The BBC transmitted an edition of Panorama on 10 July called ‘Is Labour Anti-Semitic?’ five months before the recent general election. It contained widely contested allegations that Labour was engulfed by antisemitism and that senior Labour figures close to Jeremy Corbyn had interfered in order to obstruct, delay or otherwise rig the internal investigations process.
This was the third Panorama edition since 2015 that was focused on, and wholly critical of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the party. It contained gross breaches of the BBC's legal commitment to due impartiality and due accuracy rules including:
- The programme made no mention of the views of hundreds of Jewish members of the Labour Party that were on record contesting those of a select group of members featured on the programme.
- It featured two experts but made no mention of the opposing views of a number of world-renowned experts on antisemitism.
- It included selective extracts from leaked emails that grossly distorted their context and meaning.
- It omitted mention of other leaked emails that demonstrated the exact opposite of the programme's conclusions (i.e. that the leadership had in fact intervened to encourage more robust and speedier resolution of complaints).
- It included wholly unsubstantiated editorial commentary by the programme's presenter, John Ware, whose personal opposition to Jeremy Corbyn's politics is well known.
Rather than engage meaningfully with over 1,500 complaints received about the programme, the BBC responded with a mix of obfuscation and irrational argument. After they had exhausted the BBC's framework dozens of these complaints progressed to Ofcom which took an extraordinary 12 weeks to reach a decision simply not to investigate.
This decision can and must be legally challenged. Aside from the egregious failure of reporting by the BBC, it represents a wholesale failure of accountability.
I am launching this bid on behalf of a group of complainants. In order to launch formal proceedings, we need to raise funds to cover potential cost liability. In the event that we win the case, any surplus funds will be returned to donors on a proportional basis and full accounting will be published.
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Please support this landmark and important case. The future of our democracy hinges on our public service media offering fair and accurate coverage of political controversies, and a regulator that properly holds them to account.