7 August, 2000
Mr Greg Dyke, Director General
LONDON W1A 1AA
Dear Mr Dyke
RE: Continuing bias by the BBC on coverage of issues relating to the
European Union and the Euro under your Leadership
I write to you, once again, to request an urgent meeting with you and your
colleagues to discuss what I believe to be continuing and serious bias by
the BBC in its coverage of issues relating to Britain's membership of the
European Union and the Euro.
I have written to you twice in the past few months seeking such a meeting,
but you have neither replied to nor acknowledged my letters.
On this, third occasion, I trust that you will agree to meet me and a
delegation from my Party and some of those many organisations who represent
the strong "Euro-sceptic" view of Britain's relationship with the European
You may be aware that, only last week, I met with your Steve Mitchell, Head
of BBC Radio News, Ruth Unsworth, your future Head of Political Programming,
and Chris Rybcyznksi, Editor of the 1 O'Clock News and representing BBC TV
News programming. It was kind of them to meet with me, and Mr Mitchell
undertook to respond, on behalf of BBC, to the many points we made during
our meeting, and the detailed evidence we gave of political bias by the BBC
in favour of the European Union and the Euro in our dossier (see below).
Andrew Neil's confirmation of the existence of a BBC "Europarty"
What has prompted me to write to you a third time, seeking an urgent meeting
with you, is the report of Paul Donovan in yesterday's "Sunday Times".
In advance of the meeting with you which I hope will take place shortly,
this is what Paul Donovan says in his opening two paragraphs:
"Is the BBC biased in favour of the Euro? Andrew Neil evidently thinks so,
and he is one of the BBC's presenters. On his Radio 5 Live breakfast show
recently, he said that the BBC's "Europarty" (without explaining what that
was) had kept the results of a MORI poll from the BBC's news bulletins and
even from its roundup of the daily papers, in which the poll had been
prominently reported. It had shown that 72% of Britons wanted to keep the
"This was not a quip that came from nowhere. Rather, it was one of a series
of complaints that the BBC, the most important broadcaster we have at home
and still the most trusted abroad, is distorting the debate about Britain's
future with regard to the European Union".
Paul Donovan goes on in his article to refer to the recent complaint about a
biased piece of news reporting on the main BBC Nine O'Clock News, and a
further upheld complaint against the "Today" programme for misusing a speech
by Sir Winston Churchill.
The state of British public opinion on the European Union and keeping the
On the issue of keeping the Pound, I note that the most recent opinion poll
published in the national newspapers showed that 77% of British people now
wanted to keep the Pound. Similarly, in a recent "Euro-barometer" poll of
British public opinion carried out by the European Commission itself, and
published last month, support for scrapping the Pound and joining the Euro
had slumped to an all-time low of 22%. This is despite what we not only
believe but know to be continuing BBC bias in its reporting of the European
Union and the Euro on its news and political programmes.
So far as Britain's membership of the European Union is concerned, the trend
is strongly towards increasing scepticism about the value of Britain's
membership of the European Union. I appeared on your "Today" programme in
February when the BBC commissioned its own opinion poll. That opinion poll
revealed that 34% of British people wanted Britain to leave the European
Union altogether. On those figures, and assuming there are 40 million
adults in the United Kingdom, that represents around 14 million people who
believe that Britain should become, once again, a free, independent nation,
outside the European Union. A number of opinion polls put that figure highe
r than 34%, and a clutch of those opinion polls put the figure above 50%.
Again, quoting the European Commission's own "Euro-barometer" poll, only 25%
of those interviewed thought that Britain benefits from being in the
European Union. The remaining 75% thought that Britain was harmed, or were
unsure whether or not there was any benefit.
As we revealed in our dossier, and we explained to Mr Mitchell, Miss
Unsworth and Miss Rybcyznksi, the BBC is manifestly failing to represent
that huge swathe of public opinion which is in favour of keeping the Pound,
and wishes Britain to leave the European Union, or at least is firmly
opposed to any further concessions of national sovereignty.
The BBC's legal and charter responsibilities
You do not need me to tell you what your legal responsibilities are under
the BBC Charter and other legal requirements. However, please allow me to
remind you of them.
They were conveniently summarised in a letter sent in May 2000 by Janet
Anderson, M.P., Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting, to Rt. Hon.
Steven Dorrell, M.P. The key parts of Ms Anderson's letter were as follows:
"The BBC's Royal Charter and its Agreement with the Government contains
specific and detailed provisions on impartiality. A requirement has been
placed on the BBC to treat controversial subjects with due accuracy and
impartiality, both in the Corporation's news services and in the more
general field of programmes dealing with matters of public policy or
"The BBC is also required to draw up and ensure compliance with a code of
guidance on how it is to meet its obligations of due accuracy and
impartiality, mirroring the requirement in the Broadcasting Act 1990 in
respect of the commercial broadcasting sector. The Code was published in
November 1996. It provides that programme makers should aim for accuracy,
and ensure that, over a reasonable period of time, a proper balance of
different points of view is achieved. The BBC Governors have a specific
duty under the Charter to ensure that the Corporation complies with the
"The Government believes it is important that the broadcasters are
responsive to viewers' and listeners' concerns".
One of the difficulties in dealing with the BBC over the past few months,
quite apart from your failure to reply to my letters, has been that no-one
we have been in touch with at the BBC has accepted any responsibility for
ensuring that the BBC is free from bias on these issues. Clearly, it is a
vital part of your remit. It is clearly also the duty of the BBC Governors,
who have a specific duty under the Charter. For that reason, I am writing
separately, and individually, to each of the BBC Governors, because I
believe they also must take immediate and effective steps to end what Andrew
Neil has revealed - namely a group of people at the very top of the BBC who
are able to manipulate news and political programmes so that listeners and
viewers hear only one side of the arguments relating to Britain's membership
of the European Union and keeping the Pound.
I believe you personally must consider your position. There was very
considerable opposition to your appointment, because of your obvious
connection with New Labour. Right at the top of New Labour's agenda is
giving up more of Britain's independence and sovereignty, and yielding it to
the European Union. It is well known that both Tony Blair and the Cabinet
are strongly in favour of Britain giving up the Pound after it has been our
national currency for over 1,300 years, and are deliberately attempting to
manipulate public opinion in order to achieve that result. You helped to
finance Gordon Brown's Research Department for several years, helping New
Labour to achieve victory in 1997. You were a member of New Labour and were
and remain very close to New Labour. If you could demonstrate a track
record of achieving impartiality on issues relating to the European Union
and the Euro, all of that could be set on one side. Unhappily, as Andrew
Neil has now revealed, you have not only failed to end BBC bias on the
European Union and the Euro, but it appears you have allowed it to develop.
I cite in particular the removal of Robin Oakley as the BBC's Chief
Political Advisor and his replacement by Andrew Marr.
I believe you should now also consider the position of Andrew Marr. He has
a long track record of promoting the European Union, and the progressive
loss of Britain's sovereignty. He played a key role with the European Round
Table of Industrialists, an organisation which, by the way, was accused of
breaching its legal obligations to the Charity Commission. I would have
thought that the utmost care should be taken by the BBC in selecting its
Chief Political Advisor. An indication of the prejudices of Andrew Marr
comes from his latest book entitled - not without significance - "The Day
Britain Died". On page 186 of that book, he describes a man, Derick, whom
he interviewed for his book. He opens his description of Derick by writing:
"Derick looks like the kind of guy who would sign up for the UK Independence
I trust you will understand the significance of that remark. You have
appointed a man with clear prejudices about the kind of people, like myself,
who are prepared to argue the case for Britain to be free from the European
Union. Our Party members have been appalled to learn that the BBC's senior
political journalist could make such a comment about Britain's fourth
largest political party. It is small wonder that the UK Independence Party
is being denied an opportunity to be represented on BBC TV and Radio news
and political programmes.
Andrew Marr is not the only appointment you have made which we question.
Keeping the results of a MORI Poll off the BBC's news bulletins, and from
its roundup of the daily papers.
When you look at the dossier we provided to Mr Mitchell, Miss Unsworth and
Miss Rybcyznksi, you will see that the third issue we sought to raise with
him was the BBC's selection of news items. We pose this question: "Why
does the BBC invariably select pro European Union and pro Euro news stories,
and ignore many that give an opposite angle? "
That is precisely the allegation that Andrew Neil sustained on the Radio 5
Live breakfast show recently. In what must be the most sinister reference
to date about the extent to which the BBC is prepared to go in suppressing
information and arguments against Britain's membership of the European Union
and against joining the Euro, he describes how a group of people at the top
level of the BBC, whom he calls the "Europarty", conspired (a) to keep a
very significant MORI Poll off the BBC's news bulletins, and (b) then went
on later in the day to ensure that the results of that poll were kept off
its roundup of the daily newspapers.
I would like you to take the following action. Andrew Neil clearly knows
who are the members of the BBC's "Europarty". I think you probably know as
well. I believe that all of those who played a role in keeping that news
item off the BBC's news bulletins should be formally investigated by
yourself. You need to investigate whether powerful people within the BBC
are indeed manipulating your news and political programming. If so, there
can be no place for them in the BBC. Any employee of the BBC who
deliberately attempts to manipulate the news would clearly be violating the
BBC Charter, the Agreement with the Government, and the November 1996
Programme "The World this Weekend", 30 July 2000
It is perhaps not without significance that the very day before I and my
M.E.P. colleague Nigel Farage, M.E.P. met with Mr Mitchell, Miss Unsworth,
and Miss Rybcyznksi, one of the most biased programmes on the Euro ever to
be transmitted by the BBC was transmitted on "The World this Weekend". Mr
Mitchell admitted to me the following day, when we met, that 71 people had
already complained about the programme. I am writing separately to Mr
Fraser Steel, your Head of Programme Complaints, and fully anticipate that
my complaint on this programme will be upheld, just as my complaint about
the BBC news item on 15 March was upheld.
Here, of course, is an immediate opportunity for you as Director General of
the BBC to correct the obvious bias of that programme. You gave 15 to 16
minutes to a group of people who presented arguments for giving up the Pound
without challenge. You should now allow a similar 15 to 16 minutest to
those of us who would like to have an unchallenged opportunity to explain
why Britain should keep the Pound.
Representation of UKIP on the BBC
One outstanding feature of my meeting with Mr Mitchell, Miss Unsworth and
Miss Rybcyznksi was that none of them were able to answer the evidence we
presented of BBC bias on the E.U. and the Euro, and none of them could offer
an explanation as to why the two of us and other senior members of the UK
Independence Party had not been invited on to your programmes. In
particular, we produced a letter written by a senior member of the BBC
giving a cast-iron promise that Nigel Farage, M.E.P. would be invited to
appear on "Question Time". Despite that, he has been invited twice to
appear on "Question Time", but each time you have cancelled his invitation.
One step you can take immediately to correct the lack of representation of
the UK Independence Party is to ensure that Nigel Farage is invited at the
earliest possible opportunity to appear on "Question Time".
I am hopeful that this letter, coupled with a separate letter I am sending
personally to each of the BBC Governors, will help to bring about a decisive
end to BBC bias on the European Union and the Euro. In my judgement,
drastic action will have to be taken however. I refer you to the opinion of
the Chairman of the Norfolk Campaign for British Independence, Denis Smith,
which was included in the dossier I handed into Mr Mitchell and his
colleagues. Denis Smith outlines what he believes is a long-standing
culture of "pro-Euro-ism" - similar in nature to the allegations of
"institutionalised racism" made against the Metropolitan Police, for
One ongoing discussion amongst some "Euro-sceptics" is the possibility of a
legal challenge to the BBC about its breach of its Charter obligations.
That is partly why I included in my dossier a letter from one of my Party
members, Mr Idris Francis (Item 8 in the dossier I handed in on 31 July).
It is only fair to say to you that Mr Francis and several others both within
and outside my Party are actively considering bringing legal action against
the BBC for its continuing breach of its Charter obligations in relation to
reporting issues relating to Britain's membership of the E.U. and the Euro.
Therefore this letter is to be treated as an open letter and I reserve the
right to pass it to Mr Francis or indeed anyone else who may subsequently
bring legal action against the BBC for breaching its Charter duties.
I would also refer you at this stage to the statements made by several of
you senior colleagues, summarised in my dossier, including those of Lindsay
Grist, Carolyne Syme, Mhairie Dow, and Denise Tattersall. All of them
confirm that the BBC has a clear duty to report the facts honestly, and to
give due balance to the relative arguments on either side of any issue.
Finally, I will be publishing this letter on the internet. I am doing so
partly because of your previous refusal to answer my letters, and also
because this is an issue which, after all, concerns our very nation and its
continued existence. There are many people now calling for the licence fee
to be abolished, and for the BBC to be privatised. Up until recently, the
BBC has had a proud record for independent reporting on all issues. Under
your leadership, this reputation, carefully built up over many years, is
being destroyed. Indeed, the very nation of Britain is under threat. When
we joined the Common Market, by passing the Single European Act, and by
treaties at Maastricht and Amsterdam, we have already yielded a great deal
of our national independence. If we should ever be so reckless as to give
up the Pound, we would give up our economic independence, as all those who
wish to drive the European Union integration agenda forward acknowledge.
I conclude with the words of Paul Donovan in his timely piece in the "Sunday
"But most people who reject the notion of Britain joining the Single
Currency do so not because of economic arguments but through gut instinct.
They want to keep the Pound. They do not want to surrender any more
national identity and sovereignty. They do not want to see our gold
reserves being transported to Frankfurt.
"These ideas receive short shrift at the BBC, which regards them as
primitive and jingoistic. And that is why we do not hear any talks, plays,
series or documentaries made from those points of view. There is no plot;
there does not have to be. There is simply a large group of broadly
like-minded, dedicated, progressive, liberal people who will marginalise and
ignore that which they regard as xenophobic. But there is likely to be a
referendum on this issue, and, even if there is not, the BBC still has a
constitutional as well as a moral duty to be impartial."
The one concession that Mr Mitchell did make when we met him is that there
had been a serious lack of informed debate on the European Union and the
Euro, in particular the aspect of our loss of independence and sovereignty
(see Point number 4 which I raised in my dossier). You have a very clear
responsibility, I believe, to the British people, to ensure that full and
frank debate about the continuing loss of Britain's independence, and the
threat to its economic and political independence by giving up the Pound, is
placed before the British nation.
It is no exaggeration to say that a large section of the nation to which the
BBC broadcasts will be intensely interested in your response to this letter.
I look forward to your reply as soon as possible.
Jeffrey Titford M.E.P., Leader
UK Independence Party
cc: Each member of the Board of Governors