The BBC’s former European Affairs correspondent William Horsley ceased being a BBC correspondent in 2007 but still continues to write for BBC Online as an analyst. (He was on ‘Broadcasting House’ this morning, reading his own essay denouncing the Japanese political class. I’m not exaggerating!)
Here he is, writing (at the BBC’s invitation) on their College of Journalism blog last month:
UK media blind with indignation at Strasbourg court
Some extracts will give you a flavour:
Our politicians have set a shrill tone and made some misleading attacks on the supposed mission creep of the Strasbourg court…
Those cries of foul have been amplified in the media. The result is that a hot-and-bothered strand of UK popular opinion is encouraged to believe in a conspiracy of foreigners to force Britons, against their better judgment, to protect criminals over the interests of law-abiding citizens. The ECHR is imperfect – as any court or judiciary may be – but the picture is wildly out of kilter with reality.
How has this hostile caricature of the Strasbourg court as a sort of predatory enemy of British interests emerged in the media?
It is the envy of people in large parts of the world…
What particularly struck me was this passage:
…the record shows that mandatory rulings from the court have helped Britain to improve its patchy human rights record on issues where political or popular opinion had seemed implacably opposed to change.
Examples are the judgements banning corporal punishment; and those requiring changes to the control order regime set up by the Blair government, as well as sweeping stop and search powers for the police.
Thank goodness for the ECHR for allowing a judicial elite to dismiss “political or popular opinion”!
Who would have thought a former BBC European Affairs correspondent was so firmly in the ‘anti-populist’ pro-European camp?
On of the few comments on the CoJo blog says, “I think the BBC should stay out of politics and refrain from inviting its friends to put the BBC point of view.”
Sounds right to me.