Below is an email I’ve just sent to BBC Radio 5 Live:

Dear BBC Radio 5 Live

I am long-term and frequent Radio 5 listener.

I am writing to complain about the language that was used by Presenter Tony Livesy at 16:04 today during ‘5 Live Drive’ in introducing the topic of people being deported to Jamaica by the government this morning.

Tony Livesy introduced the topic by stating that 17 ‘foreign criminals’ had been deported this morning! He then went on to say that a government spokesperson described them as ‘foreign criminals’. Just because the government decides to use such incorrect and racist terminology doesn’t mean the BBC have to follow suit. I’m aware that he may either have been using his own words or he may have been reading from a script – in which case, who on earth wrote the script?!

This is exactly what he stated:

“A lot to talk about today. Really interesting interview that you’ll hear later on: you might have heard in the news bulletin there that Helen was reading about the foreign criminals that have been deported to Jamaica – some of them haven’t gone on a legal technicality and I speak to the father of one of them, Richard Hall, his son Randy was convicted of possession of a Class A drug, served some years in jail and was due to be deported this morning and has not gone. He argues that he shouldn’t go whatsoever: he came to Britain as a two-year-old, he is not a British National and the government at that point say ‘well he’s a foreign criminal; we need him out of the country’, but have a listen to the interview I did with his dad in a short while when you’ll hear the arguments why he says that there is literally nothing for him to go to in Jamaica: all his family’s here. You see if you’re convinced by that!”

I have no less than SIX issues in relation to this:

Firstly, in my opinion, it is shocking that the BBC, our national broadcaster, would describe the deportees as ‘foreign criminals’ as opposed to ‘people!’ He could and should have said that ’17 people were deported from Heathrow this morning’ as opposed to using the term ‘foreign criminals!’

Secondly, it is very wrong to frame that some of them had not gone as ‘on a legal technicality!’ It is the Law! In attempting to deport people without them having access to legal representation, the government was breaking the Law! This should not be framed as ‘a legal technicality!’

Thirdly, the term ‘due to be deported’ suggests that this is the ‘right’ course of action, whereas a term like ‘at risk of being deported’ doesn’t and is a more neutral and representative use of language.

Fourthly, I would argue that paraphrasing the government’s rhetoric (as when saying “the government at that point say ‘well he’s a foreign criminal; we need him out of the country’) is poor from a journalistic viewpoint and I would argue that, in this instance, contributes to the racist and jingoistic nationalism that I witnessed on this topic via social media this morning!

Fifthly, in introducing the context of the interview with his father, the suggestion is that the sole basis for arguing for the man to not be deported is that there is nothing for him in Jamaica – an argument which the BBC know will gain little sympathy with many listeners – as opposed to framing the discussion about the legal arguments and rights involved and the sheer cruelty and racism of the government’s measures.

Finally, I must object to the way that Mr Livesy used the phrases “and has not gone” (said slowly and deliberately as if to prove that this is wrong) and “You see if you’re convinced by that” which is an ‘interesting’ and I might argue ‘leading’ way to end the piece!

This followed on from the 4 ‘o’clock news a few minutes earlier during which the issue was framed in a particular way – with which I disagree strongly! The newsreader stated:

“Downing Street says it bitterly regrets a ruling that stopped 25 foreign criminals being deported to Jamaica. 17 people were on the flight this morning but others stayed in the UK because the Court of Appeal ruled they didn’t have access to legal advice. Ministers say they’ll appeal.”

Again, is the BBC just a government mouthpiece now?!

Naturally, it is more than possible to write this news item in a completely different way such as:

“17 people were deported from Heathrow airport to Jamaica this morning. Many of them have lived in Britain most of their lives. This happened after the Court of Appeal ruled that people must not be deported if they were held in detention without access to legal advice in the days since last Tuesday when they were first informed they were going to be deported.”

The news item could also have quoted this as per a BBC online report:

Speaking yesterday before news of today’s deportations, “Toufique Hossain, director of public law at Duncan Lewis – which is representing some of those scheduled to be deported – said: “Yet again it takes judicial intervention to make the Home Office take basic, humane and fair steps to allow people to enjoy their constitutional right to access justice.”

Naturally, the Prime Minister’s spokesman who was reported by the BBC online as saying that the convictions of those involved included ’14 drug offences’ failed to mention that former Education and Justice Minister Michael Gove has admitted taking cocaine on several occasions and the Prime Minister has admitted smoking cannabis and snorting cocaine!

Despite the fact that it has been reported that the new Director General of the BBC might be Elisabeth Murdoch, surely the BBC hasn’t descended into full Fox Propaganda Channel mode just yet?!

Tom Lane

To report this post you need to login first.
Previous articlePlease look out for Patrick
Next articleMultiple crimes took place during the referendum and they took place on Facebook
Dorset Eye
Dorset Eye is an independent not for profit news website built to empower all people to have a voice. To be sustainable Dorset Eye needs your support. Please help us to deliver independent citizen news... by clicking the link below and contributing. Your support means everything for the future of Dorset Eye. Thank you.