Christopher Booker: The BBC’s ‘Dirty Little Secret’ And The Loss Of Trust

  • Date: 18/11/12
  • Christopher Booker, The Sunday Telegraph

The truth of a secret meeting that decided BBC policy on climate change has come out online.

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 2008, 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.

The sunny side of the South Pole: David Attenborough had to have special medical tests to travel there - 'I thought I’d killed David Attenborough’<br />

Trusted figure: Sir David Attenborough has lent gravitas to the BBC’s warmism Photo: BBC/VANESSA BERLOWITZ

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 2008 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”?

The Sunday Telegraph, 18 November 2012