African Doctor who failed to spot Baby P abuse eight days before he died allowed to return to work
A GP who failed to spot Baby P’s abuse can return to work as a doctor but only under strict conditions, the General Medical Council ruled today.
The GMC suspended Dr Jerome Ikwueke for 12 months in July last year for a series of failures in his care of the toddler.
A review panel found today that his fitness to practise was still ‘impaired’ but concluded he could resume practising if he complies with 18 conditions imposed on his registration for a year.
As the family GP, Dr Ikwueke saw Baby P – now named as Peter Connelly – at his north London surgery at least 14 times in the months before his death.
The doctor noted that the little boy had changed from his usual happy self, seemed ‘withdrawn’ and pulled away when he saw him for the final time on July 26, 2007.
Peter died eight days later in Tottenham, north London, aged just 17 months.
A GMC disciplinary panel ruled last year that Dr Ikwueke breached his professional duty towards the child in not carrying out a full examination, making an urgent referral for further checks or sharing information with a health visitor or social workers.
The committee decided to suspend Dr Ikwueke rather than strike him off the medical register after concluding he did not pose a risk to patients and had taken steps to remedy issues identified through the Baby P case.
The GMC review panel noted today that the GP had ‘gained considerable insight’ into his failings and expanded his knowledge of child protection since the previous hearing.
But it concluded: ‘You now need to demonstrate that you have embedded this learning in your clinical practice through a review process.’
Dr Ikwueke will now be returned to the medical register under stringent conditions which require him to be supervised and ban him from undertaking private practice work.
He cannot work as a locum or carry out out-of-hours duties without the approval of his supervisor and the GMC, and must keep a log of all cases he encounters involving ‘significant child protection risk factors”.
The GP must also notify the GMC when he accepts any job, if he applies for medical work outside the UK or if any formal disciplinary proceedings are brought against him.
Good healthcare for all? Not on the NHS
Under new local NHS plans, smokers and obese people – the undeserving sick – will be made to wait months for operations
‘The NHS was born out of a long-held ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth. That principle remains at its core. With the exception of charges for some prescriptions and optical and dental services, the NHS remains free at the point of use for anyone who is resident in the UK.’ So says the NHS Choices website itself. But if you smoke or you’re a bit chubby, that statement is no longer true.
In December last year, the Sunday Telegraph reported that NHS bosses in Kent had decided that smokers who required ‘non-urgent’ operations, like hip replacement or cataract removal, would either have to quit before they could join the waiting list or take part in a 12-week smoking cessation course. People with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 – classified as obese – would have to take part in a three-month diet programme in order to get on the waiting list.
This week, it seems the idea has spread. According to the doctors’ magazine, Pulse, the NHS in Hertfordshire is planning similar restrictions to the ones proposed in Kent, with smokers and overweight people kept off waiting lists while they mend their wicked ways.
These moves are primarily driven by money. After welfare benefits and pensions, the NHS is the UK government’s biggest area of expenditure, costing over £100 billion per year. While the Lib-Con coalition government has promised not to cut NHS spending, there is real pressure on local NHS managers to save money in the face of rising demand. One way to do that is to postpone operations. The trouble is that there is also a target that patients shouldn’t remain more than 18 weeks on a waiting list before getting their operations.
The answer is simply to make sure that some patients don’t make it on to the waiting list straightaway. This is, of course, perverse – reminiscent of stories from the old Soviet Union of how shoe factories made their targets for production even when the heel of the shoe was attached to the toe. The shoes were useless, but the factories made their targets because no one said the shoes had to be wearable. Presumably, NHS bosses in Kent and Hertfordshire will be able to claim that all the people on the waiting list got their operation on time, but that’s because some of the people who need the operation aren’t on the waiting list.
The decision to refuse operations is a disgrace, a complete perversion of the NHS ideal (even if the NHS never quite lived up to that ideal). Though the NHS is not an insurance system, where you or your employers pay in a certain amount per month in return for a particular level of health cover, there is a sense that almost everyone contributes to the NHS via taxation and should be treated equally when it comes to care. These new rules are the equivalent of an insurance company changing the rules when you decide to claim. If that was exposed in a Michael Moore documentary, many British people would simply see it as confirmation of the superiority of ‘Our NHS’ over the American system. Well, it’s happening in ‘Our NHS’, so where’s the outcry?
To be fair, some doctors do disagree with the new rules. Dr Mike Ingram, chair of the single-practice Red House Consortium and a member of Hertfordshire LMC, told Pulse: ‘Patients’ access to services should be based on the care they require and not on a discriminatory policy. I’m very worried about denying people care on the basis they are fat.’ The Patients’ Association has also been critical of these restrictions, while others have been exploring whether these rules are even legal.
Such restrictions aren’t new. As reported on spiked back in 2006, NHS trusts were already imposing such lifestyle-based rationing. Back then, however, there were some flimsy attempts to justify the restrictions on the base of medical outcomes. There’s little of that this time. Having created the NHS on the basis that lack of money should be no reason to deny someone healthcare, that care is now being denied on moral grounds instead.
We now have a simple division between the deserving and the undeserving sick, one that is broadly drawn. According to NHS figures, 21 per cent of UK adults smoke while almost a quarter of adults are classified as obese. Even if there is considerable crossover between the two groups, that’s still a very sizeable chunk of the population that would fall foul of this new-style health rationing.
Rather than admit to the limitations and failings of the NHS, health bosses have been able to exploit the moralistic climate created in recent years by endless health campaigns about smoking and diet, apparently with no complaint from ministers. It seems doctors, in the name of lifestyle manipulation, have forgotten that bit in the Hippocratic Oath to ‘use treatments for the benefit of the ill in accordance with my ability and my judgment’. Instead, it seems, patients can now look forward to remaining in pain or struggling with disability for months unless they fall into line.
Five-star hotel Claridge’s ‘threw us out for being white and English’
Staff wanted to serve wealthy Arabs instead, claims socialite Taki Theodoracopulos
One of Britain’s most exclusive hotels has been accused of throwing out a visitor – for being white and English. Claridge’s in Mayfair, central London, has been a favourite venue for the rich and famous and is often referred to as ‘an extension of Buckingham Palace’.
But socialite and writer Taki Theodoracopulos has accused the establishment of favouring rich Arabs who spend frivolously over British aristocrats.
Theodoracopulos said that he was with a group of friends at the hotel’s bar when he was asked to leave because the staff ‘were hoping for Gulf people’. ‘We were neither drunk nor obstreperous but we were refused a table although the place was less than one third full,’ Theodoracopulos wrote in his Spectator magazine High Life column.
Theodoracopulos said that he had dined nearby with his group of friends, including the Marquess of Worcester and his brother Lord John Somerset. The 74-year-old Greek-born writer said that he wanted a table but was asked to leave. Theodoracopulos, who has homes in London, New York and Switzerland, is demanding an apology and calling for a boycott of the venue.
‘Harry Worcester had the brilliant idea to go to Claridge’s bar for a drink,’ he wrote. ‘After politely suggesting that the management should give us one, the maitre d’ came over and asked us to leave. ‘Lord Worcester protested, as did his brother Lord John Somerset. I was at the bar and unaware we were being given the heave-ho. Once I caught on, it was too late. My party was out the door.
‘So here’s what I think happened and why I am outraged. We were speaking English, we were white and we had not demanded myriad bottles of champagne.
‘The staff were obviously hoping for Gulf people, whose moolah (slang for money) derives from the theft of their countries’ resources. ‘The idea that four English-speaking European gents with four ladies in tow are asked to leave Claridge’s is as outrageous as it’s foul.’
The hotel has denied any knowledge of the incident and rejects the idea that they prefer wealthy Arabs as guests. ‘We have checked. There is no record of such an incident. I think he is being deliberately provocative and mischievous,’ a spokesman told the Daily Telegraph.
But Theodoracopulos said he stands by his story is ‘still very upset by what happened.’
“Of course I support a free press, but …”
All-party support for regulating the media threatens to reverse the historic gains of the struggle for press freedom
You would be hard pressed to know it from the madness of recent news headlines, but there has been an even more important issue at stake in the hacking furore than whether Rebekah Brooks would lose her key to the News Corp executive washroom, or whether a committee of British MPs would get to enjoy an orgasm of outrage in front of Rupert Murdoch this week.
What matters far above and beyond all of that is the future of a free press. And it already seems clear that, no matter who might eventually get convicted of what and how far Murdoch’s shares might fall, the biggest loser will be press freedom.
We have entered the age of ‘I support a free press, but…’ Every leading British politician who has spoken on this subject of late has begun by assuring us that of course they want to see a free, even a ‘raucous’ press, one that ‘can make our lives miserable’, etc. This just the warm-up, going through the motions.
Then comes the punchline: ‘But….’ In the light of recent revelations, they conclude, the ‘culture’ of the press must, of course, be made more responsible, to produce a more ethical servant of the ‘public interest’. And to ensure the raucous Fleet Street Kids behave themselves along these lines, new proposals for more intervention in the news media have been streaming off the presses with the support of all parties – parliamentary hearings, police investigations and a judge-led public inquiry empowered by the government to ‘craft a new system of press regulation’.
The notion that more official regulation of the media is a good thing for the people goes against the tide of history. The fight to free the press from state control has been central to almost every major struggle for liberty and democratic revolution.
It was in the midst of the English Revolution of the 1640s that John Milton wrote his pioneering pamphlet against the system under which nobody could publish anything without a licence from the king, so that ‘unoffensive books must not stir forth without a visible jailer in their title’. Milton asked only for a ‘free and open encounter’ between Falsehood and Truth.
When the American revolutionaries wrote the Bill of Rights into their new Constitution in 1789, the First Amendment could not have been clearer about the principle of the press being freed from state control in a democratic society. ‘Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.’
In the 1840s, the first articles a young Karl Marx had published in a German newspaper were a polemical series against the control of the press by the Prussian state. Marx argued that ‘The free press is the ubiquitous vigilant eye of a people’s soul, the embodiment of a people’s faith in itself…. It is the spiritual mirror in which a people can see itself, and self-examination is the first condition of wisdom.’
This is just part of the history of struggle that has brought us to something imperfectly approximating a free press. Yet now, in twenty-first-century Britain, it seems the authorities are agreed upon the project of turning back the clock. More than 200 years after the American Puritans declared that politicians ‘shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press’, our allegedly liberal British politicians appear bent on doing just that. The fact that the new anti-press regulations have this time been justified as a defence of victims rather than of kings, and as an attack on the power of Murdoch rather than on the liberties of the public, does not alter the fact that they represent a poke in the ‘vigilant eye of a people’s soul’.
Worse, as this is the UK 2011, and our elected politicians lack the nerve to do things in their own name, they have handed over the future of press freedom to a judge: the unelected and unaccountable Lord Justice Leveson, who now apparently has the authority to reverse the gains of history. Tory prime minister David Cameron told parliament this week that, although a new legal regulator of the press might be needed, of course he did not personally favour ‘full statutory regulation’. But the judge’s inquiry was free to consider all options, and if m’lud decided to bring the press under full state regulation then, said Cameron, ‘we will have to be guided by what this inquiry finds’.
So the government and the judges are out to restage the battle for a free press. Yet where are the Miltons and Thomas Paines of today? Most of those who would claim to be liberals have not only gone over to the other side, but are leading the regime’s cavalry charge against press freedom. Liberal journalists waving their anti-Murdoch banners have been in the forefront of the campaign for more legal and police action to control the tabloid press, using high-profile victims such as murder victim Milly Dowler’s parents as human shields in their propaganda war. Some allegedly liberal commentators have even proposed that journalists should once more be licensed before they can publish anything. Great idea – why not go the whole historical hog and say the queen has to endorse the licence? Or maybe in the age when celebrities rule the Earth it might be more appropriate to put Princess Kate in charge of licensing the press.
It is quite a thing to realise that these supposedly cynical journalists and campaigners are naive enough to imagine that new regulation of the written word will only affect the ‘bad’ tabloid press, not the ‘good’ outlets that they write for and read. It is reminiscent of the left wingers in the 1930s who campaigned for and applauded the introduction of a Public Order Act to counter the fascists – and were then astonished when the state first turned the new laws against them.
We do not actually live in an absolute monarchy or a Prussian police state. The British newspapers are not all about to be closed down (unless they go out of business) and the internet is flourishing. But the danger to a free press comes not only from censorship. The more insidious threat is conformism. The current drive to tame the tabloids can only reinforce the consensus that there are things than cannot be said, ideas that cannot be questioned, and issues that should not be investigated. If the one-note drone of the media and the Twittertariat during the hacking scandal – all repeating the same moralistic message, over and over again – is a sign of things to come, then the free press is already on the missing list.
There is a long record of self-censorship in the British media. George Orwell noted it in his 1945 essay, ‘Freedom of the press’, which he wrote as a preface to Animal Farm (though it has rarely been published with the book). Orwell observed that, even during the national crisis of the Second World War, the state had not been a heavy-handed censor: ‘The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary…. Things are kept right out of the British press, not because the government intervenes but because of a general tacit agreement that “it wouldn’t do” to mention that particular fact.’ We are now faced with a new generation of gutless, risk-averse self-censors at the forefront of the illiberal liberal media, telling us that ‘it wouldn’t do’ to say that.
The judge’s inquiry may be free to consider all options, but we can be reasonably sure that he will not conclude that there is already too little freedom and too much regulation of the press, both formal and informal. Whatever the outcome of all the investigations and inquiries, the tabloid press has been found guilty. It’s time to make a stand for a raucous, irreverent and offensive media that is prepared to question everything, before we find ourselves convicted of practising irresponsible journalism without a licence.
Corruption behind British correctness?
It’s just done more subtly in Britain — and in good taste, of course
Britons love to lecture the world about integrity and the rule of law, but the News of the World phone hacking scandal has laid bare a web of collusion between money, power, media and the police.
Far from the innocent, upright democracy of its self-image, Britain is showing a seamy side that anti-corruption campaigners say is getting worse and may be politically explosive as society becomes more unequal due to the financial and economic crises.
Behind a facade of probity, London offers a haven for oligarchs and despots, a place where foreign media magnates have bought access to and influence over the government.
The scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has already destroyed a newspaper, cost two top police officers their jobs, seen the arrest of powerful media figures and embarrassed the prime minister and political elite.
But it points to a bigger problem in British society — overly cozy relationships among elites that are ethically dangerous, even when they do not involve outright criminality.
Britain says it has been bolstering its legal and regulatory system. Just this month a new law on bribery tightening rules for UK firms operating abroad entered force.
But some of the world’s leading transparency campaigners say that the hacking scandal exemplifies unhealthy links between power and money.
“The bottom line… is that for some time there has been undue influence on UK governments and public policy by powerful private interests,” says Daniel Kaufmann, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC.
“It is … often a more sophisticated form of high-level political corruption. It may not be strictly illegal — or it may be more subtle — but that does not mean it is not very costly for society or the economy,” said Kaufman, a former director of the World Bank Institute and creator of the closely watched Worldwide Governance Indicators.
If unchecked, “elite capture” of political systems can become “privatization of public policy” — a growing danger in both Britain and the United States, he said.
As with media barons such as Murdoch, the influence of the financial services industry is so strong, Kaufmann argued, that politicians have long avoided questioning it.
That acquiescence contributed to the global financial crisis. It has also made Britain one of the key banking centers for the world’s most corrupt oligarchs and despots.
Financial secrecy arrangements — such as Britain’s system of financial “trusts”, which allow powerful figures to mask the ownership of assets — have rarely if ever been challenged by the government, say financiers and campaigners.
When power elites in the Middle East looked for somewhere to send their money during the “Arab Spring” uprisings this year, wealth managers told Reuters London was the prime beneficiary. Much may have been legitimately earned, some almost certainly not.
Both Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif owned property in London through complex trusts and front companies in Panama and the British Virgin Islands.
Through its close links with tax haven satellites such as the Channel Islands, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man, experts say Britain is at the center of many such schemes.
“London has become the money launderers’ destination of choice,” says John Christensen, a former economic adviser to the Channel island of Jersey, who now runs the Tax Justice Network, a group campaigning for tighter regulation.
“If you look at the way we talk about and measure corruption in the West, it’s either Africa or Asia which comes out worse. But we are using a distorted prism.”
It’s not just Britain. A Reuters investigation this month showed how some U.S. states — notably Wyoming and Delaware — were failing to meet international standards, offering “shelf companies” to help hide assets and avoid tax.
Christensen argues that states have been losing control of the financial system for more than 30 years and now find themselves increasingly at its mercy.
Even groups such as Transparency International — which has traditionally focused on criticizing “conventionally” corrupt states in emerging economies — are beginning to shift their attention to developed world corruption.
TI published a report earlier this month entitled “Britain: more corrupt than you think”, showing that a majority of people believed corruption was worsening in the country.
“It is not that corruption is endemic in the UK as it is in some other countries but there is a worrying degree of complacency,” said Chandrashekhar Krishnan, Executive Director of Transparency International UK. “The focus (now) is on corruption in the media and allegations about bribing the police… but we are also particularly worried about political party funding, parliament, sport and the prison system.”
Even recent gains are not always what they seem. For example Transparency International points to the UK Bribery Act. The law’s introduction was delayed after frantic lobbying by companies who said it would make them uncompetitive, prompting officials to effectively water down some of the guidance on how rigorously it would be enforced.
The institution responsible for enforcing it, the Serious Fraud Office, is also suffering budget cuts — as are other bodies aimed at tackling grassroots corruption in prisons, police, local government, and taxation. The previous government halted bribery investigations into arms sales to Saudi Arabia, citing the national interest.
Not everyone despairs. Some argue that the Internet and social media may prompt a new era of transparency, raising the reputational risks for governments that fail to clean up their act.
The Brookings Institute’s Kaufmann argues that antimonopoly regulations and diverse political systems involving more than two main parties could help by making it harder for oligarchs to control the system.
Activists warn of growing public discontent. In Britain, lobby group UKuncut has organised direct action including flash mobs outside firms they accuse of avoiding tax — although they say they had no hand in throwing a cream pie at Murdoch on Tuesday at a parliamentary committee.
“It’s a bit like the beginning of an avalanche where it is very hard to predict where it will end up,” said Tim Hardy, a left-wing blogger describing himself as a cheerleader for the officially leaderless group.
Nor is discontent limited to the political fringe. One former senior British official said on condition of anonymity that groups such as UKuncut “have more of a point than they know”.
Political advisers to banks warn of a growing global anti-establishment backlash.
John Bassett — a former senior official at the British signals intelligence agency GCHQ and now a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute — says that coming after the financial and economic crises the hacking scandal “has revitalized the narrative of a corrupt elite.
“The long-term result is likely to be a further erosion in the credibility of the British establishment, particularly the media and police, in the eyes of citizens.”
High-minded British school in attempted coverup
Steiner school faces £100,000 payout to whistle-blowing teacher
A Steiner school is facing a compensation payout of up to £100,000 to a whistle-blowing teacher after ignoring her complaint about an alleged assault on her daughter.
Jo Sawfoot, 42, was designated child protection officer at Norfolk Initiative Steiner Schools kindergarten in Norwich.
Ms Sawfoot, a Cambridge University graduate, complained that her six-year-old daughter – a pupil at the private school – had been hurt by colleague Anna Letts.
Ms Letts had seized Ms Sawfoot’s daughter by the arm as she sat on the floor refusing to move, a tribunal heard. The school’s policy was that physical restraint should only be used as a last resort.
But school managers – who rely on a laissez-faire teaching philosophy unique to Steiner schools – failed to investigate the incident. They instead gave a misleading report to social services about the girl biting Ms Letts.
They decided that Ms Sawfoot was an “irritant” and made damaging allegations about her teaching skills to social services, the tribunal found.
Ms Sawfoot felt she had no choice but to resign and remove her daughter from the school. Her departure triggered protests outside the school by parents who felt she had been bullied.
Norwich Employment Tribunal ruled that the girl was inappropriately restrained by Ms Letts. It upheld Ms Sawfoot’s claims that she was constructively dismissed and mistreated by the school after making public interest disclosures as a whistleblower. Ms Sawfoot, of Norwich, is now set to receive substantial damages for loss of earnings and injury to feelings.
Employment Judge Martin Warren highlighted the school’s failure to investigate her grievance and misrepresentations to social services. He said: “The school had failed to recognise that there had been a child protection incident and failed to deal with it appropriately. “This was a matter for concern to Ms Sawfoot, not just as a parent but as the child protection officer”.
Steiner schools are based on the philosophy of Rudolph Steiner, who founded his first school in Germany in 1919. There are now over 900 worldwide. While in some countries they are publicly funded, most of the 30-plus in the UK, including £5,300-a-year NISS are fee-paying.
Steiner schools do not follow the national curriculum and believe that tests like Sats are harmful for pupils. They give priority to educating the whole child through unconventional creative activities such as gardening. Former Steiner pupils include actress Jennifer Aniston, singer Annie Lennox and broadcaster Emma Freud.
Ms Sawfoot’s solicitor Lawrence Davies, of law firm Equal Justice, is demanding that Ofsted now investigates practices at the school. He said: “There needs to be closer scrutiny of non-mainstream schools such as Steiner schools and faith schools. “We have seen honest, professional teachers who whistle-blow being victimised. “We are calling for Ofsted to investigate.”
Speaking after the judgment, Ms Sawfoot said: “I am still passionately committed to the Steiner movement. But my grievance was swept under the carpet by the school. “Instead, I was subjected to a hostile working environment. They labelled me a bad parent and then a bad teacher.”
Ms Sawfoot graduated from Cambridge University’s Corpus Christi College in 1991 with a degree in English literature. She had 14 years teaching experience when she joined NISS in August 2007, two years after the school was founded.
In May 2009, Ms Sawfoot complained that her daughter had been hurt by Ms Letts alleged assault but the school failed to act. The next month, school administrator Sandie Tolhurst reported the incident to social services. She claimed that the girl was restrained after biting Ms Letts when she, in fact, bit her because she was being held.
Ms Tolhurst also cast doubt for the first time on Ms Sawfoot’s professionalism and performance, saying she had been shouting in her classroom. Ms Sawfoot resigned the same month.
Judge Warren concluded: “We find that the misrepresentation was made because Ms Sawfoot had made a protected disclosure. “No action was taken against Ms Letts and from her own account of the incident taken from the incident book, her actions were inappropriate in terms of the schools own physical restraint policy. “We are satisfied that this difficult and obstructive line taken by the school is because they have come to regard Ms Sawfoot as an irritant because of the complaint.”
He said that Ms Sawfoot could not reasonably be expected to continue in the schools employment. The tribunal is set to award Ms Sawfoot compensation at a hearing later this year.
In a statement, the school said that it was still studying the judgment. It said: “It is a long and complicated assessment and we will continue to consider it in detail and consult with our legal team at this stage of the process. “
Uproar As BBC says it will not cover Climate Sceptics
So what else is new?
THE BBC was criticised by climate change sceptics yesterday after it emerged that their views will get less coverage because they differ from mainline scientific opinion.
In a report by its governing body, the BBC Trust, the corporation was urged to focus less on opponents of the “majority consensus” in its programmes. It said coverage should not be tailored to represent a “false balance” of opinion if one side came from a minority group.
The report was partly based on an independent review of coverage by Steve Jones, Professor of Genetics at University College, London.
Although he found no evidence of bias in BBC output, he suggested where there is a “scientific consensus” it should not hunt out opponents purely to balance the story. He highlighted climate change as an example along with the controversy over the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine potentially leading to autism.
On climate change, Professor Jones said there had been a “drizzle of criticism of BBC coverage” arising from “a handful of journalists who have taken it upon themselves to keep disbelief alive”.
The report says: “In its early days, two decades ago, there was a genuine scientific debate about the reality of climate change. Now, there is general agreement that warming is a fact even if there remain uncertainties about how fast, and how much, the temperature might rise.”
But critics accused Professor Jones of using the report as a cover to “push the BBC’s green agenda”. Among them are former Tory Chancellor Lord Lawson, who was accused by the Government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir John Beddington, of making “incorrect” claims in An Appeal To Reason, the peer’s book on climate change.
Lord Lawson, chairman of the sceptical Global Warming Policy Foundation, said the fact that carbon dioxide levels were rising leading to global warming was not under dispute. However, he added, its extent and effect could not be explained by majority scientific opinion alone.
He said: “The BBC is already extremely one-sided on this issue. They have a settled view which is politically correct. “The idea that because scientific opinion falls largely on one side you can’t have a debate is outrageous. Because there’s a strong majority in basic science doesn’t mean the issue is off the table, yet the BBC says it should be.”
The foundation’s director, Dr Benny Peiser, said the report would lead to biased coverage of climate change and stifle any real debate. He said: “This is nothing the BBC has not been doing for the past 10 years, however. They are completely biased on the issue of climate change and this is nothing more than an effort to push their green agenda.”
Dr David Whitehouse, the foundation’s editor and a former BBC science correspondent, said the corporation had “lost the plot” when it came to science journalism. He said the corporation was “grouping sceptics with deniers” which would result in a lack of valid scientific input to its reports. He said: “A sceptic is not a denier, all good scientists should be sceptics. The BBC has got itself into a complete muddle. “In seeking to get the science right it has missed the journalism which is about asking awkward questions and shaking the tree.”
But the BBC Trust defended the report. A spokesman said: “The report is not suggesting that climate change sceptics will not have a place on the BBC in future. “The point Professor Jones makes is that the scientific consensus is that it is caused by human activity. Therefore the BBC’s coverage needs to give less weight to those who oppose this view, and reflect the fact that the debate has moved on to how to deal with climate change.”