Breaking news from Ofcom!
We can today confirm we will not be pursuing complaints made about ITV's coverage of the Coronation of King Charles III. Some viewers complained about comments made on the Royal family's appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony.
According to its decision, Ofcom received 8,371 complaints about a comment actress Adjoa Andoh made about the balcony being "terribly white".
Our decision to not pursue these complaints further also takes into account broadcasters' and guests' right to freedom of expression.
Meanwhile, Mark was convicted in Ofcom's pseudo court after only 4 complaints in which he presented his take on official government numbers...
A few weeks later, Mark's solicitor put Ofcom on notice. And, last month Mark's barristers exchanged "pre-action" correspondence with Ofcom suggesting they reverse their erroneous and illegal decision. They didn't.
So last week, Mark's KC Gavin Millar filed a petition seeking judicial review by the King's Bench Division of the High Court.
Below is a handy precis on the grounds as well as our take on Ofcom's response (here, "C" refers to Claimant Mark Steyn):
Misdirection In Law
The statutory standards objective for this decision is in sub-section 319(2)(f) of the Communications Act 2003 ("CA 2003").
It is that:
Generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion of offensive and harmful material.
As the application of Rule 2.2 in this decision shows, Ofcom interprets this as allowing rules against, and findings of breach in respect of, potential harm from viewers/listeners being influenced by misleading material to act in a way harmful to themselves or others. This is a misconstruction of the sub-section, and the error has led Ofcom to misunderstand and misapply its regulatory powers, exceeding them improperly.
re: Ofcom's response:
Ofcom has not addressed directly the interpretive issue in relation to the words harmful material in CA 2003 s.319(2)(f)
Material and/or unsustainable finding of fact - Materially misleading portrayal of factual matters, causing harm
The potential harm identified in the decision, although not spelt out, is that viewers might decide not to have the third shot. The Rule and the Guidance require that the potential harm is caused by a misleading portrayal of factual matters in the broadcast material. See also the self-direction in the decision that Rule 2.2 is concerned with misrepresentation of facts. Ofcom's finding that there was such a (causal) misleading portrayal of factual matters is based on a finding that the conclusions from the data advanced by C in the programme were, and would have been understood as assertions of fact, rather than opinion
This conclusion is wrong and unsupportable when the parts of the programme in issue are considered properly and in context.
Material and/or unsustainable finding of fact - The potential for harm:
The postulated harm in this case could only occur if the third vaccine is effective*. This is because the suggested viewer decisions consequent on viewing the programme, ie not to have the third shot, could only be harmful if this is the case. Not only does the decision contain no finding to this effect, even if it is read as containing an implied finding to this effect no evidence is identified in the decision to support such a finding.
* And viewers decide not to take it as result of seeing the programme.
re: Ofcom's response to grounds 2 and 3:
Ofcom appears to advance a "fall-back" position, contrary to the clear wording of the decision, that the conclusions identified in the monologue were/may have been opinion but that Rule 2.2 can be read as applying to expressions of opinion. C will say that this is not sustainable in light of the wording of Rule 2.2 (referring to portrayals of factual matters)
Article 10 violation:
The decision amounts to a violation of C's right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights ("the ECHR").
re: Ofcom's response:
It has implicitly accepted that C's rights under ECHR Article 10 are engaged by the decision, but it has not sought in the response letter to justify the reasoning and outcome in the decision by reference to the principles established under ECHR Article 10
Breach of the duty of fairness:
C had an interest in the outcome of the Ofcom investigation which entitled him to be protected by procedural fairness. He was not given, but should have been given, a fair opportunity to make written representations to Ofcom against the proposed finding of rule breach.
According to Ofcom's response to Mark's solicitor, Ofcom made its preliminary finding against Mark on the 4th of November with GB News filing its response on the 18th. Despite being physically present in London during this time period, Mark was not informed of this finding nor invited to participate in the response to it.
Indeed, he only learned of it during the course of these proceedings in the last few weeks.
(During these weeks in London in November leading up to Mark's heart attacks, GB executives failed not only to notify Mark of this change in status with Ofcom but coincidentally proceeded to undermine the stability of the show by consistently failing week after week to properly secure studio time for the show. This caused a great deal of unnecessary stress on Mark, his guests and the production.)
Upon Mark's return to host in mid-January, Mark was presented with a proposed contract that sought to make him liable for Ofcom fines - yet GB deliberately withheld information re Ofcom's finding / current status denying Mark the opportunity to respond to said finding.
Thus, Mark has had no choice but to seek judicial review and restoration of his rights.
You can read the whole thing here.
~Many readers, listeners and viewers have inquired about ways to support this important lawsuit in the High Court. Well, aside from anything else, Ofcom's double-conviction of Mark seems to be doing wonders for five-star reviews of his new book, The Prisoner of Windsor. However, there are other methods of support, including:
a) signing up a friend for a Steyn Club Gift Membership;
b) buying a chum a SteynOnline gift certificate; or
c) treating your special someone to a stateroom on this summer's Mark Steyn Cruise. They will love you forever.
In the first two cases, one hundred per cent of the proceeds and, in the last, a significant chunk thereof go to a grand cause - and you or your loved one gets something, too.
~We have plenty coming your way on a brand new week of The Mark Steyn Show with guest host Alexandra Marshall. The action starts at 8pm British Summer Time/3pm North American Eastern.
If you missed any of last week's editions, you can find them all here:
Michele Bachmann and Jo Nova on different aspects of global government - and Ros Jones on the most tragic victims of its worldwide policies.
Liam Walsh on losing a daughter to TikTok, Gordon Chang on China's weaponisation of social media, and Jamie Jenkins on a generation crippled by government.
Leilani Dowding, Alexandra Marshall and Eva Vlaardingerbroek take the pulse of the planet, from free speech to property rights to lights out.
Christopher Caldwell on Islam, immigration, Brexit, Trump and more.
If you enjoy The Mark Steyn Show on your Smart TV or not so smart desktop, we'll also be doing it live at sea during the 2023 Mark Steyn Cruise - and with all of your favourite guests, including the above-mentioned [Leilani, Alexandra, Eva and Michele]. More details here.
If you've failed to catch a Steyn Show over the years, you can find not only our latest edition but over 250 from the archives, all in reverse chronological order, listed here.