It is very disappointing to have to report that three judges (two in the High Court, one in the Court of Appeal) have thwarted David Keighley’s application for judicial review to challenge the impartiality of the BBC.
Very frustratingly, they have acted without calling a full oral hearing to consider evidence put forward by David and his legal team, relying instead on written submissions to the court. That shows an almost casual disregard for the importance of the need to make sure the BBC meets its main Charter obligations – and leaves no line of redress except through Ofcom, which is itself stuffed full of ex-BBC staff of the same mindset.
Judges lined up to assist Gina Miller in her manic efforts to stop Brexit, but faced with extensive evidence of the need to stop the BBC’s negative reporting of Brexit, they have performed the judicial equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears and closing their eyes.
Last summer TCW’s readers helped support the crowdfunding effort get this judicial review in motion.
As David reports on the crowdfunding site, Lord Justice Singh in the Court of Appeal has refused to grant leave to appeal against the decision of Mr Justice Supperstone who on 14 November 2019 rejected his application for judicial review to challenge the impartiality and performance measures of the BBC. This hearing was a review of the refusal of Mrs Justice Lang to grant leave for the judicial review (on the most cursory of grounds).
You can read about the rejection of the appeal in detail, with links to both rulings, here.
David Keighley is left with considerable costs – approximately £18,000 – to shoulder, on top of the £57,000 very generously donated in the crowd-funding appeal, which paid the considerable costs of taking the case through its various stages.
The brick wall nature of the judgment is extremely worrying and frankly raises nearly as many questions about our judiciary as it does about the BBC.
It seems extraordinary, too, that Mrs Justice Lang has decreed this level of costs. She might as well have said: ‘This is a warning to anyone who has the temerity to challenge the action of the nation’s monopoly broadcaster – you will pay for it.’
Neither judgment, of the High Court or the Court of Appeal, took into account the inability of the BBC to exercise its judgment, analyse its performance and properly measure it. There’s no doubt, as David writes, the lack of impartiality of the BBC continues to be a matter of grave public concern – the recent raft of negative newspaper reporting of BBC bias supports that. You would be forgiven for believing there was no current debate about the BBC or the anachronism and inequity of the Licence Fee.
The BBC remains its own judge and jury – which we pay for. As David has written repeatedly, the ‘supervision’ of OFCOM has made no difference. Its October 2019 review of BBC News and Current Affairs content and elsewhere demonstrated that it is not prepared to tackle this issue.
David has not stopped in his endeavours. This judicial review case is over, but with the support of other like-minded individuals, he will carry on trying to make the BBC accountable and comply with its Charter obligations.