Why does the BBC never say sorry?

Why does the BBC never say sorry?


norman lebrecht

July 18, 2018

Sir Cliff Richard was awarded an initial £210,000 today for breach of privacy after the BBC hired helicopters to fly over his estate, in an attempt film his arrest on a baseless charge of child sex.

BBC News cannot afford to hire copters and had no business doing so, acting in collusion with South Yorkshire Police.

Clearly, some news executives overstepped the mark. They should have been fired the next morning and the BBC Director-General should have gone on his knees to Sir Cliff with a fulsome apology.

But no.

The BBC is never wrong.

So it forced the singer, 77, to go to court, where he won judgement with aggravated damages today.

The BBC has yet to admit it was wrong.

It is losing the public’s trust.


  • Mike Schachter says:

    It is an arrogant and conceited organisation. On a more trivial level I recently heard the head of radio 2 on the feedback programme, defending changes to a popular programme which the public clearly hated. He just kept saying that programmes had to be “refreshed”, despite the fact that audience figures were rising. The BBC does some very good things but it is full of overpaid unaccountable nonentities

    • Allen says:

      “It is an arrogant and conceited organisation.”

      It is. It is also grotesquely hypocritical. Where were these brave defenders of freedom when girls were being raped on an industrial scale in Rotherham?

      • Alex Davies says:

        The Rotherham story has been covered extensively by the BBC. The BBC also made an acclaimed series, Three Girls, about a similar event in Rochdale. You can’t blame the BBC for failures by other agencies, most notably social services.

        • Allen says:

          “The Rotherham story has been covered extensively by the BBC.”

          Only since the story broke.

          Former Labour MP Ann Cryer first started to talk about “grooming gangs” in W Yorkshire as early as 2002. I would have expected any investigative journalist worth his/her salt to have been drawn to this. There was no shortage of people in Yorkshire who wanted to talk about what was happening.

          As far as I know, the BBC has always regarded itself as a news organisation. Laughable.

          • Alex Davies says:

            As I understand it, Mrs Cryer herself to some extent tried to keep this story out of the media in the early stages as she could foresee the problems that would arise once it began to be covered by the right-wing tabloids (notably the News of the World, whose previous anti-paedophile campaign had been considered detrimental by experts who actually understood the issues involved). Mrs Cryer arranged for the story to be broken by Channel 4, itself a public service broadcaster. Once the story was a matter of public knowledge the BBC did indeed begin to report on it, as did all other media organisations. If one is going to blame the BBC then one may as well blame the whole of the media. But the media do not exist to do the jobs of the police and social services, and sometimes it is more responsible not to report on a story until the time is right.

          • Adrienne says:

            “sometimes it is more responsible not to report on a story until the time is right.”

            Yes, but right for whom?

            Not the victims, I think.

      • Nik says:

        Can nobody see the connection here?
        Date of the raid on Sir Cliff’s house: August 2014
        Date of publication of the Jay Report: August 2014
        Police force raiding Sir Cliff’s house: South Yorkshire Police
        Police force in charge of Rotherham: South Yorkshire Police
        It was a PR stunt of the worst kind, and the BBC colluded in it.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Informative piece in the latest New Yorker (23 July ’18) about gender pay disparity at the BBC. Scandalous.

  • Rob says:

    Shouldn’t the director general resign? The licence fee should be scrapped, it’s a joke. To watch other channels, people are held to ransom. And the quality of classic music programming on the BBC is appalling.

    There should be a live concert from somewhere in the world broadcast each night on a dedicated channel.

    • SVM says:

      Hear hear. In fact, there are many, far more serious problems with the BBC’s role and influence in society, as described most eloquently by Mark Doran.

  • Rob says:

    I forgot to say TV channel in the last post.

  • Joseph Shelby says:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/statements/cliff-richard-ruling – the BBC’s take. They weren’t doing it to defend their reputation per se, but rather ‘journalistic freedom’.

    Such a case would never have gone to court here in the states.

    I’m not saying right or wrong here – just the BBC’s argument is that freedom of the press should be more clear and perhaps more like America’s.

    However, the collusion with the police department is still over the bounds, even here. The only reason it wouldn’t go to court here is that our media owns choppers and wouldn’t need the collusion.

  • Olassus says:

    BBC News nowadays reflects Sadiq Khan’s London. Call it “SOAS News” or Labour Party News. None of it connects with the real England, and none of it is politically balanced. Should be defunded.

  • V.Lind says:

    Tremendous amount of anti-BBC feeling here (spurred on by its diminishing support for Classical music? If so, that is special pleading and, as such, worthless). It is subject to legitimate criticism but I would have liked to see some support here for freedom of information. Yes, Mr. Lebrecht, perhaps they should say sorry, as they were wrong here, but they were not wrong to cover the story in the first place. Maybe to hire helicopters — that does seem both excessive and a waste of money. But when a public figure is accused by a number of people of a criminal act, it is not illegitimate to cover it.

    • Maria says:

      But is it freedom of information, or just the inalienable right of certain sections of the public to be titillated on a regular basis?

      He hadn’t even been arrested.

  • John G. Deacon says:

    Briefly, and very simply, because it is never wrong – their air of haughty arrogance overrides everything whenever they attempt any kind of response.

    Their appalling bias over Brexit means one has lost confidence in ever finding any balanced objectivity.