Hold the front page… because the BBC complaints department has actually apologised to someone.
Not, of course, to the battalions of folk who have been saying for years that coverage of topics such as feminism, multiculturalism, the EU and immigration is beyond the pale.
The response to them – as my organisation News-watch chronicles in its submission to government review of the BBC that closed yesterday (October 8) – is ‘brickwall negativity’, combined with a liberal dose of bone-headed obfuscation to defend the Corporation at all costs.
The document notes that, according to Complaints Unit figures, only around 6 per cent of complaints are ever upheld by the Corporation – and those that are usually revolve around marginal points.
So, step forward instead to collect this rare-as-hen’s- teeth apology a certain Dr Andy Smedley. Who? Well, he pursues a career publishing obscure papers on snow, ice and (of course!) renewable energy at Manchester University. And, if his Twitter feed is to be believed, he spends most of his time telling the world that we are all going to fry.
The good doctor complained that Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts had the temerity, in the Radio 4 series ‘What’s the Point Of…?’, to dare to criticise the forecasts of the Met Office and to include a range of contributors who – shock, horror – even mocked the Met’s inaccurate forecasts.
Those who earn an estimated $1.5 trillion from governments round the world for pursuing their sacred mission of alarmism clearly don’t like their gravy train being threatened. Dr Smedley, it seems, was particularly incensed.
‘…we do not consider the programme met our required standards of accuracy or impartiality in its coverage of climate change science. As previously stated, we also recognise that in giving voice to climate change sceptics, it failed to make clear that they are a minority voice out of step with the scientific consensus – which we would normally expect on the occasion when we include such viewpoints.’
Then in chilling Orwellian vein, it added:
‘Since writing to you originally, we have carried out an examination of the programme’s productions processes to discover how it (sic) went wrong. We are confident that the programme came about through an unusual combination of circumstances which we have now rectified to avoid any repeated problems.’
Put another way, the BBC has decided that the science is settled and that’s it. Quentin Letts and his chums are dangerous deviants because they do not agree with the ‘the consensus’. The programme’s production team is going away on a BBC indoctrination course to be told about their extreme folly in inviting them to speak. And in future, Letts et al won’t be allowed back on unless an army of Dr Smedleys first gets the chance to say they are talking rubbish.
Those of you who have followed the BBC’s bigotry in this arena will not be surprised by the approach – a similar torrent of alarmist bile was unleashed when, after the 2013/4 Somerset floods, Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer was asked on the Today programme about the causes and possible remedies.
It illustrates graphically that the Corporation is bursting its sinews to limit free speech in an area of science that is highly complex and far from settled. The Cameron government confirmed two weeks ago that it was continuing to waste billions of pounds a year on the assumption that climate alarmism is warranted, so this is a matter of massive public concern.
One ray of sunlight is that Culture Secretary John Whittingdale told the Conservative party conference this week that, in connection with Charter renewal, the Corporation will no longer handle complaints against its output because it had not ‘always been as fair and impartial as it should’. He declared:
“I know from the many letters and conversations that I have had that you have sometimes felt that the BBC has not always been as fair or as impartial as it should….
“…what is important is that the public should have confidence that complaints are examined independently and carefully. And that it is no longer the case that if you make a complaint against the BBC, the decision on whether it is justified is taken by the BBC”.
Let us hope that in this vital area, he delivers. Handing such complaints to an outside body which is both robust and genuinely independent will put an instant check on the Corporation’s rampant bias. The News-watch submission to Whittingdale shows in graphic detail how far the rot has taken hold – and the ludicrous contortions the Corporation performs to stifle free speech.