Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Shock-jock Jon Gaunt in 'free speech' High Court challenge to Ofcom backed by Liberty

The High Court is due to hear a judicial review application today, brought by outspoken SunTalk radio presenter Jon Gaunt, against Ofcom with the backing of Liberty.
Gaunt is claiming that Ofcom infringed his right to freedom of speech under Article 10 of the Human Rights Convention by upholding complaints against him under the Broadcasting Code.
Gaunt was sacked by his previous employer talkSPORT for calling a councillor "a health Nazi".
The case is ground breaking, as it is the first time that a known media personality has brought a direct legal challenge against Ofcom for stifling his rights to free speech during a live broadcast. The judge is expected to give an initial ruling, on the day.
Gaunt has instructed the leading media lawyers, Gavin Millar QC and Mark Henderson, and his solicitor, Martin Howe, recently won the Gurkha human rights cases alongside Joanna Lumley.
Liberty, the pressure group campaigning for human rights in the UK, has intervened in the case because of its wider importance to free speech.
Gaunt, who once described the Liberty director, Shami Chakrabarti, as “Britain’s Most Dangerous Woman”, is arguing that his fundamental right to free speech and to criticise a professional politician has been infringed by Ofcom’s adverse findings.
Gaunt said:“The right of every British citizen to speak his or her mind, free of the fear of sanction from faceless government-appointed bureaucrats is a right that we must all protect and preserve. It cannot be right that in this century, after generations of Britons gave their lives to preserve free speech, that a radio commentator is still not able to express his views about a professional politician without those words being subject to the approval and vetting of an unelected group of men and women in the Ofcom building.
"If I lose my case today, then it will be a sad day for our society. It means that no matter how poor our politicians are, they can expect Ofcom to protect them from the scrutiny and the words used by any radio or TV presenter.
"Ofcom overstepped its remit in my case, and infringed the free speech which I and every other British citizen has enjoyed since the time of Magna Carta. I do not intend to allow an unelected Quango like Ofcom to rob me of my right to free speech”.
Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, said: "Jon Gaunt’s job is fierce debate on the radio. Whilst he apologised for any offence, talkSPORT and Ofcom went completely over the top. People fought the real Nazis so that we could enjoy our freedoms, the Human Rights Act is there to protect us from the speech police”.

1 comment:

Gaunt: Self Interested said...

Funny, I never heard Gaunt criticising Ofcom or the UK government for enforcing a complete ban on political and issue advertising on radio and television (apart from certain party broadcasts).

Seems he is only self-interested and his interest in freedom is quite personal.