Try, Try and Try Again

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.”

The argument over whether ‘for the purposes of’ is the same as ‘actual’ journalism seems like dancing on the head of a pin.

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.

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13 Responses to Try, Try and Try Again

  1. deegee says:

    A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC’s decision to appeal had nothing to do with the fact that the ‘Balen report’ was about the Middle East. It just happened to be the first to go before the courts”.

    Regretably this may also be true. However being about the Middle East made establishing the BBC’s right to deny information to the public so much more important.

    Just imagine if Sugar wins. There will be FOI requests on MMGW, Obama, Islam, Labour Party and all the areas where the legally obliged to neutrality but heavily agenda driven BBC fails in its job.

    The end could be near and don’t they know it.


  2. Martin says:

    Actually the BBC is just full of Jew hating racists


  3. John R Smith says:

    Is there not a well placed whistleblower who could “leak” it?

    After all, almost every other confidential document on the planet seem to hit t’internet these days.


  4. Phil says:

    The BBC is publically owned and financed.

    Why should the FOI prevent the owners of an organisation reading a report about that organsation, especially as those owners have paid for the report to be compiled.


  5. Hazel says:

    The reason is probably very simple – it’s financial. 

    The BBC are scared that releasing the Balen report will let people see that Balen concluded that the BBC’s reporting of the issues was so skewed, so riddled with omissions and nuances, maybe even outright mistakes and lies, that it could give rise to legal action against them.  This could happen if BBC language in the broadcasts made by BBC employees which Balen analyses, was seen by Balen  as inflaming would-be terrorists in Israel and the UK and being a contributory factor spurring them on to commit their violence.  People injured and the families of deceased victims could then sue the BBC for damages.

    No wonder they want to keep it under wraps.

    Ever since Hutton, I find the BBC’s language much more moderated and cautious, as if they now have a team of lawyers looking over their shoulder.


    • Tony_E says:

      If you are right, (and I would bet that you are at least close), then I wonder if the courts have saved them for the time being.

      I am not one of those who would see the BBC destroyed, I would rather see it brought under better control, both editorially and financially so that it can return to doing what it should as a public broadcaster. That said, it cannot be allowed to conceal evidence of its own failures, even if that brings it down as an organisation.

      It must release and be transparrent.


    • Grant says:


      The BBC certainly has a team of lawyers !


  6. matthew rowe says:

    I wish Steven Sugar well with his appeal There is no defence the beeb can give on this one! we payed for it and we have the right to see it even if it’s rubbish [their screams of protest make that unlikly :} ] !.


  7. John Trenchard says:

    Panorama docu this evening..  global warming last stand.  with the BBCs help of course.

    and god do i hate this commenting system.  get it sorted out for gods sake.


  8. John Trenchard says:

    i say the above because we used to have amazing threads numbering in the hundreds.  now its all a few dozen.  it is REALLY hard to join into the conservation.  then again, maybe the bbc has taken over this blog and thats what they want.


    • Roland Deschain says:

      There’s no doubt that the number of comments dropped sharply when the current system was brought in, but I’d say it’s since picked up quite well since then, particularly as the election approached.  And I’ve had no problems with the comments system since ditching IE for Firefox.

      When I first started commenting here, threads used to run to several hundred, but then there was frequently only one new post a week.  There’s now a good mix of contributors with usually several posts a day, so you can’t expect such long threads.


      • rightofcentre says:

        I`ve found the best way is to log in, then selectively do your routine cookie etc. cleaning with CCleaner or similar, that way you stay logged in.
        However, if you`re not happy about keeping cookies on your pc, it is a pain trying to remember how to log back in after a week or so.


    • deegee says:

      Write more, John.