Monday, 3 January 2022

War criminal Blair's knighthood should NOT be revoked - he deserves to be 'honoured' by a criminal establishment

New Year 2022 commences with one of the most egregious acts of elite contempt for public sensibilities one could ever imagine. 

Tony Blair has been awarded a special knighthood - Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter - elevated now to the highest echelons of the British establishment.

One can but wonder how the families of one million dead Iraqi souls will receive this shameless announcement. The UK state's contempt for them is multiple times greater than its blatant disregard for the British public.
For services to British imperialism and mass murder, arise 'Sir Tony'. A state that should be expressing atonement for its historic crimes has conferred its highest award on someone responsible for a million Iraqi deaths. A truly depraved establishment.
Calls are now circulating for Blair's knighthood to be revoked. Though well-meaning, they are deeply misguided. Intent on shaming and punishing Blair, they turn any similar damning attention away from the very system that has conferred this award on him.

One leading petition urges, in deferential tones, that "Her Majesty" rescind Blair's knighthood. Yet it's the monarch and her offices that hold direct responsibility for making this particular award. Are we to believe that she and her court advisers had no understanding of Blair's actions over Iraq and the resultant furore this blatant patronage would cause?

Lamentably, such calls only help validate the Honours system, while lamenting the 'damaged constitution' and showing continued homage to the institution of monarchy. 

Instead, we should be using this announcement not only to denounce Blair, but the ways in which the entire establishment peddles such rewards, providing cover for its villainous own.
War criminal Blair's elevated knighthood from the establishment should NOT be opposed. It helps shine a double damning light on both him AND the rotten 'honours' system. Saying that he's 'not deserving' of the royal system only serves to validate the system itself.
The argument that Blair's 'recognition' 'makes a mockery' of the honours process is deeply blind-sided, serving to excuse the monarch's central role. 

It fails to make what should be an obvious connection between the political crimes of figures like Blair and an institution that has given vital authority to the vast imperialist crimes which so many leaders of an ultra-militarist British state has inflicted on the world.

And while the public express due outrage over 'Sir Tony', those bestowed with royal honours might now be more honestly reflecting on how they see themselves in wearing the baubles of Empire. Will any, one wonders, be so conscientiously inclined to send theirs back?

What kind of system-preserving propaganda manages to have us, and perhaps even some of them, outraged only about the recipient of this award rather than the very institution giving it?
Of course, why WOULDN'T a debased establishment protect and honour one of its debased own? The real question is whether all those already 'honoured' will ever see their own compliance, relinquish their tainted 'honours' and expose that debased system.
Blair's all-knowing part in bringing mass death and suffering to the Middle East cannot be dissociated from an institution that has given its own royal stamp of approval to every murderous regime in the region. The same corporate-produced bombs and armaments visited on Iraqi and other innocents by Blair have been dutifully endorsed and promoted by this same militarist-invested family.   
  
Objecting to warmonger Blair's elevation by a blood-soaked establishment is a bit like expressing indignation over a local crime boss being rendered a 'made man' by the mafia.

Meantime, while Blair is being feted and living it up on his life of crime, Julian Assange, the figure who did most to expose such heinous actions, is festering in high-security Belmarsh jail, an alarmingly opposite form of 'reward' reserved by the establishment for this true public servant.

Where is the due media attention and public backlash against this scandalous anomaly?   

It's also of dark happenstance that Blair's New Year award coincided with the late Archbishop Tutu's state funeral. The moral and humanitarian gulf between the two could not be wider.
With perverse irony, on the day of the great Desmond Tutu's funeral, war criminal Blair was given a knighthood. While hypocritical Western leaders laud Tutu, protect Israel and denounce #BDS, Tutu refused to share the same platform as Blair, supported Palestinians and backed BDS.
Rescinding Blair's knighthood may bring understandable satisfaction in 'taking down' an unrepentant war criminal. It may even help bring closer the hopeful day he and his cohorts get sent to The Hague. 

But it won't bring forward any fuller indictment of the actual system that facilitated his actions and the palace forces that sought to decorate and protect him. 

Perversely, if this award is ultimately revoked, the 'validity' of the honours system and notion of a 'listening' monarch will actually be enhanced. Conversely, the more such 'honours' are conferred on infamous figures like Blair, the more an already depraved system will be further debased, delegitimised and threatened with extinction. 

All of which renders 'Sir Tony' the most welcome and deserving knights of the rotten realm.

It's not just Blair that needs to be exposed and brought to justice, it's the whole nexus of elite institutions and the system of thought control that allows their collective crimes to be hidden and sanitised.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

Beyond the 'mainstream' framing and distortion, key readings on Afghanistan

Down centuries echo
New false cries 
Of honour won
Last duty done
From land of conquest
Hasty exit
Empire's legions crash and run
Hubris hushed
Trumpets silenced
Liberal hats still urging on
High-tech helmets chased by turbans 
Righteous mission over-spun
Weight of our so moral burden
Imperial bondage theirs to learn
Great Game upended
Deathly merchants
Spent armoury of lies and guns

The rapid fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban has been widely treated by the Western political class and 'mainstream' media as a disastrous turn of events. 

In truth, beyond the tragic human carnage and sordid abandonment, the humiliating retreat of US, UK and other NATO forces represents a positive historic outcome in setting back the tyranny of imperialist invasion, occupation and plundering of states around the globe.


And, whatever troubling governance to come for Afghanistan, it reaffirms the ultimate right of determination for indigenous peoples over rapacious external forces. 


Glenn Greenwald makes the elementary point:

"Afghanistan belongs to the people of Afghanistan, not the U.S. and NATO."

In their chaotic retreat, we now glimpse the true extent of the interventionist deceit and madness of this warmongering mission.


Or maybe not so mad for some. For when it comes to the motivations and manoeuvres of power, there's always mercenary method in that madness. 

For twenty years, this crazy 2.26 trillion dollar invasion and occupation, resulting in at least 241,000 deaths, has served the interests of corporate arms companies and their political sponsors. 

That interfering madness will continue in Afghanistan, as elsewhere, in whatever devious form.


Yet, as with Vietnam and the fall of Saigon, the liberation of Afghanistan and easy capture of Kabul illustrates the latest historic failure of imperial invasion and regime change as a model of control.

As those who ran and worked for the occupation clamber onto the last exiting planes, we see the true fragility of that entity and its spurious claims: the false narratives of 'state building' and 'democratisation'; the so-called 'quest for peace and stability', while relentlessly bombing the country and murdering its people; the proclaimed 'concern' for educating, protecting and advancing women and girls. 


If only our media had been telling people the truth about the 'winning war'. If only the public had been properly informed about the systemic corruption and capricious nature of the West's puppet regime. If only, as with real journalists like Julian Assange and Wikileaks, they had been exposing the mass war  crimes of the US and its political allies

As the last UK troops and UK Ambassador left Afghanistan, British state media could only echo the platitudes of 'honourable service' trotted out by Boris Johnson and military officials, failing even to mention the deaths, displacement and suffering of the Afghan people.  


Thankfully, beyond the amplifier BBC and other power-serving media, we have a wealth of informed, probing and truthful journalism to rely on. 


Please read and share:


Jonathan Cook
How the Taliban surge exposed Pentagon's lies 


Lowkey 
On Afghanistan 


Yvonne Ridley
What can the Taliban offer the women of Afghanistan?

John Pilger
The Great Game of Smashing Nations

Joe Glenton
Former British Soldier DESTROYS Official Afghanistan Narrative

Claudia Webbe, MP
Afghanistan was a war without a just cause, and simply a continuation of Western imperialism 


Vijay Prashad

How the Taliban Chased the West Out of Afghanistan


Phil Miller and Mark Curtis

Four failed wars must finally force the UK to adopt an ethical foreign policy


Ali Abunimah
What Israel hopes to gain from America's Afghan disaster 

Julie Hollar
Media Rediscover Afghan Women Only When US Leaves

Gavin Lewis

Afghanistan:  The Abomination of “White Man’s Burden” and Fake Feminist Narratives


Alex Rubinstein

Did the US Support the Growth of ISIS-K?


Mark Curtis
The Great Game: The Reality of Britain's War in Afghanistan 
(from 2011)


Monday, 9 August 2021

Outcome of complaint to BBC regarding use of ’Salmond inquiry’



The following is an account of my complaint to the BBC over its use of the term 'Salmond inquiry'. As can be seen, the correspondence was conducted via the BBC's complaints process, on up to the final level of the Executive Complaints Unit. Readers can form their own judgements as to the merits of the complaint, mitigations offered by the BBC, and reasoning behind the final deliberations.


7 March 2021


To BBC Complaints Team


As a viewer, I wish to make a formal complaint about the BBC's widespread, highly misleading and politically-loaded use of the term "Salmond inquiry". As a supposed public-informing, impartial news organisation, you should be well aware that the correct title of this inquiry is: Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints.


Even if you were to adopt a 'shorthand' reference it would more appropriately be the "Sturgeon inquiry", since it is the conduct of the First Minister and her government that is being investigated. 


Please explain why the BBC has maintained its use of this false and biased wording.


In the interests of fairness and clarity all use of "Salmond inquiry" should be terminated and a public correction made on all BBC platforms on which it has been used.


I intend to pursue this matter until satisfactorily rectified.


I look forward to your reply. 


Kind regards

John Hilley 


.......................


8 March 2021


Reference CAS-6582036-B9J0L2


Dear Mr Hilley,


Thank you for contacting us regarding general BBC News output.


We’re naturally very sorry when we hear that members of our audience have been disappointed by any aspect of our news services and how they're delivered.


We have noted here that you feel it is inappropriate for BBC News to refer to the current events happening in Scotland as the "Salmond Inquiry", and that you feel the use of this term could be indicative of bias.


All that being said we do value your feedback about this. All complaints are sent to senior management and we’ve included your points in our overnight report.


These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the company and ensures that your concerns have been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future content.


Thanks again for taking the time to get in touch.


Kind regards,


Abbie Crawford.


BBC Complaints Team 

www.bbc.co.uk/complaints


.......................


8 March 2021


I am not satisfied that the actual content of my complaint or its resolution has been adequately dealt with. Please elevate my enquiry, have an appropriate person look at it and provide me with a serious response.


John Hilley


.......................


8 March 2021


We are sorry to learn you weren’t satisfied with our earlier response and appreciate that you felt strongly enough to contact us again. 


Although we aim to reply at this next stage within 20 working days (four weeks), we hope you will understand that sometimes we are unable to respond by then. We will let you know beforehand if we think it may take us longer. For full details of our complaints process please visit: https://www.bbc.co.uk/contact/how-we-handle-your-complaint.


Please don’t reply to this email because it’s an automated acknowledgement sent from an account which can’t receive replies. If you do need to get in touch, please use our webform instead at www.bbc.co.uk/complaints, quoting your reference number. 


......................


18 March 2021


Dear Mr Hilley, 


Thank you for getting back in touch with us regarding our news coverage. 


I’m sorry you had to come back to us and I appreciate why. We always aim to address the specific points raised by our audience and regret any cases where we’ve failed to do this. Your previous reply didn’t tackle the exact issue you raised and we’d like to

 offer you a new response here. The following should now be considered your first reply.


We have been clear throughout our reporting about the nature of the inquiry and the allegations against First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. We have also made clear in our reporting that Alex Salmond was cleared of all charges brought against him.


I can assure you that BBC News aims for the highest journalistic standards in our reporting of all issues – to be fair, accurate and impartial. We appreciate you feel the phrase ‘Alex Salmond inquiry’ is an inappropriate choice to use in our news coverage.


Thanks again for taking the time to get in touch. 


Kind regards, 


Lisa Pigott

 

BBC Complaints Team 

www.bbc.co.uk/complaints


..........................


19 March 2021


Dear Lisa Pigott


Thanks for your response.


Lamentably, this second reply, the first of which you rightly acknowledge was inadequate, is just as evasive and inadequate as the first reply - just more patronisingly so. 


I am not disputing that BBC reports on the inquiry include reference to the allegations against Nicola Sturgeon, or that mention was made of the acquittal of Mr Salmond in the criminal trial. 


The problem is with the actual headline framing of that inquiry, and the loaded impression it gives suggesting that Mr Salmond’s conduct is under investigation rather than the conduct of the First Minister, her government and associated others. 


Now that I’ve had two replies failing to answer the specific question of why “The Salmond inquiry” has been used by the BBC, I wish to elevate the matter for further consideration.


I look forward to your reply.


Kind regards

John Hilley  


.....................


8 May 2021


Your Reference CAS-6582036-B9J0L2  


We are contacting you to apologise that we’ve not been able to reply to your complaint within the time period we aim for. Although we manage this for most complaints, we regret it’s not been possible so far because we have been dealing with a higher than normal number of cases.


If you wish to refer this delay and the substance of your complaint to the BBC’s regulator Ofcom, you can do so online at https://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv-radio-and-on-demand/how-to-report-a-complaint/bbc-tv-channel-radio-station-bbciplayer or by post to: Ofcom, Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 9HA. Please include for Ofcom your latest correspondence from and to the BBC and any BBC case reference numbers which you have been given. 


Full details of the BBC’s complaints process can be found by visiting https://www.bbc.co.uk/contact/how-we-handle-your-complaint, and full details of Ofcom’s complaints process are available at https://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv-radio-and-on-demand/information-for-industry/guidance/procedures.


In the meantime we appreciate your patience and will respond as soon as we can.


Kind regards


BBC Complaints Team

www.bbc.co.uk/complaints 


………………………


To Ofcom

9 May 2021


I have been engaging with the BBC Complaints Team over the BBC's repetitive use of the term "Salmond inquiry" (reference: CAS-6582036-B9J0L2).


As you will see from the enclosed correspondence, I am still awaiting a fuller response on the matter, feel unhappy with the seemingly unwarranted delay, and do not expect any substantive change of view. The Complaints Team have advised that I am in a position to complain about the delay and forward the substance of it to your office.


The main body of my complaint is attached. However, I would like to add some further contextual comment.


The complaint was initially raised during the course of the Holyrood Parliament's Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints.


I had pointed out the misleading use of "Salmond inquiry" during that process, and the false impressions it may have caused for viewers. 


However, this was before Mr Salmond decided to launch his Alba Party on 26 March 2021. 


It is of concern that the loaded impressions caused by the concerted use of "Salmond inquiry" may have impacted and carried on into coverage and discussion of Mr Salmond's electoral campaign. I have no reason to believe that the BBC made any decision to postpone or end its use of "Salmond inquiry" during this time.


Please also note that the term “Salmond inquiry” has been used widely across BBC TV, radio and online platforms. See also, for example, Radio 4, 19 March 2021, https://twitter.com/bbcr4today/status/1372817055448248320?s=21


I would, therefore, submit that widespread and ongoing use of the term has had an additionally damaging effect on Mr Salmond's political and personal standing in a major election.


In short, the repetitive use of this term has been false, biased and damaging.


I trust you will consider closely the BBC's editorial judgement in using the term, the detrimental effect it has had on Mr Salmond, and whether the BBC should make appropriate forms of correction and apology to viewers on the matter.


I look forward to your further thoughts.


Kind regards

John Hilley


………


BBC News items cited:


Glenn Campbell: The Alex Salmond inquiry and the political stink at Holyrood

24 February 2021

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-56188765


Salmond inquiry: MSPs sceptical about 'forgotten meeting'

3 March 2021

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-scotland-56251990


Radio 4 

19 March 2021

https://twitter.com/bbcr4today/status/1372817055448248320?s=21


https://twitter.com/johnwhilley/status/1368478844785688582?s=21


.........................


From BBC

6 July 2021


Dear Mr Hilley

 

Reference CAS-6582036-B9J0L2

 

Thanks for getting back in touch with us about BBC News. Apologies for the rather lengthy delay in replying. We have been presented with several challenges to maintaining our regular service over this period, but we are sorry we’ve taken a while to get back to you. We appreciate you’ve been in touch with us a couple of times more recently looking for a response to your email of 19 March.


We also appreciate that you were dissatisfied with the two responses you’ve previously received from us regarding your concerns about the use of ‘Salmond Inquiry’.


You unfortunately didn’t provide the transmission details for any instances of hearing/seeing ‘Salmond Inquiry’ used by BBC News. We should have explained that we require such details in order to be able to fully investigate and respond in detail to complaints, as is set out in our Complaints Framework -  https://www.bbc.co.uk/contact/sites/default/files/2020-06/BBC_Complaints_Framework.pdf. We apologise that we haven't done so before now.


We have checked back through BBC News output and ‘Holyrood inquiry’ was used on the days Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon appeared in front of the MSP committee, which was 26 February and 3 March respectively. We were unable to find any references to ‘Salmond Inquiry’ on those days or the day you made your initial complaint - 7 March. That being the case (and we appreciate it was now a few months ago), if you can provide any transmission details such as programme names, dates and times, we will be able to investigate further.


Our apologies once again for the delay in getting back to you.


Kind regards,


.................


6 July 2021

CAS-6582036-B9J0L2


Dear BBC,


Thanks for your response.


The term 'Salmond inquiry' has, as noted, been used extensively across BBC platforms.


Some examples:


Glenn Campbell: The Alex Salmond inquiry and the political stink at Holyrood

24 February 2021

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-56188765


Salmond inquiry: MSPs sceptical about 'forgotten meeting'

3 March 2021

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-scotland-56251990


Alex Salmond inquiry - BBC News

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/c37dlp2j85vt/alex-salmond-inquiry


Radio 4 

19 March 2021

https://twitter.com/bbcr4today/status/1372817055448248320?s=21


How is Holyrood's Alex Salmond inquiry going?

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-53090858.amp


Salmond inquiry will not publish women's messages

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-55910549.amp


Scottish government blocks two Alex Salmond inquiry witnesses

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-55019830.amp


Civil servant deleted 'forgotten' Salmond inquiry text

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-54707592.amp


I trust these will assist in your investigations. 


Regards

John Hilley

.........................


21 July 2021


Dear Mr Hilley

 

Thank you for getting back in touch again. We appreciate the information you’ve provided; it has helped us to better understand your concerns and investigate, and we've now discussed your complaint with senior news editors at BBC Scotland. Please also accept our apologies again for the delays in responding previously, and for not requesting this information sooner.

 

‘Alex Salmond inquiry’ or ‘Salmond inquiry’ are the shorthand terms that have been widely used to refer to this inquiry, not just by the BBC but by the press, other broadcasters and the public etc.; for example:

 

https://news.stv.tv/politics/sturgeon-misled-parliament-salmond-inquiry-finds?top

https://news.sky.com/story/salmond-inquiry-new-details-emerge-as-committee-finds-sturgeon-misled-parliament-12250307

https://www.itv.com/news/2021-03-19/nicola-sturgeon-not-surprised-by-partisan-leak-from-salmond-inquiry

 

https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/alex-salmond-inquiry-seriously-flawed-scottish-government-document-handling-processes-review-to-be-published-in-june-3241720

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon-alex-salmond-inquiry-23570691

https://www.thenational.scot/news/19171740.nicola-sturgeon-hits-leak-alex-salmond-inquiry-report/

https://www.ft.com/content/cb91ecb9-e604-434c-93ea-a7288845e6d8

 

https://www.holyrood.com/news/view,msps-establish-new-committee-for-alex-salmond-inquiry_9817.htm

https://www.scottishlegal.com/tag/salmond-inquiry

 

In being consistent in our use of this terminology in our headlines and the news topic created for this story, given that it was the shorthand by which the inquiry was widely known, we believe this aided navigability and audience comprehension. 

 

Our reporting included extensive detail on the inquiry’s remit, the evidence heard, the inquiry’s findings and the reaction, at the various stages of the inquiry, from across the political spectrum. For the avoidance of doubt, we don’t agree that our reporting suggested Mr Salmond’s conduct was the subject of the inquiry or that this terminology was misleading or politically loaded as you suggest.

 

We hope this is helpful in explaining our approach, and thanks again for getting back in touch. This concludes Stage 1 of our complaints process. This means we can’t correspond with you further here. If you remain unhappy, you can now contact the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU). The ECU is Stage 2 of the BBC’s complaints process. You’ll need to explain why you think there’s a potential breach of standards, or if the issue is significant and should still be investigated. Please do so within 20 working days of this reply.

 

Full details of how we handle complaints are available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/handle-complaint/.


How to contact the ECU:


We’ve provided a unique link for you in this email. This will open up further information about how to submit your complaint. You’ll be asked for the case reference number we’ve provided in this reply. Once you’ve used the link and submitted your complaint, the link will no longer work.


This is your link to contact the ECU if you wish:

Click Here


Kind regards


BBC Complaints Team


......................................


23 July 2021


Reference CAS-6582036-B9J0L2 


Dear ECU


Further to my above-referenced complaint to the BBC, which was dealt with under Stage 1 of the process, I now wish to elevate the matter for the ECU's consideration.


In their final response to me, the BBC complaints officer has defended the frequent use of 'Salmond inquiry' by citing other broadcast and press media use of the term:


"‘Alex Salmond inquiry’ or ‘Salmond inquiry’ are the shorthand terms that have been widely used to refer to this inquiry, not just by the BBC but by the press, other broadcasters and the public etc."


But this is a false argument. Unlike other broadcasters and print media, the BBC must make judgements based on its own code of conduct. It must, according to its own regulatory guidelines, act with due impartiality. What other media do and say in these regards is irrelevant to how the BBC is to be judged on such matters.


I have set out in my complaint examples of how widely the BBC used this term, and the damaging effect it had on Mr Salmond. 


I repeat my original point that 'Salmond inquiry' gave a false and loaded impression about who and what was under investigation. Mr Salmond wasn't. The Scottish Government under Ms Sturgeon was. Why did the BBC, with a duty to use neutral terms and language, decide to use a 'shorthand' which conveyed the notion that Mr Salmond was the main subject of this inquiry?


One may also consider, as illustration, the titles and 'shorthand' adopted for other notable inquiries. For example, the Chilcot inquiry, or the Grenfell inquiry, or the Hillsborough inquiry. These provide impartial signifiers of what those inquiries are/were about or/and the person designated to lead them. 


In contrast, if you say 'Salmond inquiry', that person becomes the implicit issue of such an inquiry. They are deemed to be the principal subject of that inquiry by implication and association. 


There can be little doubt that the BBC's widespread use of this term helped influence public perceptions in ways that were detrimental to Mr Salmond's personal and political standing. And note that this term was still in use by the BBC as Mr Salmond launched a parliamentary election campaign under his newly-formed Alba party.


For these reasons and those offered in my earlier submission, I hope you will give due consideration to this complaint. I look forward to reading your deliberations. 


Kind regards 

John Hilley

.....................


9 August 2021


Executive Complaints Unit 


Mr J Hilley
Email: ...........

9 August 2021 


Dear Mr Hilley 


Ref: CAS-6582036 


Your complaint about the use of the term “Salmond Inquiry” 


I am writing to let you know the outcome of the Executive Complaints Unit’s investigation into your recent complaint about the use of the phrase “The Salmond Inquiry” to refer to the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints. 


You described the phrase as “highly misleading and politically-loaded”. I have understood your complaint to refer to BBC News in general rather than any specific item broadcast or published by the BBC and so I have considered this as a General Complaint which is defined as “a criticism which has been made in the expectation of a reply and which looks for an acknowledgement of fault or a change in the way the BBC does things, but which is not about a particular item broadcast or published by the BBC”. The full details of the BBC’s complaints process are set out in the BBC Complaints Framework and Procedures. 


You have said the terminology used “helped influence public perceptions in ways that were detrimental to Mr Salmond’s personal and political standing” and I understand the point you are making. However, the BBC’s coverage (whether on radio, television or online) has to be judged in context. It is not, in my view, reasonable to assume the audience will draw the kind of negative inference you have suggested solely on the basis of one phrase. The impression the audience takes away will also be influenced by the content of each report, and that means taking account of the information which is given and the context in which that information is set. 


I have reviewed some of the examples you gave in your complaint of 6 July where the phrase “Salmond Inquiry” was used and it seems to me there was sufficient context for the audience to understand the nature and scope of the inquiry and its terms of reference. For example, the first article you cited was headlined “The Alex Salmond inquiry and the political stink at Holyrood” but the opening paragraphs clearly set out Mr Salmond’s allegations against the Scottish Government: 


In his evidence to the Scottish Parliament, he accuses some of the most powerful people in the country of plotting to remove him from public life and send him to jail. 


He points the finger at key figures in the Scottish government and the SNP - both of which he used to lead - and suggests they have been aided and abetted by Scotland’s prosecution service, the Crown Office. 


His successor as first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, insists Mr Salmond has not produced a ‘shred of evidence’ to back up his allegations. Unless he can do so, she suggests, he should stop making them. 


The second example you provided (“Salmond inquiry: MSPs sceptical about ‘forgotten meeting’”) lists the questions facing Nicola Sturgeon and summarised her evidence to the Committee. I am satisfied readers would have understood she defended her actions and those of her government but admits mistakes were made. I do not agree readers would infer from this that it was actually Mr Salmond’s conduct which was under investigation rather than that of the First Minister and her government. 

I have listened to numerous BBC Radio Scotland news bulletins and they used various phrases which explained the nature of the inquiry. For example on 26 February, the day Mr Salmond gave evidence:


1.00pm: In the next half hour, Alex Salmond’s giving evidence to the MSPs investigating the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints. 


4.00pm: Alex Salmond gives evidence to the Holyrood Committee investigating the mishandling of sexual misconduct complaints against him. 


10.00pm: The former First Minister, Alex Salmond, has said that he has no doubt that his successor Nicola Sturgeon has breached the ministerial code. He made the claim during an appearance before a Holyrood Parliamentary Inquiry examining the Scottish Government’s botched handling of sexual harassment allegations made against him three years ago. 


I don’t propose to transcribe any further examples but the reports I have reviewed provided sufficient context for the audience to understand the nature of the inquiry, and who and what was being investigated. I do not share your concern about the impression the audience would have taken away when reference was made to the “Salmond Inquiry” when this is considered alongside the content of each report. In my opinion, the use of a well-established shorthand description of the Committee’s inquiry was editorial justified to inform the audience about the subject matter and, when it was used, the phrase was set in the appropriate context to avoid the kind of negative impression of Mr Salmond you have asserted. 


In conclusion, I do not believe there has been a breach of any BBC standard or policy and I do not believe it is necessary for the BBC to take any further action. There is no further right of appeal against this decision within the BBC’s complaints process but if you do wish to take the matter further, it is open to you to ask the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, to consider your complaint. Ofcom does not usually consider general complaints of this kind but you can find details of how to contact Ofcom and the procedures it will apply at the following website: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv- radio-and-on-demand/how-to-report-a-complaint. You can also write to Ofcom at Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 9HA, or telephone either 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040. 


Yours sincerely 

Colin Tregear 

Complaints Director 


--------------------


Comments


A not unexpected outcome. But one in which we get to see how loaded BBC terms and language are adopted and justified through diversionary and evasive argument.


It is worth noting, firstly here, some of the assumptions made in Mr Tregear's comments. 


It is not necessarily the case that the context of these reports - as in relating to the actual terms and remit of the inquiry - will have been clearly understood by viewers from the accounts/passages cited by Mr Tregear. Reporting of the proceedings, exchanges and comments made by witnesses and others does not, in itself, provide particular or consistent guidance on the inquiry's actual terms, or who/what was being investigated. Mr Tregear's assertion that the public will not have been unduly influenced by use of 'Salmond inquiry' when viewing these reports is based on nothing more than his own subjectively-formed interpretations.


However, this is not the principal issue of concern here.


Mr Tregear mounts a ‘straw man’ line of defence by arguing that the reports provided adequate content and context on what the inquiry was about, citing parts of such reports as apparent 'evidence'. However, the actual complaint was not based upon the accuracy of such content, or whether viewers had been sufficiently appraised of the context. It was concerned specifically and solely with the use of 'Salmond inquiry' itself as a headline and shorthand reference. Whatever the accuracy or otherwise of the story and reporting, 'Salmond inquiry' is still a misleading and inaccurate piece of terminology. In effect, the ECU have validated the use of 'Salmond inquiry' based not on the relevance and validity of the term, but on the 'substance' of the stories/reports under which the term itself has been used. That seems to me a rather disingenuous evasion of the principal complaint.


The use of terms like 'Salmond inquiry' may seem of relatively minor concern. Yet, in an abbreviated, short-attention-primed news environment, the adoption and repetition of such constructions allows for an all-too-ready, power-friendly framing of issues. Headlines do matter. Shorthand terms do influence the ways in which information is received, interpreted and retained by a viewing public. And it seems forever convenient that an 'impartial' BBC will utilise language and phrasing that appears 'passively neutral', yet conveys loaded inference and meaning. 


As ever, the main purpose of raising and documenting such complaints lies not in any expectation of a favourable outcome, but in helping to illustrate the ways in which the BBC functions and protects itself as a key arm of the establishment.