This post was first published as “A Widow’s Ongoing Quest To Expose BBC’s ‘Anti-Israel Bias'” on The Shmooze blog of the Forward.
Fiona Paveley is not letting her late husband Steven Sugar rest in peace, and she thinks that is exactly what he would have wanted her to do. In fact, she believes that he — and she — will ultimately rest easier if she does not give up the legal battle against the BBC that Sugar was waging while he was alive.
For six years, Sugar, an attorney, fought to have the BBC publish the contents of a 20,000-word internal report about its news coverage of the Middle East, which he was sure was full of information pointing to an anti-Israel bias within the organization.
Sugar died from cancer in January at the age of 61 after losing his bid to have the report disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act at the Informational Tribunal, High Court, and Court of Appeal levels. His wife is taking the case to the Supreme Court.
The BBC has spent more than $440,000 to keep the contents of the report, written in 2004 by BBC journalist Malcolm Balen at the request of the company’s news director, from going public. It fears that a decision against its position on this report could lead to a slippery slope of more demands for disclosures, and more cost to the BBC to fight such demands.
The BBC maintains that the report, which it claims was written for the journalistic purpose of internal critique and improvement, does not fall within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. Sugar — and now Paveley (a 48-year-old clinical psychologist) — believe that the BBC, a publically funded corporation, should be more transparent about its business.
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© 2011 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.