The BBC has revealed the cost to the licence-fee payer of its surreal legal fight to keep a publicly available list from the public. Or at least a small part of the cost we all paid in the affair which became known as “28Gate”.
Regular readers will no doubt recall that 28Gate saw the Beeb attempt to keep secret the names of 28 people whom – it said – had convinced Auntie corporately that there was no longer any need to include sceptical viewpoints in its coverage of climate change. These folk were said to include “some of the best scientific experts”.
A hefty legal team was deployed to keep the “experts”‘ identities secret in the face of FOIA requests from blogger Tony Newbery (who represented himself) but in the end the names were discovered on the Wayback Machine, which had archived a webpage listing them all before their names and affiliations could be erased. (Curiously enough, the names had disappeared from the current version of that page – on the website of a green advocacy organisation – shortly after the FOI requests were received by the BBC.) As had been expected the secret 28 included few scientists of any repute, and plenty of green lobbyists and activists.
In response to two further FOI requests, the Corporation has now disclosed that the cost of hiring external help for the one-and-a-half day Information Tribunal hearing last October came to £22,746 including VAT. This breaks down to Kate Gallafent, of Blackstone Chambers who cost £13,875 (plus VAT) and Jonathan Scherbel-Ball, of One Brick Court who cost a paltry £4,780 (plus VAT).
Once you're at the top, it seems your very incompetence will be rewarded
One of the more conspicuous features of British life nowadays is how many people who are, in one way or another, found seriously at fault, such as by failing to do their job properly, are nevertheless allowed to get away with it without having to pay any penalty. We see almost daily examples, as when the head of a major news organisation, forced to resign in what should be disgrace, walks away with £11 million; or a senior council executive fired for incompetence is then given a grotesquely inflated pay-off, such as the former head of Haringey social services compensated with £1 million for her wrongful dismissal after the Baby P scandal.
Even more familiar are the cases of people who make every kind of mess of a job they are overpaid for and never get sacked at all, such as those “quango queens”, who move effortlessly from one post to another, hopelessly out of their depth in every one. “What does it take to get sacked,” we may ask, “if you are at the top of an organisation in modern Britain?”
THE BBC was accused yesterday of “rank dishonesty” over climate change by an influential body of sceptics.
Former Tory chancellor Lord Lawson was joined by two other peers – one Labour, the other a Liberal Democrat – in urging the new BBC director general Lord Hall to review the Corporation’s coverage of climate change.
In recent years the BBC has been accused of an unquestioning approach to its coverage of climate change.
Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation yesterday claimed that its coverage has been marked by “bias, ignorance and credulity” and has failed to measure up to professional standards.
London, 17 December: Lord Lawson (Conservative), Lord Donoughue (Labour) and Baroness Nicholson (Liberal Democrat), three Trustees of the all-Party and non-Party Global Warming Policy Foundation, have called upon the BBC’s new Director-General Designate to convene a new high-level seminar in order to re-assess the BBC’s treatment of global warming and climate policy issues.
Over many years, the BBC’s treatment of climate change issues has been marked by bias, ignorance, credulity and – in the latest episode – unwarranted concealment. The behaviour of the Corporation throughout has failed to measure up to professional standards.
In their letter to Lord Hall, the GWPF Trustees have asked the Director-General Designate also to reconsider the implications of the controversial global warming seminar held in 2006 which has shaped BBC policy on climate-related issues ever since.
“We refer to the now notorious seminar on global warming held in 2006, involving 28 senior BBC staff and 28 outsiders. As the BBC Trust subsequently explained, ‘The BBC has held a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus [on climate change and climate change policies]‘. Ever since then, the BBC has fought tooth and nail, at considerable public expense, to keep secret the identity of ‘the best scientific experts’.
As you may be aware, it now emerges that, of the 28 present, there were only two (hand-picked) climate scientists; and the bulk of the rest were either green activists (including two from Greenpeace alone) or non-scientists with a vested interest in promoting renewable energy. So the BBC stands convicted not only of culpable imbalance, but also of rank dishonesty.
We hope that, once you have grappled with the more immediate challenges facing the BBC, you will revisit this important issue. We suggest that you might start by convening a new high-level seminar, this time a more balanced one, whose non-BBC participants would be qualified climate scientists, energy and environmental economists, and experienced policy-makers – whose names, incidentally, would be made known. The Global Warming Policy Foundation would be happy to be represented in any such seminar.”
IMAGINE for a moment that it was discovered, by chance, that six years ago the BBC had a high-level meeting of its executives and a group of “the best constitutional experts” to determine the policy of the BBC in reporting the ongoing debate about Scotland’s future governance Imagine that body said – unanimously – that maintaining the United Kingdom with Scotland as a member is the only model that should shape its editorial approach.
Even more unbelievable (surely) would be if the group consisted of only those who supported Scotland remaining in the union. It would (surely) be incomprehensible that the BBC would behave in such a way.
If such a meeting came to light, there would be justifiable outrage across the political spectrum. Nationalists would rightly feel that the BBC had taken a partisan political stance that would prejudice its campaigns and challenge its raison d’être, contrary to the BBC’s own charter and in conflict with the public concept that Britain enjoys an open, pluralistic and free press.
Unionist politicians would (apart from those that might know of the political fix) be shocked and embarrassed, rightly fearing that the BBC’s loading of the dice would have a highly negative effect on the public mood and that the SNP would benefit from repositioning electoral sympathy – even to the point of voters deciding they had had enough of perfidious Albion and its debate-rigging BBC.
The 28gate seminar’s finding that global warming science is settled and that “due balance” requires dissenting views to be seen and heard less is insidious. In this post I’m going to try to set out why.
What is the consensus? That carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas? Yup. That man’s activities are increasing carbon dioxide levels? Certainly. That temperatures went up at the end of the twentieth century and have not gone up since? Definitely. That human beings can affect the climate? Without a shadow of doubt.
Anything else? I don’t think so. Even simple questions like whether observed temperature rises are anything out of the ordinary remain hugely controversial. The extent to which mankind has affected and will affect temperatures is likewise unknown, a great amphitheatre of ignorance dimly illuminated by a handful of aged CFLs – the climate models that scientists have pinned their hopes on – and little else. That these models are wrong is not in doubt – all models are wrong after all – but how wrong and how useful they are as tools to guide public policy is just another mystery. How can there possibly be consensus in these circumstances?
The impacts of climate change and the economics of climate change and policy responses to climate change are likewise entirely up in the air, with new hypotheses flown every day and shot down every evening and a mishmash of often contradictary empirical observations lending colour to the chaos. A glance tells you that there is no consensus.
Special report Regardless of your opinion of the BBC today, the loss of an independent Beeb would be a loss to British public life.
It's the BBC's independence that makes it unique - not, as it likes to insist, its funding from TV licence fees. Many countries have public-funded broadcasters that are bankrolled through a compulsory tax or levy, and they are given a long list of worthy duties to perform.
The truth of a secret meeting that decided BBC policy on climate change has come out online
Unfolding in the shadow of the greatest crisis in the BBC’s 90-year history has been another scandal, rather less publicised, which again reveals how profoundly the BBC has gone off the rails, morally and professionally. Last week, I reported how the BBC had spent large sums of our money fielding an array of lawyers against a pensioner from Wales to hide what I called, with considerable understatement, “a dirty little secret”. But that secret has now been disclosed to the world, confirming how seriously the BBC has been misrepresenting its policy on one of the most far-reaching issues of our time.
A year ago, I published a detailed report attempting to unravel what has long been a serious puzzle. How was it that, over the past six years, the BBC has been so ready to betray its statutory duty to impartiality by such relentlessly one-sided promotion of the scare over global warming and all it entails, such as the Government’s policy on wind farms? No organisation has done more to obscure the truth about an issue whose political and financial implications for us all are incalculable.
The BBC’s decision to defy its charter obligation to report on this subject impartially followed from a secret day-long seminar held at Television Centre on January 26, 2006. It was attended by all the BBC’s top brass, including George Entwistle, the short-lived director-general, then head of TV current affairs, and several executives who have had to “step aside” because of the Savile affair, such as Helen Boaden, then director of news, and Steve Mitchell, then head of radio news.
The BBC debate in three simultaneous major scandals, two of pedophilia (one wrong), you may have heard, and the "global warming", which it is kept very discreet.
How do we learn nowadays?
This question, which constantly simmering in these times of crisis subsidized press (press strangely unanimous on certain points, such as the need to raise the debt) suddenly explodes in the face of the world, and takes a large-scale because it has hit a reputable organization (is this always the case?) as one of the most serious and credible: the BBC.
It is struck, when you read these lines, three major scandals, two of which you may have heard, and you will not hear, for reasons that remain unexplained.
The first two relate to pedophilia, the third to global warming.
In the first two cases, it is the scandals Jimmy Savile and Lord McAlpine. Savile was a host of programs for children, and it now appears that he was a pedophile mass as to have abused hundreds of children. When a case has emerged as the BBC had first instinct to protect. Savile never be found because he died. If McAlpine is almost as sinister: the BBC broadcast a report accusing the gentleman he is he is a Conservative, pedophilia. Accusation, is he now wrongly. Again, she tried to diminish the case, but without success, because its CEO had to eventually resign. Mourn for him after 54 days in office, it affects 1.3 million pounds of taxpayers' money as golden parachute.