Friday, 27 August 2010

BBC Today's selective attack on Norway's ethical divestments

To Helen Boaden,
Director BBC News

Dear Ms Boaden

On 24 August 2010, the BBC Today programme's Steve Evans conducted an interview with Gro Nystuen from Norway's Council of Ethics. (1)

Mr Evans wanted to know why her department, part of the Ministry of Finance, had made the decision to divest from two leading Israeli construction companies operating in the West Bank, Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus. (2)

The Norwegians took the divestment decision in recognition of international law which regards the West Bank settlements as illegal.

Please could you answer the following questions:

1. Why was the specific segment (06.22.55 BST; i-player: 0.22.55) on the Norwegian decision to divest from these two Israeli companies, and the defence of that action from Gro Nystuen, removed from the Today programme's playlisting and only later reinstated? (3)

2. Why did Steve Evans adopt this particular, persistent, narrow and hostile line of questioning vis-à-vis China when he could, and should, have explored the more substantive issue of Israel's illegal occupation, the settlements and how a growing number of countries, like Norway, are following international law in refusing to deal with companies engaged in the West Bank?

3. Why did Steve Evans not caveat his remarks with an acknowledgement that Britain and most other Western countries actively engage in trade with China?

4. Evans further suggests that the Norwegian government has a "leftist view of the world" which "beats our own people harder than other groups that might deserve a beating too". Bearing in mind the BBC's codes on 'impartiality', on what proper basis does Evans use the words "our own people"? And, in what sense should he express the opinion that these "other groups" "deserve a beating too"?

5. Evans further implies that the Norwegian fund is compromised due to the revenues accrued through oil. Does this also mean that the royalties flowing into the UK exchequer are likewise 'dirty' money?

I'd like specific answers to each of these five questions.


John Hilley

(1) My thanks to David Halpin and Mary Bedforth for their perceptive discovery and pursuit of this disturbing piece of BBC bias.



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