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Tories use legal threats to censor BBC Ashcroft exposé, then make false and misleading claims about their record on press freedom

with 7 comments

1. From The Independent, 19th March 2010

The BBC has shelved a Panorama documentary about the business affairs of the Tory billionaire Lord Ashcroft, because of a threat of legal action.

The Corporation has received what one insider described as “several very heavy letters” from Lord Ashcroft’s lawyers. There is now little or no prospect of the investigation being broadcast before the general election, if it goes out at all.

The hold-up will delight David Cameron’s campaign team, who had been trying to pressure the BBC into delaying the programme until after the general election. But sources inside the Corporation firmly deny that political pressure played a part in keeping the programme off the air, attributing the delay solely to the risk of legal action.

The Tories are anxious to suppress more publicity about Lord Ashcroft’s affairs after the outcry earlier this month when the Tory billionaire belatedly revealed that he is not domiciled in the UK for tax purposes, and so pays no tax on his huge overseas assets.

2. From The Guardian, April 23rd 2010

During a press conference convened to accuse Labour of “scaremongering” the elderly in their campaign literature, the Tory chairman, Eric Pickles, and the shadow schools secretary, Michael Gove, were forced to defend the Conservatives from accusations they were involved in the onslaught of negative press against Clegg and his party…

Pickles added: “We have a free and vigorous press, and beware of politicians who tells you that the press have gone too far. Beware of politicians who want to put restraints on the press. We don’t complain when articles are written about us and we might be unhappy about it.”

When challenged by one journalist on whether this was true, he said: “Well, we don’t go too far – we might be occasionally a bit unhappy, but we don’t think it’s a great conspiracy.

“This is not Zimbabwe or the Soviet Union. No political party, no government controls the press.

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Written by Richard Wilson

April 23, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Posted in Censorship

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7 Responses

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  1. [...] Total hypocrisy from the Tories exposed by Richard Wilson. Posted in Uncategorized [...]

  2. [...] The big unreported scandal of the UK General Election is that the Conservative Party’s leading donor (and Deputy Chairman) Lord Michael Ashcroft, is using our draconian media laws to suppress a major BBC investigation into his financial affairs. [...]

  3. [...] The big unreported scandal of this election is that the Conservative Party’s leading donor (and Deputy Chairman) Lord Michael Ashcroft, is using our draconian media laws to suppress a major BBC investigation into his financial affairs. [...]

  4. Shame on you BBC – why oh why did U cave in to them. Either Ur journalism wouldn’t stand up to legal scrutiny in which case it should not have been considered for airing. What was their real complaint – documentary was it full of gossip & unsub innuendo intended 2 help Ur pals in the Labour Party? Or if Kosher info Y did U allowed Urself 2 be bullied by a party that looked at the time a shue in. An attempt at pleas for clemency? Murdochs stated aims 4 BBC well known & public + pocket cameron = Turkeys really do vote 4 Xmas. It’s not the BBC I thought we had, certainly not the BBC I grew up with. What is going on over there. I now understand the editorial decions on your coverage of this election in last few weeks. You were intimidated ahead of murdochs shue in victory, supposedly less U upset him the more mercy he would show U in future? Shame on U all Its our bloody BBC, Its our country. Its our bloody voice that should be heard. Its also our right to be informed in impartial way by our own broadcasters & pertinent current affairs & we should expect decent not scurrilous coverage in our print press. This election has thrown a light upon what has become of all these institutions after the drip drip slippage of standards & ethics by the tacit collusion which has contributed to the creation of Media fascism. I thought some things need sorting in this country- i habd’t realised that the BBC was 1 of them. One very annoyed BBC licence fee payer with a long long memory


    April 27, 2010 at 6:21 am

  5. How can we have a free & fair election when the #Toxictories are suppressing media coverage of their leading donor?

    Come and join Richard and other free thinking, passionate objectors on Monday, 3rd May at Tory HQ, Millbank, London to complain.

    Be great to see you all there..


    April 27, 2010 at 7:39 am

  6. Shame. We depend on our media to provide information. If the BBC wants to survive then they best find a backbone of some kind or other.

    Failing the finances to fight it out in court, haven’t they heard of wiki leaks? Put the whole thing up there. All that is left is to have Paxman on a Newsnight Special!

    Come on BBC, we had the same nonsense from Thatcher. If they get back in they’ll know they can continue as before. So don’t lie down to them.


    April 27, 2010 at 12:08 pm

  7. [...] to prevent the BBC from broadcasting a potentially embarrassing story about them, the first being a Panorama documentary about the business affairs on Lord Ashcroft, which was shelved as a result of a number of [...]

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