The truth of a secret meeting that decided BBC policy on climate change has come out online
By Christopher Booker
Unfolding in the shadow of the greatest crisis in the BBC’s 90-year history has been another scandal, rather less publicised, which again reveals how profoundly the BBC has gone off the rails, morally and professionally. Last week, I reported how the BBC had spent large sums of our money fielding an array of lawyers against a pensioner from Wales to hide what I called, with considerable understatement, “a dirty little secret”. But that secret has now been disclosed to the world, confirming how seriously the BBC has been misrepresenting its policy on one of the most far-reaching issues of our time.
A year ago, I published a detailed report attempting to unravel what has long been a serious puzzle. How was it that, over the past six years, the BBC has been so ready to betray its statutory duty to impartiality by such relentlessly one-sided promotion of the scare over global warming and all it entails, such as the Government’s policy on wind farms? No organisation has done more to obscure the truth about an issue whose political and financial implications for us all are incalculable.
The BBC’s decision to defy its charter obligation to report on this subject impartially followed from a secret day-long seminar held at Television Centre on January 26, 2006. It was attended by all the BBC’s top brass, including George Entwistle, the short-lived director-general, then head of TV current affairs, and several executives who have had to “step aside” because of the Savile affair, such as Helen Boaden, then director of news, and Steve Mitchell, then head of radio news.
In 2007, the BBC Trust published a report claiming that this unprecedented decision to flout its charter was taken after a “high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts” on climate change. Among those who tried to get the BBC to identify these “experts” was Tony Newbery, the blogger who recently faced the might of a highly paid legal team which persuaded an information tribunal to uphold the BBC’s right to keep secret the names of those attending this seminar.
When, last week, those names were finally revealed – thanks to another blogger, Maurizio Morabito (see omnilogos.com) and the Wayback Machine, which stores information deleted from the internet – the result was even more startling than had been suspected. Only three of the “28 specialists” invited to advise the BBC were active scientists, none of them climate experts and all committed global-warming alarmists. Virtually all the rest were professional climate-change lobbyists, ranging from emissaries of Greenpeace and the Stop Climate Chaos campaign to the “CO2 project manager” for BP, one of the world’s largest oil companies.
As shown in my report, “The BBC and Climate Change: A Triple Betrayal” (on the Global Warming Policy Foundation website), the consequences of what this roomful of “climate activists” advocated as BBC policy were devastating. The seminar’s co-organisers, Roger Harrabin and Joe Smith, were later able to boast that one of the first fruits of their good work was the BBC’s Climate Chaos season, a stream of unashamedly propagandist documentaries, led off with two fronted by Sir David Attenborough which featured a string of ludicrous scare stories.
This was merely the prelude to hundreds of further examples, up to the present day, of how the BBC has abandoned any pretence at honest or properly researched reporting – all in accord with the party line agreed on at that seminar, the nature of which the BBC was so desperate to keep secret.
As with the Savile scandal, there seems no end to the further embarrassments the BBC cover-up has been bringing to light. Harrabin and Smith ran a small outfit set up to lobby the media on global warming, funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, WWF and the University of East Anglia (home of the Climategate emails scandal).
Stranger still, their co-sponsor of the BBC seminar was another lobbying group calling itself the International Broadcasting Trust, which in the past seven years has received £520,000 from the Department for International Development’s foreign-aid budget for “media research” – which includes lobbying the BBC on issues such as climate change. This body in turn is part of a “coalition” known as the Broadcasting Trust, and one of its partners in that is the Media Trust – of which the BBC is a “corporate member”.
So our climate-change obsessed governments have given public money to bodies to lobby the BBC, including one closely associated with a body that the BBC itself belongs to – all to ensure that the BBC promotes government policy.
There is a scandal here that is, in its own way, as disturbing as the one over the Savile affair. But whereas that is being looked into by a series of inquiries, we can be sure that no one will inquire into this second scandal. Remember, after all, how the BBC Trust (now chaired by that committed warmist Lord Patten) aided the cover-up with that lie about “the best scientific experts” in its 2007 report – which was, laughably, supposed to be addressing the BBC’s statutory commitment to impartiality.
Isn’t it odd how often, through all this, one word recurs: “trust”?
Slovaks win out over the child-snatchers
All last week I was waiting on tenterhooks for the verdict of the Court of Appeal on as murky a case of child-snatching as I have ever reported. The case had only got up to the Court of Appeal because of the intervention of the Slovakian government, which had expressed its concern at how many Slovak children have been seized by British social workers “for no sound reason”.
This harrowing story began two years ago when two young boys were forcibly removed from their Slovak parents, who had been working for some years in England. The reasons for their removal could quickly have been shown to be wholly groundless, had a crucial piece of photographic evidence been allowed to be questioned in court. Even so, at one point in a story that involved dozens of lawyers, social workers, “experts” and official carers, it seemed that the children were about to be handed back to the care of their grandmother in Slovakia. But the council was determined to hang on to them and persuaded another judge to rule that they should be put out for adoption.
The case has caused a huge stir in Slovakia, with television coverage and demonstrations in the streets. Nine days ago, thanks to the involvement of the Slovak government and John Hemming MP, the appeal court ruled that the boys should be handed to their grandmother. Lord Justice Thorpe told the family “you have won”, and asked for everyone to return last Tuesday to report on the arrangements made for the handover. But still the local authority refused to give up, hiring a QC to work over the weekend on a case for the boys to be kept in England. Again the hearing had to be adjourned.
Finally, on Friday, two judges confirmed that the children should be returned. But a third said that the council should be allowed to spend thousands of pounds more on appealing to the Supreme Court. If and when those children at last arrive in Slovakia, I look forward to reporting this story in full, because it reveals so much of how, behind its self-protective wall of secrecy, our “child protection” system too often actually works.
Not apathy but contempt
In Manchester the turnout was 18 per cent, the lowest at any by-election since the Second World War. The national turnout for police commissioners was even lower, one polling station in Wales registering no voters at all – while a record 3 per cent of those who did vote spoilt their ballot papers to show their disgust at the farcical exercise.
When I walked into our village hall on Thursday evening to spoil my own ballot paper for the first time in 50 years, I found that only 15 of my 200 neighbours had turned up all day – most of them totally bemused.
Meanwhile, in Bradford, my friend Richard North was staring at claims that commissioners would restore “local control” over the police, asking how this could possibly make sense when the new commissioner for West Yorkshire will have to decide policing priorities over an area of 800 square miles, with a population of 2.2 million, containing five metropolitan districts and including the cities of Bradford, Leeds, Huddersfield and Halifax.
With the election of 12 non-party commissioners, Thursday was the day when, more clearly than ever, we showed the political class, which for so long has treated us with such contempt, that our only response is to reciprocate. But how to re-establish democratic control over that class, which rules our lives as surely as if we lived in a one-party state, is one of the greatest political challenges of our age.