Another Day, Another Inaccuracy

I have just submitted this formal complaint to the BBC about an interview this morning on freedom of speech and no platforming. Basically, the allegation that Germaine Greer and Peter Tatchell have been no platformed keeps being broadcast by the BBC. It’s time for this to stop.

On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, shortly after 8:30am, Nick Robinson interviewed Jo Johnson MP, the government minister with responsibility for universities, and the topic of free speech in universities came up.

At one point Robinson asked about Peter Tatchell and Germaine Greer being no platformed. Towards the end of the interview, without prior reference to either person, Robinson said “Let’s take some recent examples. Peter Tatchell has been no platformed on occasions. Germaine Greer has been no platformed.”

On 13 December I and some others gave evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights about no platforming in universities. Peter Tatchell himself was one of my fellow witnesses. During that session Tatchell stated “There have been several attempts to no-platform me, but none of them has come to anything in the end. The most famous example was not strictly a no-platforming.” This makes it quite clear that Tatchell himself admits he has not been no platformed.

It was also made clear that Greer had also not been no platformed. As Jane Fae, another witness to the Committee said, “There was a suggestion that Germaine would be no-platformed in Cardiff. She then gets on to ‘Newsnight’, and her words get echoed around millions of people. Then Cardiff has her anyway. If that is no-platforming, I would like a bit of that, please.”.

When discussing matters as important as free speech, it is important to get the facts right. Sadly the BBC failed to do that again this morning, persisting with their interviewers broadcasting an uncorrected falsehood. It is relatively simple to find out the facts, and certainly something any reputable news organisation should be capable of doing.

This complaint is that the BBC knowingly broadcast again an inaccuracy, a falsehood, and should (a) correct the information on the next broadcast of the Today programme and (b) should refrain from stating in the future that Greer and Tatchell have been no platformed.


  1. nigel hunter · · Reply

    Did the pro Conservative Robinson do it on purpose and the BBC reciprocate?

    1. No response from the BBC yet. In fairness, it was actually quite a good piece looking at how Government’s proposals would work in practice, so I don’t think there was any particular malice. Robinson seemed to come to the conclusion that it was all rhetoric and no substance – but the difficulties of creating formal policy with sanctions here is that a non-benign government could simply abuse it.

  2. […] 5. Another day, another inaccuracy by Helen Belcher on Challenging Journeys (Phase 2). People think that key figures have been no-platformed. But they haven’t and they get masses of airtime anyway. […]

  3. […] original core of Trans Media Watch took to undertake that. But I think we have a real problem when inaccuracies are not corrected, corrections are ignored, and gross distortions regularly published. Where exactly is that chilling […]

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