BBC forced to release report that shows its anti-Israel bias

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BBC forced to release report that shows its anti-Israel bias

For the last 4 years the BBC has tried to suppress a 20,000 word article that displays the BBC's anti Israel bias. I guess this isn't news for some, but the energy put into suppressing the article by the BBC just show how damaging it might be.

A senior news editor, was commissioned in 2004 to compile the report on the BBC's Middle East reporting, which had been criticised for alleged anti-Israeli bias and pro Palestinian reporting. The news editor examined hundreds of hours of television and radio broadcasts.

A four-year battle by lawyer Steven Sugar to make the 20,000-word report about alleged anti-Israeli bias at the BBC, is now expected to become public when a final decision is made by the High Court.

Over the years BBC bosses have faced repeated claims that their reporting of the Arab-Israeli conflict has been skewed.

One particularly controversial incident came when Middle East correspondent Barbara Plett revealed she had cried as Yasser Arafat was close to death.

In 2004 the Israeli government wrote to the BBC accusing reporter Orla Guerin of anti-Semitism and identifying with Palestinian terror groups.

It has been suggested the BBC's recent refusal to show a charity appeal for Gaza, sparking thousands of complaints, was a reaction to these accusations.

Politicians have previously branded the corporation's refusal to reveal the report as 'absolutely indefensible' as it is in the public interest.

The BBC has always opposed the request, made under the Freedom of Information Act, saying it was exempt from disclosing information held for the purposes of "journalism, art or literature".

The corporation said that the report was always intended as an internal review to help shape future policy on its Middle East coverage and was never intended for publication.

It comes after the BBC was criticised for not airing a two-minute video clip for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Gaza Crisis Appeal to help provide aid for the people in Palestine on the grounds of "compromising public confidence in the BBC's impartiality".

Mr Sugar initially took his complaint to the Information Commissioner, who agreed with the BBC that it should not have to disclose material relating purely to its journalism.

However, Mr Sugar appealed and won the backing of the Information Tribunal.

The BBC then took the case to the High Court, where a judge agreed that the case fell outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act and the Court of Appeal upheld that conclusion.

However, the latest decision by the Law Lords means a final decision will be made by the High Court who will look at the other issues raised in the BBC's defence.

Mr Sugar issued a statement, which read: "It is sad that the BBC felt it necessary to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money fighting for 3 years to try to load the system against those requesting information from it under the Freedom of Information Act.

"The BBC has finally lost its technical legal argument. The Information Tribunal's decision in my favour has been restored. I hope that the BBC will now stop the legal argument and will immediately publish the Balen report."
By netchicken: posted on 13-2-2009

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