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.