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If News International had employed Savile how different things would be

By Angela Harbutt
October 22nd, 2012 at 6:44 pm | 3 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

I see that Tory MP Philip Davies wrote a few days ago to Ofcom boss Ed Richards demanding that the BBC face a “Murdoch style” investigation “the BBC (should) face the test into their probity following the Jimmy Savile sex abuse revelations and the subsequent cover up that has emerged in the last few weeks“.

Spot on.

Given how (a) tardy and (b) inaccurate the BBC has been in supplying information to date on this issue and (c) the scale of the News International inquiry, we should all be demanding that the BBC should NOT be allowed to run its own “independent” reviews. If News International had been the orgnisation at the centre of this scandal we would rightly expect that any investigation be conducted, and overseen, by an arms length organisation. Indeed there would already be further widespread calls to investigate whether Sky/News International were “fit and proper” to hold a broadcasting license. We should expect no less a standard of scrutiny of a state broadcaster.

Phone hacking is a considerably lesser crime than any of the following (a) failing to take all available steps to protect children in your care, (b) failing to investigate thoroughly suspicions of abuse of minors by your staff, (c) failing to forward such serious suspicions to the police for investigation. These appear to be the very accusations that have already been laid at BBCs door.

Add to that, the deeply worrying incident of a Newsnight item on Savile being pulled. It has been said by the editor that the reason for not broadcasting the item was based purely on their belief that they had insufficient evidence to broadcast the item. Now we learn however, that the BBC has been forced to issue an embarrassingly lengthy correction to his blog saying it was “inaccurate or incomplete in some respects”.

Frankly, anyone who has ever worked in broadcast journalism will have already raised an eyebrow at the suggestion that an item had actually filmed before the decision was taken that there was insufficient evidence to broadcast.   There is also the serious question as to why they did not pass their files to the police? And we have yet to find out just how much George Entwistle (recently appointed Director General) knew of the Newsnight item. Maybe the BBCs Panorama documentary tonight will shed further light on the matter? Although I for one do not wish to be told by BBC journalists what actually occurred on Newsnight (and certainly not one as inept as this) any more than I want BBC appointees to tell me what occurred elsewhere.

All of this just feels too cosy for my liking. Who is willing to bet that we will see little more than a couple of token hacks hung out to dry (i.e. pensioned off),  much hand-wringing and an assurance that current  child protection and whistle-blowing policies are fit for purpose.

Not good enough in my opinion. We cannot have one rule for the state (broadcaster) and one rule for everyone else.  If phone hacking deserves a Leveson inquiry, then unchecked wholesale child abuse and journalistic cover ups deserves Leveson++.

In a shockingly lame reply to a question in the House last week, Nick Clegg said

“I certainly accept there may be a case for an inquiry and if an inquiry were to be held which is as broad ranging as you suggest it should be, it should be independent to look at the full range of the shocking revelations as they have come to light”

Not good enough Nick. Nowhere near good enough. What are you waiting for?

UPDATE: Excellent post here from Liberal England on how the BBC lied, and lied, and lied.

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Time for the party to grow up…

By Angela Harbutt
August 1st, 2010 at 4:56 pm | 17 Comments | Posted in coalition, Liberal Democrats

Back in May, all Lib Dem MP’s (bar one abstention) voted in favour of a coalition with the Conservatives.  The Conservatives gave away a lot to the Lib Dem’s to secure the deal (Simon Hughes was quoted just this week saying that he and others could not believe just how much was being offered).

Part of the “quid pro quo” however was that the Lib Dems would accept Michael Gove’s plans for “free schools” – essentially allowing schools more independence from local councils and enabling parents to set up their own free schools. Something that a number of Tory councillors were none too happy with it should be said. 

At conference activists will however challenge the MP’s decision. A motion has been put forward that states (according to Newsnight as I have not seen conference papers as yet) “Local Authorities should retain strategic oversight of the provision of school places” and “continue to exercise their arms length support of state schools“. On free schools the motion calls on “all Liberal Democrats to urge people not to take up this option“.

Well we would have been living in la la land had we not expected some form of left wing gnashing of teeth at conference – and even more foolish to imagine that the Federal Conference Committee would not find a way to allow at least one motion to find its way onto the agenda.

Will there be a media scrum around it ? You betcha. Newsnight have already started – you can see it below – and it wont stop there. Will Liberal Vision find itself (again!) on the side of the leadership? (looks likely….. darn it!). Will the activists win? (Possibly). Will it make any difference to the short term? Unlikely. Even if the motion passes, frankly the Coalition deal out ranks a motion at conference – so it’s a gesture at best. Though one the Coalition can ill afford at such a tricky time in its life.

And how very Lib Dem to have a motion that calls on its members to “urge” others to do, or not do, something. Why we need to pass a motion in order to “urge” is a little beyond me. 

Does it highlight that it is time that the Lib Dems grew up? Definitely. The truth is that the media will portray us as a bunch of loons who prefer permanent opposition to power. And they might be right. About part of the party at least.

But surely it’s about time policies and motions are voted on by the WHOLE party (as I have argued before)…not just a tiny minority of members, with a score to settle, willing and able to make the journey to Beetle land. Come on Nick, Simon or whoever is in charge of the party right now – time bring the Lib Dems kicking and screaming into the 21st century – and get some real democracy (we are so keen to bang on about to others) into this party. Let people have their debate at conference by all means – then put it to the vote of all members. That way we can be sure our policies reflect those of the 60,000 not just the disgruntled few hundred.

In the mean time be prepared for a rocky ride and a media frenzy in Liverpool.

Oh…well said Julian Harris on Newsnight.

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Have Newsnight lost the plot?

By Angela Harbutt
April 8th, 2010 at 11:04 pm | 3 Comments | Posted in Election

Just in case Newsnight didn’t  notice – we have a general election on our hands. So why oh why was the first five minutes of tonights programme (8th April) given over to Liam Byrne MP (Labour) slagging off Tory plans…countered by…. James Caan (Dragons Den fame) ..oh…also slagging off Tory policy ???

Never mind the Lib Dem spokesman  – where oh where was the balance ? – Jeremy Paxman left attempting (badly) to represent the Liberal/Tory case.

I can’t believe Newsnight were caught “on the hop” so who was in charge..and  what is this?

BBC left wing boys attempting to hold up the cause single handedly?

Could do MUCH better..

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Hung Parliament and the value of the £ – part 2

By Angela Harbutt
March 18th, 2010 at 5:08 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats, UK Politics

Well, Nick might have thought the discussion about hung parliament and the value of the £ had been put to bed with his comments last week. Not so. Here is a short extract from Tuesday night’s Newsnight – an interview with Lord Steel and Terry Smith (from brokerage Tullet Prebon).

Rarely have I seen anyone praise Vince Cable as highly as Mr Smith. But note the recurring theme we are hearing from many on the business side of UK plc – that the cuts being proposed by ALL three main parties are simply insufficient for the scale of the problem.
Come on Nick, let Vince off his leash to tell it as it really is.

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A hung Parliament and the value of the £. Discuss.

By Angela Harbutt
March 11th, 2010 at 10:48 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in Liberal Democrats, UK Politics

In response to emails asking to see the Newsnight piece (3rd March 2010) about the relationship between media headlines on the growing (?) possibility of a hung parliament and the value of the £ and specifically that reference to the Liberal Democrats being unable to enter “formal” coalition without the support of 75% of MPs and “top party brass”. Here it is…..

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