Geoffrey Thorpe-Willett writes in with this:
Following the Gleick incident Richard Black of the BBC thinks there is a lack of transparency for the organisations involved. I agree, and so I also tried to see how transparent the BBC were.
I requested information on the number of flights taken by Richard Black, this is important as he is increasing CO² in the atmosphere. The BBC refused to give me the information stating an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act. Though they did give me the BBC policy concerning flights in Economy and Business.
I then requested information on the annual operating costs of the BBC News Environmental Unit, in particular :
- Travel Costs
- Office Space Costs
The response from the BBC Information unit was that this information was excluded from the FOI Act as it concerns journalism.
I then requested the contractual status of Richard Black with the BBC. Many correspondents at the BBC are not employees, they create companies so that they can avoid tax, some of them even creating a company in Ireland, a well known ploy used by many BBC journalists. The BBC refused to state what his employment position is stating an exemption under the FOI Act.
So the BBC are quite happy to demand transparency from private companies, but as a publicly funded company they habitually refuse to publish information transparently.
The smell of hypocrisy is overpowering.
For your reference the FOI request replies are (PDF) :
- For the flights RFI20120199 – final response
- For the Environment Unit Annual Costs RFI20120210 – final response
- For the employment status RFI20120205 – final response
I performed the same exercise in 2008 demanding the number of flights for Roger Harrabin, that time the BBC responded with the information:
So why not now ? Hmmmmmm, strange.
For those that wish to track Mr. Black’s publication record, there’s a website dedicated to it called Black’s Whitewash. – Anthony