The BBC’s former European Affairs correspondent William Horsley ceased being a BBC correspondent in 2007 but still continues to write for BBC Online as an analyst. (He was on ‘Broadcasting House’ this morning, reading his own essay denouncing the Japanese political class. I’m not exaggerating!)

Here he is, writing (at the BBC’s invitation) on their College of Journalism blog last month:

UK media blind with indignation at Strasbourg court

Some extracts will give you a flavour:

Our politicians have set a shrill tone and made some misleading attacks on the supposed mission creep of the Strasbourg court…

Those cries of foul have been amplified in the media. The result is that a hot-and-bothered strand of UK popular opinion is encouraged to believe in a conspiracy of foreigners to force Britons, against their better judgment, to protect criminals over the interests of law-abiding citizens. The ECHR is imperfect – as any court or judiciary may be – but the picture is wildly out of kilter with reality.

How has this hostile caricature of the Strasbourg court as a sort of predatory enemy of British interests emerged in the media?

It is the envy of people in large parts of the world…

What particularly struck me was this passage:

…the record shows that mandatory rulings from the court have helped Britain to improve its patchy human rights record on issues where political or popular opinion had seemed implacably opposed to change.

Examples are the judgements banning corporal punishment; and those requiring changes to the control order regime set up by the Blair government, as well as sweeping stop and search powers for the police.

Thank goodness for the ECHR for allowing a judicial elite to dismiss “political or popular opinion”!

Who would have thought a former BBC European Affairs correspondent was so firmly in the ‘anti-populist’ pro-European camp?

On of the few comments on the CoJo blog says, “I think the BBC should stay out of politics and refrain from inviting its friends to put the BBC point of view.”

Sounds right to me.

An inconvenient vote

Graham Dines of East Anglia Times weighs in on on the BBC’s (lack of) coverage of UKIP in the Norwich North by-election.

Out of fairness to the BBC, I can see how they are straining to accommodate the unpalatable rise of the Conservative opposition. They need some solace and we can’t expect them to reflect the full range of sentiment opposed to theirs, can we? Can we?

“Just why the BBC decided that the Greens were more meritworthy than UKIP is not difficult to discern. It’s all down to the unpalatable policy of quitting the EU. UKIP goes against the authorised version of Britain’s relationship with Europe and therefore should be ridiculed.”

UKIP are still pressing the BBC over their denial of UKIP’s evident electoral appeal (which many commenters here noted independently, as well). It seems to me utterly unsurprising that the Beeb would violate due impartiality during an election- the very time when they ought to be able to hold themselves together. They fail in every other so-called ideal which farcically underpins their public remit.

Mr Mote’s Objection

Independent MEP Ashley Mote has written to the President of the European Investment Bank questioning that organisation’s issuing of soft loans to the BBC. He claims this has led the BBC to breach their charter and gives a few examples. Read the whole thing, but here is Mr Mote’s selection:

1. Listeners were invited to nominate the one piece of legislation they would most like to be repealed. The European Communities Act 1972, which took the UK in to what was then the European Community, was far ahead of all other nominations. The result of the poll was never broadcast.

2. The BBC’s director general Mark Thompson admitted to the Daily Mail a lack of objective coverage and “serious flaws” in BBC coverage of EU matters. Nothing noticeable has since been done to improve the situation.

3. The BBC Trust tells me in writing it has nothing to do with the EU, later publishes an annual report entitled “Forging the Union” directly contradicting the fact, and has only last month been quoted on the BBC itself as “representing licence-payers”! Opaque, if not downright deceitful.

4. Within days of the first EIB loan the BBC’s then Economics Editor broadcast a series of interviews and news items from around the EU about the prospects for the euro. Balanced and objective they were not. They were so embarrassingly deferential that any news editor worthy of the name would have binned them without a second thought.

5. During the signing of the Nice Treaty, within the hearing of many potential interviewees from the UK, the BBC producer on site instructed his crew not to record or report the significant demonstrations against the treaty going on all around them. Opposition was quite literally whitewashed from the screens of British viewers, whose money funds the EU and your bank in the first place.

6. Jonathon Chapman, described at the time as a senior BBC World News Reporter, told the Malta Press Club in March 2004 that “The BBC’s job is to reflect the European perspective…and make the news less sceptical. That is why the BBC has such a large bureau in Brussels”.

On the other hand, I would just add one of my favourite little lyrics:

“You cannot hope to bribe or twist, Thank God! the British journalist But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to”

Comment necessary.

I must make at least some comment on this terrible journalism done by Clive Myrie in his hit piece on the Czech Republic.

It was mentioned by several people in the comments, and I must not let it pass. I would like to take it apart piece by piece but alas haven’t time. Maybe readers can assist?

There is immensely loaded language, a lack of information, and the accuracy of it has already been questioned by the Czech Government. Social Affairs Minister Petr Necas has “accused the BBC of “classic journalistic distortion”.”

He is absolutely right. Myrie’s report on what he called “cage beds” in mental homes was a disgrace. Your humble B-BBCer has numerous Czech contacts and has consulted with many who have without exception been angry when they read the tone and content of the report. Myrie tops it all by his self-righteous BBC busybodying in the service of a Greater Cause:

“Finally, we had evidence that a member of the European Union was not fulfilling its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Here’s a taster of some of Myrie’s language (with comments):

“Faint sounds could be heard coming from a room nearby – the sound of children wailing.” (yes, and mentally handicapped children never moan, do they?)

“Only then did she reach through the bars to stroke the head of the male teenager inside, as if stroking an animal in its cage at the zoo.”
(which animals in a zoo would Myrie be allowed to stroke, and isn’t such human contact the very thing that one might look for in caring nursing?)

“I wanted to find out what happens to the mind of someone who spends much of their life in a cage”
(no, ignoramus, a so-called cage bed, and if you bothered to ask yourself why the kids didn’t show signs of malnutrition or why there were no urine or faeces stains visible, or how they were clothed, you’d realise they would have to leave their “cages” accompanied by a nurse and have human contact directly on many occasions every day. Honestly- -ed. I should point out here, Myrie was making a TV item- perhaps you have seen it? It is clear from this clip that the children were clothed, clean and nourished)

Needless to say, the BBC went in by lying, under false pretences, and discovered not very much at all, to be honest- hence the furore which they’ve nicely played down by keeping the Czech response from getting the publicity which the report got.

I could of course go on, but as I said, I haven’t time :-). Read it and judge for yourselves. This is so bad that the words “well meaning” have no meaning in this case.

I saw no purpose in carrying on

“when it became clear that the presenter was interested only in the opinion of his two Euro-phile guests, and had brought me along as a sort of pantomime Euro-phobe, I saw no purpose in carrying on.”

Indeed the BBC can sap the will to carry on. Daniel Hannan persevered, and got results. Read all about it.

The conclusion he draws is that the BBC is unwittingly biased, and amenable when challenged. I’m not convinced this is more than partly true, but certainly one can get results from standing up and being counted.

(hat tip to Iain Dale)