WELL, what a week it was! Most importantly it was the week when Mark Steyn took Britain’s broadcasting censor Ofcom to court – his former colleagues in the MSM and from a union that is meant to defend free speech sadly conspicuous by their absence in a courtroom otherwise packed to bursting with his supporters. More below on this all-important test case for the ‘on-air’ freedom to challenge any official narrative.  

It was also the week of a new low – a US President declaring he was proud of his convicted drug-addict felon of a son. No remorse there. It was the week when Putin said he was ready for ‘jaw jaw’ but found the West interested only in ‘war war’ with an economy, unlike the West’s, booming – yes, Russia’s is currently the fastest-growing major economy in the world

As well as the week of a new high which saw Nigel Farage overtake the spent Tories in the polls and become the unofficial leader of the Opposition. This was the week too that Sunak’s flailing Conservatives gave up on their costly digital campaign while former loyal Tory journalists started to come out and declare for their once bête noire. Finally, adding some icing to the cake of the right’s rout of the EU’s establishment parties in the previous week’s elections was the vision of Giorgia Meloni very much in the pink, consoling the dead men walking at the G7. For once the Guardian got it right.

For me, it was the week I gave up on summer and went back under my winter duvet.  

But rain and cloud didn’t stop me from getting out of bed bright and early on Tuesday to head for the Royal Courts of Justice to report on and support Steyn v Ofcom. Mark Steyn Club supporters and TCW readers and writers had begun to throng by 9am. I teamed up with Norman Fenton, Sally Beck and Vanessa Gray in the coffee shop opposite. More joined us in the long queue to go in. It was great to see Steyn Club friends and get to meet several TCW readers for the first time in the flesh. In particular Penny, a wonderful supporter of TCW and Peter Lucey, one of our writers! And then Mark arrived, tall and handsome and on his feet again, with a camera crew in tow, and joined by Naomi Wolf. Leilani Dowding had called us back out of the queue to get on camera with him on the pavement in front of the courts. Hopefully Mark’s statement and the various interviews (including with moi) about the iniquity and implications of Ofcom’s ruling will become available and in time for my report on the judge’s ruling. It was exciting and I was so thrilled to see he was out of his wheelchair, all the more remarkable as, going into the court, he confided in me he’d had two further heart attacks and a double stent operation. ‘True grit, Steyn style‘, was how Chris Davies, the Steyn ‘clubber’ who threw a fabulous after-party for Mark, put it in a tweet afterwards.  

Yes, grit is what he has shown. He is such a star!

In the court sitting behind Mark and Robert Dougans – the brilliant lawyer from Preiskel and Co who’d given me and TCW great help a few years ago and, I found, had taken over this judicial review – I really struggled with the room’s awful acoustics. I did, however, manage to hear most of what Mark’s counsel Jonathan Price, presenting his case against Ofcom’s two chilling and defamatory rulings, had to say. Ofcom’s defence that Mark was still free to broadcast anywhere was risible. Which broadcaster would employ a journalist once ruled against by Ofcom for questioning that holy of holies – the Government’s mass vaccination mandate? Or raised other uncomfortable truths that Ofcom would like broadcasters to keep quiet about?

There is little doubt in my view, that Ofcom had decided to bare its teeth against GB News and Mark Steyn, its foremost broadcaster and the first and only one to challenge the official covid narrative on air. The tragedy, as I have said time and again, is that in a misjudgment of significant proportions for itself, GB News hung Mark out to dry instead of making this a test case against the arbitrary powers the Government delegated to Ofcom in 2003. These are powers it has blatantly abused; powers which allowed it not just to write its own broadcasting code but to interpret it as it likes and later also to monitor for ‘covid misinformation’. As both judge and jury it has the ability to make up rules as it goes along and the right to apply them unilaterally. A tribunal with total powers, you could say. 

In this particular case the arbitrarily applied rule that Mark transgressed was his questioning of official public health statistics that Ofcom deemed to be misleading and harmful even though the stats told their own story of vaccine inefficacy and worse. For any such questioning to be permissible, it had to be wrapped around with warnings ‘to protect the audience from harm’ Ofcom’s Counsel said. You couldn’t make it up. Ofcom did, though, on the basis of powers that are not even subject to parliament. To which there is no challenge. Except by a costly judicial review such as this of Mark’s which he has taken on alone, to his personal cost financially and healthwise.

This was his crime against the State? To draw attention to official vaccine data – statistics which clearly showed effectiveness to be dubious to say the least and to postulate what it meant. How could this be harmful you might ask. Ofcom’s counsel’s reply was brazen -because it countered official public health advice and consenus. Full stop.

Jonathan Price argued that Ofcom was operating on a presumption of effectiveness without having to or attempting to produce any evidence for that. Ofcom’s counsel said they didn’t have to.

Ofcom’s rulings have, as Price said, destroyed a uniquely talented and experienced broadcaster’s career. This, in my view, hasn’t just ‘risked’ but has a chilling effect on freedom to criticise or question public policy. So much now hangs on this ruling – broadcasting freedom to challenge climate change and Islamism are just two examples. The silence of the right-of-centre MSM who purportedly care about such issues in not reporting this case speaks volumes. It is truly depressing.

What wasn’t depressing (or silent) however was the sumptuous after-party given by Chris Davies – a gloriously genial and generous host who magnificently looked after Mark and the rest of us (including Mark’s supporting cast of Naomi Wolf, Laurence Fox, Calvin Robinson, Alan Miller, Jules Serkin, Dr Tony Hinton, Professor Norman Fenton, Drs Clare Craig and Ros Jones, Leilani Dowding and many more). Whatever the outcome of the case, it was a night we will all remember.

Here to end my review is a link to Mark’s brilliant off-the-cuff speech at the party – showing his perceptively clear thinking is undimmed, highlighted here in this tweet by Dr Clare Craig where, referring to his coverage on his GB News programme of Muslim grooming gangs, Mark reported Ofcom saying: ‘we didn’t say you couldn’t talk about these subjects’ and his rebuttal, ‘as a practical matter, once that show was off the air, there was no talk about it.’

There you have it. That’s how censorship works through silencing.