Andrew Orlowski of The Register has written a very accurate and fair account of happenings at the Central London Civil Justice Centre last Monday. This was the first day’s hearing of my appeal against the Information Commissioner’s decision that the BBC were correct to refuse a request for the names of the ‘best scientific experts’ who attended their seminar entitled ‘Climate Change - the Challenge to Broadcasting’ in January 2006. This expert advice was cited on page 40 of the BBC Trust’s excellent report ‘From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel: Safeguarding Impartiality in the 21st Century’ as the authority for a very important editorial decision.

I’ve written about this very strange seminar here and many other times at Harmless Sky.

The judgement will probably be handed down in 4-6 weeks time and I do not intend to blog about the proceedings in any detail until then. For one thing, I will not be able to decide whether I received a fair hearing until I see what the Tribunal has to say.

What is certain is that presenting my case in person, without legal representation, was an interesting experience, if sometimes puzzling, frustrating and downright irritating. And the second day’s proceedings, which Andrew Orlowski was unable to cover, were no less remarkable than the first. I am particularly grateful to my wife who sat through it all with me, sometimes confirming my own views with a nudge and raised eyebrows, continually making notes, and then helping decide where the next priority might lie whenever there was a chance to talk things through.

As we drove home the next day through the grey, windy, cold late autumn countryside we passed a snack van in a lay-by just outside Malvern. It had been a pretty bruising couple of days and visions of comfort food in the form of a bacon roll were too great a temptation. We swerved to a halt.

The establishment was run by a placid looking well-rounded middle-aged man who spoke with an equally well-rounded Worcestershire burr. I settled my elbows comfortably on the counter as he began to very methodically cook come rashers and prepare the roll. There was no sense of urgency in anything he did and I was very happy to relax and await developments.

‘At least the rain’s holding off’, I said after a while, ‘The forecast was vile’.

He gave the bacon a few thoughtful turns and scraped the hob. I wondered if there would be a reply.

’Well you can’t stop the weather, can you?’ he said at last, ‘No more than you can stop that bloody Cameron and all them European regulations’. Echoes of Louis MacNeice flittered across my mind, and we nodded at each other in a contented sort of way.

More time trickled by in amiable silence until I said that there seemed to be quite a lot of people around these days who do think that they can control the weather. The glance he gave me was hard to read, but it certainly wasn’t hostile. After he’d turned the bacon another four or five times he looked at me again.

’Ahrr!’ he said, and we nodded at each other again as more time slipped by.

Eventually, the bacon and the roll came together, was very carefully wrapped in a couple of paper napkins and I held out some coins. As he took them he looked over my shoulder at the grey clouds and bending trees.

‘When this wind drops it’s going to rain,’ he said, and nodded.

I set off back to the car nursing the warm fragrant parcel and the world seemed a better place already. It wasn’t just the smell of the bacon, but for the first time in years I had met a countryman who still thinks about the weather rather than just the forecasts.

Update 7th November 2012: Andrew Orlowski has filed another very interesting report on this affair at The Register.

Update 10th November 2012: Andrew Orlowski has some jaw-dropping revelations about the hearing in this case at the The Register.

34 Responses to “Harmless Sky in court – a fair hearing?”

  1. 1
    Miket Says:

    Having read the report at the Register, I wonder whether you have suffered at the hands of the judge from not being represented by an experienced barrister, who might have negotiated some of the defences he built around Boaden. Doesn’t sound like fair treatment to me.

  2. 2
    Bob_FJ Says:

    TonyN,

    Further to MikeT’s comment, I even wonder if the judge has contempt for anyone that can’t afford a barrister or two. Perhaps he wos one once, and likes to support them in old boy’s club style. Perhaps though, following my astonishment at his instructions, I’m being too cynical in my opinion. In times like these It is good to consult Spike Milligan, and for instance from his book “The Bible according to Spike…”:

    12. And God said, Let the earth bring forth cattle and creeping things, and there came cows, and the BBC Board of Governors.

    Good luck Tony!

  3. 3
    Cassio Says:

    I acted as a “McKenzie Friend” in front of the same judge earlier this year. My pal had no legal representation either (apparently not unusual in FOI / EIR cases where the plaintiff is often a member of the public; whereas the public body always comes laden with lawyers).

    Not the happiest of recollections; and despite what felt like a strong case my pal lost.

    You’ve done commendably well in pursuing the matter this far. Fingers crossed that you win.

  4. 4
    James P Says:

    I, too, am slack-jawed from Andrew’s first report about the judge’s behaviour. Is he in awe of the BBC, or just contemptuous of anyone with the temerity to represent themselves?

    The second instalment today is equally good/horrific reading. The BBC really do seem to inhabit another planet, and I speak as someone normally disposed to think well of them! Clearly they’re not used to meeting people with your tenacity.

  5. 5
    TonyN Says:

    The signs this evening are that this story will make the leap into the MSM at the weekend.

    Looking back to the Climategate scandal, Judith Curry wrote a very powerful open letter to Climate Audit which homed in on a culture of hostility towards critics and ‘circling the wagons’ that existed within climate science. With what I have learned during the past ten days, and the ongoing turmoil surrounding the Savile affair, just the same mentality seems to be driving the BBC towards an inevitable catastrophe.

  6. 6
    charlie Says:

    From Andrew Orlowski’s new artcle:

    “and the BBC argued that no notes of the meeting have been kept.”

    Do I have this right? The BBC contingent – arts graduates all, most probably- are taking top scientific advice (supposedly) about a step which will put them potentially in breach of their charter and nobody is taking notes, or, if notes were taken, they were subsequently dumped in the bin.

    Really? The only way I can accept this is if there was a conscious decision made not to have a record of the meeting, which begs the question: why?

  7. 7
    peter geany Says:

    Tony. The Savile affair is at long last going to focus minds on how rotten the BBC is. All the bashing away at its biased reporting not matter how well founded had left us all feeling frustrated as the BBC has imperiously batted away all-comers. But as is often the case in life there are always unintended consequences when you behave in the high handed manner of the BBC.

    Just as we were never able to make much headway against global warming arguing the science, we now see it unravelling as economic reality collides train crash style. If you look back to my report on the spectator debate with Ian Plimer and George Monbiot (who pulled out) you will see that Ian Plimer predicted that the global warming would end when the money ran out.And we see the economic train-crash gathering momentum which will only add to the BBC’s woes and perhaps bring the licence fee into focus.

  8. 8
    Jack Cowper Says:

    Well done for taking it this far Tony, I have followed this with interest for a couple of years now. Have you thought about asking for donations to carry on this fight – I’ll be happy to help.

    Thank you for highlighting this issue.

  9. 9
    Alex Cull Says:

    Just to say that your perseverance in this matter is admirable and a shining example to us all. It is turning out to be a long and winding road to the truth, but as we’ve seen in other contexts, secrets have a tendency to emerge in very unexpected ways, so don’t lose heart.

  10. 10
    Bob_FJ Says:

    TonyN,

    I agree with Jack Cowper and will also contribute towards your appeal if you do so, and if say Andrew M and Andrew O launch such a request for support to their readers. I’m a bit surprised that Anthony Watts has has apparently not so far shown interest and will be drawing his attention to it. Perhaps there may then be a sufficient volume of supporters?

  11. 11
    geoffchambers Says:

    Congratulations on all your efforts. I see from Bishop Hill that the judgement is out already, not in the 4-6 weeks expected. If you’re considering making an appeal, you presumably can’t say everything you’d like to.
    Savile and MacAlpine will ensure that the BBC will remain on the front pages for a while. Let’s hope this story gets the coverage it deserves. Good luck

  12. 12
    TonyN Says:

    Very many thanks for all the kind words of encouragement, and more tangible help too. Sadly there seem to be some serious legal obstacles to launching an appeal funded by a whip-round, but the offers are certainly appreciated.

    I am hoping that this story will get some exposure in the ‘Sundays’, and I will consider the matter of an appeal next week.

  13. 13
    geoffchambers Says:

    Christopher Booker has a sympathetic treatment of the story at
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/9668782/David-Cameron-backs-the-EUs-grand-design-for-energy.html
    it’s the third item on his article, but the fact of it appearing in the print edition makes all the difference. A comment on his blog is called for, I believe.

  14. 14
    Tonyb Says:

    What can anyone say. I’m inclined to think the names will slowly surface as the Internet seems to be good at dealing with dirty washing
    Tonyb

  15. 15
    geoffchambers Says:

    Entwhistle’s just resigned. A full-scale enquiry into the BBC on the lines of Leveson must be on the cards.
    The occasion for another Montford/Newbery submission?
    By the way, I enjoyed the story of the Malvern bacon roll maker (sell the sizzle?). But what’s the reference to Louis MacNeice?

    [TonyN says: a) I think you may be right about the enquiry, and what about Patten's future now his preferred candidate for DG has become toast in record time? b) Try reading this with a slightly drunk very strong Glasgow accent.]

  16. 16
    Bob_FJ Says:

    TonyN,

    I can’t wait to see if Sunday UK papers get hold of this, but meanwhile out of curiosity I Googled:

    newbery + “bbc seminar”

    and got 889 hits a moment ago (from Melbourne) including WUWT and Tallbloke both new to the fray.

    My quick search is not a catch-all of course, (or perfect for instance it found someone called Newbury and OT on page 12) but the topic is certainly getting around.

    I’m about to give Jo Nova in Oz a prod although she may be more interested in closing down the ABC than its big cousin and she’s always busy.

    I’ll check local papers on Monday.

  17. 17
    Jenny keal Says:

    Tony, I want to tell you how much I admire your strength and perseverance. You have done a great service to the public in exposing the corruption at the heart of the BBC? The quick dismissal of this case and the further attempts at covering it all up, are in fact a positive sign that you have got to them. They may be preoccupied with other scandals at the present but your case is another thorn in their side. I hope you do go to appeal on this. There are a lot of people out here who are behind you! If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask.

  18. 18
    Richard111 Says:

    Hi Tony, read about you in todays “Sunday” Telegraph, in Booker’s column. I’m retired in Milford Haven and have some very sharp questions for ‘people who think they can control the weather’.
    Well done and good luck with the ‘case’. Well keep an eye on events here.
    Richard Henderson

  19. 19
    TonyN Says:

    Bob, #16:

    Your good offices at WUWT certainly seem to have paid off! Many thanks

  20. 20
    Bob_FJ Says:

    Tony,

    There is certainly some strong interest at WUWT, but I think he had it well under way before I commented.

  21. 21
    Bob_FJ Says:

    The Oz equivalent of the BBC is the ABC and also has extreme bias in favour of CAGW. I’ve made 13 formal complaints mainly about the so-called “The Science Show” on radio. To give you some idea how bad it is as far as CAGW is concerned, the show’s host Robyn Williams is sometimes also affectionately known as “hundred metres Williams” following his assertion a year or two ago that sea levels could rise by 100 m by the end of the century. (although he is no longer eager to repeat it following certain comments he received).

    ALL my complaints have been rejected by the “complaints department” (A&CA) cherrypicking parts of the ABC editorial policies and applying subjective weightings to their interpretations. (and ignoring other editorial policies and despite defying their statutory duties of impartiality by act of parliament etc).

    My latest complaint identified 29 Science Show stories which were aired over the last year to August which were alarmist towards climate change whereas there was nothing balancing this. In reply A&CA did identify some items in news and current affairs claiming to provide balance but when examined they were largely rather soft and spread over somewhat prior times, as many as seven years before, which I pointed out was not fair. I also pointed out that “The Science Show” itself should report the science in a balanced way, and gave some missing examples such as with the plateau in global temperatures etc, but no go. A&CA claims to be an “independent” department but it answers through the ABC director of editorial policies to the editor-in-chief, which I find to be a tad odd.

    Oh well, I still have this and another rejection on appeal to the independent government authority ACMA but my first such appeal took about five months and was rejected.

    I cross-posted this at WUWT

  22. 22
    RoyFOMR Says:

    Thanks to your persistence and Maurizios’ ingenuity the truth is now out for all world to see.
    Well done Tony!

  23. 23
    stamper44 Says:

    Congratulations Tony;
    your persistence has paid off.
    Thanks to you, Maurizios’ skill, the farce has been exposed.

    We [down here in New Zealand] are proud of you.
    Every little bit helps, as we fight the lies and obfuscation.

    You have won a round; enjoy a quiet one.
    Kind Regards.

  24. 24
    Bruce Hoult Says:

    Another reader in NZ here. It looks as if the UK hasn’t woken up to this yet (quite literally). Looking forward to the fireworks in the morning!

    This deserves to be very very big.

  25. 25
    Bob_FJ Says:

    TonyN,

    As the Bish might say: Oh dear Oh dear Oh dear.

    I had a sniff around about the revelation by Maurizio from the IBT archive and it seems to be good to me.
    Given the paucity of credible balancing experts and the grossness of other hyper-green activist participants in that list it is hardly surprising that the BBC spent big publically funded money to conceal their identity.
    I guess that you and others may shortly be asking for the BBC to confirm or deny the said listing.
    Then it would get rather interesting, even if they refuse to respond or resorted to: We don’t know!

  26. 26
    Steven Mosher Says:

    Did the BBC do any filings for your hearing?
    If they did post them.

  27. 27
    Steve Brown Says:

    Here’s some good news!!
    http://omnologos.com/full-list-of-participants-to-the-bbc-cmep-seminar-on-26-january-2006/

  28. 28
    Hilary Ostrov Says:

    Tonyb Says: November 10th, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    What can anyone say. I’m inclined to think the names will slowly surface as the Internet seems to be good at dealing with dirty washing

    How prophetic! And it looks like it happened, well, much faster than you thought ;-)

    But, as others have mentioned, Tony, thanks for the countless hours you must have put into your valiant efforts since you first embarked on this long battle.

  29. 29
    geoffchambers Says:

    There’s so much comment on Maurizio’s brilliant scoop, at Bishop Hill, WUWT, Omnologos, Tallbloke etc., it’s difficult to keep up, but you really shouldnt miss this one, from Maurizio himself at BH
    “I wouldn’t have looked so damned hard had the BBC not fielded six lawyers against a pensioner.”
    It’s being so disorganised and unfunded what makes us so effective!

  30. 30
    RB Says:

    As Steven Mosher says I would be very interested to see the witness statements and pleadings filed by the BBC throughout this process – with this scandal its not enough to only have the judgments to read.

  31. 31
    TonyN Says:

    Very many thanks again to everyone for all the good wishes. At last the work and the waiting seem to be bearing fruit, thanks to Marizio’s intervention. I’ve put up a new post here suggesting how things should progress.

    RB and Steven Mosher:

    The participants list was not the only information that I was seeking about the seminar. As I am still considering an appeal, now would not be a good time to publish the court documents.

  32. 32
    Barry Woods Says:

    good luck with the rest of it..

  33. 33
    Kenneth MacLean Says:

    Dear Tony

    You may wish to know that the decision in your case against the IC and the BBC entered the website of the Tribunal this afternoon – 29 November.

    Best Regards
    Kenneth MacLean
    Southampton

  34. 34
    TonyN Says:

    Thanks Kenneth, I don’t know what’s taken them so long given the speed with which the decision was sent to the parties after the hearing. And we haven’t quite heard the last of this case yet.

    You will notice that I’ve moved this exchange to the a rather more appropriate location on the blog.

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