BBC Middle East coverage - Law Lords give free expression a boost

The House of Lords has today dusted down its wigs and banged its gavel and drawn an important line in the sand in relation to political suppression of world news.

Backstory to this is that the BBC had come under scrutiny for its coverage of the middle east conflict - specifically the Israel-Palestine conflict (which is again topical and deserves more discussion...but not for now or will be here a long time).

The BBC commissioned a report from its previous nine o'clock news editor, Malcolm Balen into its coverage. The findings of the report were never disclosed and have been hidden behind an exception under the Freedom of Information Act that allows for material gathered for the purposes of 'journalism,art or literature' to be excepted from disclosure. The FOA has more loopholes than ripped fishnet stockings but it seemed perverse to acknowledge that its coverage required a report to assess it and then keep it suppressed.

At an Information Tribunal stage the BBC had run with the argument it was entitled to suppress the report. What today's ruling confirms is that the tribunal did indeed have the right and power to review the decision.

The judgment is a significant milestone but it does not guarantee or force any disclosure. It merely establishes the right to review.

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