Dear Sir, RAY Fleming in his “Looking Around” page (July 29th), mentions me so many times that I feel I must respond.
I believe it to be beyond doubt that the BBC has been operating its own political agenda. Until the Iraq troubles began, this was basically anti-USA, anti-Israel and pro-Arab. But once it became clear that Tony Blair's intention was to identify himself and his government with President Bush's battle against Islamic-inspired international terrorism, the BBC in a display of almost unbelievable arrogance, broadened its agenda to attack, undermine and even try to destabilise Mr Blair and his government. And they did not appear to allow a little thing like the truth to stand in the way of their intentions. In his letter to The Times (July 29th), Lord Donahue (not known for fiery rhetoric nor hot-headed extremism), writes: “In rightly demanding protection for the BBC's independence, its Chairman should appreciate that such a privilege is guaranteed by the Corporation's charter on certain conditions of accuracy and balance in its broadcasting which its news departments now often blatantly ignore. Its reports, for example, on the Israel-Palestine issue, the Iraq war, GM foods and any aspect of Alistair Campbell have at times made little pretence of balanced accuracy.” Sir, Andrew Gilligan in a natural desire to curry favour with his employers who were already in the full flush of their anti-government attacks, came up with a news story which, if it had been proven accurate, would have undoubtedly brought down the Blair government. And the BBC in their irrational determination to bring this about, allowed Gilligan's story onto the airwaves without first double and treble checking its veracity. Worse still, having been caught out, the BBC instead of saying “fair cop guv” and issuing an abject apology, tried instead to lie its way out of it with some “we got it from a high Intelligence source” nonsense. Let us now examine the nature and the overtones of Gilligan's story. He claimed in essence that Tony Blair knowingly lied to Parliament in order to obtain its backing to send our young men and women into an unnecessary war. The House of Parliament has certain immovable rulings. One of them is that should anyone holding state office be found to have knowingly lied to the House, his resignation is mandatory. In view of the fact that the minister in question is the Prime Minister, had Mr Gilligan's story had real legs, this would have brought down not only Mr Blair but the entire government. However, if Mr Gilligan's claim is nothing more than an unfounded piece of sensationalism then he is guilty of even more than a grave slander and equally grave libel. It is possible that he is guilty of sedition. Should the Commission find that Gilligan did broadcast a seditious lie, and if it finds that the head of BBC news deliberately and knowingly lied in order to get Gilligan and himself off the hook with this “high Intelligence source” business, then the government may have grounds to charge Gilligan and the entire news hierarchy of the BBC with sedition, in which case I hope they “throw the book” at them. Of course all will depend on what the Royal Commission uncovers. All I know is this: had the Minister of Defence, the head of the security service and Alistair Campbell decided to plan together to peddle a lie of such terrible proportions as to take us into a war illegally with all the death and suffering to our troops it entails, a conspiracy of this magnitude would have been classified so top secret that no “weapons expert” would have had access to it. In any case one does not need expertise in weaponry to tell a lie . You only might need it if you were searching for the truth.
It is my belief, after reading many of his pieces, that Mr Fleming thinks along the same lines and has the same unfounded prejudices as the BBC. Writing for a newspaper with its own editorial policy gives him the right so to do. But the BBC, because it is a publicly funded flagship enterprise, should be, indeed MUST be fearlessly honest and unbiassed.
I close with another section from Lord Donahue's letter. “The Corporation should urgently review its conduct and decide to restore the values associated with public service broadcasting.
This might involve training its news staff in those values and how they differ from working for, say, The Daily Mail...failing that, some of us in Parliament will approach the 2006 BBC review as an opportunity to remove the charter and license fee from the BBC and offer it to a new organisation committed to broadcast in accordance with public service values and obligations.”
Yours faithfully, David Lee
Palma

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