BBC apologises to The Freedom Association: some TV licence-payers are more equal than others
When comedian Alan Davies and his guest David Baddiel suggested on the BBC's Radio Five Live programme last December that the late Norris McWhirter CBE was a fascist, His Grace was irritated, to say the least. When they referred to The Freedom Association as being 'a slightly posher version of the BNP', he was very much angered.
So much so that he wrote an article, complained to the BBC and encouraged others to do the same (and they did). We all received the same dismissive cut'n'paste response, which was essentially a knee-jerk defence. We were all peremptorily informed: "The Alan Davies Show is a live, light hearted, entertainment programme and in this context we are satisfied that no broadcasting guidelines were broken." There was no allusion even to the possibility of an investigation into the matter.
But a complaint was also sent by John Whittingdale OBE MP, Robert Halfon MP and Julian Lewis MP, which has elicited a full apology.
And the BBC have finally admitted that they were in fact in breach of their editorial guidelines. The McWhirter family will be relieved and The Freedom Association is thoroughly vindicated.
Simon Richards, Director of TFA, said: "We are immensely grateful to all the MPs who complained to the BBC about the outrageous slur on the reputation of The Freedom Association and our founder, the late Norris McWhirter CBE. TFA campaigns for freedom of expression and for freedom of the individual. The BBC too often permits lazy and unfair attempts to tar respectable centre-right organisations with the BNP brush. We have struck a blow on behalf of all freedom-loving people who are fed up with being portrayed as fascists by a broadcasting organisation whose charter requires it to be impartial."
As far as His Grace is aware, MPs pay the same licence fee as us lesser beings. Will the BBC now be apologising to those of us whose complaints they summarily dismissed out of hand? Or are complaints from some TV licence-payers treated a little more seriously than others?