The Kilroy-Silk affair


As you probably know, Robert Kilroy-Silk’s talk show has been taken off the air following outrage against an anti-Arab article he wrote for the Sunday Express.

You can see what I think about his article in this Samizdata post here. You can see more about the case in this BBC article here including a quote from Perry de Havilland, of Samizdata and Libertarian Alliance fame.

The CRE threatening the police to prosecute Mr Kilroy-Silk is an outrageous assault on his free speech rights. However the BBC cancelling his show is not a violation of his free speech. The BBC are not obliged to buy anyone’s show, particularly if they think it will bring them into disrepute.

That said, the BBC are obliged by charter to be even handed. So why, as an anonymous commenter to this blog asked, is Tom Paulin still regularly appearing? Paulin specifically said that Jewish settlers should be shot. If Robert Kilroy-Silk’s comments were incitement to racial hatred, Paulin’s were incitement to murder.

UPDATE: Fiat iustitia, ruat caelum… I have criticised the BBC before now for not including both sides of the story in the external links offered with their reports. I must do so now, painful though it be. The BBC only includes two links to the report linked to above, one to the Sunday Express and one to the Libertarian Alliance (of which I have the honour to be a member)… would it have been so hard to also include one to F.A.I.R. or the Muslim Council of Britain, just for balance?

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25 Responses to The Kilroy-Silk affair

  1. Jon Shep says:

    hi this is very interesting and disturbing about tom paulin.could you please put up some more info on him because i’m having a hard time finding out when he last was invited onto the BBC and if it was after his anti jewish remarks.It would appear to be a case of shocking (or not so from the BBC) double standards if they continued to invite on the BBC after he’s said these anti Jewish comments.


  2. mrs s says:

    Jon you are kidding? he’s on there all the time, try BBC 2 Friday nights, Late Review section of Newsnight…


  3. JohninLondon says:

    Doesn’t Tom Paulin still appear every Friday in the Arts discussion section of Newsnight on BBC2. EVERY Friday ?

    I hope the Kilroy thing turns into a freedom-of-speech issue. And some of the things that the CRE Chairman said went over the top – Kilroy could have grounds to sue him.

    Also – there is lots of evidence that the Arabs made very limited contributions 1000 years ago to mathematics. But they did NOT invent algebra, for exaple. They adopted ideas in maths, medicine etc from other cultures, especially the Greeks and Persians.

    Since then – nothing.


  4. Jon Shep says:

    thanks for informing me there i shall watch with interest to see when he’s next on news night.i’m currently halfway through typing out another compaint to the BBC about this at the moment and am also wondering why thier website has ‘hidden’ the WMD find story so well on thier site and have put the mars rover thing going for a drive tommorow as thier top story.It makes me so angry.


  5. Jon Shep says:

    does anyone know of an official way to complain about the BBC? Are OFCOM the one’s to go to?I’m so sick of them and having to pay a fee for thier tripe,thanks.


  6. PJF says:

    Just in case anyone thinks the BBC might be unaware of Tom Paulin’s nature, and his specific outbursts that are worse than Kilroy-Silk’s bile:

    Does anyone doubt that the CRE chairman is fully aware also…


  7. Barry Meislin says:

    What is all the fuss about?

    Isn’t it clear by now that Islam is beyond criticism?


  8. Cobalt says:

    Funny how Paulin’s remarks are acceptable, yet Kilroy-Silk’s are not.

    When the news of Jessica Lynch’s rape (the Left’s reaction to this particular story was one of the most revealing incidents regarding political correctness) emerged, numerous PC types said it was “racist to suggest such a thing”…saying it made out all dark-skinned people to be rapists…what sort of deranged thought process produces that kind of logic?

    This attitude is astonishingly prevalent.

    What sort of person thinks of all of a racial group as victims?
    Answer: A racist!

    It is this simplistic categorising of people as “victims”, which is in itself insulting to those it claims to champion.

    I judge people as individuals, not as groups.

    I have noticed that the Left has taken to using the word “racist” as a label for anyone who holds a different worldview.

    Kilroy Silk expressed a valid opinion, just as Germaine Greer expresses opinions, or any other public figure.

    This is a blatant


  9. GDP says:

    To the person asking specifically what did Tom Paulin say, I looked this up myself yesterday, and found this, in the Guardian no less – it’s even worse than Natlie said – for example, he not only wants settlers shot, he wants them shot DEAD:,6109,683739,00.html

    Death to Jewish settlers, says anti-Zionist poet

    Sarah Hall
    Saturday April 13, 2002
    The Guardian

    Tom Paulin, the inflammatory poet, essayist and academic, has confirmed his talent for controversy by claiming Jewish settlers in Israel “should be shot dead”.

    In an interview with the Egyptian paper, Al-Ahram Weekly, Paulin, a leading anti-Zionist, calls Brooklyn-born Jewish settlers “Nazis and racists”, and insists: “I feel nothing but hatred for them.”

    He also shows empathy for Palestinian suicide bombers, only criticising the tactic for its potential morale-boosting effect. “I can understand how suicide bombers feel,” he says. “I think, though, it


  10. GDP says:

    …grr, “message truncated at 1000 characters” – here’s the rest:

    “ is better to resort to conventional guerrilla warfare. I think attacks on civilians in fact boost morale.”

    The comments of Paulin, who is professor of English at Hertford College, Oxford, emerged yesterday as six people were killed and 60 injured when a female suicide bomber blew herself up in Jerusalem.

    Last night the Northern Irish poet said he stood by his remarks, adding: “I take the view that the Palestinians are in the same position as the French when they were invaded by Germany in the second world war. The settlers are the equivalent of the Germans or Franco trying to overthrow the Spanish Republic. Sharon is the equivalent of Franco.”

    Last year Paulin was condemned by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, when the Observer published his poem in which he suggested the Israeli army deliberately gunned down “little Palestinian boys”.


  11. carnell says:

    anyone noticed how the Irish journalists and writers are the most vehemently anti Israeli of all and are some antisemtic too.
    WHy is that / what is it about Irish education that produces those traits ?
    Would it be relate to their pro german stance in WW2 ?


  12. Jon Shep says:

    please someone tell me where i can offically complain about the bbc,all my complaints to them directly fall on deaf ears and i just get an automated reply to my e-mails.I feel complaining to my local MP may be of some use be surly there must be an official regulator or something that can stop greg dyke and his army of anti – western clowns.please please help as i get more and more angry every day and am going mad with rage and the feeling of being able to do anything about this evil money grabbing corperation.


  13. David T says:

    I understand that were two versions of the article. The first was published in April, and was – so it is said – subbed to make it clear that the comments were criticisms of arab regimes, not arabs per se. The second was the accidentally reprinted original version, and contained some generalised comments about “arabs”, without making it clear that they were references to governments, rather than people.

    I would very much like to know exactly what the changes in the two versions of the article were. I have read the version of the offending article which is cited by the M.C.B.

    which seems to me not to conflate arab people with arab regimes. I am guessing that this is the edited version of the article which appeared in April (i.e. the version which had been “toned down” by sub editors)

    I also bought the Mirror yesterday (well, it had a free DVD of Cabaret in it!) which published small pictures of both articles. Even the second (i.e. the


  14. Peter Bolton says:

    Complaints can be sent to
    Fraser Steel
    Programme Complaints Unit
    Broadcasting House
    Portland Place
    London W1A 1AA
    Telephone 020 7580 4468
    Fax 020 7765 5176
    If you complain you will get a written reply but unsurprisingly the Unit finds it very hard to rule against the BBC.


  15. GDP says:

    Thanks for complaints address – I notice they don’t provide anything as convenient as an e-mail address. My comp will dish out faxes as standard from any application though, and so they are in for a very hard time in future.


  16. rob says:

    I notice they don’t provide anything as convenient as an e-mail address.

    [email protected]

    Sometimes gets a reply, if a complaint about a programme.
    Seperate addresses, I think, for BBC online & ceefax


  17. Nigel Holland says:

    Labour MP Andrew Dismore picks up on the Tom Paulin connection.


  18. ade says:

    I’m interested that the primary group that has led the witchunt against Kilroy, has been the Muslim Council GB.

    The article was about arabs (or arab states). Most muslims aren’t arabs, many arabs aren’t muslims, so why them?

    Or does this group, who have never condemned the 9/11 attacks without a ‘but’, and who are quick to point out that their ‘anti-zionsism’ is not anti jewish, have similar identity crises of their own?


  19. Dom says:

    Could try:

    [email protected]
    or by post:
    BBC Charter Review Consultation
    Department for Culture, Media and Sport
    2-4 Cockspur Street
    SW1Y 5DH
    or you can call the Charter Review line on 020 7211 6418


  20. Sandy P. says:

    –The BBC are not obliged to buy anyone’s show, particularly if they think it will bring them into disrepute.–

    They’re already there.


  21. Natalie Solent says:

    A record number of comments on this post. A few points in reply –

    – LOL, Sandy P!

    – I too would like to know exactly what the sequence of events is that separates the Kilroy-Silk article dissing “Arabs” from the one dissing “Arab states”. The latter is a perfectly respectable opinion shared by millions of Arabs.

    – I still hold that the BBC is within its rights to cancel Kilroy-Silk’s programme. Whether it is a wise action in terms of achieving the BBC’s own aims is another question. The very high level of interest in this story, judging from numbers of comments here and at Samizdata, suggests not. I think a lot of people are hearing his views via the fuss that is being made and liking them, or liking some of them.


  22. Moira says:

    I particularly enjoyed the comment in the last paragraph of the Telegraph article linked by Nigel Holland, above:

    “A BBC official said the corporation was examining Mr Kilroy-Silk’s case on its own merits and did not want to be drawn into making comparisons with Mr Paulin.”


  23. DumbJon says:

    Both RKS and Mr aPaulin can claim to be hired gun opinionists, OTOH Nik Gowing really does work for BBC World, yet no one at the Beeb has a problem with him claiming that Israel and the US regularly murder journalists who report critically on their activites:

    Now, ain’t that strange.


  24. Wouldn\\\'t you like to know says:

    Because Tom Paulin is a commentator, despite his views. Kilroy-Silk is a presenter, and therefore needs to be unbiased and impartial.


  25. Susan says:

    So, “Wouldn’t you like to know,” you would have no problems with the BBC inviting Mr. Kilroy to be a “commentator”, then, would you?