Booker, The BBC & QuentinGate
By Paul Homewood
Booker blasts the BBC’s hypocrisy:
Last week the BBC Trust issued as damning a ruling as it can ever have made on any BBC programme, ordering that all trace of it must be wiped off the BBC’s website. In a 20-page report, it found that the programme had been guilty of “a serious breach of the [BBC’s] Editorial Guidelines for Impartiality and Accuracy”. In other words, it flouted one of the BBC’s most important statutory obligations under its charter, thus committing an offence under the law of the land.
So what was the programme that aroused such ire? Broadcast last August, it was part of a series in which the journalist Quentin Letts light-heartedly asks “What is the point of” some of “Britain’s cherished institutions”: in this instance, the Met Office. Most of his programme was pretty anodyne stuff, as when a retired BBC forecaster John Kettley revealed that viewers had sometimes sent him “items of clothing through the post”. “Knickers?” asked Letts. No, replied the former celebrity weatherman, “sweaters”.
"Their real offence had been to allow Letts to interview two climate-sceptical MPs"
But it was not this that led the trust to order that all those responsible for the programme must attend the “BBC Academy’s impartiality online training module”, with special reference to “reporting climate change science”.
Their real offence had been to allow Letts to interview two climate-sceptical MPs. One of them, the former Cabinet minister Peter Lilley, recalled the Met Office’s prediction from 2004 that, over the next decade, global temperatures would rise by some 0.3 degrees C. And what had happened when 2014 arrived, asked Letts? “Nothing,” Lilley replied. “Zilch.” There had been “no global warming”.
This prompted the trust to quote yards of material from such learned authorities as the Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change to show that it was almost universally agreed by scientists that “human activity is the dominant cause of the warming witnessed in the latter half of the 20th century”, and that those responsible had ignored a “decision that the programme should not include challenge [sic] to the prevailing scientific view about climate change”.
The trust thus ruled that the programme was at fault in not making it clear that the two MPs “represented a minority opinion which contradicted the view of the majority of scientists”. It should have given the Met Office – whose computer models used for “climate prediction” are “highly regarded… around the world” – a chance to rebut Mr Lilley’s claim.
This graph from the respected Woodfortrees website shows the temperature record since 1998 as recorded by RSS, one of the two official satellite data sources
But here is the central irony of this wondrously po-faced document. Although it repeatedly found the programme guilty of such a “serious breach” of the BBC’s statutory commitment to “accuracy”, Mr Lilley’s playful comment on that 0.3 degree temperature rise predicted by the Met Office computer in 2004 was not wrong.
According to the satellite record, the temperature trend line in those 10 years did not rise at all. Lilley’s real offence in the BBC’s eyes was that what he said was entirely accurate. George Orwell, thou shouldst be living at this hour.