BBC under pressure to publish buried report into 'bias' after spending THOUSANDS trying to keep dossier hidden

BBC/Tim Davie

The BBC has spent almost £350,000 of licence fee payers’ money battling to prevent the report's publication

Millie Cooke

By Millie Cooke

Published: 16/10/2023

- 16:35

Updated: 17/10/2023

- 11:52

The BBC has spent almost £350,000 of licence fee payers’ money battling in the courts to prevent the Balen Report's publication

The BBC is under mounting pressure to publish a report into accusations of bias over the broadcaster's coverage of Israel.

Conservatives MPs have demanded it publishes the Balen Report, which was buried after its commission in 2004 after criticism of its refusal to describe Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

The BBC has spent almost £350,000 of licence fee payers’ money battling in the courts to prevent the dossier's publication.

MP Mike Freer, who previously served as the equalities minister, accused the BBC of "forgetting the public".

Mark Jenkinson

Mark Jenkinson asked why the BBC spent "the last two decades ... withholding the Balen report from public scrutiny"


He told the Telegraph: "The BBC are a public broadcaster but they routinely forget the public.

“If the licence payers, the public, especially the Jewish community are to have confidence in the BBC, they should publish.”

Conservative MP Workington, Mark Jenkinson said: “It makes you wonder why the BBC has spent the best part of two decades – and who knows how much licence fee cash – on withholding the Balen report from public scrutiny.

"Perhaps the reporting we’ve seen this week gives us a clue into the content."

The 20,000 word report was written by senior broadcast journalist Malcolm Balen in 2004 after examining hundreds of hours of the BBC's coverage of the Israel–Palestine conflict.

In 2012, the BBC admitted to having spent £332,780.47 in legal costs to prevent the publication of the report.

They made the admission in response to a Freedom of Information Request.

The Supreme Court upheld the BBC's decision not to publish the report as it falls outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act, as the report was held for the purposes of journalism.

The broadcaster has been under increasing pressure to describe Hamas as a "terrorist" organisation after the group launched a fresh attack on Israel last week.

The Government defines Hamas as a "single terrorist organisation". But the BBC has continually referred to it as a "militant" group, describing the invasion as a "militant" attack.

The BBC's editorial guidelines recommend avoiding the use of "emotive" language when reporting on Middle East events.

It suggests the use of words such as "militants", "attacker" or "gunman", instead of "terrorists".


LISTEN: Grant Shapps says it is 'surprising' for the BBC not to describe Hamas as a 'terrorist' group

Hamas launched a surprise assault on Israel on Saturday morning, attacking towns and army bases in the south of the country.

In response, Israel launched airstrikes on Gaza, declaring a "complete siege" of the area.

Hamas has threatened to kill Israeli hostages if they continue to bomb the area without prior warning.

The BBC has been contacted for comment.

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