LBC presenter James O’Brien has come out on top following a two-year Ofcom tussle withThe Institute of Economic Affairs.
The IEA had complained to the media regulator that the radio station had made a series of inaccurate and unfair suggestions that the organisation is a professional lobby group of “questionable provenance, with dubious ideas and validity” staffed by people who are not proper experts on their topic.
The free-market thinktank particularly objected to O’Brien’s dismissive description of an IEA representative as “some Herbert”, provoking much hilarity on social media.
They also contested Peter Geoghegan’s suggestion that the IEA was “politically biased” during a discussion on the funding of thinktank.
One of the weirder bits in the Institute of Economic Affairs' failed Ofcom complaint against James O'Brien is the extent to which they get annoyed by one of their staff being referred to as "some Herbert". https://t.co/6CeMud2nah pic.twitter.com/M4LGtVkACG— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) August 9, 2021
The IEA, which was founded in 1955 to promote free market ideology and oppose government regulation, has repeatedly failed to reveal its funders.
During the negotiations over the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU it received substantial attention for its interventions, with IEA boss Mark Littlewood filmed by an undercover reporter as saying it was “in the Brexit influencing game” and offering to arrange meetings with ministers.
After a lengthy investigation, the media regulator Ofcom has now cleared LBC of any wrongdoing over the discussions on O’Brien’s shows, which took place in early 2019.
It also noted that O’Brien had indeed invited the organisation on air when he said: “I will be happy to offer a full right of reply to anybody who has just been mentioned. As long as they tell me who funds them.”
Polly Toynbee has now called for the BBC to ban the IEA until they reveal who funds them, while Lionel Barber called it a “victory for free speech”.
Bravo for LBC’s James O’Brien! He wins Ofcom battle with Institute of Economic Affairs. Now BBC should ban IEA until they reveal who finds this right wing lobby.— Polly Toynbee (@pollytoynbee) August 9, 2021
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