‘Gratuitous’ Gaunt loses Ofcom challenge

The High Court has ruled that Ofcom did not breach Jon Gaunt’s freedom of speech when it censured him for calling a councillor a “Nazi” on live radio.

Gaunt was sacked by TalkSport before the media regulator’s decision, but he claimed the latter violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The court ruled that the broadcast was “highly offensive”, “gratuitous” and had “no factual content or justification”.

Gaunt, who had the backing of human rights group Liberty, was refused permission to appeal but said he would renew his application to the court of appeal.

In the interview with Redbridge councillor Michael Stark, Gaunt called his interviewee a “Nazi”, a “health Nazi” and an “ignorant pig” for wanting to ban smokers from becoming foster parents.

Ofcom pointed out that Gaunt was sacked by TalkSport before it made its ruling. The court recognised that Mr Stark would have expected a “rough ride” on the show but that Gaunt’s behaviour “became increasingly abusive”.

This was “well capable of offending the broadcast audience” and Ofcom’s decision was therefore justified.

Ofcom claimed the ruling stood up for “important principles of freedom of expression while at the same time protecting audiences from unjustified offensive and harmful material.” Gaunt is now the host of SunTalk.




“Before we all sink into a slough of digital dystopian despair, it might be worth considering this: is this a sign of the strength, not weakness, of revelatory journalism in the digital age?”

Charlie Beckett, director of POLIS at the London School of Economics, reacts to news that the UK government forced the Guardian into destroying hard drives that contained information leaked by Edward Snowden.

(Source: POLIS)


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