Mr Howard’s attacks on him were highlights of his TV show, and the BBC’s ruling means This Writer can support that claim – with this:
Davies’s claim was an attack on free speech. Mr Howard was right to point out the contradictions in the MP’s behaviour, and right to draw the obvious conclusions about his character.
The complaint against the comedian was nothing less than an attack on free speech, here in the UK.
If upheld, it would have set a disturbing precedent. For once, the BBC Trust is to be commended.
A rightwing Tory MP’s complaint about a Russell Howard comedy show in which he was described as a “windbag” and “toad-faced hypocrite” in Commons debates has been rejected by the BBC Trust.
Philip Davies came under fire in two editions of Russell Howard’s Good News, a topical comedy show that provides the comedian’s “unique perspective on the big stories”.
Howard… accused Davies of filibustering, or speaking for long periods to slow down a bill passing into law.
Davies lodged a complaint with the BBC that the comments made about him were inaccurate and defamatory and that the show misrepresented him.
The MP succeeded in getting a clarification about some of Howard’s comments published on the Clarifications and Corrections section of the BBC website [that he did not use up all of the time allotted for the debate].
“Those in the public eye, such as politicians, could expect robust criticism,” said the BBC Trust. “Programmes featuring satire and particularly political satire would necessarily be allowed substantially more leeway in their approach to accuracy and fairness than, for example, news or a current affairs programme. To do otherwise, would be to risk an unwarranted curtailment of freedom of expression which would not be acceptable in a democracy.”
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