BBC apologises over 'fascist' comments

Complaints over Baddiel and Davies

The BBC has been forced to apologise to the right-wing Freedom Association after David Baddiel and Alan Davies accused it of being a fascist group.

On a Radio 5 Live show in December, the comedians likened the group’s founder Norris McWhirter, the Guinness Book of Records co-author, to the notorious Oswald Mosley.

Baddiel called the group ‘a very, very right wing kind of sub-BNP, slightly posher version of the BNP’.

Davies then asked: ‘Was he [McWhirter[ a Brown Shirt with Mosley or whatever they were called?’

At the time, the Freedom Association said: ‘This latest outrageous smear is just the kind of guilt by association that the BBC's institutional left-liberal thinking indulges in day by day.’

And they claimed the ‘totally unwarranted smear’ was worse that Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand’s phonce call to Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs, saying: ‘The attack is all the more cowardly because Norris is no longer alive to defend himself.’

Their case was taken up by Tory MPs including John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee and Robert Halfon, who tabled an Early Day Motion in the Commons about the incident.

The BBC has now investigated the complaint, and apologised.

Simon Richards, director of the Freedom Association, said: ‘We are immensely grateful to all the MPs who complained to the BBC about the outrageous slur on the reputation of The Freedom Association and our founder, the late Norris McWhirter CBE.

‘The BBC too often permits lazy and unfair attempts to tar respectable centre-right organisations with the BNP brush. We have struck a blow on behalf of all freedom-loving people who are fed up with being portrayed as fascists by a broadcasting organisation whose charter requires it to be impartial.’

He added that the Freedom Association campaigns for freedom of expression.

Other campaigns have called for Britain to leave the EU, for the right of cricketers to tour South Africa when it was under an apartheid regime, and for the 50p top rate of income tax to be abolished.

Published: 21 Jun 2011

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