Monday 27 July 2020

Litigious news and other stories

So the BBC is cancelling Andrew Neil to make way for more diversity and youth-orientated content. Well, there does seem to be support for left-wing, antisemitic-flavour broadcasting.  Jeremy Corbyn’s go-fund-me pot has reached a quarter of a million pounds and rising, so the demand is obviously there.

‘Adolf Hitler’ and ‘B’stard Son Of Netanyahu’ help fund Corbyn’s legal costs  by Adam decker
A Go Fund Me page set up to finance the former Labour leader's court battles has raised £231,000 due in part to the generosity of self-proclaimed racists.
“Among the most generous donors are former deputy leader of Liverpool City Council Derek Hatton who’s given £1,000, prominent anti-Israel campaigner and Labour member Susanne Levin who’s offered £500 and music producer Brian Eno, who’s provided £500.”

Update! As you were! The fund has so far reached  (a staggering!) £300,000 

Strangely, the BBC seems to be embroiled in a complicated tangle of litigation, would-be litigation and counter-litigation. Who’s suing whom? It’s as farcical as one of those ‘you couldn’t make it up’ farces that cry out for the erudite clarification of a Captain Blackadder.

Panorama has been going since 1953! In all that time the BBC has exposed many scandals and injustices, but I have found just three litigious cases involving something that could be interpreted as vaguely ‘philo-Semitic’. 

In 2005 a case involving the BBC’s John Ware drew a complaint from the Muslim Council of Britain. 
From the BBC report:
"MCB secretary general Sir Iqbal Sacranie complained the show was "purposefully trying to sabotage" the progress Muslims were making in the political mainstream.

Panorama reporter John Ware also found groups affiliated to the MCB promoting anti-Semitic views, the belief that Islam was a superior ideology to secular British values and the view that Christians and Jews were conspiring to undermine Islam.
MCB secretary general Sir Iqbal Sacranie complained the show was "purposefully trying to sabotage" the progress Muslims were making in the political mainstream.
"John Ware's team have made a deeply unfair programme using deliberately garbled quotes in an attempt to malign the Muslim Council of Britain," he said.

The BBC rejected that complaint.

Another case followed a couple of years later when the BBC was made to pay damages. 
"The former general manager of Islamic Relief UK, Waseem Yaqub, today accepted undisclosed libel damages and a public apology from the BBC at London’s High Court over a Panorama programme called Faith, Hate and Charity.
Mr Justice David Eady was told that the programme was broadcast on BBC One and investigated the London-based charity Interpal which gives funds to charities on the West Bank to help needy Palestinians.
It was said to reveal that some of the charities were linked to Hamas and helped build support for the movement by spreading Islamist ideology.
22nd July 2020  and we’re back in the room. John Ware is at the centre of a sue-storm; a blizzard of articles appeared in the press. Who’s suing whom? I can’t reliably put the articles in chronological order, but things are happening. 

'That Panorama’ was aired on BBC Two one whole year ago.  “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” A bit like this blog - the question is rhetorical. David Collier had already exposed the tsunami of Corbynite/ Momentum antisemitic material that had engulfed Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, both in real life and on social media. A certain amount of momentum had been created, a demonstration had occurred in London and more and more ‘incidents’ were being unearthed. Yes, we all knew the answer to the question. Labour definitely is antisemitic,  but the Panorama exposé was still unexpected.  The BBC allowing such an overt critique of their beloved Labour Party?  Whatever next?” 

Here’s what was next. The Labour Party’s vengeful treatment of the “Panorama whistleblowers” became the subject of a court case resulting in Labour being forced to apologise and to pay damages to the seven former employees appearing in the programme. The BBC published this report, no byline:
Anti-Semitism: Labour pays damages for 'hurt' to whistleblowers 
The party has issued an unreserved apology in the High Court for making "false and defamatory" comments about seven whistleblowers who spoke out in a BBC Panorama programme last year.
The individuals had criticised the then leadership's handling of complaints.”
Laura Kuenssberg also produced a report
Labour’s agony over anti-Semitism far from over
Astonishing still that the Labour Party, a political movement based on fighting for equality and against racism, found itself in a situation where its members and officials have been playing out a battle over anti-Semitism for so long - on the airwaves, in constituency meetings, in executive meetings and also in the courts. The argument is not settled.”

You can say that again! Next, still on 22nd July, an indication that a challenge is in the offing; The Guardian,

Corbyn-era Labour figures may challenge antisemitism settlement by Jessica Elgot and Lisa O'Carroll
Senior party members understood to be mulling legal action over verdict on treatment of whistleblowers
“Key figures in Labour when Jeremy Corbyn was leader are mulling a challenge to the party’s settlement with a BBC journalist and seven of its former staff over a libel case relating to a Panorama programme last year about its handling of antisemitism.
It is understood the former Labour leader himself as well as his former director of communications Seumas Milne have taken legal advice about the settlement and apology set to be read at the high court on Wednesday.”
and also from The Guardian:
Antisemitism settlement plunges Labour party into civil war 

“Jeremy Corbyn’s statement caused astonishment among litigants in libel action.
Labour’s decision to pay a six-figure libel settlement to ex-staffers who claimed the party was failing to deal with antisemitism has plunged the party back into civil war, with Jeremy Corbyn publicly condemning his successor’s decision to settle the case.
Corbyn’s statement caused astonishment among the litigants in the libel action, with the Panorama journalist John Ware confirming to the Guardian that he was “consulting his lawyers” and raising the prospect of another costly court battle over Labour and antisemitism.
Mark Lewis, the solicitor who acted for Ware and the whistleblowers, revealed to the Guardian that he had been approached by 32 individuals who want to take action against the party for a range of allegations, mainly centring on the fallout from the leaked report.
On the same day (22nd July) The Jewish Chronicle came out with:
The Corbynites have lied with impunity - now they face the legal consequences
"John Ware explains why he sued the Labour Party - and why his case is merely the first of several against alt-Left sites and individuals who lie
A year ago, the Labour Party declared all-out war on the BBC. Why? 
I was the reporter on a Panorama programme in which seven former Labour staffers blew the whistle about antisemitism in Corbyn’s Labour Party. They explained how they felt a growing factionalism had created a safe space for antisemitic views inside the party.
Labour responded by accusing me of having flouted journalistic ethics. I had, Labour alleged, knowingly promoted falsehoods and invented quotes. I had misrepresented and fabricated facts.
You don’t need much experience of television to know that the BBC’s editorial processes simply don’t allow for such mammoth corruption of the editorial process, especially a programme that examines such an incendiary subject as the relationship between the leader of the Opposition and antisemitism. Every line of my commentary was trawled over by the editor, lawyers and the BBC’s editorial compliance panjandrums. The whistle-blowers were also extensively cross examined."
Also on 22nd July 2020, Jewish News printed this:

Panorama journalist John Ware planning to sue Jeremy Corbyn By Jack Mendel
The journalist behind BBC Panorama’s on Labour’s antisemitism row is planning to sue Jeremy Corbyn for libel.
Labour falsely accused Ware of “deliberate and malicious misrepresentations designed to mislead the public” regarding the show.
Media lawyer Mark Lewis said: 'I can confirm that I have been instructed to pursue claims' against the former Labour leader
It’s irritating when journalists like Philip Collins allude to 'journalistic ethics' as if the BBC were a paragon of excellence in the journalistic ethics department. In one paragraph in an otherwise laudable essay, titled “Time to root out Corbybites once and for all” Collins wrote:
“The response of the Corbyn team to the allegation that Labour was not really serious about investigating antisemitism was to pour scorn on the journalistic ethics of the BBC.”
If it weren’t for the fact that this particular Panorama was a remarkably unrepresentative example of the BBC’s normal output, ‘journalistic ethics-wise’  Collins would have had a valid point. 

I can think of but one or two other exceptions to the BBC’s default Labour-leaning perspective, one, in particular, comes to mind.  Jane Corbin’s Panorama titled “Death in the Med’ where she quite rightly sided with the Israelis over the Mavi Marmara affair. If I’m mistaken and the other cases I’ve cited were in fact ‘the norm’ for Panorama, the BBC in general and not exceptions at all, please forgive me. I had the impression that Panorama’s output since 1953 has generally been in accord with the BBC’s left-wing ethics rather than plain and simple ‘journalistic ethics’.
“To declare war on all of the mainstream media is a disastrously stupid strategy for any political leader. In due course, Sir Keir will be well advised to be much more forensic than this in his choice of media enemies. He will need some — a media bogeyman is always handy in politics — but it most certainly ought not to be the BBC.”
..adds Collins. Why ever would a self-proclaimed Labour supporter like Philip Collins suppose Starmer is likely to alienate the BBC? The BBC loves Labour under Starmer and I daresay it’s mutual.

I have no idea what Seumas Milne and Len McCluskey are up to, but if antisemitism is really going to be deemed beyond the pale they’ll have to carefully consider the best use of the monies generously donated by ‘Adolf Hitler’ and ‘B’stard Son Of Netanyahu’

The BBC is dumping Jane Corbin I hear, as well as Andrew Neil. I rest my case. (M’lud.)

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