It takes a nation to protect the nation
The propaganda crimes of the BBC are legion
2. The actual complaint we sent
3. The BBC response
4. Our response
Below is a letter we sent to the BBC complaints department on 18 January 2016.
It is not often that we seek an apology from the main media outlet in this country.
We wrote this complaint in response to our members' request. We share our letter now for their benefit and as another attempt to get our message across to the public, over the heads of the media elite.
Below our letter is their response. And below that is our brief assessment of that response.
The propaganda crimes of the BBC are legion and will continue. We recognise their role in the betrayal of this country. We can only try to put them right. But our complaints to the media, as always, will be secondary to our main strength, which is: feet on the streets! Join us at our next demo!
[EDL’s e-mail address]
PO Box 1922
18 January 2016
Complaint and Apology Request
It was with considerable dismay that we watched the recent episode (series 19, episode 3) of your television drama “Silent Witness”.
While we can appreciate the need to heighten the drama with an emotive description such as “the murky world of hate-crime and counter-terrorism” as published in the program description published on TVGuide:
and numerous other websites both in the UK and abroad, there are ways to do this without attacking the English Defence League which is a legal, volunteer-led organisation.
“The murky world of hate crime and counter-terrorism" is a totally different world from which the EDL operates. We are no closer to that "world" than are UKIP, the Conservative Party or any other legal political grouping or national charity. In this episode you clearly link us to a character who is wanted for murder.
It is contemptuous for the BBC to imply that the English Defence League is an organization which would attract someone who would murder anyone, regardless of whether they are Muslim or not.
Given that it emanated from the BBC, a broadcaster who one must assume is well aware of the potential for harm in such an implication and the laws pertaining to defamation, slander and libel, we consider it right to assume that the drama in question and the offending text passed through numerous editorial and production reviews before being broadcast. That it could be a mistake also seems unlikely. It would have taken very little effort to invent a fictitious organisation, or even none at all, but instead your actor was directed to explicitly name the English Defence League as the “hate-crime” organisation. We are therefore drawn to the inevitable conclusion that a deliberate decision was made to cast such aspersions on our organisation as a whole and its members individually.
As an organisation, the English Defence League is committed to peaceful protest and non-violence, as clearly stated in our Mission Statement (http://edlbackup.com/english-defence-league-mission-statement/). We have had a mission statement since almost the beginning of the EDL and it has changed slightly over the years but it was publically available. In this case ignorance of who we are and how we operate is no excuse.
We do not have a membership as such and we have therefore become accustomed to being held responsible for every act of violence before, during, after or that can in any way be associated, however tenuously, with one of our protest actions. A ‘street movement’ cannot monitor, police and control every individual who shows up at our demonstrations.
It will surely not have escaped the BBC’s attention that the English Defence League has an excellent reputation for non-violent behaviour and cooperation with the authorities, particularly over the past two years, in ensuring that our activities are conducted with the minimum nuisance for the local populace.
In those rare instances when violence does occur, it is nearly always the result of extreme provocation, in defence, or the action of members of so-called anti-fascist organisations whose sole and stated purpose is to disrupt our activities and for whom violence is the means to destroy the EDL, not the unfortunate result.
It must also be well-known to the BBC that the English Defence League is not an anti-Muslim organisation. In the words of our Mission Statement, “We stand for the right of British Muslims to speak freely about problems deriving from Islam.”
Like the rest of the UK, we welcome Muslims who are willing to integrate into our communities with open arm as we have done in the past with the Sikhs, Ugandan Asians and numerous other immigrant communities who have enriched this country.
While we campaign against the Islamisation of this country, the abomination of Sharia law and the bigotry it represents, we consider Muslims to be human beings the same as ourselves.
To even suggest that our organisation, deliberately and with full knowledge, would harbour or have any ties with an individual who would murder a Muslim is, frankly, abhorrent, and cuts right across our values, our behaviour and our actual record.
The English Defence League, unlike so many so-called anti-fascist groups, does not enjoy government funding or donations from trade unions; we rely on voluntary donations. Under the terms of the Defamation Act 2013, we cannot perhaps accuse you of defamation no matter how clearly libellous your implication is that we are a breeding ground for “hate-crime” on the grounds that no “serious harm” is caused to our reputation. However, the implied accusation against us of being a murderous anti-Muslim organisation has serious potential to cause us financial loss, which places the BBC wide open to a very justified accusation of “malicious falsehood”.
Those who take part in our protest activities often do so at considerable personal risk and financial expense, frequently exposing themselves to a real risk of physical harm and loss of employment and housing.
The fact that these individuals, and the EDL as an organisation with full cooperation with the police, make such an effort to exercise their freedom of speech and rights of assembly and association is something that should be applauded, regardless of whether the BBC considers their cause to be “right” or “wrong”.
These principles lie at the core of our democracy and are enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights.
Why then does the BBC, an organisation that is subsidised by the European Union, see fit to make such appalling insinuations against our good name and character?
The BBC has failed us. According to the BBC Agreement, you have a duty to ensure that the broadcast was accurate and impartial but you failed. As members of the general public and as licence payers, we expect better from the BBC but you failed.
At this time, we are considering the legal implications of your broadcast and its consequences for our organisation. Nor can we make any statement concerning the reactions of our individual supporters who, as private persons, are free to take whatever legal action they deem appropriate against the BBC.
Apart from the broadcast itself, your implied accusation has been widely published on the Internet and we therefore, as the English Defence League, demand, in the first instance, at least, an immediate and unqualified public apology from the BBC.
To be fair this apology should be agreed with us and directed to ensure it reaches the same audience who are likely to have seen the "Silent Witness" programmes. Therefore it should be broadcast as part of the programme and published in written form on the appropriate BBC outlets.
We look forward to your response.
Chairman of the English Defence League
2 February 2016
Dear Mr Spence,
Thank you for contacting us about Silent Witness.
We understand you’re concerned that the programme portrayed the English Defence League in a negative light.
Thank you for providing us with the TV Guide listings for Silent Witness, but the BBC is not responsible for all billings, other than those which feature on our own official webpages.
Within the programme there was no direct description of the EDL as an organisation that condones hate crime. The character of John Sutherland is portrayed as an intelligent man grieving for the son killed on active duty by Taliban in Helmand province. His actions are seen through this prism of grief. We wanted to explore viewpoints from opposite ends of a political spectrum as part of the discourse into terrorism. John is quickly dismissed as a murder suspect and is revealed as a key witness who helps the police track down the culprits.
We trust this addresses your concerns about this programme.
16 February 2016
No it does not address our concerns. Our complaint is based on their website and we only used the public listings as support for our case; that is because the slur had been publicly broadcast, the damage was more widespread and a public apology was therefore required.
From the BBC site:
“The murder of a well-known anti-fundamentalist Muslim, Amir Aziz, leads the Lyell team to question who would kill this peaceful but outspoken man. Suspicion quickly falls on a local taxi driver, revealed as a member of the English Defence League whose son was killed by a Taliban IED.”
They say: ‘there no direct description of the EDL as an organisation that condones hate crime…’ The key word they think that lets them off the hook is ‘direct’. This is not what we charged them with. The negative slur, innuendo, and implications are very clear. The character is portrayed as a ‘member’ of the EDL even though the EDL does not have a membership. They decided to use the EDL in their program to orchestrate and embellish a manufactured disapproval by the media and political elites of this country
We expected this cursory and shallow response, but we are undeterred and unbowed.
The English Defence League
Well written letter.
I think that the EDL should back a BBC Subscription service only. I hate the tax/TV license which is paid to a state-owned broadcaster. Can you imagine the out-cry if there was a Murdoch-Sky tax???
Like with the Demos = hit the authorities where it hurts - in the pocket..
I would also add that this could be extended to some of the output of Radio 4 too.
The BBC can afford to allow these incredibly marginal parts of their output to be factual. Then they can explain that, overall, their output is balanced.
For heavens sake, the BBC website still contains the 1st ever TV news programme about the EDL. You know, the one where EDL burn a swastika and denounce racism. Provided that these factual and accurate accounts are islands in a sea of innuendo and half-truth, then Goebbels would be satisfied with the outcome.
Alan Lake said:
Holy crap! Well done for trying, but the Muslim Controlled BBC is a more powerful and evil beast than most imagine. The only solution is to shut the whole thing down, apart from the World Service, which seems to retain some of the old values of respect for the truth and non partisan reporting, that the BBC used to represent.