The Shmooze

A Widow's Ongoing Quest To Expose BBC’s ‘Anti-Israel Bias’

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

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.

Paveley told the Telegraph, that she and her husband perceived many instances of impartial reporting on the part of the BBC, including by former Middle East correspondent Orla Guerin, whom the Israeli government accused of anti-Semitism. Another reporter cried on air in covering a dying Yasser Arafat’s departure from the West Bank in 2004. She also cited inaccuracies and an anti-Israel bias on the part of the current Middle East editor in two recent new reports.

The BBC is going to great lengths not to air its dirty laundry in public, claiming that by keeping it private, it can best work on improving the quality of its news reporting. Paveley, taking up the cause of her late husband, thinks the BBC can only clean up its Middle East reporting act by letting it all hang out.

The Supreme Court is hearing this case because it thinks it is could be precedent-setting. A court spokesman said, “This is an interesting case which the Justices have decided raises an issue of general public importance. It will effectively establish the test for what constitutes a document held for journalistic purposes.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Israel, BBC, Fiona Paveley, Anti-Semitism, Steven Sugar

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.