Category Archives: BBC

Was this really in the public interest, Brooks and Coulson?

Articles Today from the News of the World:

‘July 4th, 2011

RUTHLESS lawyers will be banned from berating murder victims’ families in court in the wake of the Milly Dowler trial.
Tough new rules to be unveiled this week will protect their privacy and dignity – with judges forced to halt intimidating, humiliating or distressing questioning.
The safeguards come in a revamped courtroom code aimed at ending the nightmare ordeal faced by thousands of witnesses and innocent victims of crime.
It follows the shameful treatment of Bob and Sally Dowler by lawyers defending their 13-year-old daughter’s killer Levi Bellfield.
The distraught couple endured cruel questions about their sex life, Bob’s porn collection and letters which showed Milly was unhappy.
Such vicious cross-examinations will be halted under a charter of rights for witnesses drawn up by Victims’ Commissioner Louise Casey.
She wants to tilt the justice system back to give victims at least equal status with the rights of suspects.
She said yesterday: “I see lobby groups and campaign organisations in droves on the offender side. Yet victims struggle to get heard.”
Ms Casey will hand her 60-page report to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke on Wednesday.
Among its other proposals is one that courts should have flexible start and end times to make it easier for family members to give evidence. Another is that the bodies of murder victims should be returned to their families within a month.
The report is expected to be backed by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, who chairs the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee overseeing court practice.’

LOUISE CASEY writes for the News of the World

‘MANY of us felt such compassion for the brave family of Milly Dowler and anger at the way they were treated in court.

Sadly for me, although I was shocked and appalled, I wasn’t surprised.
When I started working for the rights of victims I thought I was unshockable. But what I have found over the last year has made my jaw drop.
Like most people I assumed that families who, like the Dowlers, have had their lives ripped apart by criminals, would get all the help they need. And that the criminal justice system would be on their side.
What I discovered is they are often not given the support, care or consideration they deserve. Many are still treated as if they are an “inconvenience”, and this can make their grief worse.
These families deserve not to have to sit next to an offender’s family in court listening to them laughing and joking. They deserve to be told that their rapist is going to be released before they bump into him in the supermarket.
They deserve to bury the body of their child without defence lawyers asking for autopsy after autopsy – in one case I know a 35-day-old baby only got to be buried by her family on what would have been her first birthday.
They deserve to not find out that the murderer of their husband is appealing by reading it in a newspaper. They deserve to be treated with humanity, dignity and most of all a bit of respect.
So when my report comes out about the treatment of families like these, I ask that you be shocked too. And then those in charge might sit up and listen.’

Reaction on Twitter was instantaneous and substantial. Many people are calling for Jeremy Hunt to reconsider his proposal to allow Rupert Murdoch to buy the remaining stock in BSkyB. Here is a small sample of the tweets:

“All you citizen journalists/bloggers – call the NOW newsroom on 0207 782 1001 email to find out their views”

Nicky Campbell

my blood runs cold

Ladies and gentlemen, form an orderly queue:Hacked Off – campaign for a public inquiry into phone hacking: via

Will Straw

Staggering: Milly Dowler’s voicemail was hacked by News of World. Can Brooks & Coulson really claim they knew nothing?

Caitlin Moran

This Milly Dowler/Notw thing is the very worst. Listening to weeping relatives leaving messages to a dead girl – Jesus Christ.

If you want to make your thoughts heard re: & contact

Aditya Chakrabortty

Media studies: The Guardian, the BBC and the Telegraph all have the NOTW’s alleged hacking of Milly Dowler’s mobile as their top story.
Here is a link to the key people in the phone – hacking scandal from the BBC News website and another to a timeline charting the main events.
Whatever unfolds in the next few days and weeks, surely Jeremy Hunt will seriously reconsider his decision to allow Rupert Murdoch’s acquisition of BSkyB?

A link to the NUJ’s Code of Conduct : here

Members of the National Union of Journalists are expected to abide by the following professional principles: 

5. Obtains material by honest, straightforward and open means, with the exception of investigations that are both overwhelmingly in the public interest and which involve evidence that cannot be obtained by straightforward means
6. Does nothing to intrude into anybody’s private life, grief or distress unless justified by overriding consideration of the public interest

Is this justification for deleting messages from the mobile phone of a missing child? Could it be considered in the public interest?

(If you would like links to many of the past articles and information concerning the phone-hacking/blagging scandal, click on the relevant tab above this post and there you’ll find everything you could want to know!)

Mail Online puts its fingers in its ears…

BBC executives rule most offensive word in English language is ‘a good joke’  on the radio at 6.30pm

By Chris Hastings and Steve Farrell

Last updated at 11:27 PM on 4th June 2011

Continuing its incessant search for issues with which to bash the BBC, the Mail have once again come up with a corker!

“The BBC was at the centre of a new decency row last night after ruling that the most offensive word in English is acceptable for broadcast.
The Corporation decided that the word – most abhorrent to women – has lost much of its ‘shock value’ and is tolerable for radio and television.
An executive who cleared it for daytime transmission on flagship Radio 4 even said it would ‘delight’ many of its audience, who would ‘love it’.”

Having rummaged through my mental lexicon of the most indecent words filed in there over umpteen years of listening to the most colourful language ever uttered in a great variety of working environments and situations, I was surprised, nay shocked, to read that the BBC had allowed such a word through their sieve. 

Had the BBC been besieged by hordes of anguished complainants on hearing the expletive issuing forth from their radios? I read on:

The BBC’s ruling is outlined in the rejection of a complaint from a member of the public, who took offence to a reference to the word on The News Quiz.”

A member of the public’ – so, one person then? One!

“The Mail on Sunday feels it is necessary to the reporting of the story to repeat the joke, and apologises in advance for any offence caused.
Miss Toksvig said: ‘It’s the Tories who have put the ‘n’ into cuts.'”

At this point, I dissolved into a fit of almost uncontrolable laughter and disbelief. The Mail’s cynical apology for having to fail print a word which was never spoken is ridiculous even by its own standards!

John Whittingdale MP

This abject apology is followed by a few words from John Whittingdale MP: 

“Obscene: John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said the term is still offensive and should not have been broadcast”

As far as I can make out, despite all attempts by the Mail to give the opposite impression in this article, the term was not broadcast at all!
There is a growing public opinion that exposing the youngest members of society to inapropriate language and images is a bad thing and perhaps there is some justification for attempting to regulate what is available at times when they may be listening or viewing.
For the Mail to use this particular example, however, is disingenuous in the extreme. It has the whiff of desperation about it and seems to be more determined hammering of yet another nail into the lid of Auntie’s coffin than any genuine disapproval. 
After all, while I was reading this article on the Mail Online site, six inches to the right were clearly visible images and text far more lascivious than Sandy Toksvig’s joke. A tad hypocritical, perhaps, Mr. Dacre?

What’s the truth behind the Express’ ESA ‘outrage’?

April 28th 2011

Just as a bit of light relief from our worries about rampaging migrants who’re about to snatch all of our spare jobs or our over-generous welfare benefits, today the Express offers us a chance to refocus our hatred onto that well-known thorn-in-the-side of every upright citizen – the Benefit Scrounger.  

No, don’t groan! They’ve got evidence – really, they have: 

Press Release from the Department for Work and Pensions

Macer Hall, the Express’ Political Editor writes:


FRESH outrage over Britain’s sicknote culture erupted last night after new Whitehall figures showed three-quarters of Incapacity Benefit claimants are not entitled to the money.
Nearly half a million people receiving the cash were exposed as being fit for work after undergoing medical tests in a Government crackdown on welfare scroungers.

And a further 428,000 voluntarily dropped their claims before completing the assessments – making a total of around 887 000.”

‘Fresh outrage……erupted..’ ? Not on my TV screen, nor in the sources I’ve searched, since seeing this headline, in a vain effort to detect any ‘outrage’ at all other than in the Express.  
I did manage to find a slight hint at outrage in a small piece in the Sun which speaks of ‘shock’ figures:

“900,000 caught in ‘fit to work’ check

ALMOST 900,000 Brits trying to claim sickness benefit are fit to work, shock figures reveal.

Three out of four were caught out by assessments in a Government crackdown on scroungers.
Ministers said it proved they were right to shake up the welfare system.” 

Most articles written after receiving the Press release from the DWP were more balanced and thoughtful.

This morning, disappointingly, the BBC appeared to carry on its website a piece about the DWP’s statistics which backed them up and assumed the presumptions to be valid: Benefit Applicants – ‘75% Fit to Work or Drop Claims’ . No attempt here to check the facts or find another point of view.

Later, I found this on the BBC site and heaved a sigh of relief! : Mark Easton’s UK. 

Mark Easton

In his Blog for today, The Truth About Sicknote Britain, Mark Easton dismantles systematically the ‘case’ (if that’s not too kind a word to use!) put by the Express:

“According to one screaming tabloid headline today: “Blitz on benefits: 887,000 fiddlers exposed”. Echoing stories in many of this morning’s papers, the Daily Express says that three-quarters of Incapacity Benefit (IB) claimants are “workshy spongers feigning serious disability”. Shocking, if true.

But it isn’t true.”

“The source for all this is the latest batch of data from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on applications for Employment Support Allowance (ESA), a benefit introduced two-and-a-half years ago by the Labour government. Today’s figures relate to the period between October 2008 and August 2010 – a time, for the most part of course, when Labour was in power.
The key point, though, it that these are new applicants – people applying to see if they might be eligible for additional financial support.”
Mr. Easton goes on to explain the true facts behind the ‘shock figures’; true facts which plainly show that those dubbed ‘benefit scrounger’s are in fact those with genuine disabilities who have been encouraged by the DWP to apply for benefit!
So, not the hate figures we are encouraged to despise by the Express and many of the other right-wing media outlets?
The Express article, Mr. Macer’s exhortation to denigrate all new ESA applicants or those attempting to hang on to existing benefit, ends thus:
“Last week, David Cameron acknowledged the growing anger about the number of claimants receiving Incapacity Benefit because of obesity or addiction to alcohol or drugs. Official figures showed that over 81,000 people are on incapacity benefits because they are too fat to work or have drug or drink problems.

More than 20,000 with one of those three problems are among some 900,000 who have been “on the sick” for more than 10 years.”
Just on the off chance his readers weren’t sufficiently incensed by the disabled….!

One Small Step: A correction from the BBC on Stafford Hospital

Over the last two years I have been cutting my teeth on trying to use the BBC complaints process effectively.
This was made necessary because of the persistent and damaging misreporting of the Stafford Hospital Story.

Yesterday I had this. If you scroll down to the bottom of the screen you will see that the BBC have now removed the reference to hundreds of deaths and printed a correction.

I have yet to search to find out if they have done this on the dozens of stories printed on Stafford Hospital – or if I still need to press for this.

Having this correction in the BBC will make the next step of getting corrections in the press significantly easier.

After two years of what felt like beating my head against a brick wall, this is real progress.

Thank you BBC. We can get things right together!

No Panic, Daily Mail.

Since last Friday, 11th March 2011, the majority of the world ‘s media have rightly focused their attention on the terrible plight of hundreds of thousands of Japanese people. 

Visited at 2.46 p.m. by a very powerful earthquake, magnitude 9.0, the Eastern seaboard of Japan was then almost obliterated by a tsunami which destroyed many towns and villages along the coast, killing an, as yet, indeterminate number of people. 

Representatives of the media descended on the areas affected. From the UK, most of the well-known 24 hour news stations’ anchor men and women as well as countless journalists from the press are there, relaying moving stories , painting vivid pictures of the scenes they are witnessing and enabling readers, listeners and viewers alike to see for themselves the extent of this disaster.

Most of the reporters, thankfully, are producing high-quality, truthful and effective columns and pieces to camera . We are able, through the thoughtful, intelligent and honest accounts from journalists like Channel 4’s Jon Snow and Alex Thompson, to see and hear for ourselves the dignity and sheer tenacity of fellow human beings trying to cope with extreme danger and its aftermath. These journalists are often in dangerous situations themselves.

Now added to earthquake and tsunami, we are watching a nuclear power plant seemingly rapidly running out of control and which may affect the health of many of those lucky enough to survive the earlier events.

Most News outlets have been reporting, and we have been able to see for ourselves, how marvellously stoic and forbearing the Japanese people have been and continue to be. Reporters constantly refer in admiration to the way these people are kind to those in need, thoughtful to strangers and work together to make the best of what most of us would find only in our worst nightmares.

As Channel 4 News’ Alex Thomson says in his blog:

 Over here there is no chaos. No mayhem. There is a nuclear power station with some heating issues. There is a forest fire, a blizzard tonight and coastal obliteration on an unimaginable scale.

But this is Japan. They do not panic. They do not do mayhem. They don’t litter and they don’t loot.

Further examples of the sheer forbearance of the Japanese people can be found here in this video sent by George Alagiah from BBC News: here

Most of the media have been restrained and accurate in their reporting of events in Japan. Some have not. The Daily Mail today, tells us in banner headline on the front page that Japan’s people are ‘in the grip of nuclear panic‘ and includes the word ‘apocalypse‘ in the same headline. 

The purpose of this hyperbole is no doubt to ratchet up the drama of the piece and sell more copies, but what it does do, in actual fact, is a disservice to many thousands of human beings behaving in a way many of the rest of us doubt we would be able to emulate.

How much more effective and honest, then, is this style of front page and headline –

No unwarranted exaggeration, no hype and more importantly, no lack of respect for the victims of this tragedy.

Rosie Robertson