BBC mounts court fight to keep ‘critical’ report secret

A critical and secret internal BBC report on its perceived anti-Israel bias is the subject of a Freedom of Information court battle, according to The Telegraph:

BBC mounts court fight to keep ‘critical’ report secretBy Chris Hastings and Beth Jones
(Filed: 15/10/2006)

The BBC has spent thousands of pounds of licence payers’ money trying to block the release of a report which is believed to be highly critical of its Middle East coverage.

The corporation is mounting a landmark High Court action to prevent the release of The Balen Report under the Freedom of Information Act, despite the fact that BBC reporters often use the Act to pursue their journalism.

The action will increase suspicions that the report, which is believed to run to 20,000 words, includes evidence of anti-Israeli bias in news programming.

Read the rest of the story at The Telegraph.

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33 Responses to BBC mounts court fight to keep ‘critical’ report secret

  1. Lizzie says:

    Oho! And aha! This should be interesting to watch unfold.


  2. Sorry - got a career to mainta says:

    You’ve just got to love this:

    “The clashes began when mobs of white youths attacked people of Arabic and Mediterranean appearance on Cronulla Beach, apparently in revenge for an attack on two lifeguards.”


    So, the clashes didn’t begin with the attack on the two lifeguards… Course not.


  3. Pete_London says:

    Back in November 2003, Malcolm Balen was appointed by the BBC as a “senior editorial advisor” to improve Mideast coverage. According to Ha’aretz, Balen was to issue an internal report to BBC executives. Balen, however, disappeared from view and his report was buried in the vaults of White City despite numerous requests from outside organisations to view its contents.

    One London solicitor persevered and a tribunal has now ruled that the BBC was wrong to deny access to the Balen Report, opening the way for many other previous requests to be resubmitted. There are many people who would be very interested to see Balen’s conclusions regarding the BBC’s treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. HonestReporting UK will now submit its own request to the BBC for access to the Balen Report.

    To ensure that our request is on behalf of as many people as possible, please refer e-mail to friends and family to HonestReporting UK and encourage them to subscribe.


  4. Andy Gill says:

    Why does the BBC refuse to publish this report? The public have a right to know whether their news coverage is fair or biased and dishonest.


  5. Spiritualized says:

    Let’s face it, some newspaper will eventually get hold of the report so why are the BBC bothering to block it?

    Their bias is well documented on here and the likes of CAMERA and HonestReporting, this report obviously incriminates the BBC further. I mean if it “proved” that the BBC was biased in favour of Israel or against the “Palestinians” they’d have no problem broadcasting it to the world.


  6. Mick says:

    Is this a differnet report to this one?

    Click to access panel_report_final.pdf


  7. amimissingsomething says:

    “The BBC declined to say how much it was spending on the High Court action.”

    so not only are the bbc telling taxpayers that the report the taxpayers paid for is none of the taxpayers’ business, but neither is it any of their business how much more they are paying to be kept in the dark!


  8. Market Participant says:


    That’s a 2006 report, the controversy is about the 2003 Balen report.

    “d) Balen Report: the Panel was given, in response to a request, an unpublished internal report prepared for BBC Management by Senior Editorial Adviser on the Middle East Malcolm Balen in 2003. This was helpful to us but we say no more about it as it was given to us on confidential terms. A number of its recommendations have been implemented.”

    It was paid for with public money, doesn’t relation to national security, and so should be freely published.

    It is an open secret that that BBC is riddled with leftism.


  9. Fabio P.Barbieri says:

    [*in the voice of a BBC director*]: What, the BBC biased against Israel? No, no, never! Who could ever say such a thing – except of course for a nasty, underhanded, plotting, hook-nosed son of a Jewish, er, sorry, Zionist whore….


  10. Anat says:

    It’s a 2003 report. If the BBC perseveres through the courts for another couple of years, the report will be held ancient history and lose its edge. This is exactly what has happened with France2 and the al-Durah case, dragged for more than 5 years with France2 still refusing to release the original material.


  11. Bijan Daneshmand says:


    Notice the collegiate back slapping between Frances Harrsion and the Iranian authorities ….

    The Regieme’s minders PRETEND to be upset with her … and she PRETENDS to be reporting the truth on Iran.

    A double act designed to fool most of the people all of the time.

    “To my surprise, a journalist sitting behind me tried to interview me about the fact that the Iranian Embassy in London had lodged a formal complaint about my reporting of their reaction to the North Korean test.

    Later, the same people who had complained conceded it was not my report they were unhappy with but that did not stop them broadcasting the allegations against me on state run television that night.”

    No wonder Frances Harrison is “surprised”

    The kind of coverage that Frances Harrison is giving the Iranian Mullahs and Ahmadinejad is the kind that you would need to have paid for one way or another

    “Women were actually weeping because they could not get to talk to Mr Ahmadinejad. They could not understand that he was not able to have personal audiences with them.”

    But then the BBC has already had its pay off from the FO who is desperate to get into bed with any Islamic regieme it can find.


  12. Ralph says:

    Is their an Email address we could all write to asking for a copy of the report and forward to our MPs and the other broadcasters when they refuse?

    I’ll Email the Daily Politics about it and see what happens.


  13. Anonymous says:

    The action will increase suspicions that the report, which is believed to run to 20,000 words, includes evidence of anti-Israeli bias in news programming.

    The timeframe coincides with Barbara ‘Cry Me A River’ Plett and Orla Goering’s stint as ‘reporters’ there. Therefore the report contains evidence of anti-israeli bias. QED.


  14. Bryan says:

    Mick, from your link, after listing what it sees as the BBC’s shortcomings the report claims, in point 1:2, that the BBC can remedy these shortcomings because it has:

    ….d) the resource of an experienced and senior correspondent in the Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen.

    [If that’s a joke, it’s not funny.]

    ….f) a number of invaluable central facilities available to deepen expertise in support of programme-makers including ….a senior adviser on the Middle East (Malcolm Balen)…..

    So here we have a report by a panel appointed by the BBC and published in April 2006 and the BBC not only ignores its recommendation to call terror terror, but continues to repress a report by Balen, whom the panel recommends.

    Now ain’t that just typical.


  15. Jeremycj says:

    Jeremy Bowen – ugghh!!

    belongs to the George Galloway club doesn’t he?


  16. right_is_right says:

    We have linked your blog on our new effort… could you do the same plz?


  17. Bryan says:

    I dunno what club Bowen belongs to but I’m sure it’s an Arabist, anti-Semit…er, I mean anti-Israel club.


  18. DifferentAnon says:

    Hey, kids! Libel can be fun too!


  19. dave t says:

    Especially when the threat is used by lefties to suppress debate…..


  20. DifferentAnon says:

    That was debate? My apologies. I mistook for something else entirely.


  21. Grimer says:

    (Don’t feed the troll)


  22. DifferentAnon says:

    Pointing out libel = de facto suppression of debate.

    Pointing out that libel does not equal debate = trolling.


  23. Big Mouth says:

    Has anyone, anywhere heard about this report on al-beeb itself? Maybe they do it at 3am when most neurologically normal people are asleep. (Apologies to legitimate night owls)


  24. HateViolence says:

    Recent documentry uncovered:
    Israel’s Plan for a Military Strike on Iran by Jonathan Cook
    NAZARETH, 16 October 2006. The Middle East, and possibly the world, stands on the brink of a terrible conflagration as Israel and the United States prepare to deal with Iran’s alleged ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. Israel, it becomes clearer by the day, wants to use its air force to deliver a knock-out blow against Tehran. It is not known whether it will use conventional weapons or a nuclear warhead in such a strike.At this potentially cataclysmic moment in global politics, it is good to see that one of the world’s leading broadcasters, the BBC, decided this week to air a documentary entitled “Will Israel bomb Iran?” It is the question on everyone’s lips and doubtless, with the imprimatur of the BBC, the ill sell around the world.The good news ends there, however. Because the program addresses none of the important issues raised by Israel’s increasingly belligerent posture towards Tehran.
    It does not explain that, without a United Nations resolution, a military strike on Iran to destroy its nuclear research program would be a gross violation of international law.
    It does not clarify that Israel’s own large nuclear arsenal was secretly developed and is entirely unmonitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or that it is perceived as a threat by its neighbors and may be fuelling a Middle East arms race.
    Nor does the program detail the consequences of an Israeli strike on instability and violence across the Middle East, including in Iraq, where British and American troops are stationed as an occupying force.
    and there is no consideration of how in the longer term unilateral action by Israel, with implicit sanction by the international community, is certain to provoke a steep rise in global jihad against the West.
    Instead the program dedicates 40 minutes to footage of Top Gun heroics by the Israeli air force, and the recollections of pilots who carried out a similar, “daring” attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor in the early 1980s; menacing long shots of Iran’s nuclear research facilities; and interviews with three former Israeli prime ministers, a former Israeli military chief of staff, various officials in Israeli military intelligence and a professor who designs Israel’s military arsenal.
    All of them speak with one voice: Israel, they claim, is about to be “wiped out” by Iranian nuclear weapons and must defend itself “whatever the consequences”.
    They are given plenty of airtime to repeat unchallenged well-worn propaganda Israel has been peddling through its own media, and which has been credulously amplified by the international media: that Iran is led by a fanatical anti-Semite who, like Adolf Hitler, believes he can commit genocide against the Jewish people, this time through a nuclear holocaust.
    Other Israeli misinformation, none of it believed by serious analysts, is also uncritically spread by the film-makers: that Hizbullah in Lebanon is a puppet of Iran, waiting to aid its master in Israel’s destruction; that Iran is only months away from creating nuclear weapons, a “point of no return”, as the program warns; and that a “fragile” Israel is under constant threat of annihilation from all its Arab neighbors.
    But the program’s unequivocal main theme — echoing precisely Israel’s own agenda — is that Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is hell-bent on destroying Israel. The filmmakers treat seriously, bordering on reverentially, preposterous comments from Israel’s leaders about this threat.
    Shimon Peres, the Israeli government’s veteran roving ambassador, claims, for example, that Iran has made “a call for genocide” against Israel, compares an Iranian nuclear bomb to a “flying concentration camp”, and warns that “no one would like to see a comeback to the times of the Nazis”.
    Cabinet minister Avi Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet domestic security service, believes Israel faces “an existential threat” from Iran. And Zvi Stauber, a former senior figure in military intelligence, compares Israel’s situation to a man whose neighbor “has a gun and he declares every day he is going to kill you”.
    But pride of place goes to Binyamin Netanyahu, a former prime minister and the current leader of the opposition. He claims repeatedly that the only possible reason Iran and its president could want a nuclear arsenal is for Israel’s “extermination. “If he can get away with it, he’ll do it.” “Ayatollahs with atomic bombs are a powerful threat to all of us.” A nuclear Iran “is a threat unlike anything we have seen before. It’s beyond politics” — apparently worse than the nuclear states of North Korea and Pakistan, the latter a military dictatorship and friend of the US barely containing within its borders some of the most fanatical jihadist movements in the world.
    Apart from a brief appearance by an Iranian diplomat, no countervailing opinions are entertained in the BBC program; only Israel’s military and political leadership is allowed to speak.
    The documentary gives added credence to the views of Israel’s security establishment by making great play of a speech by Ahmadinejad — one with which the Israeli authorities and their allies in Washington have made endless mischief — in which the Iranian president repeats a statement by Iran’s late spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, that went unnoticed when first uttered.
    In the BBC program, Ahmadinejad is quoted as saying: “The regime occupying Jerusalem should be eliminated from the page of history. This is at least an improvement on the original translation, much repeated in the program by Netanyahu and others, that “Israel must be wiped off the map.”

    full article:


  25. DifferentAnon says:

    For those who can’t be bothered to read all 52 pages of the comment above, I’ll paraphrase:

    By promoting Israeli propaganda with regard to the actual threat Iran poses to Israel, the BBC is doing Israel’s bidding.


  26. gordon-bennett says:

    From Cook’s website:

    Short Biography
    Born in Buckinghamshire, England in 1965
    BA Honours in Philosophy and Politics from Southampton University in 1987
    Postgraduate diploma in Journalism from Cardiff University in 1989
    Masters degree in Middle Eastern studies, with distinction, from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University, 2000.
    Work Experience
    Reporter and editor of regional newspapers, 1988-94
    Freelance sub-editor with national newspapers, 1994-96
    Staff member of The Guardian and Observer newspapers, 1996-2001
    Freelance writer, based in Nazareth, Israel, covering the Middle East since September 2001
    Founder of the Nazareth Press Agency in February 2004

    My emphasis added.

    My conclusion: same old same old leftie


  27. Biodegradable says:

    … the BBC is doing Israel’s bidding.

    Sure, that’ll be why Israel is considering withdrawing cooperation with the BBC, as it did once before, and why the BBC is about to launch its TV service in Iran.

    You “Anons” really are a laugh a minute, every line a winner!


  28. DifferentAnon says:

    “You “Anons” really are a laugh a minute, every line a winner!”

    I paraphrased it, o illerate one. If it was my view, I’d have said so.

    And the BBC is launching its service in Iran at the bidding of the FCO, who is paying for it.


  29. J.G. says:

    The FCO is not paying for it, you and I are through our taxes.


  30. Jimbo says:

    And if the analysis of Iran’s intentions are correct?


  31. Biodegradable says:

    I paraphrased it, o illerate one. If it was my view, I’d have said so.

    Is an “illerate one” a person who can spell illiterate, oh pretentious one?

    And BTW, I don’t need you to paraphrase for me, I’m perfectly capable of reading the whole thing, and comprehending it fully.


  32. DifferentAnon says:

    You mean perfectly capable of reading it, but still came to the conclusion that it was my view.

    It’s a moot point, which Reith has made a number of times: a common, and deliberate will to take something as reported as de facto endorsement.


  33. Anat says:

    I understood perfectly well that “differentanon” was indeed summarizing the gist of the article posted and linked by “HateViolence”.
    Interesting pseudo this “HateViolence”, since the article this person links is by the infamous Jonathan Cook, a long time inverter of aggressor and defender in the MidEast conflict. Just see what you get on Googling Jonathan Cook:
    See also here: