Thursday, February 16, 2012

BBC spent £350,000 on legal battle to keep report on its 'biased' Middle East coverage secret

The BBC has been accused of a cover-up after spending almost £350,000 on a legal battle to suppress an internal report about bias in its Middle East coverage.

A seven-year campaign to gain access to the 2004 document, which examined the corporation’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ended in defeat yesterday after the Supreme Court ruled it could remain secret.

Lawyer Steven Sugar, who passed away last year, made a Freedom of Information request in 2005 for disclosure of the 20,000-word Balen Report.

But the corporation argued it was exempt from revealing information it held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature’.

After years of courtroom battles and Mr Sugar’s death, his widow Fiona Paveley continued on his behalf.
Her lawyer, Michael Levey, said the family were ‘considering their options’ after the Supreme Court dismissed the latest appeal after ruling the report was ‘outside the scope’ of the FoI Act.

By September 2010, the BBC had spent £270,000 on the case, but senior insiders admitted this had now increased to as much as £350,000. Read More