David Keighley’s BBC watch: This foul slur against Farage must be corrected

Nigel Farage this week complained directly to Lord Hall, the director general of the BBC, about the news reports which contained the wrongful claim that he had ‘blood on his hands’ for the death last August of a Polish man, who the corporation also sensationally and wrongfully alleged had been murdered in a frenzied, unprovoked attack by a gang of youths fired by race hate following the EU Referendum.

It has emerged in court that almost every element of these initial reports were untrue: that the crime in Harlow, Essex, was nothing whatsoever to do with Brexit or race hate on behalf of English people. The sordid truth is that Arkadiusz Jozwik, the Polish man, drunkenly provoked a single 15-year-old youth into punching him, with the result that he fell over and cracked his head, causing the fatal injuries. It was manslaughter, for which Chelmsford Crown Court gave the youth three years in custody.

Mr Farage took the trouble of personally delivering to Broadcasting House in London the complaint letter, which set out in detail why the BBC’s reporting of the death of Mr Jozwik was seriously in breach of the BBC Charter and editorial standards. The essence of this is set out in articles on TCW and News-watch here, and here.

The former UKIP leader outlined in addition that, after the reports appeared – and, he believed, as a direct result of them – he and his family had faced enormous personal distress. They were subjected to vile name-calling and abuse to the point of needing protection.

How has the BBC responded? Normal decency and courtesy would surely dictate that allegations of this gravity from a figure of the stature of Mr Farage should at least be met with a personal meeting and some kind of detailed response, even if – as is virtually inevitable with complaints submitted to the BBC – any wrongdoing is ruled out.

So far, however, this appears not to be on the cards. Instead, the Corporation hastily issued through its press office a terse statement which said that the BBC ‘vehemently defended’ its reporting, that its coverage of the Harlow killing was ‘fair’ and was in line with speculation also carried elsewhere that ‘racial motivation’ was a ‘line of enquiry’. In other words, a dead bat.

How did they know? This is one of the perpetual mysteries of the BBC news operation. Senior staff claim that they know they are meeting editorial standards but this is entirely according to their own rules, their own definition of ‘due impartiality’, and is determined internally.

A key part of Mr Farage’s complaint not dealt with by the statement was that when the true facts of the Jozwik killing emerged, they were reported at a much lesser level (primarily on the Essex pages of the BBC’s regional website) and without sufficient acknowledgment that the race-hate angle (imposed sensationally on the story by them) had been discounted. The original reports, by comparison, had been blasted at headline level on their most-watched BBC1 bulletins and BBC2 Newsnight.

It also seems that the press office statement is attempting to justify the sensationalism of the original reports by claiming that other media outlets adopted a similar tack.



But this hook-wriggling will not do. First it is the BBC’s responsibility (as with every journalistic organisation), to check the facts it reports around a suspected criminal incident, because there is a legal duty to ensure that a subsequent trial is not prejudiced by inaccurate or exaggerated reporting. It is categorically not a defence to say (as is implied in the Corporation’s response) that the BBC is in the clear because others reported in the same vein. The BBC receives large amounts of public cash to fund a lavish journalistic operation, has vast capacity to check facts, and has special and deliberately onerous public service requirements to uphold accuracy and impartiality.

Second, other reporting of the Jozwik killing did not contain a direct allegation that this was a ‘race-hate murder triggered by the Brexit vote’ or that Mr Farage had ‘blood on his hands’. It was the BBC which especially elevated the crime to that level.

For example, The Guardian’s report of the death of Mr Jozwik published the evening before the BBC’s report (at 20:28 on August 30) underlines the irresponsibility of the BBC’s reporting. It was more circumspect. The headline was ‘Six teenage boys arrested over death of Polish man’. The Guardian, of course, is a deliberately partisan newspaper which does not have the same stringent public service requirements for accuracy and responsible reporting that govern the BBC.

All things taken into account, Nigel Farage surely deserves a detailed inquiry and a personal explanation from Lord Hall why the claim that he had ‘blood on his hands’ was included prominently in a BBC report. And of why a BBC correction to this grossly speculative reporting has not been conveyed at a level equal to the original reports.

David Keighley

  • Flaketime

    If wishes were horses.

    The BBC is wholly unaccountable and the government which could and should hold them to account clueless and spineless under the misguidance of its hopeless leader.

    I have asked the BBC in the past for its official definition of Right & Left wing – it doesn’t have one and simply leaves it to its correspondents, meaning that there is zero consistency in its reporting. It once called the Socialist government of Venezuela ‘Right wing’ justifying it because it claimed it was authoritarian !

    It has no definition for ‘racism’ either, probably because there isn’t a definition and can mean absolutely anything!

    The fact that the BBC has no official definition means it can play fast and loose with accuracy, and when it all goes wrong, it can blame it all on a single reporters interpretation and deny any corporate responsibility.

    I am sure that Cameron cut some dodgy deal with the BBC over the Brexit referendum, giving them an extension to the Royal Charter which might otherwise not have been renewed. The BBC identified by Trump as one of the purveyors of fake news has lost its reputation for impartiality a long time ago on an international stage – only those who it can still pull the wool with believe its lies – alas there are many of them.

    • Harley Quin

      According to leftists, any dictator is ‘right wing’. So Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Chavez etc etc were ‘right wing’.

      Leftism does not know itself. It thinks of itself as the repository of moral superiority.

      Ergo evil cannot arise from leftism, so it must be ‘right wing’.

      • Reborn

        There are several strands of left wing thought.
        Some of which are decent in intention.
        Today the far left Labour Party is run by Judeophobic, islamophile Trotskyites & can be reasonably be described as evil.
        However there remains a courageous rump of members & MPs who are social democrats, which is what Labour was when it was a sensible party with broad appeal.
        The Conservatives are also a broad coalition including decent, mainstream patriotic types with a concern for all our people, but also those whole believe
        in ruthless capitalism & globalisation & the destruction of the UK via the EU.
        It seems to me that we live in a land where the younger generation have been miseducated for decades by leftist educators, especially in university & by the BBC
        Overall, leftism has infiltrated all aspects of UK political life because, as you
        observe, people have been miseducated to believe that anything labelled
        “left wing” is virtuous. This in the face of 20th century history which demonstrates the reverse.

        • Coniston

          Left-liberals know that they are the Righteous Ones.

  • sfin

    And yet this story…

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/brexiter-brutally-beaten-remain-voter-9047676

    …which was a killing, directly attributable to the Brexit vote, was rather under reported by the BBC.

    I wonder why?

    • Lagopus scotica

      Thanks for sharing this – “the death was caused by matters unrelated to the assault” – but if the assault had not taken place, would he have died? How is that different from the situation where there was a fight and the Polish man hit his head and died? Am I missing something here?

      • Reborn

        You’re missing nothing.
        It’s the BBC that’s doing the censoring, as usual.

  • Harley Quin

    Whatever the theory, the BBC is now as it always has been, a law unto itself. The virtual
    inevitability of a brush-off when a complaint – any complaint – is made is past scandalous.

    It’s high time this left / liberal incubus on the nation was wiped from the face of the earth.

    My only fear is that if it were broken up and sold off, which is surely its eventual fate however delayed, this would mean that its Guardianista workforce would simply be spread around to reinforce the media leftist tendencies generally.

    • Reborn

      “Guardianista workforce would simply be spread around to reinforce the media leftist tendencies generally.”
      The BBC is like a disreputable pub which should be closed down.
      However, the fact that local criminals gather there is seen by the police as quite
      useful, since they are all in one place & don’t infect other places.

      • RobertRetyred

        But they do, from The Telegraph to the Tory Party.

  • Royinsouthwest

    Since its charter has been renewed the BBC bosses and journalists think they can do what they want. Couldn’t parliament have another look at the charter rather than let Cameron’s dirty work stand?

  • Colkitto03

    The BBC love arch Remainer Michael O’leary,
    They cannot get enough of his dire warnings and threats over Brexit! They hang on every word of his doom and gloom

    How I enjoyed watching the BBC reporting yesterday that their darling Michael turns out not to be a very good employer to his staff. No need for Mr O’Leary to worry about the financial impact of Brexit when he can make a big enough mess of things all on his own.

  • Lagopus scotica

    Isn’t there a case to be made that the BBC reporting was inflammatory, and prejudicial to good relations between native Britons and our Polish guests? Particularly given the findings of the trial.

  • JustAnotherPoster

    If the BBC had made such grave error involving Corbyn…… Labour would be beating their door down… crys of MSM etc.etc. This sort of biased reporting is why we should be allowed to choose to pay the license fee or not. The conservatives should be supporting Farage here…. They get as much stick off the BBC. But as their doing pretty much everything wrong at the moment…. They won’t be seen for dust.

    • Shaunr19

      Cons, Libs, Labs: they’re all buttering the same slice of toast.

  • Simon Platt

    I couldn’t find the BBC’s press release about this on its web site. If your description of its defence is accurate, and I have no reason to doubt that, the BBC has just sunk even lower. It’s hard to see how such claims could be anything other than grossly dishonest.

  • Shaunr19

    I would love it if Nigel Farage sued them. Problem is, it would probably end up descending to the level of a kangaroo court in the BBC’s favour

    • The Wiganer

      Before you can sue, you need to give the aggressor the chance to retract their claim and apologise. Then you can sue.

      So Nigel has now completed step one.

      • Shaunr19

        Be fantastic if it went all the way, and he won. I’d still be wary of a stitch-up though.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    The situation is simple. The BBC constantly breaches the terms of it’s charter. It does not deserve the charter and it does not deserve compulsory public funding. This slander against Nigel Farage simply illustrates the depth to which it has sunk as an an entirely partial and dishonest news network. Nobody with a grain of intelligence should take the BBC seriously, wherever they lie on the political spectrum. What’s needed is a mass boycott of the licence fee. If you don’t watch live tv or iplayer then you don’t need a licence.

  • Lytton333

    For our household it’s simple. The only way to make a stand is to terminate the licence-fee and write to them stating why. We’re using the various websites available for current affairs, there are million books that cover history, art, science, philosophy, the literary classics and so forth. You Tube has always enough vintage series of decent quality to watch, and I’ve developed two satisfying hobbies at home. I see absolutely no reason to continue to finance from our own pockets a rotten institution that is antithetical to all our values. Besides, contemporary televisual pabulum is no longer even worth considering giving increasingly precious time to. Anyone else doing the same?

    • The fact that we live in France now and can’t get the BBC is of enormous comfort to me.

  • Colonel Mustard

    The BBC, like the rest of the ghastly “many tentacled” left in Britain have been given licence to sneer at any suggestion of imbalance or any challenge to their many insanities, double standards and hypocrisies. Those protesting are just ukippers, the “far right”, “fascists”, “racists”, little Englanders, Islamaphobes, misogynists, homophobes, “unreconstructed” coffin dodgers, “the old”, golf club bores, non-graduates, etc., etc., and can therefore be marginalised and ignored by the “superior” and privileged leftist elite which holds sway.

  • Stinky Britches

    I won’t apologise for saying this again – the bbc is a foul and malignant cancer eating away at all that is kind and decent about our nation. Excision is urgently required

  • anna

    Mr Farage was not the only one unfairly maligned regarding Mr Joswik’s death. The whole British people were. There were vigils, wreath-laying and a visit from the Polish ambassador to the scene of the death where he made dire and doom-laden pronouncements about xenophobic hate crime. It transpires that it was a drunken and abusive Mr Joswik who made xenophobic remarks which resulted in the fracas. No apology from the Polish ambassador has been forthcoming.

  • The BBC is a first-rate (wait…) propaganda outlet for the new religion of Progressivism. Their friendly faces and sensible sounding turns of phrase hide the putrid core of a totalitarian and fascist ideology. They use nice sounding words like “tolerance” and “respect” to promote their ideology, but their religion is the antithesis of these Judeo-Christian values they fraudulently claim as their own. You need only look at how they deal with “heretics” like Nigel Farage to get a glimpse of what “Progressivism” actually represents.

  • A mirror of the Cliff Richard incident.

  • Tethys

    If I was Mr Farage, then instead of gesture politics I would be reflecting on the Breaking point poster, Jo Cox, and the claim to have won without a shot being fired.