Charles Moore Charles Moore

The Spectator’s Notes | 6 June 2009

Charles Moore's reflections on the week

When you are invited on to programmes like the BBC’s Question Time, the idea is that you express your opinions. So that is what I did when I last appeared on Question Time, on 12 March. In the wake of the Luton Islamists who insulted the British troops parading through the town, I made some unfavourable comments about the attitude of the Muslim Council of Britain to British troops serving in Muslim countries. There is always an hour’s pause between the recording of Question Time and its broadcast, partly intended so that the programme can be checked for libel. (I know this, because I once had to fight, successfully, for the BBC lawyers to keep in some things I had said on the programme about Martin McGuinness.) On this occasion, no one at the BBC raised any legal or other objection to anything I had said, and the broadcast went out. A few days later, the BBC informed me that they had had a solicitor’s letter on behalf of Mohammed Abdul Bari, the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain. Although the letter exclusively concerned my own words, the BBC would not show it to me. I supplied them with background information relevant to what I had said on air, but this does not seem to have been pursued. The BBC went dead. Then, last Friday, on holiday in Italy, I got a call from the Daily Mail, who told me that the BBC had offered an apology for my remarks to Dr Bari and £30,000. I decided to refuse the Mail’s invitation to comment, because I felt in a legal limbo, and had been told nothing whatever by the BBC. That remains the case as I write, and, when telephoned, the BBC legal advisers refused to provide any further information.

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