back to article FOlA judges: Secret 28 who made the BBC Green will not be named

As expected, the BBC has won its legal battle against blogger Tony Newbery. Newbery wanted the list of "scientific experts" who attended a BBC seminar at which, according to the BBC Trust, they convinced the broadcaster to abandon impartiality and take a firmly warmist position when reporting climate change. When the Beeb …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    And well done for being the only media outlet in the world, from what I can see, who reported this important trial.

    1. Lord Voldemortgage

      Re: Stunning

      Right - I haven't seen this anywhere else either.

      I'm very disappointed that the BBC has acted in this way and been supported in doing so.

      "widespread disquiet from supporters of the BBC about the disparity between its declarations of intent on transparency, and the reality" is right.

      I do think Montford's guide to this ought to be available free of charge BTW.

    2. Marvin the Martian

      Re: Stunning

      While we're at it, we demand equal time for creationism; last year's Darwin propaganda was shocking. I think we should insist on taxpayer money being wasted wining and dining obscurantist lobbyists while time spent on fringe loonies should increase.


      A. Raving Monster Looney

      1. Rufus McDufus

        Re: Stunning

        Sorry if I misunderstand your sarcastic post, but do you think the theory that anthropomorphic global warming with CO2 as the main driver of change is a theory with as strong a foundation as that behind evolution? I and many others would certainly like to see the proof behind that insinuation.

      2. Law

        @Marv Re: Stunning

        For me at least at this point it's not even about the fact they opted out of being impartial really (your silly comparison with creationists aside) .. it's that the cheeky buggers based their decision on a forum that has no minutes, wasn't widely acknowledged, and they refuse to even release the attendees/speakers list.

        If the arguments there were so compelling, and the people who went to this didn't go on condition of anonymity - then why are they so concerned about keeping it all hush hush - and why are they wasting our money keeping it secret. They're clearly protecting their own arses...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Marv Stunning

          @Law: The thing is that a lot of top scientists just want to do their job and won't speak at events like this if they can't be anonymous. Many have found that they get extremely hostile emails, snail mail and character assassination on the Internet, should they appear in public and dare to speak about the subject which they are expert in. When you spend the next month dealing with FOI requests from people who don't know enough about your subject to understand the questions that they are asking, I can see why. There is no funding stream for dealing with the public in the vast majority of research posts and it ends up coming out of their own time.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: @Marv Stunning

            Whilst I can fully understand scientists' frustrations here, some of the major movers-and-shakers in climate science have brought (at least some of) this down on themselves. They've reacted, understandably, to circle-the-wagons against outside pressure and they've not always been transparent. Sometimes they've been downright deceitful, and that's made things worse.

            This area is way too important for people to be keeping their methods and data secret - as well as that being fundamentally against the scientific method.

            It's a shame that this has become so nasty and politicised, but this science can't avoid politics. The implications, if the most catastrophic models are correct, require the spending of hundreds of billions by most of the worlds governments - and massive changes to the global economy. The level of debate from the senior people on the 'warmist' side has been absolutely appalling, and polarised things even more. Whoever is 'right', there seem to be a good few idiots on both sides who damned well ought to know better.

    3. Fibbles

      Re: Stunning

      And yet when I suggested the other day in a reg comments section that the BBC was not impartial I got nought but downvotes...

      1. Tequila Joe

        Re: Stunning

        Depend how many (very probably non-IT) political trolls are infesting the web.

        Given the BBC Savile/Newsnight fiasco they are probably mostly targetting the less specialised mainstream sites. Still a few around though. I think some of them like this site because they confuse 'ignoring their stupidity' with 'accepting their stupidity'.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Already written to my MP

    asking why a 'private' organisation should be funded by tax.

    1. Lord Voldemortgage

      Re: Already written to my MP

      In the case of the BBC this is to (in theory at least) prevent it from being an organ of the state - if it is not 'private' it can't so easily be impartial.

      How successful any of this is can be debated at length but I don't see anything fundamentally wrong with the basic idea of a publicly funded broadcaster that has its own independence.

      I'd rather have the BBC than not, although the matters discussed in this article are deeply troubling.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Already written to my MP

        Re: Lord Voldemortgage

        There is a difference between being a private organisation and being an independent organisation.

        The BBC can be independent of state influence, but still be subject to public scrutiny.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Already written to my MP

      You'd have done better to get yourself re-classified as a public organization, and ask for a $1 (sorry, I don't have a Pound or Euro key) per head tax for support of your public mission.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Biased, Bloated and Corrupt

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Justice is served

    We have a justice system for a reason, and it has done it's job. Of course those who don't like the results will try to make out that there's something wrong with the judgement. I don't see why the "purposes of journalism" reasoning shouldn't apply here; in fact the very fact that climate-change-denier attack dogs are so desperate to get the names of the individuals who advised the BBC makes me think it's a good thing if they are protected as a journalistic source. I applaud the BBC's stance as well; we see for example in the case of the MMR jab scare the perils of the media presenting two sides of an argument as if they are equal, when in fact there is overwhelming scientific consensus on one side of the argument; that is a gross distortion of the truth, and misleads the public. The BBC's stance on climate change reflects the overwhelming scientific consensus on that topic, and thus avoids similar distortion, and it's great to see them taking such a sensible stance.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Justice is served

      Oooh err - "climate-change-denier attack dogs" eh?

      Are they anything like "running dogs of capitalism"?

      (but probably not like "cheese eating surrender monkeys" or "denier attack-change climate gerbils"?)

    2. Diogenes
      IT Angle

      Re: Justice is served

      Not so fast ...

      IPCC4 claims to use only peer reviewed materials, and as we have found actually includes press releases which have no basis in fact or egregious errors, and in fact just recently in Oz 2 peer reviewed papers have had to been withdrawn due to horrednous errors.

      The BBC claims to had the top 28 in the field (or somesuch) but how do we know ?

      I am sure of I were to get, say, 28 salesmen form Sachs Goldman in the room I could convince the BBC to have an IPO .

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Justice is served

        If you got 28 oil industry execs to lobby the Bbc, the green lobby groups would be all over it like a rash. This case simply shows it's ok for anonymous lobby groups to influence Bbc editorial policy. They will be protected.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Justice is served

      Scientists should stand behind their views and those views should be made public so that they can be checked by other scientists. There's a simple reason for this, the scientists are experts explaining their field to lay people and as a result could quite easily just spout bullshit and be believed. If they want to be advisors to a publicly funded organisation there's no reason they can't do it openly.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Justice is served - BBC fail

      Legal precedent aside it is obvious that the BBC do not want to publish the names for the simple reason that there were no, or very few, 'real' climate scientists amongst the 28 at this meeting and thus are worried about their policy being questioned.

      The fact that the BBC has gone to such lengths to protect these names proves there was probably little scientific input to the policy and until they can prove otherwise it will rightly be assumed that those in attendance were not as the BBC quote 'scientific experts'. So actually the BBC have shot themselves in the foot; by hidind the details of the attendees they are effectively admitting they can not support the policy on scientific grounds.

    5. g e

      Presumably the fact the BBC want to hide the info so badly

      Is because the climate change Chihuahua's would be shown to be correct.

      Which would make people who use phrases like 'Climate Change Debier Attack Dogs' seems a bit, well, like Apple fanbois or Creationists.

      Oh, and it'd embarrass the Government immensely which is more likely the reason for the judgement.

      It's also about time a distinction was drawn between Climate-sceptics and Anthro-sceptics. The former being folk who deny the bleeding obvious and the latter being folk rightly suspicious of the lobbying from a darn lucrative industry.

      1. Tequila Joe

        Re: Presumably the fact the BBC want to hide the info so badly

        The whole issue is a mix of propaganda, science, facts, opinions and (semi-religious?) belief. There is no longer any distinction made in the MSM between:

        - Natural Climate Change (going on before mankind existed)

        - Catastrophic Anthropomorphic Global Warming (unhelpfully alarmist on so many levels).

        And the people who point out the proven history of the power of natural climate change as a basis for querying the CAGW are now portrayed in the MSM as 'climate deniers', when they're the ones acknowledging the power of the climate.

        It's worth remembering that, to survive, mankind needed technology to protect against and relieve some of the effects of natural climate change. Now we're being asked to believe that we should rely less on such protection, and instead divert those resources to making the climate behave 'normally'? And in the process make some unscrupulous people very, very rich?

        This is why it is important that the BBC should be open about how it sources it's policy on CAGW, because we need to know if the BBC is pushing propaganda or science. It is very worrying that they spend so much money on lawyers in order to keep this secret, when it plays such a large part in shaping public opinion, and probably government policy.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As an outsider

    It seems strange that you would fund the BBC by taxing honest people.

    Surely that simply teaches the public that there is a low risk financial advantage to being dishonest.

    Succeeding in that area might be just the encouragement they need to cheat in other areas. Income tax, for example. Why not fund it out of consolidated revenue?

  8. R 11

    Compulsary tax

    It's funded by a compulsory tax?

    Is the government forcing you to install televisions now?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Compulsary tax

      The license is for any device capable of receiving live or near live television broadcasts.

      Conveniently that now includes your computer and mobile phone.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Compulsary tax

        Wrong, it's needed for a household using any devices to receive live television broadcasts.

  9. Aitor 1

    I agree

    As a public service, they should disclose that information.

    I can't agree with people who deny fact, but here you do have a point, Andrew.

  10. Primus Secundus Tertius

    Without lawyers...

    It looks as if the Tribunal was biased against Mr Newbery because he had not shelled out for expensive lawyers.

  11. heyrick Silver badge

    One small thought...

    The BBC played the "we are a private company" line, yes? Well, as a private company, I guess they no longer have need for a publicly funded tax to support them.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    When exactly was that word excised from the nation's dictionaries?

  13. Phil W

    TV licences aren't exactly compulsory.

    As per the title. You can't truly call the TV licence a compulsory tax, don't have a TV don't pay.

    Regardless, this case was clearly decided correctly and I'm not entirely sure how anyone can argue otherwise.

    The "purposes of jounalism" protection is intended for exactly this as far as I can see, the BBC consulted with a group of experts for purposes of producing journalistic TV show. So the protection cause is specifically intended for protecting their identity.

    As journalistic organisation they have has much right to protect their sources as any privately owned Newspaper or other TV news channel. If you disagree with this then you're frankly silly.

    1. James 100

      Re: TV licences aren't exactly compulsory.

      "as I can see, the BBC consulted with a group of experts for purposes of producing journalistic TV show"

      That's the whole problem - it wasn't about a TV show, it was about changing their interpretation of their statutory obligations. If they'd interviewed, for example, 28 people in Northern Ireland anonymously to get an insight into life in times of terrorist violence, fair enough, or they had a whistleblower telling them about MPs bogus expenses claims - THAT is what the exemption is supposed to be for.

      Moreover, the BBC said it was based on "scientists" ... now they're back-tracking on that and admitting that the 28 actually included (unnamed) political activists and others, but refusing to be more specific. Were there any actual scientists, or just pressure group representatives? Shouldn't we know, before billions of pounds of our money get spent on it?

      With private companies, we have the option of switching to an alternative supplier: if I felt Tesco were being dodgy, I could buy my shopping in Asda instead. With public entities like the NHS, I don't have that option, but it's accountable through the ballot box instead. The BBC, alone, seems to think it should be exempt from *both* safeguards, accountable neither to its customers in a free market nor to our elected representatives like everything else from the Post Office to the NHS. Why should it get such special treatment?

      1. Werner McGoole

        He he...

        Just waiting now for Newsnight to do an expose naming the individuals.

    2. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      Re: TV licences aren't exactly compulsory.

      The TV license is tax by another name. If you want to watch TV, you have to pay the license, even if you don't want to anything to do with the Bolshevik Broadcasting Charlatans. Of course, Auntie Beeb is protected on high, so there was never any way little people (or license fee payers as they call them) were going to win.

      This was nothing to do with protecting journalism. This was a means of deciding BBC bias, in spite of their so-called impartiality. All protected by expensive lawyers and cloak-and-dagger meetings behind closed doors.

      It's the same as the tax on petrol - you don't want to pay, don't drive - still a tax though.

      So yes, the license is a tax, pure and simple. To deny it makes you a BBC apologist or easily lead.

    3. Stephen 11

      Re: TV licences aren't exactly compulsory.

      As per the title. You can't truly call the TV licence a compulsory tax, don't have a TV device capable of receiving a video signal, don't pay.

      There, I fixed it for you.

      1. Phil W

        Re: TV licences aren't exactly compulsory.

        Firstly, I was apparantly incorrect in my understanding of this situation so kudos to those that corrected me.

        Secondly, Stephen 11:

        "As per the title. You can't truly call the TV licence a compulsory tax, don't have a device capable of receiving a video signal, don't pay.

        There, I fixed it for you."

        Inaccurate correction is inaccurate. A TV licence is only required for watching/recording broadcast TV as it is broadcast. A TV licence is not required for watching on-demand video services such as iplayer (with the exception of where such a service is used to watch broadcast TV rather than on demand content).

        Additionally your phrasing implies you think a license is required to own a television regardless of whether you actually receive broadcasts with it, which is not true at all. A number of people I know own TV sets which they use purely as monitors via HDMI etc, and they do not have or need a TV licence. One of them even went to the effort of getting a letter from the licensing agency to that effect.

    4. browntomatoes

      Re: TV licences aren't exactly compulsory.

      (Almost) all taxes can be avoided by simply not participating in the activity which is being taxed - including income tax. That doesn't make them "not taxes" or "not compulsory" and I don't see why the licence fee is any different.

  14. Chad H.


    Next time a guy falls to his death are we going to see a tirade against the BBCs unquestioned acceptance of the theory of Gravity? Will we be hearing from advocates of the intelligent falling theory decrying the bias?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: So....

      0/10 would not troll with. Or maybe has a defect in logic sequencer? Can't tell.

    2. crtc

      Re: So....

      Those responsible for the theory of gravity and its continued research are are in the public domain.

      The people who persuaded the BBC to abandon impartiality over climate change are not, this is the issue.

    3. Bob. Hitchen

      Re: So....

      The BBC has made no such statement so your premise is not valid.

      This case sucks - effectively saying we are not impartial but you can't really know why.

  15. moonrakin

    Listen sunshine...

    If there was shred of evidence for CO2 lala-ness I wouldn't be taking you to task (unless it's irony you're trying in which case it's lost on me)

    However - that has SFA to do with this case. I'd have expected the BBC to proudly parade it's association with prominent scientists and other folk well qualified to comment on the state of play in this area -but they haven't - far, far worse they have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds battling disclosure.

    This is a clear sign that they were actually up to no good.

    The risible inclusion of wholly compromised "lay judges" only intensifies the putrid stench emanating from this affair as does the inexcusable outpourings of the QC heading the panel (I can't bring myself to call it a court)

  16. moonrakin

    I am full of admiration for Tony Newbery in pursuing the matter as far as he has and congratulate Andrew on his coverage

    I earnestly hope that Tony has the will and the stamina to continue.

    Having seen several toxic "lay judges" in action - I feel that far too many are crony appointments and utterly out of their depth - which generally makes them biased and arbitrary with little regard for evidence or legal issues - in one case just plain bonkers... These two looked like they were picked for an outcome....

    I for one volunteer that if Tony needs funding to continue - I'll stump up at least the price of a TV licence.

  17. ChilliKwok

    Ain't the BBC great

    Broadcasting completely false accusations of child molestation with absolutely zero attempt to corroborate or verify the claims - purely as a smoke screen to distract from their 30 year nurturing of one of the most vile paedo's in history. And as if that wasn't bad enough, they continue to promote catastrophic man-made global warming - the greatest financial and scientific hoax in history - using every available programme and channel - including Ceebies - making them responsible for the abuse of children in more ways than one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ain't the BBC great

      Stay where you are, I've called the hyperbole Police and they'll be with you shortly.

  18. Don Jefe

    Self Represent?

    That's a really stupid idea in any court or tribunal. It's a really good way to lose your case and not even get another chance. It's a really extra stupid bad idea if you're going up with a monster like BBC.

    The whole thing does sound fishy though.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Self Represent?

      So what you're saying is that the public isn't able to hold the government/establishment to account? I rather doubt the guy could afford legal representation, but he's pursuing a legitimate public interest. Even if there's also a perfectly reasonable argument on the other side as well.

      The whole point of setting up non-legal tribunals and FOI requests should be to allow normal people to represent themselves. So long as they're not idiots they should easily be able to make the necessary logical case - even if they need a bit of help, understanding and guidance in how to do cross-examination. If the tribunal can have lay-panellists, then there's no reason why there should need to be legal representation from either party. Although obviously a barrister is trained to put an argument professionally, so if you've got the money, they're the right person to use.

  19. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    BBC *reverses* editorial policy that has stood for 80 years on *one* issue only.

    And this is *not* news.

    And the people who *convinced* the whole Corporation cannot be named.

    (founded 1926. Policy *briefing* 2006)

  20. James Pickett

    "These two looked like they were picked for an outcome...."

    Grounds alone for an appeal. Have the judges not been watching the news and wondering whether the Beeb might not be quite as squeaky clean as they like to insist?

    I suppose we'll need another tribunal to find out how much this concealment of a guest list has cost!

    I'd contribute to a fighting fund, too, although there must be someone in the BBC who could accidentally leave the list in the photocopier...

  21. Trollslayer

    This is the same organsiation that accused an innocent man of being a paedophile

    Yes, that was this week from the 'flagship' new programme.

    The arrogance of this publicly funded body is unbelievable and the corruption that allows them to continue in this way is horrifying.

    1. David Neil

      Re: This is the same organsiation that accused an innocent man of being a paedophile

      Actually they didn't name him - we now have the weird situation where people have resigned over Twitter speculation about a report they aired, based on the word of a man who apparently hadn't seen a photo of the bloke he accused for nigh on 25 years, and then clarified his position once said bloke said he was lawyered up.

  22. moonrakin
    Black Helicopters

    Snitch on an activist....

    Crowdsourcing attempt underway - please dob in likely (evidenced) participants at Bishop Hill or WUWT

  23. PT


    Here, here. There must be many people besides the participants who know who attended. It's time for some of them to do their civic duty and reveal the names.

  24. Stuart21551

    Beeb is green?

    Beeb is green? I still hear 'Farmers are spending less money heating their greenhouses' (implied 'Therefore global warming is great') on radio bus. programme promo.

    Notwithstanding no evidence proffered -

  25. Andy Bloice

    Nice twist incoming!!!

    From BBC news @ 08.33 gmt

    The BBC's director of news and her deputy have "stepped aside", the BBC understands.

    The move by Helen Boaden and Steve Mitchell comes after director general George Entwistle quit on Saturday.

    Could we have a new, more 'open' news boss please?!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Information Tribunal

    Distinct level of ignorance from the Reg regarding the tribunal.

    Why ask the ICO about the tribunal panel make up when they have no input or influence? The Information Tribunal sits above the ICO and is part of the Courts Service so any flaws in the panel's make up should be raised with the Courts Service.

    Also the derogation in FOI is quite clear that information relating to Journalism and programming is exempt from FOI. Like it or not a decision to take a particular editorial stance and the accompanying debates clearly falls within that derogation.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Information Tribunal

      "Why ask the ICO about the tribunal panel make up when they have no input or influence?"

      We asked the ICO because presumably, as an overseer of the implementation of FOI law, it could offer some insight on the process up to and including an information tribunal - and it did.


    2. Fading

      Re: Information Tribunal

      "Journalism and programming" - and how does this meeting to modify the impartiality clause in the BBC charter come under Journalism and Programming? This is not an "editorial stance" this is a modification of the BBC charter as such comes under FOI as it falls squarely in the "public interest" . Another travesty and another reason to request from my MP a removal of the TV tax.

  27. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Well, that didn't take long....

    The full list of attendees is on the net here:

    Courtesy of the Wayback machine.

    Oh dear! I understand that the lawyers are still in the 16th century, but you would think that the BBC would have some understanding of science and technology. Oh, I forgot, their idea of science is the post-modern climate science concept that 'truth is what I say it is'.

    Still, big fail for the Beeb, congrats to Omnologos....

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks to the wayback machine, it's now out there:

    So, is the BBC going to give us a refund on wasted lawyer fees?

  29. Chris 105

    What a complete waste of my licence fee

    Seems the list was a google (or wayback machine) search away all along. BBC - can I have a discount please, call it a tax on your stupidity.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gras Albert

    Now that the list of attendees is in the public domain

    it is apparent why the BBC fought so hard to suppress it's release

    Of the 28 so called 'experts' invited to the seminar, only 3 were climate scientists, the vast majority were eco-activists. Of the BBC attendees it is perhaps germane that names associated with the shoddy journalism at the heart of the recent child abuse scandals, Peter Rippon, editor of Newsnight, Steve Mitchell, his boss, Helen Boaden, his boss's boss, head of News and George Enwistle, her boss, 54 day in post Director General, were part of the BBC contingent at the seminar!

    So the BBC's decision to break it's charter commitment on impartiality and only present one side of the anthropogenic global warming argument resulted from a seminar whose 28 invited 'experts' were predominately eco-activists! Senior management, including those now discredited by Newsnightgate, subsequently misled the public about the make up of that seminar, tried to suppress already-in-the-public-domain information which contradicted their public statements and were even economical with the truth on oath at public hearings.

    Old Bill had it right all those years ago, Something Is Rotten in the State of Denmark

  31. Colin 22

    names now available

    the list of names published on Guido Faukes blog (

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