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Two Complaints Upheld Against Justin Rowlatt

April 28, 2022

By Paul Homewood


You will no doubt recall that Panorama edition from last November! Justin Rowlatt used the hour long programme to claim that climate change was making the world’s weather much worse. He made two specific claims that were blatant lies:

1) He opened the programme by stating:

“The world is getting warmer and our weather is getting ever more unpredictable and dangerous. The death toll is rising around the world

2) There was also a large segment devoted to the recent drought in Madagascar, which Rowlatt described as “the world’s first climate change-induced famine.”

Neither claim was remotely true. Deaths from weather disasters have declined sharply in recent years, a fact that is easily established. Meanwhile a scientific study shortly after the edition established that droughts like last year are common events in Madagascar.

I complained to the BBC about the Madagascar claim, while another complained about the first one. Both complaints were escalated to the Executive Complaints Unit, after we were fobbed off at the first stage. I am pleased to say that both complaints have been upheld.

Below is the BBC reply:

Panorama: Wild Weather, BBC One, 3 November 2021


The ECU considered two complaints about information contained in this programme. In the first, a viewer complained that in the introduction, the presenter incorrectly suggested the death toll from extreme weather-related events was rising and expected to rise further. The second complainant raised concerns that the programme inaccurately asserted that Madagascar was on the brink of the first famine caused by climate change. The ECU considered both complaints in the light of the BBC’s editorial standards relating to accuracy.


In the ECU’s view the wording of the introduction, which stated “the death toll is rising around the world and the forecast is that worse is to come”, risked giving the impression the rate of deaths from extreme weather-related events was increasing. In fact, as noted a recent report from the World Meteorological Organization, despite the number of weather-related disasters (such as floods, storms and drought) growing significantly in the past 50 years, the number of deaths caused by such disasters has fallen because of improved early warnings and disaster management.

BBC News accepted the wording in the programme was not as clear as it should have been and a public acknowledgement was put on the BBC’s Corrections and Clarifications website before the complaint reached the ECU. This was an appropriate means of response and ensured the potentially misleading impression was corrected as a matter of public record. However, an oversight meant the programme was still available on the BBC iPlayer without a link or reference to the published correction, and for that reason the complaint was upheld.

Separately the ECU considered the language used in the programme about the drought in Madagascar. It agreed the evidence showed southern Madagascar had suffered lower than average seasonal rainfall in recent years, and that climate change was one of the factors which had contributed to famine in the country. It also noted the reporter’s language mirrored that used by the UN’s World Food Programme. However the statement that Madagascar was on the brink of the world’s first climate-induced famine was presented without qualification, whereas other evidence available prior to broadcast suggested there were additional factors which made a significant contribution to the shortage of food. The complaint was therefore upheld.


Further action

The finding has been reported to the Board of BBC News and discussed with the programme-makers concerned. Appropriate clarifications will be added to the iPlayer version of the programme.

Both responses are a bit mealy mouthed, and the ECU still seems to be in denial that both claims were fundamentally untrue.

Nevertheless, Justin Rowlatt has now had three complaints against him upheld, all in the space of a few months (The first was when he ludicrously claimed that the offshore wind industry was now “virtually subsidy free” in the UK.)

It is difficult to see how he can maintain his position as Climate Editor, when his work is so untrustworthy.

  1. April 28, 2022 2:07 pm

    If only the BBC employed a team to investigate “Climate disinformation”?

    • Thomas Carr permalink
      April 28, 2022 2:41 pm

      Joe , this is the best admission of bias and lack of of objectivity from the BBC you could hope to see. BBC have become incapable of applying their so-called policy of balance when they have themselves adopted the ‘accepted’ wisdom. Loss of face when having to entertain ‘deniers’ is a poisoned chalice. Makes the professions of the new DG look silly . I wonder if he alert enough to be aware.

    • catweazle666 permalink
      April 28, 2022 5:15 pm

      No surprise there!
      Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, is also a director of the Guardian.
      Search “jimmy wales guardian director” for chapter and verse.

    • John Culhane permalink
      April 28, 2022 11:43 pm

      Not the only one at the BBC. There is also Merlyn Thomas

      Even the deployment of the linguistics around disinformation, misinformation and malinformation is all part of that collective effort. The collaboration between the government and the BBC is not a matter for debate, it is all easily referenced by their own admissions.

  2. Sylvia permalink
    April 28, 2022 2:28 pm

    What a ass-hole !!!! Trust the BBC to employ someone who is so ignorant and ill-educated they cannot read nor do any research !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      April 28, 2022 8:59 pm

      Have you seen who his sister is? Cordelia Rowlatt is a key figure in Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain…and even more of an …….

  3. William George permalink
    April 28, 2022 2:30 pm

    One wonders just how long he would continue peddling his lies and disinformation without the timely exposure by Paul and A.N. Other

  4. April 28, 2022 2:30 pm

    Well done but the trouble is no one will ever hear about the corrections. When a complaint is upheld the BBC or whatever media group it is, should be forced to publicise it on their main news broadcasts and leave it up for a few days on their websites main page.

    • dennisambler permalink
      April 29, 2022 11:29 am

      “a public acknowledgement was put on the BBC’s Corrections and Clarifications website”

      And that site has masses of visitors every day I expect…

  5. Thomas Carr permalink
    April 28, 2022 2:31 pm

    Some reward for all your effort, Paul. As I may have said I am keeping Tax Payers Alliance (same address as Benny Peiser) in the picture as they are biting away at the BBC on a fairly frequent basis. Not so much as regards the truths/untruths as the BBC’s diminishing authority and entitlement to a licence fee.

    You do what you can and have time for nevertheless you could do with an assistant that would keep a record of the BBC’s responses to complaints and the words used to uphold or contest the complaints.

  6. 2hmp permalink
    April 28, 2022 2:52 pm

    i don’t expect the BBC to take any notice nor most MPs. None are so blind as those who will not see.

  7. Martin Brumby permalink
    April 28, 2022 3:04 pm

    I must remind everyone that this stems directly from the infamous 28 Gate meeting organised by Roger Harrabin, shrouded in mystery, the surrounding secrecy backed up by a large team of very highly paid barristers, attempting to portray the attendees as ‘top scientists’ rather that the couple of activist- ‘scientists’ and a rag bag of Gang Green enthusiasts, with a spook from the US embassy thrown in.

    It was there that it was decided to abandon BBC policy of balance and permit only shroud waving nonsense to be aired.
    It would be good if Paul could find a way of republishing this tale – and the names of those who attended.

    After all, many non- STEM educated people struggle with aspects of “The Science”, but are likely to spot barefaced lies and beware of the purveyors of those lies accordingly.

    • Rowland P permalink
      April 28, 2022 4:50 pm

      Full list of participants agreeing to the total bias and exclusion of dissenting opinions.

      • dennisambler permalink
        April 29, 2022 11:37 am

        A great list. I notice it included the Head of Comedy, confirming the whole thing really is a bad joke.

    • Coeur de Lion permalink
      April 28, 2022 5:32 pm

      The book ‘The Propaganda Bureau’ by Andrew Montford is readily available on Amazon and exposes the whole sordid story including spending my licence fee resisting FOI requests.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        April 29, 2022 12:29 pm

        I believe they burnt through around £250,000 of other people’s money trying to keep this quiet. The extreme irony was that somebody had already posted all the details on the internet.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      April 29, 2022 8:29 am

      As I’ve said before, the real trouble with this decision was that it conflated political policies and economics with climate science. That allowed the BBC to ignore the vast number of alternative ways we could deal with what the “science” says.

    • John Cullen permalink
      May 1, 2022 4:55 pm

      It is also worth referring to the late Christopher Booker’s detailed report for the GWPF, “The BBC and Climate Change: a Triple Betrayal”:-

      Click to access booker-bbc.pdf

      The three complaints that Booker enumerated were:-
      “The first was the BBC’s betrayal of its statutory obligation to report on the world with ‘impartially’.” at pages 65-66.

      “the second ‘betrayal’ in the BBC’s coverage … the way it betrayed the principles of
      professional journalism. So committed to the cause were its journalists that,
      when important questions began to be raised as to whether the story was
      really as unarguable as was claimed, their only real response was simply to
      dig in their toes to defend it.” at page 66.

      “… the third of the three ‘betrayals’ to which I referred at
      the start, the consistency with which the BBC’s coverage of this story has shown
      so little understanding of the basic principles of science. We have seen how
      again and again they have put out programmes designed to promote their
      cause …” at pages 66-67.

      It seems to me that the BBC has not even attempted to clean up its act in the years since Booker wrote his report in 2011.


      • William George permalink
        May 1, 2022 5:44 pm

        Just pure arrogance, knowing that Joe Public will keep paying. But for how long and then who would want their biased reporters

      • catweazle666 permalink
        May 1, 2022 6:14 pm

        The BBC remains the broadcasting arm of the Hard Left Guardian, the periodical where it places all its job advertisements, hence ensuring its ideological purity.

  8. April 28, 2022 3:05 pm

    “It is difficult to see how he can maintain his position as Climate Editor, when his work is so untrustworthy.”

    After all the years you’ve had your blog, how can you say this? You know as well as everyone else it’s all about the narrative, not the truth.

    Mr. Rowlatt would have a much more difficult time maintaining his position as Climate Editor if he did tell the truth and had balance in his reporting.

  9. Stephen Burchell permalink
    April 28, 2022 3:10 pm

    Brilliant work. Well done.

  10. Ben Vorlich permalink
    April 28, 2022 3:20 pm

    Climate alarmism is very profitable

    Sir David Attenborough, 95, makes £1.8million in profit as he enjoys one of the most rewarding years of his career

    Sir David Attenborough, 95, makes £1.8million in profit as he enjoys one of the most rewarding years of his career

    He has just been awarded a ‘Champions of the Earth’ Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of his dedication to the natural world and climate change.

    And Sir David Attenborough has also enjoyed one of the most profitable years of his almost seven decade long career.

    • Duker permalink
      April 29, 2022 3:45 am

      Yes. And the better qualified David Bellamy who was an actual botanist with an hons degree and later PhD, was sent to media Siberia when he didnt beat the climate gloom drum. RIP

    • April 29, 2022 7:34 pm

      And that poor child, Prince George, who was taken to meet Attenborough at such a tender age and made to lap up all the nonsense of climate change destroying the world, terrifying him in the process. Every photo of him shows him looking anxious and afraid. It’s unforgivable.

  11. jC3 permalink
    April 28, 2022 3:22 pm

    Rowlatt a liar? Why, my goodness, but Justin is a Saint of ecodisasterism. He’d never-ever utter or write an untruth…
    Of course he lies.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      April 29, 2022 8:31 am

      I suspect not a liar as I suspect he is actually simply ignorant if the cause he espouses. If you go on say Twitter, it’s remarkable how many Greens really haven’t got a clue about what climate science says – and I mean the orthodox IPCC version.

  12. PaulM permalink
    April 28, 2022 3:22 pm

    As far as the BBC is concerned Sturgeon’s law fully applies. Of course the percentage should a great deal higher, meanwhile Paul, very well done indeed.

  13. Dr Ken Pollock permalink
    April 28, 2022 3:41 pm

    Paul, brilliant work as usual. Well done.
    As a BBC pensioner, I wrote to Tim Davie, the new DG, lamenting the poor quality of the programme – and one led by Roger Harrabin. He replied quickly and indicated that two representatives of the programmes would be in touch.
    Subsequently, I heard from Angus Foster and Leo Telling. Both sought to justify the content of the programmes, but Leo Telling did agree that quoting “cumulative deaths” was misleading. All such deaths are increasing – the deaths from car accident are increasing, and have done since before the war! The fact that in each succeeding year fewer people die is hidden in that fatuous comment.
    Leo Telling did draw attention to a comment in the BBC’s “Corrections and Clarifications”, pointing out the confusing nature of that statement, so a minor victory.
    Knowing you were going to the ECU, I did not bother, but kept Tim Davie up to speed on my concerns. Let us hope he learns from your success (and my sniping) and seeks to turn the BBC back into an organisation we can all respect!
    Keep up the good work!

    • April 28, 2022 4:53 pm

      ” …. but Leo Telling did agree that quoting “cumulative deaths” was misleading. All such deaths are increasing …..”

      As are complaints that the BBC’s ECU is now having to deal with!

    • April 28, 2022 5:23 pm

      I wonder what % of the UK population have heard of the ‘BBC’s Corrections and Clarifications’? Imperceptibly close to zero I would suggest. That’s the BBC’s victory – they can lie to their heart’s content for everyone to see, then apologise where no one sees it so the original lie is effectively maintained. Perhaps if the BBC manage to keep the TV License, a condition should be to announce all such ‘corrections’ on all prime BBC channels news programmes for a whole day, and the cost (or a fine) to be borne by the programme’s producers.

      • Dr Ken Pollock permalink
        April 28, 2022 5:33 pm

        100% with you on that – the BBC just like the newspapers, hiding away any corrections. Would be worth incorporating your idea when the licence fee is changed/updated. Talked to Nadine Dorries at a meeting last Friday – should have mentioned it to her then…

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        April 28, 2022 6:41 pm

        Love it! (Ken and Ilma). I have a dream of BBC announcing their next news-item on CC on Six O’Clock News:

        “We report that Climate change is causing more deaths and wrecking more countries, as our LYING CC Editor now reports”.

  14. Bernard Woodhall permalink
    April 28, 2022 4:40 pm

    Contained within the ECU response is, ‘despite the number of weather-related disasters (such as floods, storms and drought) growing significantly in the past 50 years’.
    Is this accepted now? I thought these claims were challenged and shown to be reporting interpretation.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      April 28, 2022 8:26 pm

      It should have read
      ‘despite the REPORTED number of weather-related disasters (such as floods, storms and drought) growing significantly in the past 50 years’.

      This has stuck in my mind for several decades since reading about them in an otherwise long forget article.

      On August 18, 1931, the Yangtze River in China peaks during a horrible flood that kills 3.7 million people directly and indirectly over the next several months. This was perhaps the worst natural disaster of the 20th century.
      followed by
      The 1935 Yangtze flood struck China during a decade of flooding, famine and social turmoil.It is considered to be the fifth deadliest flood in recorded history, with a death toll of 145,000 and displacement of millions. As a result of the flood, millions of survivors were faced with hardship due to displacement, injury, loss of property as well as food shortages and famine.

      Both extracts from the web.

      I don’t think there’s anything since that compares

      • Duker permalink
        April 29, 2022 3:49 am

        One of the things the totalitarian system was successful at was taming the
        mega scale floods other wise they still would have them.
        Cleverly they have worked that asian countries naturally prefer the single party state system anyway, so they ditched the anti capitalist side and let their businesses flkourish

    • Stuart Hamish permalink
      April 29, 2022 6:48 am

      Well spotted Bernard .. The BBC Executive Complaints Unit ‘s mealy response contained another lie which begs the question as to how the next complaint might be escalated and to whom Weather related disasters have actually decreased worldwide over the last 20 years. Paul reiterated this fact once again recently in the ‘ Annual Climate Disaster Swindle ” citing the UNDRR’s and EM DAT’s data

  15. dodgy geezer permalink
    April 28, 2022 5:12 pm

    Looks to me that his work is completely trustworthy. He can be trusted to exaggerate and blame climate change for every reported incident.

    That is what will keep him his job as Climate Editor with the BBC…

    • Stuart Hamish permalink
      April 29, 2022 6:25 am

      Consider how long it took the BBC to sack John Sweeney

  16. Crowcatcher permalink
    April 28, 2022 5:17 pm

    Nothing will happen to Rowlatt, just think of the Savile affair with at least one of the culprits receiving a significant promotion.
    I, too, am a BBC retiree and fell ashamed of the way the organisation I joined has so progressively declined in the last 30 years – and its not just its science reporting, it has been run by a bunch of utterly uncultured morons for years.

    • Stuart Hamish permalink
      April 29, 2022 12:55 pm

      ” Nothing will happen to Rowlatt , just think of the Saville affair with at least one of the culprits receiving a significant promotion ” …..
      .Reminds me of Scotland Yards well rewarded and pensioned off Operation Midland gutter team police officers led by Cressida Dick that ruined the lives of Lord Brittan and several other innocent men based on the lies of Carl Beech ……And all because Dicks institutionally corrupt guilt ridden Scotland Yard were searching for redemptive scapegoats after years of covering up for Saville and rape gangs

  17. catweazle666 permalink
    April 28, 2022 5:18 pm

    Nice one Paul!
    Keep up the good work!

  18. Micky R permalink
    April 28, 2022 5:34 pm

    ” In the ECU’s view the wording of the introduction, which stated “the death toll is rising around the world and the forecast is that worse is to come”, risked giving the impression the rate of deaths from extreme weather-related events was increasing. ”

    Risked giving the impression!! Weasel words, it was “not factually correct”.

  19. robertliddell1 permalink
    April 28, 2022 6:17 pm

    Well done,Paul. We are all in your debt

  20. It doesn't add up... permalink
    April 28, 2022 7:32 pm

    The thing that is so offensive about Rowlatt’s transgressions is that they are done with malice aforethought. They are not mere accidents, or the result of incompetent research. They are purposeful lies.

    • johnbuk permalink
      April 28, 2022 8:05 pm

      Thanks Paul, for this and all your factual reports that help us all counter “local” activists, family etc.

  21. EppingBlogger permalink
    April 28, 2022 9:16 pm

    “Both responses are a bit mealy mouthed, and the ECU still seems to be in denial that both claims were fundamentally untrue.”

    I think this summary was itself mealy mouthed. The BBC was guilty of wilfully promoting untruths to support a politrical opinion and objective of the presenter. Perhaps it also represented the BBC’s corporate view as well.

  22. Ray Sanders permalink
    April 28, 2022 9:45 pm

    As a well know band once sang….
    “Stand up and fight, for you know we are right
    We must strike at the lies
    That have spread like disease through our minds”

  23. tomo permalink
    April 28, 2022 10:18 pm

    I can think of another Jussie who’s not a million miles away from Rowlett

    A P45 and a gig with Richard Black (or Leo Hickman) beckons?

    I live in (not much) hope

  24. Graeme No.3 permalink
    April 28, 2022 11:08 pm

    Thank you Paul for your efforts, but sadly I think the BBC will continue to offend. Much as our local ABC which is trying to bring down the current Federal Govt. to get a more suitable (to them) one. But our problem is the low quality of our existing politicians, who despite the low audience figures for their Current Affairs programs (11% and 7.3% recently) still give them more funds.

  25. April 29, 2022 8:03 am

    Quoting the World Meteorological Organisation’s claim that disasters have increased in the last fifty years is misleading, what has improved is the recording of disasters has changed, prior to 1998, I think it was, far fewer disasters were reported than actually occurred.

    What the BBC is lacking is a sceptical mind set, and simply broadcast what so called authorities put out.

    • dennisambler permalink
      April 29, 2022 12:16 pm

      WMO is another UN agency and also another intergovernmental body, like the IPCC. It has has to support the agenda and the rhetoric of the UNFCCC in the ongoing move to global governance via a myriad of agreements, protocols, conventions etc.

      WMO also promotes the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN:

      Contributing to UN Sustainable Development Goals

      “Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls – Women and men are affected differently by weather and climate. Gender sensitivities are particularly pronounced in the areas of disaster risk reduction, public health, water resources management, and agriculture and food security. WMO aims to provide improved weather, climate, hydrological, marine and other environmental services that are responsive and sensitive to women’s and men’s needs and will make a difference to their lives. ”

      Their Chief Scientist was an IPCC Lead author for AR5 and is a fully signed up climate change aficionado:
      “The Board is composed of an optimum number of leading research scientists and research funding managers active in the fields of weather, climate, water, ocean and related environmental and social sciences, taking into account geographical balance and reflecting the WMO gender equality policy”

      • catweazle666 permalink
        April 29, 2022 2:31 pm

        Good grief…

      • Duker permalink
        April 29, 2022 9:53 pm

        “Related social sciences” …to weather ?

        Just checked , 2nd on the list.
        Faten Attig-Bahar is a post doc student representing Germany where she has studies but is now at University of Carthage Tunisia
        Her expertise ?
        ‘Faten has rich “expertise” in Renewable energy technologies and implementation, Renewable energy project valuation and financing options, Climate finance, Renewable energy in emerging markets and Energy Efficiency.’
        is also 19 books published for children in arabic

        But I do notice shes working at the ‘monetisation’ end of renewable energy , but I doubt she has any skill in meteorology

  26. Phoenix44 permalink
    April 29, 2022 8:23 am

    So the ECU continues to claim that the statement “deaths are rising” referred to cumulative deaths!

    What a farce.

  27. cookers52 permalink
    April 29, 2022 8:31 am

    Justin will regard the upholding of complaints of bias and misleading information on climate change as a badge of honour.

    He is saving the planet, so anything is justified.

    Meanwhile the planet doesn’t care.

  28. Nicholas permalink
    April 29, 2022 10:00 am

    Complainant, Justin Rowlatt is right now laughing at you. Nothing is going to stop him. His lies are still on the bbc iPlayer and any personal recordings. The ECU had a glass or two of Chablis over a long lunch (you & I paid) thewhere they may have mentioned to the Panarama team that they really don’t appreciate being bothered by complainants.
    It is certain that Justin Rowlatt will be back very soon with more of the same.

  29. dennisambler permalink
    April 29, 2022 12:20 pm

    “The BBC is planning a raft of climate-focused content across its TV, radio, and digital services during April and May aimed at highlighting positive lifestyle and behavioural choices that can be made to help support the environment, the broadcaster announced today.

    Radio 2, The One Show, BBC Sport, Morning Live, and children’s programmes including Blue Peter, Go Jetters and Hey Duggee are just some of the areas of the broadcaster’s output which will be dedicating programming and initiatives to climate and environmental topics over the next two months, the corporation said.

    A particular focus for climate and environmental content across TV, radio, and digital will fall during the broadcaster’s Green Week, which it set to take place from 16-20 May, with daily themes looking at how to curb environmental impacts from the home, travel, shopping, eating, and leisure activities, according to the BBC.

    Young climate champions are also set to feature in a new BBC Bitesize initiative called the Regenerators Hall of Fame, while BBC Sport plans to profile efforts being taken by sporting individuals and organisations worldwide to build a more sustainable future, it said.”

    • Gerry, England permalink
      April 29, 2022 12:36 pm

      The Doctor Josef Goebbels Institute of Propaganda would be proud of its former students.

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