The interminable legal wrangle over the non-release of the Balen report seems to hinge on whether it’s covered by an exemption from the FOI act on the grounds of being “for the purposes of journalism.”
Why does the BBC want to keep it secret? Surely it can only be because it harbours doubts about its own good practice at that time.
In any case much water has passed under many bridges since the BBC commissioned the report from Malcolm Balen in 2004.
It could be that they disagreed with the findings in the report and regretted commissioning it.
It could be that the BBC did stealth change their policy in some way in accordance with Balen’s findings, and hoped that would do. After the report they did create a new post. Middle East Editor. We all know what good that did.
It could be that the report wasn’t particularly conclusive, in which case the BBC’s efforts to conceal it would be more propitious as a grievance we can complain about, Palestinian style, than a revelation of whatever bias was detected by Mr. Balen.
There have been other detailed analyses of the BBC’s middle east coverage that have been ignored because they come from people who are regarded as having a vested interest. (Jews.)
One of the things people are particularly incensed about is the amount of the licence fee that the BBC has squandered in concealing it, thus drawing inordinate attention to the whole fiasco as well as wasting our money.
Pressure should be applied to the BBC to instigate a fresh report on the subject, framed in such a way that the outcome couldn’t be sheltered, either by the data protection act, an exclusion clause from the FOI act, or by or any silencing order devised by the likes of Carter Ruck.
Steven Sugar hasn’t given up. He’s contemplating an appeal to the Supreme Court.