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David Keighley

Geert Wilders: the ‘maverick’ damned by BBC reporting

Geert Wilders: the ‘maverick’ damned by BBC reporting

The Dutch politician Geert Wilders and his Freedom political party (PVV) stir up strong sentiments.

He is renowned for his stance that Islam in his country is responsible for major social divisions and has lead to the radicalisation of young Muslims to the extent that they are joining terrorist organisations.

Mr Wilders is also strongly against the EU and openly advocates departure.

He has a strong following and PVV is the third largest party in the Dutch Parliament with 24 seats, having won over 15% of the vote. PVV , like UKIP, is also expected to win significant numbers of seats in the May 22 European elections, perhaps becoming the biggest single party from the Netherlands.

Because of his stance against Islam and the EU, many in the left in Britain view Mr Wilders as  ‘far right-wing and ‘extremist’ and seek to bracket him with intolerance, racism and potential civil unrest. This article in the Independent is typical .

And how does the BBC treat Mr Wilders?  Well, they don’t openly vilify him. But…

In this item, filed this weekend, BBC  online correspondent Anna Holligan is keen to say he has a good chance of improving his standing in the European elections and can ‘claim that he is the only politician unafraid to discuss the real concerns of Dutch voters. .

But the rest drips innuendo , and is clearly designed to establish  that a primary goal is to ‘stir race hatred’ and that he is a ‘maverick’  who has fomented a ‘race row’.  None of Mr Holligan’s construction  – apart from the ‘maverick’ label – accuses Mr Wilders directly; it is done entirely by association.

Ms Holligan deployed a less subtle approach when she wrote about Mr Wilders’ alleged attack on the Moroccan community back in March.

She pitched her story as a classical race row – and gave most prominence to claims from the Dutch Moroccan Alliance (SMN)  that his remarks were similar to those by Hitler about Jews; that he had crossed a line in targeting a specific group of people.

BBC online boxed a quote that typified her approach, a quote from an SMN spokesman: “Now he has gone a step too far it’s very scary and potentially dangerous”.

Ms Holligan also noted:

“Mr Wilders’ comments came as exit polls from local elections in The Hague revealed that the anti-Islam, anti-immigration PVV was running neck-and-neck with the liberal-leaning D66 party.  In the end, the PVV was narrowly nudged into second place in The Hague, winning 14.1% compared to 15.4% secured by D66. But the result, and the enthusiastic response to his anti-Moroccan rhetoric, will galvanise Mr Wilders ahead of the European Parliament elections in May.

“He has consistently campaigned on an anti-EU ticket, blaming “the monster in Brussels” for stealing Dutch politicians’ ability to make decisions about how the country should be run. The PVV is the fourth largest party in the Dutch parliament but leads most national opinion polls.

“Mr Wilders’ popularity has rocketed over the last 10 years, after the murder of anti-Islam politician Pim Fortuyn spurred a surge of anti-immigrant sentiment in a country once famous for its liberal and tolerant attitudes. In 2011, Mr Wilders was acquitted of incitement after being accused of encouraging hatred towards Muslims”.

None of this says directly that Mr Wilders is a racist, but that is clearly what is inferred – he is popular because of his attitudes to Islam and Moroccans  and for his illiberal and intolerant attitudes, which are carefully bracketed by Ms Holligan  with leaving the EU.

Buried carefully in Ms Holligan’s account is that Mr Wilders had actually called for the deportation only of Moroccan criminals, amid increasing concerns that they were responsible for a growing crime wave.

News-watch records show that Mr Wilders is routinely treated in this way, and that there is a consistent attempt to link his anti-EU stance with racism.  In a feature in broadcast by Today last December,  for example,  Mishal Husain noted that Mr Wilders was trying to start a new anti-EU political party in the Netherlands.  But In the report which followed, Gavin Hewitt focused almost entirely on his anti-Muslim stance and asked primarily if he was aiming to stoke up tensions ‘that might be difficult to control’.  Mr Wilders denied that he was, but Mr Hewitt said that there were ‘plenty of people’ who said he did stoke up tensions ’between communities’.

The full transcript is below.

Transcript of BBC Radio 4, Today, 13th December 2013, Geert Wilders, 8.51am

MISHAL HUSAIN:                     The controversial Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, is attempting to start a new political party, bringing far right groups together on an anti-EU platform.  UKIP’s Nigel Farage was one of those invited to join, but he’s so far shied away from the project, due to the inclusion of the French National Front.  Our Europe editor, Gavin Hewitt, has been speaking to Geert Wilders.

GEERT WILDERS:         I believe that we have very few things to benefit from the European Union. I believe that a growing amount of voters feel that we pay a lot of money to Europe, but that at the end of the day we are not in charge of our own laws, of our own borders, of our own money, of our own money, of our own budget, and people want to change that.

GAVIN HEWITT:           You say you want to fight the monster in Brussels.  Do you want to bring down the European Union?

GW:     Yes, as a matter of fact, I do, in a way that I would like the Netherlands to leave the European Union.

GH:      You’re Eurosceptic, but the leading Eurosceptic in the UK, Nigel Farage from UKIP, he’s shunning your new alliance, isn’t he?

GW:     Well, I have a lot of respect for Nigel Farage.  I think if you hear and speak what he says he is a politician that I admire a lot.  Of course, I know, you are correct that he is very hesitant in joining the party and working together.  I hope, however, that after the European elections things might change.

GH:      You have said that Islam is not compatible with the Western way of life.  But haven’t Muslim communities become part of the European way of life?

GW:     Well, indeed, I believe that Islam is an inferior culture.  I’m talking about the ideology here, not about the people. I know that a lot of Muslims are law-abiding people whose concern is to have a good life, a good education for their children and a good job and I have nothing against them.

GH:      Do you feel a personal responsibility not to stoke up tensions that could, or might lead to an atmosphere that you might find it difficult to control?

GW:     But I don’t believe I’ve ever done anything coming close to that. A responsible politician I believe never stirs up any problems in any society.

GH:      But there are plenty of people who will say in some of your comments you do stoke up tensions between communities.

GW:     Well, you asked what my intention is, I can only give you an honest answer, from Geert Wilders, I’m not speaking on behalf of anyone else.  My answer, my honest answer to you is, no, I’m not, I’m staying far away from anything that has to do from stirring up anything.

Photo by FaceMePLS

BBC Prebble report into EU coverage ‘not worth paper it is written on’

News-watch has written a paper for Civitas, the respected think-tank,  that shows that the Prebble report into the BBC’s EU coverage ‘is not worth the paper it is written on’ and was not independent.

The Times says that the Civitas paper demonstrates  that  ‘the clean bill of health for the BBC (given for the EU coverage by Prebble) “raises serious questions” about the impartiality and competence of the BBC Trust, the oversight body that commissioned the study’.

The Civitas release about the report is here:

The full report is here:

Nick Robinson raises spectre of racism against EU withdrawers

Nick Robinson raises spectre of racism against EU withdrawers

One of the problems of the BBC’s coverage of ‘withdrawal’ from the EU is that mostly, they don’t do it – but when they do deign to do so, it’s through a totally negative lens.

The News-watch long-term survey of Today – which goes back twelve years and covers roughly half the programme editions – shows that there have been only 108 appearances by ‘come outers’ where withdrawal has been mentioned. That equates to only one appearance every three weeks, compared to an average 47 EU-related speakers in the same period.

But that’s only part of picture because transcript analysis shows that most of these mentions have been very fleeting, and only very rarely indeed do Today presenters pose questions directly about withdrawal policy. What is also clear from the transcripts is that editorially, the programme tends to focus on negative issues. Are withdrawalists racist, venal, disorganised or opportunist?  These are the favourites that crop up monotonously and almost mechanistically.

Another constant in the treatment of  withdrawal is that the majority of the interviews has been with UKIP.  Of the 108 appearances logged by News-watch, 80 were with members of UKIP. Only three  (in nine years!) were  with Labour figures and only 14 with Conservatives. Others, for example,  were with  those such as Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician, who is usually viewed by the BBC as both ‘extremist’ and ‘racist’.

It’s in that context that the rather startling interview on April 22 by  BBC political editor Nick Robinson of Nigel Farage  must be seen.  Basically, it looks like Mr Robinson sought to inflict maximum damage on the day that UKIP had launched their poster-based  EU election campaign against the EU’s free movement of people directive.

Mr Robinson first established that Nigel Farage was employing his wife (a German) as his secretary.  Here is the exchange:

NR: No British person could work for you as your secretary?

NF: Not at the moment.

NR: You don’t think anyone’s capable of doing that job?

NF: What, of marrying me?

NR: No. Of doing the job of your secretary.

NF: I don’t know anyone who would work those hours, no.

NR: So that’s it. It’s clear – UKIP do not believe that any British person is capable of being the secretary of their leader?

NF: That’s nonsense and you know it.

NR: You just said it!

This is truly jaw-dropping, even by the BBC’s previous standards.  What is seemingly obvious was obvious from the context and what Mr Farage said is that was employing his wife not because she was German but because he worked anti-social hours and nobody else would put up with that.

But Mr Robinson was having none of it.  As Biased BBC notes,  he had already seemingly made up his mind what the story was about.  – that UKIP did not believe that ‘any British person was capable of being the leader’s secretary’.   For his part, Mr Farage was incredulous that  Mr Robinson could make such crass assumptions.

The rest of the interview  touched on the levels of immigration that might be thought be fair by UKIP under the free movement of people directive. Mr Farage suggested  that the current number of 100,000+  per year should be cut to a ‘more manageable’30-50,000 and that there should border controls.

Mr Robinson’s conclusion sidestepped those national interest debating points. He said instead:

‘Mr Farage’s decision to employ his wife at public expense highlights two important questions he and his party now face – about what their immigration policy means in practice and their attitude to public money.’

Put another way:  it seems that rather than looking at the important issues involved in immigration policy, Mr Robinson was determined to focus instead on showing

a)      That UKIP and Mr Farage had very odd attitudes towards employment

b)      His policy and attitudes towards his wife’s employment meant that his ideas about immigration were potentially at least very odd and possibly racist (the word was not said but Mr Robinson’s focus suggested it was somewhere in his mind)

c)       Nothing at all about withdrawalist objections to the free movement of people directive.

Mr Robinson, it has been noted elsewhere on the site, has himself recently suggested that the BBC has not covered the debate about immigration properly; on this evidence, it is easy to see why.

Photo by Jennifer Jane Mills

Today editor Jamie Angus: Voice of Prejudice?

Jamie Angus was appointed editor of  Radio 4’s flagship Today programme almost a year ago, in May 2013. Monitoring by Newswatch has shown that a highlight of his tenure to date is that the programme devoted 83 minutes to items on Nelson Mandela on the day of his death – the highest total for any single topic since the introduction of euro notes and coins on January 1, 2002.

Under his watch, too, his main and highest-profile presenter, John Humphrys, has declared that he believes the Corporation has been guilty of ‘bias by omission’ –  that is, excluding key figures from appearances in the debate about key topics such as the EU and immigration.

So who is Mr Angus? He  had previously worked for the BBC World Service, where he held ‘senior editorial roles’. He was also editor of  R4’s World at One, and briefly – in the wake of the Savile and McAlpine debacles  – acting deputy editor of BBC2’s Newsnight.

But the web in general  – and the BBC’s own website –  is curiously silent about him. He seems to have risen without a trace through the BBC’s ranks. Apart from a spasmodic and rather boring BBC blog, he has virtually no web profile at all. That must be through choice and careful management.

In fact, his only public recorded utterance was on his appointment  to Today, when he said the programme was at the heart of Radio 4 news and central to what the BBC offered its audiences.

Whatever his background, behind the scenes  he is now making rulings that nail his colours to the mast.  The Biased BBC website reports that, in effect, he has declared that the debate over ‘climate change’ is over. The background is that listeners were worried that those who challenge climate alarmism hardly ever appear on his programme, as was evidenced by a recent very rare interview with the widely-known sceptic, the former  Chancellor, Lord Lawson on February 13. Mr Angus wrote in response:

‘The BBC’s reviewed its coverage of climate change and climate science, and it has set out some admirably clear guidelines for us to follow. We are able to put on air people who take a differing view from the majority view of climate science. However, that coverage should be proportional, and I think that any reasonable listener who listened to Today’s coverage of climate change, across the past three months, would probably find that Lord Lawson was the only climate sceptic, if you like, who’d appeared in that period. And I think, you know, when Justin and I and the programme team discussed that interview, we thought we’d allowed it to drift too much into a straight yes-no argument about the science. And of course the settled view of the expert scientists is just that – settled, and I believe that our coverage reflects that, over the long term.‘

Put another way, Mr Angus says that he, his fellow editor, the BBC  as a whole and his programme team, have  decided:

·         The issues around ‘climate change’ are known and decided because that’s what the majority believe and because it’s ‘the settled view’ of ‘expert scientists’.

·         It’s a big favour putting on Today anyone who disbelieves the science is settled, because such appearances should be ‘proportional’ to point 1.

·         Climate change debates on the programme, on the very rare occasions they do occur, should not allow a simple  ‘no’ perspective – because yet again, the science is settled.

What this actually means is that anyone who disagrees with the party line, if they appear at all,  will be pushed to the margins of Today and not allowed to argue, especially if it against the majority verdict.  Of course, the BBC Trustees, in their infinite wisdom,  have already separately and definitively decided that climate science is settled. The only surprising element of Mr Angus’s unquestioning obeisance is the Orwellian, mechanistic, dictatorial tone. And, whoever Mr Angus is,  he appears not to have the faintest glimmering of an understanding that science is not, and never has been,  decided by ‘majority views’ but by the facts.

That, as Christopher Booker notes, may be the BBC groupthink, but it’s not the real world.

BBC Trustees ‘failed to challenge’ BBC executives over £100m digital disaster

BBC Trustees ‘failed to challenge’ BBC executives over £100m digital disaster

This section is dedicated to the unfolding saga of the BBC’s failed Digital Media Initiative, which the National Audit Office has said cost the licence-fee payer almost £100m  as a result of a catalogue of fundamental management failures by both the board of management and the Trustees.

Chairman of the BBC Trustees Lord Patten and former director general Mark Thompson have earned a stinging rebuke from the National Audit Office  for their handling of the failed Digital Media Initiative system (DMI),which was supposed to introduce a unified digital operating platform across the BBC.

The NAO report published on January 28 said the BBC executive board, led by then director general Mr Thompson, had failed to scrutinise enough the doomed IT project over an 18-month period and the BBC Trust, chaired by Lord Patten, had not done enough to challenge it.

The NAO also said the BBC was “too optimistic” about its ability to complete the project after it took it in-house from contractor Siemens in 2009, with reporting arrangements “not fit for purpose” and no single manager made responsible for the entire venture. DMI was eventually scrapped in May 2013, at a cost of £98.4m to licence fee payers.

The project – which was supposed to do away with the need for videotapes across the BBC and use digital technology to call up archive footage – was scrapped just a month into director general Tony Hall’s tenure in 2013, with the BBC Trust saying to continue it would be “throwing good money after bad”.

A PwC report commissioned by the BBC and published last month said the corporation should have identified that DMI would fail as early as July 2011, almost two years before it was eventually shut down.

The full NAO report can be seen here.

It has also emerged that Mark Thompson, along with , along with former BBC finance chief Zarin Patel, trustee Anthony Fry, ex-chief operating officer Caroline Thomson and director of operations Dominic Coles, will appear before the House of Commons public accounts committee on February 3 to face questioning about the issues raised by the NAO report about the DMI.

Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP who chairs the Commons public accounts committee, said the failures revealed in a National Audit Office report on the Digital Media Initiative (DMI) “go right to the top” of the corporation.

She added that the BBC Trust, the corporation’s governance body, chaired by Lord Patten, had questioned executives about slippages in the DMI programme in September 2011, “but then applied limited challenge until July 2012”.

Her full statement reads: ” This report reads like a catalogue of how not to run a major programme. I was shocked to learn how poor the BBC’s governance arrangements for the Digital Media Initiative were. There was no Senior Responsible Owner with complete oversight of all aspects of programme’s delivery.

“The report clearly demonstrates why regular reviews are necessary – and why external reviewers should be listened to. If the BBC had established clearer accountability and stronger reporting it could have recognised the issues much earlier and set about minimising the astronomic losses for the licence fee payer.

“These failures go right to the top. The executive board applied insufficient scrutiny during 2011 and the first half of 2012. The programme was not subject to any audit or assurance reporting between early 2011 until July 2012. The BBC Trust had questioned the executive about slippages in September 2011 but then applied limited challenge until July 2012. After the BBC executive board became aware of the problems it initiated a review in May 2012 of the DMI timetable, costs and benefits.

“The BBC Trust finance committee did not know until July 2012 that the DMI’s risk rating had increased to red for the period October to December 2011.

“The BBC needs to learn from the mistakes it made and ensure that it never again spends such a huge amount of licence fee payers’ money with almost nothing to show for it.”

Meanwhile, John Linwood, the former BBC chief technology officer, who it has emerged this week, was dismissed last summer over the failed initiative, has said in written evidence to the Commons public accounts committee that he is taking legal action against the corporation.

It is understood that Mr Linwood has claimed that the BBC allowed inaccurate statements to be made to the public accounts committee about DMI and has blamed a “changed vision” of how the project was supposed to work for its difficulties and closure.

In a separate submission to the committee, Bill Garrett, another former BBC technology executive who warned Lord Patten about problems with DMI in May 2012, said he believed that four years ago “a number of staff knowingly falsified estimates of financial benefits” in order to secure further funding for the project.

Filed January 27:

BBC technology chief ‘sacked’ as row over failed £100m scheme continues

The BBC has confirmed that the executive responsible for the corporation’s £100m digital media initiative (DMI) – which was supposed to create a unitary digital platform across operations – has been fired.

John Linwood, who held the post of BBC chief technology officer, on a salary of £287,000 a year, had initially been suspended during the summer when Director General Lord Hall announced publicly that the DMI objectives were not being met and the licence-fee payers’ money spent on it had been largely wasted.

It is understood that Mr Linwood, who left the corporation without a pay-off, is now claiming unfair dismissal.

Following the suspension of Mr Linwood, Lord Hall commissioned from accountants Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) a report into the reasons for the DMI failure. But Mr Linwood, it now seems certain, was fired before the inquiry was commenced.

The 54-page report cost the BBC £263,340 to produce. According to the Guardian newspaper, it found no single issue or event caused DMI to fail. But PwC said the BBC took ‘too long’ to realise DMI was in serious trouble, because of weaknesses in project management and reporting, a lack of focus on business change, together with piecemeal assurance arrangements.

BBC insiders were critical of the tone and scope of the report, arguing that the corporation has got off lightly for its £98.4m technical blunder.

“We are of the view that had appropriate governance, risk management and reporting arrangements been established from the outset, then the process of preparing a revised business case for DMI could have been commenced as early as July 2011,” said PwC. “It took longer than we would have expected for the BBC to reach executive agreement on the future for DMI”.

Confirmation of his exit comes less than a fortnight before former director general Mark Thompson is due to appear before the Commons public accounts committee on 3 February.

The collapse of DMI will also be the subject of a report by the National Audit Office, expected to be published later this month.

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten has also come in for criticism from MPs over the issue. They accused him of “obstruction and secrecy” after he apparently ordered the corporation not to disclose key documents about the failed project.

Mr Thompson was recalled to appear before MPs next month after he gave evidence to parliament about DMI in 2011. MPs later claimed that BBC executives’ statements “just weren’t true”.

They said Mr Thompson, now chief executive of the New York Times, incorrectly claimed the scheme was already up and running. He later said he gave evidence “honestly and in good faith” based on information from his executives.

Also appearing before MPs will be the corporation’s former finance chief Zarin Patel, BBC trustee Anthony Fry, ex-chief operating officer Caroline Thomson and BBC operations director Dominic Coles.

Photo by cdnorman

Commons Savages ‘Complacent’ BBC Trustees over Digital Project

Commons Savages ‘Complacent’ BBC Trustees over Digital Project

The Commons Public Accounts committee has published its final verdict on the BBC’s failed Digital Media Initiative (DMI), which wasted almost £100m of licence fee money.

The project, which was started in 2008 and abandoned last year, was supposed to create the most advanced digital film handling system in the world.

But in a devastating attack on the BBC’s conduct, committee chairman Margaret Hodge says the corporation failed from the Trustees downwards to manage the initiative and also refused to share when asked vital information about how the project was being managed.

The committee has issued a six point list of demands about future BBC management. They amount to a requirement that the  corporation follows the basic ABC of management procedures.

The committee’s report is the latest in a long line of critical investigations into the DMI debacle, including an inquiry by the National Audit Office in January which documented a catalogue of mistakes.

The only usable system delivered by DMI was an archive and ordering system that was slower than the 40-year-old process it was intended to replace, with just 163 staff and a running cost of £3m a year, four times the £780,000 annual cost of its archaic predecessor.

The BBC’s former chief technology officer John Linwood, who paid for the DMI fiasco with his job last summer, is understood to be continuing his legal action against the corporation.

The committee called on the BBC Trust to “set out…what changes it will make to be more proactive in chasing and challenging the BBC executive’s performance in delivering major projects so that it can properly protect the licence fee payers’ interest”.

Mrs Hodge said: “When my Committee examined the DMI’s progress in February 2011, the BBC told us that the DMI was “an absolutely essential have to have” and that a lot of the BBC’s future was tied up in the successful delivery of the DMI.

“The BBC also told us that it was using the DMI to make many programmes and was on track to complete the system in 2011 with no further delays. This turned out not to be the case. In reality the BBC only ever used the DMI to make one programme, called ‘Bang Goes the Theory’.

“The BBC was far too complacent about the high risks involved in taking it in-house. No single individual had overall responsibility or accountability for delivering the DMI and achieving the benefits, or took ownership of problems when they arose.”

Photo by break.things

Bias by Omission…again

Bias by Omission…again

John Humphrys, as has been reported here, has pointed out that the BBC has been guilty on a systematic basis of ‘bias by omission’ – that is, ignoring core stories that would ensure audiences are kept in touch with the key facts and developments in controversial areas.

This report, by Andrew Montford, of the Bishop Hill site, and published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, assembles devastating evidence that many schools are now bombarding on a massive, systematic scale pupils with propaganda about climate change alarmism.

It raises important points to the extent that Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has said that such activities are illegal. He states explicitly that on matters of scientific debate, pupils must be given a balanced picture.                                                                                  

This is a cracking story, and it was covered extensively by the national press                                                              

And what has the  BBC made of it? Well, nothing, nothing at all. So far, they have not published a word on the website about the report, preferring instead to continue to push their own propaganda angle for millions of pounds to be spent on subsidising wind farms.

Their approach fits exactly with what John Humphrys warned about – and with their own alarmist climate change agenda, which means that those who disagree with the BBC orthodoxy are banished to the outer edges of news coverage, or are not reported at all.

Photo by woodleywonderworks

Humphrys: ‘BBC Not Sceptical Enough on EU’

Humphrys: ‘BBC Not Sceptical Enough on EU’

Update:  Autonomous Mind has made an invaluable contribution following up John Humphrys’ remarks about EU coverage, reported in full below.

The core of his story is that when questioned further on the BBC’s Feedback programme about the problems, Mr Humphrys  added to his Radio Times interview by saying categorically that there had been systematic ‘bias by omission’ – essentially by ignoring key stories or refusing to have on the Today programme a range of guests who were negative about the EU.

This is a major charge, but the BBC steadfastly denies it.

The problem was, in fact, first identified as a problem in the BBC’s EU output by Lord Wilson of Dinton in his report of 2004-5 for the former BBC Governors.  He wrote:

‘We note that across the spectrum of opinion there is widespread criticism of the narrow nature of the coverage and the lack of reporting of issues which have a considerable domestic impact.’ (p 8.25)

Almost a decade on, the evidence regularly gathered by Newswatch shows that nothing has changed despite reassurances from the BBC that it would.  This reinforces John Humphrys’ views, although Mr Humphrys claims that matters have now been corrected, whereas Newswatch research shows that they most certainly have not.

In the latest survey period, for example, only 513 words in 13 weeks of the Today programme were ‘come-outers’ talking about their views about withdrawal. That was only 0.7% of the EU output – so low that it was unquestionably bias by omission.

John Humphrys has joined the long list of senior BBC figures who say that the corporation’s EU-related coverage has been biased and not sceptical enough.

According to reports in the Guardian and the Daily Mail, he told the Radio Times (article not available online) that the reporting of immigration had also been not sufficiently sceptical.

His words echo those of former director general Mark Thompson and political editor Nick Robinson already reported by Newswatch, as well as those by former head of television news, Roger Mosey. Who asserted:

“On the BBC’s own admission, in recent years it did not, with the virtue of hindsight, give enough space to anti-immigration views or to EU-withdrawalists; and, though he may have exaggerated, the former Director-General Mark Thompson spoke of a ‘massive bias to the left’ in the BBC he joined more than 30 years ago.

‘I share Mark’s view that there was more internal political diversity in recent times, but that isn’t enough unless it’s evident in a wider range of editorial view on air.’

In line with these earlier remarks, Mr Humphrys appears to offer no evidence for his contention about past bias, or about how he arrived at his conclusion that coverage has now improved.

Mr Humphrys, who has presented the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 since 1987, said that BBC staff were more likely to be liberal rather than conservative because they were the ‘best and the brightest’ and tended to be university educated.

The 70-year-old said that ‘The BBC has tended over the years to be broadly liberal as opposed to broadly conservative for all sorts of perfectly understandable reasons.’

He added: ‘We weren’t sufficiently sceptical – that’s the most accurate phrase – of the pro-European case. We bought into the European ideal.

‘We weren’t sufficiently sceptical about the pro-immigration argument. We didn’t look at the potential negatives with sufficient rigour.’

Mr Humphrys also claimed the BBC was no longer so biased towards the EU.  He asserted: ‘I think we’re out of that now. I think we have changed.’

But he broadened his criticisms: He said: ‘There are too many of them (managers). I think they think that. I think [director general] Tony Hall thinks that – I don’t know, I haven’t asked him, but I think he thinks that.

‘Over the years we’ve been grotesquely over-managed, there’s no question. They’re now getting a grip on it. A lot have gone. I think more need to go.’

Photo by Amplified Group

BBC: ‘Has received £20m from the EU’

BBC: ‘Has received £20m from the EU’

The Spectator, by good journalistic digging – and persevering with a freedom of information request – has found that the BBC has been boosting its coffers by applying on a regular basis to the EU for grant funds.  The article homes in on the  huge potential conflict of interest, and points out that Lord Patten, the BBC chairman – the man thus in charge of BBC impartiality – is already in the sway of the EU because he receives a pension from it of an estimated £100,000 a year.

Richard North, on the EU Referendum website, has been following through and filling the gaps, and found that sums involved – though a fleabite in terms of the BBC’s overall revenues of £3.65bn a year – have added up to more than £20m for rafts of projects in the period 2007-12.

The money, it seems, is mainly channelled through the BBC’s charity arm, the body formerly known as the World Service Trust, and now with the title of ‘BBC Media Action – ‘transforming lives through the media around the world’.

In fact, a moment’s digging shows that among the main goals of ‘Media Action’  are concerted efforts to spread propaganda about climate change, sinisterly but clumsily masked as objective research, as this faux sociological exercise in Asia reveals.  The goal is clearly to brainwash vast swathes of Asia – in line with the EU’s own collective thinking – that climate change is adversely affecting their lives and political action needs taking to combat it.

Another scheme for which BBC  ‘Media Action’ successfully applied for money – to the tune of almost £4m – wasEuropean Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument. This is the EU’s own definition of the Orwellian scheme:

“The ENP is a broad political strategy which has the ambitious objective of strengthening the prosperity, stability and security of Europe’s neighbourhood in order to avoid any dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its direct neighbours.”

That sounds like spreading pro-EU propaganda. Neither the BBC nor the EU are specific about how the BBC’s money has been used, but it seems that one goal is the training of journalists in the Ukraine.   Would that be so that they can tell their fellow citizens how important links with the EU are?  Newswatch has found in its latest report that a constant feature of coverage of the tension in the Ukraine by the BBC Today programme during the autumn was the characterisation of a battle between those who supported the EU and Russia.

The BBC, as it always does, denies flatly that its programme-making activities are affected in any way by the receipt of such funds.  But Kate Hoey MP told the Spectator:

‘I have grave concerns about the bias of the BBC when it comes to EU matters. I find the whole thing shocking. The lack of transparency is unjustified. Why does it seem so worried about people knowing where it gets its money? What has the BBC got to hide other than knowing that many of us don’t trust them on EU matters and the need for a referendum on Britain’s EU membership?’

Ms Hoey adds that she has concerns that the BBC ‘very rarely’ reports Labour MPs’ views on Europe. She says:

‘Even Today in Parliament [on Radio 4] always tries to convey Tory splits on Europe, and this doesn’t help the perception of an EU bias. There are Labour MPs with strong views on Europe as well. It doesn’t help that the BBC very rarely reports these views.’

Photo by Images_of_Money

Drowned Out: Balanced BBC Reporting of Climate Change

Drowned Out: Balanced BBC Reporting of Climate Change

With predictions that this winter’s run of gales may finally be coming to an end (February 16), the BBC’s ‘climate change’ propaganda deluge has reached a perfect storm level.

High prominence on the BBC website is given to Labour leader Ed Miliband’s claim – made in the Observer, part of  the corporation’s favourite newspaper stable – that ‘climate change’ is now an issue of national security. He demands the spending of billions of pounds on ‘decarbonisation targets’ and attacks the Conservative party for daring to doubt elements of his green fanaticism.

The story, of course, fits perfectly with the corporation’s own strongly pro-climate change agenda, endorsed at the highest levels of the BBC and – as the evidence lower down this page shows  – is pursued with vigour on a daily basis by programmes such as Today.

In consequence, you will search in vain on the BBC website for any mentions of the numerous stories also running on February 16 that provide clear evidence that this winter’s storms – though unusual – are not exceptional, and that the role of the Environment Agency in possibly making the flooding worse is under increasing investigation.

Christopher Booker, for example, argues strongly that the ‘climate change’ theory about the cause of the storms is mired in political axe-grinding by the Met Office, politicians, and the academic community that is paid billions to support such views.

What you will find on the BBC website, linked prominently to the claims by Mr Miliband, and therefore to buttress it,  is this story in which John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, calls for ‘climate change action’ and this guide to ‘climate’ change’ which puts the case for disastrous anthropogenic causation with a missionary zeal that first exactly with the corporation mindset.

John Kerry’s intervention was being delivered in Indonesia – where the BBC’s campaigning arm, Media Action, is particularly active in pursuing a ‘climate change’ agenda.  Without doubt, the main objective throughout Asia is to brainwash the maximum number of people  into alarmism, and to demand that billions are spent in averting the threat – as defined by the BBC.    Their climate change survey, funded by foreign office and EU grants, runs to hundreds of pages with sub reports for each major country, including Indonesia. It has dozens of alarmist sub-themes, and a primary methodology is asking people if they think weather is changing – and then using that data to ‘prove’ that climate change is real.  Astonishing.

A deluge of BBC coverage of the floods continues, so much that it is impossible to keep detailed track. But one thing is for sure: bias against what are increasingly dubbed ‘climate deniers’ continues. Never mind that those who say that the floods are not caused by ‘climate change’ claim they have a strong case; what is clear is that BBC journalists are continuing the battle to swamp or ignore their arguments.

Take Lord Lawson’s appearance on the Today programme on February 13. The full transcript is below.  The BBC has resolved, that only ‘due impartiality applies to such climate-related interviews. The sequence shows very clearly the practical consequences of this.

a)       Any advocate of climate change is treated with respect and deference by the interviewer

b)      Supporters of climate change are almost invariably given clear space to make their case, no matter how unsupported or controversial their claims are

c)       The interviewer sides with the advocate of climate change and ensures that the audience have heard and grasped the key points.

d)      The interviewer interrupts the guest who is a ‘denier’ to the maximum extent, through tone of voice, stopping he or she finishing points, cutting them off, and interrupting as many times as possible.

In this case, the interviewer was Justin Webb. He ensured that Sir Brian Hoskins, a political activist advocate of climate change who is paid to advance arguments in its favour, was not only given the lion’s share (by a ratio of approximately 2:1) of the sequence to advance his arguments, but also failed to challenge any point he made.  A moment’s analysis of Sir Brian’s arguments shows them to be highly contentious and woolly, lights years away from convincing scientific evidence.

But when Nigel Lawson’s turn came, Mr Webb’s tone and approach changed entirely. Everything he said was suspect, and not only that, Mr Webb was clearly straining to put across – irrespective of what Lord Lawson wanted to say – his own (the BBC’s?) main point, that money must be spent on climate measures because there was a more than a 50% chance of it happening.

In response, Lord Lawson had a brief opportunity to outline that he thought that such spending (on shemes such as wind farms) was a waste of money and that there was a need instead to pursue cheap energy policies and create adequate flood defences.

But the overall framework and approach was clearly designed to allow Sir Brian Hoskins to put across his climate change advocacy; what is clear is that when, rarely, ‘deniers’ such as Lord Lawson  are invited on to BBC programmes they are treated in almost exactly the same way as those who are against the EU: with disdain.

Source: BBC Radio 4: Today Programme


Date: 13/02/2014

Event: Sir Brian Hoskins on the missing heat: “Oh yes, it’s there in the oceans”

Credit: BBC Radio 4


  • Sir Brian Hoskins: Head of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change
  • Lord Lawson: Nigel Lawson, Baron Lawson of Blaby, Chairman of the Board, GWPF
  • Justin Webb: Presenter, BBC Radio 4 Today programme

Justin Webb: Is there a link, Sir Brian, between the rain that we have seen falling, in recent days, and global warming?

Brian Hoskins: There’s no simple link – we can’t say “Yes” or “No, this is climate change”. However, there’s a number of reasons to think that such events are now more likely. And one of those is that a warmer atmosphere that we have can contain more water vapour, and so a storm can wring that water vapour out of the atmosphere. And we’re seeing more heavy rainfall events around the world, and certainly we’ve seen those, here.

Justin Webb: So it’s the heavy rainfall, it’s the severity of the event, that points us in this direction?

Brian Hoskins: Well, in this event, we’ve had severe rainfall but we’ve also had persistence, and that’s where I say: we just don’t know whether the persistence of this event is due to climate change or not. But another aspect is sea-level rise, that the sea level has risen about 20 centimetres, over the 20th century, and is continuing to rise, as the system warms, and that of course makes damage in the coastal region that much greater, when we get some event there.

Justin Webb: But can a reasonable person, possessed of the evidence, as it is known to us at the moment, say “Look at the rain that we’ve had recently”, and say “Look, I do not believe that the evidence exists, that links that rain to global warming”?

Brian Hoskins: I think the reasonable person should look at this event, they should look at extremes around the world, the general rise in temperature that’s well recorded, reduction in Arctic sea ice, the rise in sea level, a number of extreme rainfall events around the world, the number of extreme events that we’ve had – we’ve had persistent droughts, we’ve had floods and we’ve had cold spells and very warm spells. The number of records being broken is just that much greater.

Justin Webb: Lord Lawson, it’s joining the dots, isn’t it?

Nigel Lawson: Now I think that Sir Brian is right on a number of points. He’s right, first of all, that nobody knows. Certainly it is not the case, of course, that this rainfall is due to global warming, the question is whether it is marginally – global warming has marginally exacerbated it. He’s right, and nobody knows that. Though, he’s right, too, to say that you have to look at the global picture. And, contrary to what he may have implied, in fact, people who have done studies show that there has been no – globally, there has been no increase in extreme weather events. For example, tropical storms, which are perhaps the most dramatic form of weather events – there’s been, in the past year, there has been an unusually quiet year for tropical storms. And again, going back to the “nobody knows”, only a couple of months ago the Met Office were forecasting that this would be an unusually dry winter. So –

Justin Webb: Do you accept that, Sir Brian? Just on that point, that important point about the global picture. Do you accept, Sir Brian, we haven’t actually seen the kind of extreme conditions that we might have expected?

Brian Hoskins: I think we have seen these heavy rainfall events around the world. We’ve seen a number of places breaking records – Australia, with the temperatures in Australia going to new levels, um…

Justin Webb: Trouble is, we report those, and we’re interested in them. There is an effect, isn’t there, that is possibly an obfuscatory effect, actually, on the real picture, and you accept that that might be the case.

Brian Hoskins: Absolutely, and we have to be very careful to not say “Oh, there’s records everywhere, therefore climate is changing”. But we’re very sure that the temperature’s risen by about 0.8 degrees, the Arctic sea ice has reached a minimum level in the summer, which hasn’t been seen for a very, very long time, the Greenland ice sheet and the West Antarctic ice sheet have been measured to be decreasing. There’s all the signs that we are changing this climate system. Now as we do this, as the system warms, it doesn’t just warm uniformly. The temperature changes by different amounts in different regions. And that means the weather that feeds off those temperature contrasts is changing and will change – it’s not just a smooth change, it’s a change in the weather, it’s a change in regional climate we can expect.

Justin Webb: Lord Lawson?

Nigel Lawson: Yeah, I think we want to focus, not on this extremely speculative and uncertain area – I don’t blame the climate scientists for not knowing. Climate and weather is quite extraordinarily complex, and this is a very new form of science. All I blame them for is pretending they know, when they don’t. But anyhow, what we want to focus on is what we’re going to do. And I think this is a wake-up call. We need to abandon this crazy and costly policy of spending untold millions on littering the countryside with useless wind turbines and solar panels, and moving from a sensible energy policy of having cheap and reliable forms of energy to a policy of having unreliable and costly energy. Give up that – what we want to focus on – it’s very important – is making sure this country is really resilient and robust to whatever nature throws at us, whether there’s a climate element or not. Water storage, when there’s drought –

Justin Webb: Surely the wise thing… Can I just put this to you –

Nigel Lawson: – flood defences, sea defences – that’s what we want to focus on.

Justin Webb: Can I just put this to you though: if there is a chance – and some people would say there is a strong chance – that global warming, man-made global warming, exists and is having an impact on us, doesn’t it make sense, whether or not you believe that that is a 95% chance or a 50% chance or whatever, does it not make sense to take care to try to avoid the kind of emissions that may be contributing to it? I mean, what could be wrong with doing that?

Nigel Lawson: Everything. The – first of all, even if there is warming – and there’s been no recorded warming over the past 15, 16, 17 years –

Justin Webb: Well, that’s – oh yeah, there is a lot of controversy about that.

Nigel Lawson: No, there’s not – that’s a fact. It’s accepted even by the IPCC. No measured warming –

Justin Webb: No, no measured warming , but… Well, all right –

Nigel Lawson: No measured warming, exactly, well, that’s –

Justin Webb: We’ll get back to that.

Nigel Lawson:  – measurements are actually not unimportant. The – but what  – even if there is some problem, it is not able to affect any of the dangers, except marginally. What we want to do is to focus on dealing with the problems that there are, with climate – which there are, with drought and floods, and so on. These have happened in the past – they’re not new. And as for emissions, this country is responsible for less than 2% of global emissions. Even if we cut our emissions to zero – which would put us back to the, sort of, pre-Industrial Revolution, and the poverty that that [inaudible] – even if we reduced and did that, it would be outweighed by the amount of the Chinese, China’s emissions’ increase, in a single year. So it is absolutely crazy, this policy –

Justin Webb: Sir Brian?

Nigel Lawson: – it cannot make sense at all.

Justin Webb: Sir Brian?

Brian Hoskins: I think we have to do – to learn two lessons from this. The first one is that by increasing the greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide, to levels we’ve not seen for millions of years on this planet, we’re performing a very risky experiment. And we’re pretty confident that that means – if we go on like we are – that temperatures are going to rise somewhere 3 to 5 degrees by the end of this century, sea levels up to half to one metre rise –

Justin Webb: Lord Lawson was saying there, there has been a pause, which you hear a lot about – a pause in what, 10, 15 years, in measured rising of temperature. That is the case, isn’t it?

Brian Hoskins: It hasn’t risen much, over the last 10 to 15 years, if you measure the climate from the global averaged surface temperature. But during that time, the excess energy has still been absorbed by the climate system, and being absorbed by the oceans, which are warming up.

Justin Webb: So it’s there, somewhere.

Brian Hoskins: Oh yes, it’s there in the oceans. And the oceans –

Nigel Lawson: That is pure speculation.

Brian Hoskins: No, it’s a measurement.

Nigel Lawson: No, it’s not, it’s speculation, with respect.

Justin Webb: Well, it’s a combination of the two, isn’t it, as is this whole discussion. Lord Lawson, and Sir Brian Hoskins as well, thank you both very much.

Brian Hoskins: Thank you.

The transcript of a Today programme item on February 5 about new methods of controlling floods in urban areas speaks volumes about the BBC’s attitude towards the subject of climate.

Two years ago, the BBC decided at Trustee level that dangerous man-induced ‘climate change’ was definitely happening and that climate issues must reported on that basis. Impartiality, that is, balanced referral to those who thought otherwise, was ruled out.

Alison Hastings, the Trustee for England, who – off the back of once working as editor of a minor provincial newspaper and as a member of the Press Complaints Commission – is now in overall charge at regulatory level of BBC editorial issues, explains why here. The report on which she based her findings, by Steve Jones, who Ms Hastings says was ‘independent’ despite being a frequent BBC contributor, is here.

In consequence, the BBC slavishly and enthusiastically follows any story that it believes ‘proves’ climate change. A good topical example is this based on alarmist remarks from Julia Slingo at the Meteorological Office, who has claimed that the ‘clustering’ of the current wave of UK storms is a firm indication of ‘climate change’. Many genuine climate experts think otherwise, for example in this analysis which puts into perspective the Dawlish railway line collapse, but you won’t see their perspective on the BBC  Their version of ‘balance’ does not allow that.

The BBC have also not reported claims in the Mail on Sunday  and the EU Referendum website that the Somerset levels floods are directly the result of EU directives which stipulate that more  should be done to drown, rather than dredge, wetland areas.

The February 5 floods sequence is important because it is a prime example of the BBC’s approach to this topic. One report is never evidence of cumulative bias, but this one shows graphically elements of the BBC’s entirely one sided approach.

It was news, of course, that a new flood dispersion schemes was being trialled, and the processes involved were well explained. This part of the sequence was fine.

But then Roger Harrabin’s report took an altogether different turn towards being a propagandist – exactly as the Alison Hastings ruling has facilitated. He said:

“Well, Welsh Water think this scheme is applicable not just here, but right across the country, they think it will save water companies money, and they think it will be more effective at preventing floods.  And the children at this school will learn, unlike their parents, that climate change is predicted to bring more extreme weather in the future and to raise the sea levels, so they may consider using the land differently to the way their parents did.”

Pardon?  Suddenly, the report is in a different dimension. The correspondent is no longer a reporter of events, but the direct purveyor of futurology – and it’s not a small point. He says directly that children in schools must consider changing ‘land use’ because ‘climate change’ (whatever that may be) will probably bring more rain in future.

And hey presto, at hand is someone to ram home this point. Back in the studio, Justin Webb interviewed Lord Krebs, an Oxford professor and part of Parliament’s committee on climate change.  Why was he chosen to appear? Presumably, it was because he is a member of that committee. It’s certainly not because of particular expertise, because Professor Krebs’ academic works have focused on bird behaviour. He is, however, a political activist with regard to ‘climate change’ – he is chairman of the national network of Science Learning Centres, which has a major role in spreading climate alarmism.

Professor Krebs did not disappoint. Justin Webb’s first question provided an open goal for him bs to say what he wanted. He duly delivered, culminating in his main point that most of the problems related to flooding were due to man-made climate change, and this meant that there had to be a massive diversion of expenditure – and changes in our way of life – to accommodate that. Greenpeace would have been proud.

Overall, this item vividly shows that the BBC has an overt and deliberate political agenda in this field. There was no attempt to provide a contrasting opinion to those of Professor Krebs, because the Trustees have said that such normal journalistic balance is not required. The corporation has become the mouthpiece of propagandists.

The full transcript is below:

Transcript of BBC Radio 4, Today, 5th February 2014, Climate Change, 8.36am

JUSTIN WEBB:       We’ve built homes and superstores on floodplains, we’ve paved gardens and drained bogs which used to catch water, and replaced woodlands with sheep farms which compact the soil and straightened winding rivers, we’ve made them flow faster.  And all of this, we are told, is contributing to flooding.  We are told this by the Committee on Climate Change and we’re also told by them today that it has to stop.  The Committee says we need to catch water in upstream areas, it warns that half a billion pounds of extra funding needs to be spent in the next four year period to keep pace, just to keep pace, with the risk of climate change affecting the UK.  We’ll speak to the Committee in a second, first let’s hear from our environment analyst, Roger Harrabin, who’s been to Llanelli in South Wales, where they’re spending £40 million on reengineering the streets to prevent flooding.

ROGER HARRABIN:               I’m near the centre of Llanelli, and as you might expect it has been raining and I’m here to see a scheme where Welsh Water are digging up the pavements to prevent floods.  I’m joined by Steve Wilson from Welsh Water.  Steve, can you explain to me what you’re doing?

STEVE WILSON:     We’re trying to take the surface water, the rainfall that comes off the house roofs, the roads, out of the sewerage network, find ways back into the environment, to really prevent flooding.

RH:          So, what exactly are you doing here behind us?

SW:         So, we’ve hollowed out the ground, put a depression in the ground, we’re going to fill that with soil, and that will soak the water in that would run down this hill, and instead of going into the sewer network, it will soak it into the ground.

RH:          And it looks like you’ve made holes in the curb so the water will come sideways out of the gutter and into this, this sort of holding system that you’ve built.

SW:         Exactly, you can imagine with the heavy rain here in Wales it pours down the roads, and if we can get it to pour off the road into this planting area and soak into the media that we’ve put in the ground there.  This scheme here should take out 22,500 cubic metres of rainfall every year out of the sewers.

RH:          How can you be confident of that?

SW:         The flow monitors and the design work that we’ve done is already showing us that actually some of the schemes we put in taking out more water than we actually first envisaged.  This is the answer for us, building more bigger pipes or bigger, deeper tanks, that we are reaching the capacity of them too soon, this is a much more sustainable way of preventing flooding.

RH:          I’ve now come up to Stebonheath School, just round the corner where they’ve got another innovative flood management scheme.  And I’m joined by . . .

DYLAN DAVIES:     Dylan Davies.

RH:          And . . .

CAITLIN THOMAS:                Caitlin Thomas.

RH:          What have you been doing here guys?

CT:          We’ve been, we’ve been, we’ve been making a swale, to stop all the floods from the drain.

RH:          What’s a swale?

CT:          The . . .the grass . . .

RH:          This grassy dip in the ground here.  So what happens, the water runs off the playground . . .

CT:          Yeah.

RH:          . . . into the dip.

DD:         Yeah, and it comes from, when it rains it goes onto the roof, then all the rain comes off the roof down into the swale, and the swale all the water and like, and pushes it off into the drain gently (words unclear due to speaking over)

RH:          And is there a big difference, can you see the difference when it rains?

BOTH:     Yes.

CT:          A lot of difference.

RH:          What did it used to be like?

CT:          It used to be all flooded, this area . . . we weren’t allowed to come by here, because it was all wet and puddles everywhere.

RH:          And it looks good as well.

BOTH:     Yeah.

DD:         Definitely.

RH:          Well, Welsh Water think this scheme is applicable not just here, but right across the country, they think it will save water companies money, and they think it will be more effective at preventing floods.  And the children at this school will learn, unlike their parents, that climate change is predicted to bring more extreme weather in the future and to raise the sea levels, so they may consider using the land differently to the way their parents did.

JW:         Hmm.  Roger Harrabin in Llanelli.  Lord Krebs is chair of the Adaptation Subcommittee, part of the Committee on Climate Change, and is on the line from Oxford, good morning.

LORD KREBS:         Good morning.

JW:         I don’t know how much of that report you heard, you would say, would you, presumably, that what they’re doing in Llanelli ought to be a model for the whole of the rest of the country?

LK:          I thought that it was a wonderful project that your reporter Roger Harrabin described in Llanelli.  The fact is that what we are experiencing now in terms of flooding and extreme weather is likely to become more common in the future as a result of climate change, and it’s time now to plan ahead, to make our country more resilient, to move from cleanup and the dreadful damage that occurs to people’s homes and livelihoods, to prevention, to make our country more resilient.  And at the moment, we’re not really doing that, we’re going in the wrong direction.

JW:         Does that mean though, for instance, that you ban people from paving over their front gardens?

LK:          Well, the fact is that the hard surfaces in our towns and cities have increased hugely, almost doubled in the last decade or so because people are paving over front gardens.  You can, of course, use absorbent paving surfaces, so it’s not actually the case that just because you pave over, you’re going to have more water run-off, but if we, it’s really a choice that we as a country have to make, if we want to make our country more resilient we’re going to have to make some difficult decisions to prevent the kind of thing that’s happening now happening more frequently in the future.

JW:         But just to make it clear, you’re saying to the government, it is time to make those difficult decisions, it’s time to say to people, ‘We are going to enforce planning regulations’, whatever they be, about saving your gardens and the various other things that might be discussed, it’s time to enforce them centrally because this matters so much.

LK:          Well, we are building in floodplains, 13% of all new developments in the last decade or so has been in floodplain areas.  The Environment Agency has a responsibility, a statutory responsibility for advising on whether development should go ahead, so there are regulations in place.  The problem we have identified is that in about a third of cases, the Environment Agency never finds out whether their advice has been followed, so it’s not necessarily about new regulations it’s about ensuring that existing rules are being enforced properly.

JW:         (speaking over) Yeah, but the onus is also put on developers now, isn’t it, rather more than on the agency, and that’s been something that the government has consciously done, and you’re saying now should consciously undo?

LK:          Well, as I say, there is a regulatory framework in place, the Environment Agency is the statutory consultee for any development, and it can comment on the potential flood risks.  However, these decisions about risk now and risk in the future, and if the government wants to say to people, look, we are just going to be exposed to more flooding risk and you’re going to have to experience this, that’s fine, but I think we need to be transparent and have an open discussion about how these decisions are made.  There’s also a role, of course, for individual householders because if people do live in a flood risk area there are measures that they can take to make their house more resilient by having, for example, flood resistant ground floor fittings, fitting water guards front of doors and over air bricks and so on.  So there are measures that individuals can take, that local authorities can take, and central government decisions can help too.

JW:         Are you frustrated that so much of the discussion in the last few days has been about dredging and whether or not there had been enough dredging in Somerset, in other words is the focus on that taking our mind, in your view, off what we should be focusing on?

LK:          I think dredging may be part of the story but there is, as I say, a much bigger picture about do we want to make our country more resilient to the kind of weather that we’ve experienced in the last month or so that is likely to get more common as a result of climate change.

JW:         The trouble is, you use that word lightly, and an awful lot of people would say, well yes, it may happen, but it may not as well and weather is, you know, unpredictable we may well go into a period where none of these things that you’re suggesting happen do happen, and we’ll have spent an awful lot of money and then wasted it?

LK:          Well, all we can do is go on the best available science, and the climate scientists who’ve looked at this, using the best models and the best evidence available suggest to us that the weather is likely to become more stormy, more predictable in the future and the kind of extreme weather events that we are experiencing now, rather than being perhaps, one in a hundred year event may become a one in twenty year event.  We can’t be absolutely sure of detail, but it’s sensible in my view to take precautions.

JW:         Lord Krebs, thank you very much.

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