced it has removed the episode that aired on 18 January which televised Giselle Boxer's pitch in front of Deborah Meaden, Peter Jones, Touker Suleyman, Steven Bartlett, Sara Davies and Gary Neville.

Take a look at her pitch here:

The effectiveness of the 31-year-old's product has been thrown into disrepute as medical professionals and 'vulnerable sick people' submitted complaints saying that it was giving people with an incurable disease 'false hope'.

Boxer told the Dragons she had been diagnosed with M.E (myalgic encephalomyelitis) at the age of 26, which had left her mostly housebound and 'unable to walk for more than five minutes without having to get back into bed'.

According to the NHS, M.E, which is also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, is a 'long-term condition with a wide range of symptoms', but the most common one is extreme tiredness.

Other symptoms include sleeping problems, cognitive and memory issues, taking a long time to recover after physical activity and still feeling tired after resting or sleeping.

Boxer said that although she was told she would never 'recover, work again or have children', she went on a 'personal healing journey' using diet, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and ear seeds, which 'aided her recovery within 12 months'.

After falling pregnant, the mum was inspired to set up her ear seeds business, Acu Seeds, during her maternity leave.

The BBC has defended its decision to air the episode featuring the 'ear seeds'.

The businesswoman explained: "Ear seeds are an ancient Chinese medicine tool, based on the principles of acupuncture, but without the needles. They are tiny beads, which stick onto the ear, applying pressure onto nerve endings. They send signals to the brain and body to relax the nervous system, release endorphins and naturally relieve pain."

Boxer shook hands with the Diary of a CEO podcast host Bartlett for a 12.5 percent chunk of her company in exchange for a £50,000 investment after making history in the Den by receiving an offer off every single Dragon.

However, Acu Seeds is said to have been reported to the Advertising Standards Authority due to the 'unproven claims' which Boxer shared in her pitch, while UK based charity Action for M.E. sent an open letter to the chairs of two House of Commons select committees as well as direct correspondence to BBC director-general Tim Davie.

It stated that they were 'very concerned' about Boxer's promotion of her product, as it suggested that her ear seeds were 'responsible for her recovery and should therefore be considered an effective treatment'.

The group's medical advisor, Dr Charles Shepherd, said that the Dragons' Den episode had 'caused a great deal of upset and concern', adding that there is 'no sound evidence' to confirm Boxer's product is 'safe and effective'.

A disclaimer on the Acu Seeds website states that the product is not used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Deborah Meaden trialled the product on Dragons' Den.

Boxer has since responded to the backlash and claimed that she was recruited to appear on the show, telling the Mirror: "Funnily enough they [the BBC] contacted me and I received an email from a researcher there and I initially thought it was a spam email.

"We went through the different stages of the application process and there was so much due diligence and they really looked into every part of my business before I went in to pitch to the Dragons."

The BBC has defended its decision to broadcast the episode featuring Boxer, while emphasising that products being featured on the programme should not be seen as an endorsement of them.

A BBC spokesperson said: "We’re taking the concerns raised seriously, so we are reviewing the episode and therefore it’s currently not available on iPlayer.

"Dragons' Den features products from entrepreneurs and is not an endorsement of them.

"Dragons' Den shows real businesses pitching to investors to lift the lid on what happens in the business world.

"This episode features an entrepreneur sharing their own, personal experience that led to a business creation."

Featured Image Credit: BBC

Topics: BBC, Dragons Den, TV and Film, UK News, Health