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BBC keeps report private

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2007-04-27



The BBC does not have to make public an internal review in 2004 by BBC editorial advisor Malcolm Balen of its Middle East coverage, a high court judge has ruled.

The corporation won its battle against a London solicitor Steven Sugar who has been campaigning to get the report into the public domain under the Freedom Of Information Act.

An earlier ruling said the BBC should publish the report, but Mr Justice Davis overturned that decision.

"I conclude that the BBC's submissions are well founded," he said. "The tribunal had no jurisdiction to entertain any appeal."

A disappointed Sugar said: "Perhaps the BBC Trust under its new chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, will take a different view to the BBC management and conclude that it is in the public interest for Mr Balen's report to be published."

In a statement, the BBC said: "The BBC has always maintained that the Balen report is held for purposes of journalism and, therefore, outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. The Information Commissioner agreed. We believe that programme makers must have the space to be able to freely discuss and reflect on editorial issues in support of independent journalism."