Nov 162012

As soon as I’d had a chance to look at the list of attendees at the BBC’s 2006 Climate Change the Challenge to Broadcasting seminar that Maurizio found on Monday night I wrote to the Litigation Department of the BBC . People who are fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with court proceedings may not be aware that there is a lot of behind the scenes contact between the parties about the ‘housekeeping’ practicalities of getting the case to court in good order. These generally take place in a spirit of cordial cooperation and in this case have been going on for several years. Getting on with the other side, and even having the odd giggle about this-and-that when the judge isn’t present, make life more pleasant and in no way impede anyone’s will to win. When the time comes, business is business, and no hard feelings.

So this is the email I sent the BBC on Tuesday morning:

In view of the decision of the Tribunal received last week, I am considering seeking permission to appeal and I understand that I have 28 days from the date of the decision to do so.

It would greatly assist me if the BBC would confirm or deny that a document published on the internet last evening is the participants list that formed part of the withheld information and which was also the main focus of the Tribunal hearing.

The report that I am referring to can be found here:

Full List of Participants to the BBC CMEP Seminar on 26 January 2006

Yours sincerely

On Wednesday morning I emailed again asking for confirmation that my message had been received, something I don’t think I’ve had to do before with the BBC. It had of course occurred to me that the solicitor I had written to would need to take instructions from her clients, BBC management, and that my request might be causing some head-scratching. Again no answer.

Then yesterday evening (Thursday) a response arrived. This confirmed that my messages had been received and went on to explain that the Information Tribunal had found that the information I requested was held by the BBC for the purpose of journalism. Therefore the BBC had correctly applied the designation under the FOIA that allows them to withhold such information. So the BBC are not required to disclose any information and will not comment on the list of names that I referred to.

In other words, the BBC will neither confirm nor deny that the list that is available on the Wayback Machine is the real thing.

Although this may make sense in purely legalistic terms, I suspect that the BBC Litigation department’s clients may be suffering from a serious common sense deficit. Do they really think that if they stay shtum this scandal will go away, rather than continue to snowball?

My feeling is that there will have to be a cataclysm at the BBC before the mists of arrogance and the type of groupthink that may be described as ‘the BBC culture’ can be dispersed. But will there be anything worth salvaging at Broadcasting House then?

3 Responses to “The BBC digs in”

  1. What you need to do is check statements made against the known list.

    If anyone from the BBC made a statement that in light of the list was perjury, report them.

  2. Nick, my understanding is that from a legal perspective an utterance cannot be considered to be perjury unless it was spoken while under oath.

    Unless I’m mistaken, the utterances were made during the course of the tribunal hearing where no oaths were sworn. So pursuing perjury charges may not be the most productive way forward.

    But as Tony has indicated, this “response” strongly suggests that (while it is a pattern with which we’ve become all too familiar in recent years, not only from the BBC) there is a profound common sense deficit that seems to pervade the “culture” of the BBC that their glaring arrogance cannot mask.

    Nor, IMHO, is it likely to engender a return to the “trust” they have so wantonly betrayed and are (presumably) struggling to regain.

  3. …the “culture” of the BBC that their glaring arrogance cannot mask.

    We have a similar situation in Oz tax-payer radio. In an address to staff back in March 2010 the ABC ex-chairman Maurice Newman described it as “group-think”. It was not well received.

    Mr Newman retired from the Board earlier this year, and got nowhere with this issue. Here follows a recent opinion piece of his which is good reading and includes some “inconvenient facts”.
    (Unfortunately there is a charge of AUS$1 for full access to the on-line paper for the first 28 days)

    EXTRACTS: …When atmospheric temperatures on which we had relied failed to comply with the prophecies, the waverers were instructed to look at ocean temperatures and rising sea levels.
    So far, so good. However, the British arm of the climate establishment silently released an encyclical that revealed no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures from the beginning of 1997 until August this year. This communique was unearthed by the heretic newspaper, the Daily Mail, which pointed out that this period was of about the same duration as when temperatures rose between 1980 to 1996.
    Of course, the religious high priests were quick to play down the significance of this pause. Phil Jones of the Climategate denomination claimed it was to be expected and, he insisted, 15 or 16 years is not a significant period. Yet in 2009 he said that a “no upward trend has to continue for a total of 15 years before we get worried”. But that was then and this is now and he is not about to lose his religion simply because the evidence doesn’t support the text…
    …And, we’ve had a record Arctic melt. But better not mention the storm that NASA concedes broke the ice up and drove it south, or the record Antarctic ice gain…
    …Rather we must listen to Australia’s Climate Change Commission novitiates who, against the evidence, have delivered a parable linking Superstorm Sandy to global warming…
    …At least the media disciples are keeping the faith by emphasising what supports the gospel and, where possible, omitting that which doesn’t. New, corroborative revelations enjoy widespread publicity. If the same findings are later retracted for lack of scientific rigour, they are simply allowed to disappear without comment.

    As part of another broader complaint, (#14) I’ve asked the ABC why they never report this sort of stuff as per their charter.

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