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29 October 2014
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Balen report: BBC successful in High Court challenge

The High Court today (Friday 27 April) rejected Mr Steven Sugar's challenge to the Information Commissioner's decision that the BBC does not have to release the Balen report.


The BBC has always maintained that the Balen report is held for purposes of journalism and, therefore, outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. The Information Commissioner agreed.


We believe that programme makers must have the space to be able to freely discuss and reflect on editorial issues in support of independent journalism.


The BBC also welcomes the High Court's clarification that, in cases where the Information Commissioner agrees with a public service broadcaster that the information sought is outside the scope of the FOI Act, there is no appeal to the Information Tribunal.


The Balen report was commissioned by the former BBC Director of News, Richard Sambrook, from an experienced journalist. It was always intended as an internal review of programme content, to inform future output. It was never intended for publication.


The BBC's action in this case had nothing to do with the fact that the Balen report was about the Middle East – the same approach would have been taken whatever area of news output was covered.


The BBC engages with the public in debating issues of editorial impartiality in other ways, including through subject-based independent impartiality reviews as part of the BBC Trust's role in ensuring the BBC's editorial standards and monitoring its output.


This continues the programme introduced by the former BBC Board of Governors which included publication in 2006 of the independent impartiality review of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict conducted by Sir Quentin Thomas's panel.


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Category: BBC
Date: 27.04.2007
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