THE BBC SMEARS NORRIS McWHIRTER

[EXTRACT FROM PARLIAMENTARY SKETCH]

By Quentin Letts

Daily Mail – 21 January 2011

... The one moment Culture Questions took off was when two Tory backbenchers, Robert Halfon (Harlow) and Julian Lewis (New Forest East) rode magnificently to the defence of  Norris McWhirter .

The late Mr McWhirter was recently besmirched by the multi-millionaire, off-the-peg-Left, BBC comedian David Baddiel, who attacked Mr McWhirter as a “brownshirt”. He also suggested that his libertarian organisation, The Freedom Association, was akin to the BNP.

Mr Halfon said that when he complained to the BBC about this slur he received a ‘ridiculous letter’ from the corporation’s director-general, Mark Thompson.

Mr Lewis, who knew Mr McWhirter well and described him as “a dedicated opponent of totalitarianism”, said that Baddiel’s remarks were “disgraceful”. Mr Lewis had trouble controlling his emotions – so offended was he by the depiction of Mr McWhirter as a Nazi.

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[EXTRACT FROM PRESS ASSOCIATION REPORT]

By Theo Usherwood

Press Association – 20 January 2011

Candidates for the chairmanship of the BBC Trust must show a "commitment to improving governance" at the Corporation, the Culture Secretary said today. Jeremy Hunt said impartiality at the Beeb was "paramount" after the comedian Alan Davies broadcast a show on the BBC last year in which he claimed the Second World War veteran Norris McWhirter was linked to British fascist Oswald Mosley.

Today Mr Hunt told the Commons that Davies's claims were "totally inappropriate" and any new chairman would have to "address" the BBC's neutrality. Mr Hunt's comments came after the backbench Tory MP Robert Halfon (Harlow) claimed he had received a "ridiculous" response from the BBC's Mark Thompson to a letter of complaint in which the Director-General refused to apologise for the programme.

During questions in the Commons today, the Culture Secretary told Mr Halfon:

"I agree with you that impartiality at the BBC is paramount. I also agree that the particular comments to which you referred were totally inappropriate and I can understand why many people found them offensive. What I would say to you by way of reassurance is that the selection process for the new chairman of the BBC Trust, and it is the BBC Trust which is responsible for impartiality, we have said that all candidates must show a commitment to improving governance at the BBC so I hope that these issues will continue to be addressed."

... McWhirter, who died in 2004 at the age of 78, was well known for his right-wing politics. A veteran of the Royal Navy during the Second World War, he covered numerous Olympic Games for the BBC as a journalist during the 60s and 70s before founding the Guinness Book of Records.

After failing to regain the seat of Orpington for the Tories in 1964, he set up the Freedom Association in 1975 with his twin brother Ross. The group promoted a free market economy, individual freedom, limited government and national parliamentary democracy.

It was his brother's outspoken views that led to his assassination by the Provisional IRA in November 1975. Despite his brother's death, Norris McWhirter doggedly continued to express his views and in 1994 was co-author of a book attacking the European Union for undermining the British constitution – Treason at Maastricht.