Sunday, November 01, 2009

BBC's Norman Smith holds his hands up

Some time ago BBC journalist Norman Smith was commentating on the Today Programme on a George Osborne speech to be delivered that day in which he suggested a Conservative government could learn from local government. Mr. Smith was dismissive, saying that local and national government were different and offering up the fact that local Councillors faced surcharges and could be 'banged up' as an example. In fact the legislation under which Councillors could be surcharges was repealed years ago and the bizarre claim that Councillors can be imprisoned had no basis in fact. He was not corrected by any of his colleagues in the studio and so a very misleading impression of the operation of local government was given, as well as a wholly misleading impression of the validity of George Osborne's speech.

I was pretty annoyed at this, so I sent in a complaint. After some delay, the BBC have now responded:
I would like to assure you that we have forwarded your complaint to Norman Smith who acknowledged that you are quite correct and that surcharging has been abolished. Accordingly he acknowledges this error and offers his apologies for the mistake.
Fair enough, I suppose. It was a howling error though.

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