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14th November
2008
  

When You Can't Call a Nazi a Nazi...

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Another victim of easily offended Britain

Jon Gaunt One of the country's most notoriously outspoken radio presenters has been suspended from his daily show after calling a London Tory councillor a Nazi on air.

Talksport host Jon Gaunt made the comment during his regular phone-in show, sparking listener complaints.

He was interviewing councillor Michael Stark, who was defending Redbridge Council's decision to ban smokers from becoming foster parents.

Gaunt apologised at the end of his show after also calling Stark an ignorant pig during the heated discussion. The radio host is known to have strong feelings about child welfare having spent his childhood in care.

Prior to the show, he wrote of his disgust about the council's decision in his column for The Sun newspaper, saying: The SS - that is social services by the way - think the risk from passive smoking is more dangerous to a child than them being left to rot in a children's home.

 

19th November
2008
  

Update: Talksport Nazis...

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Radio presenter Jon Gaunt sacked over Nazi jibe

Jon Gaunt Sacked radio presenter Jon Gaunt could sue TalkSport after getting the boot for calling Redbridge councillor Michael Stark a Nazi.

Gaunt was suspended after an on-air row with the cabinet member for children's services over the council's policy to ban smokers becoming foster parents.

He told the Recorder today: If I have to lose my job and go through a legal battle to be able to stand up for children in care, so be it. I have been there. I know the emotional trauma they are going through. It happened to me when I was in care.

The host apologised on air for calling Cllr Stark a Nazi and later a health Nazi and an ignorant pig.

He was dismissed and admits he is bemused by the decision. He said: I am particularly disappointed by their decision when I apologised for the incident to both the audience and the councillor.

Hundreds of fans have contacted Mr Gaunt in support of his reinstatement and his stance over the policy.

 

26th November
2008
  

Update: Jock Shocked...

Sacked radio presenter Jon Gaunt gets support from Liberty

Liberty logo Sacked “shock jock” Jon Gaunt today welcomed the support of human rights group Liberty in his legal battle against talkSport radio.

Gaunt is bringing the legal challenge after his contract as a freelance presenter with the station was terminated on 19 November, two weeks after he called a Redbridge Council representative a 'Nazi', a 'Health Nazi' and an 'ignorant pig' during an on-air discussion about the Council's ban on placing vulnerable children with foster parents who smoke. Gaunt admits his emotions ran high during the interview because as a child he spent two months in care following the sudden death of his mother.

In a letter sent to talkSport radio on behalf of Gaunt, Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti said:

…As someone who has been on the receiving end of Jon Gaunt's blunt polemic in print and on the radio, I believe that the airwaves of a great democracy would be the poorer for his absence. I urge you to reinstate Mr Gaunt's programme without delay and have offered him support in the unlikely and unfortunate event that recourse to the Human Rights Act proves necessary.

 

3rd January
2009
  

Update: TalkSport Nazis...

Sacked radio presenter Jon Gaunt has started legal action

Jon Gaunt Northamptonshire shock jock Jon Gaunt has begun legal action against TalkSport after the radio station sacked him.

The controversial radio presenter was given the boot in November for branding a guest a 'Nazi' live on air.

In a message on his personal website, Gaunt said his efforts to make peace with his former bosses had been ignored: I have tried to offer an olive branch to TalkSport chief executive Scott Taunton but he has declined my overtures, He claims he will not reinstate me despite the tens of thousands of e-mails that you have sent in. Therefore he has left me with no choice but to take legal action and that has now started.

Gaunt said: People keep asking me how many complaints there were about the interview with Councillor Stark and I can now tell you that according to Ofcom's own website there were only 16.

Gaunt also promised fans that he would be back on the radio soon.

 

13th May
2009
  

Update: TalkNazi...

Ofcom censure TalkSport over Jon Gaunt's Nazi jibes

Jon Gaunt Jon Gaunt
Talksport, 7 November 2008, 11:25


Jon Gaunt was a presenter on this speech-based station. In his programme, the presenter was well known for his combative and hard-hitting style with participants.

Ofcom received 53 complaints about an interview by Jon Gaunt conducted with a local councillor, Michael Stark. The interview concerned the policy of the London Borough of Redbridge that from 2010 any foster carers in the borough would be required to be non-smokers.

Complainants said they were offended by the interview and said it was unacceptable . They objected to the way in which Jon Gaunt interviewed the councillor as they believed Stark had been treated in an offensive and insulting manner culminating in him being called a Nazi by Jon Gaunt and an ignorant pig . Complainants stated that this was an unprovoked personal attack on the councillor and the interview was variously described as oppressive, intimidating and that the interviewer was shouting like a playground bully.

Talksport told Ofcom that it regretted what had happened, stating: The interview fell way below the acceptable broadcasting standards that Talksport expects and demands as a radio station. The station also said that it: totally accepts and regrets that the language [used by Jon Gaunt] was offensive and that the manner in which the interview was conducted was indefensible.

Talksport said that following discussions within senior management at Talksport, and UTV, who owns the station, it was decided that Jon Gaunt would be suspended and an internal investigation launched.

Ofcom considered Rule 2.1 which states that generally accepted standards must be applied to television and radio services and Rule 2.3 which says that material that may cause offence must be justified by the context.

Ofcom Decision; Breach of Rules 2.1 and 2.3

Ofcom recognises that the subject matter in this case may have been a particularly sensitive one for the presenter, given his own experience of being in care as a child. Further, Ofcom noted that Jon Gaunt later qualified his use of the word Nazi to some extent by subsequently referring to Michael Stark as a health Nazi . However, following that qualification, he reverted back to the original term Nazi . The presenter also referred to the interviewee as “ an ignorant pig ” and told him to shut up.

Ofcom noted the steps taken by Talksport before the programme to warn the presenter to exercise care during the interview, and the attempts by programming staff to control the situation during the interview. Further, Ofcom recognises the seriousness which the broadcaster attached to the incident, as shown by its prompt investigation into it and the two on-air apologies:

Rule 2.3 of the Code states that offensive material: may include…offensive language…humiliation, distress [and] violation of human dignity . Ofcom considered the language used by Jon Gaunt, and the manner in which he treated Michael Stark, had the potential to cause offence to many listeners by virtue of the language used and the manner in which Jon Gaunt treated his interviewee.

In this case, the offensive language used to describe Mr Stark, and what would be considered to be a persistently bullying and hectoring approach taken by Jon Gaunt towards his guest, exceeded the expectations of the audience of this programme, despite listeners being accustomed to a robust level of debate from this particular presenter. Even taking into account the context of this programme such as the nature of the service, the audience expectations and the editorial content, Ofcom did not consider that this was sufficient justification for the offensive material. The broadcaster therefore failed to comply with generally accepted standards in breach of Rules 2.1 and 2.3 of the Code.

 

21st November
2009
  

Update: Ofcom Busybodies...

Jon Gaunt has a knock at radio censorship

Jon Gaunt Shock jock Jon Gaunt has launched a blistering attack on the level of censorship in radio - claiming it will kill the medium and calling for Ofcom to be scrapped.

The Sun Radio presenter, who has been hauled over the coals by Ofcom five times and was famously fired from TalkSport for calling a counselor a Nazi, slammed the regulator as a bunch of busybodies and an unelected quango - adding, people don't need Ofcom when they have an off switch .

He also claimed that radio is self-censoring in the wake of Sachsgate, and that this fear of a scandal will eventually be the medium's undoing.

Do you know the worst thing about the Ross/Brand thing. It's censorship. And I don't mean censorship by other [organizations], I mean self-censorhsip, he said. That's what's going to kill radio.

Speaking at The Media Festival in Manchester, Gaunt claimed he has never been more heavily censored than when he worked at the BBC.

 

30th January
2010
  

Update: Nazis at Ofcom...

Jon Gaunt wins appeal against Ofcom over Nazi accusation

Jon GauntShock jock Jon Gaunt, who was sacked after calling a councillor a Nazi live on air, has won permission to bring a High Court challenge against the media watchdog, Ofcom.

Gaunt - known as Gaunty - lost his job with Talksport in November 2008 following the exchange, which involved a discussion about Redbridge Council's decision to ban smokers from becoming foster parents.

The presenter, who was in care as a child, was sacked after calling councillor Michael Stark a Nazi and an ignorant pig live on air, and prompted several complaints from listeners.

When Ofcom upheld the complaints under the broadcasting code of practice, Gaunt launched an appeal, claiming his fundamental right to free speech and to criticise a professional politician had been infringed.

At a hearing at the High Court, the presenter was granted permission to bring an appeal against Ofcom. He 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.

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.

Gaunt is being supported by the civil rights group Liberty, whose director, Shami Chakrabarti, he once labelled Britain's most dangerous woman.

 

15th June
2010
  

Update: Ofcom Nazis...

Jon Gaunt challenges Ofcom's censure over calling a council official a 'Nazi'

Old BaileyThe judicial review hearing of Ofcom's decision to uphold complaints against the radio talk show host Jon Gaunt has begun in the High Court. Liberty, the human rights group, has intervened in the case because of its wider importance to free speech.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: Too many people say – my speech is free but yours is more expensive. Love him or hate him, Jon Gaunt's case is a vital defence of everyone's political speech under Article 10 of the Human Rights Act. None of us should take this freedom for granted.

Jon Gaunt said: British people have fought tooth and nail over the centuries since Magna Carta to defend and protect the right to free speech. Our forefathers fought the Nazis in the 20th century to protect such rights. It would be painfully ironic if use of the word 'Nazi' were to defeat us when the real Nazis couldn't.

Martin Howe, Jon Gaunt's solicitor, said: A free press and media is an essential and fundamental ingredient of meaningful democracy. Broadcasters should be free to test our elected politicians on matters such as expenses, front-line cuts, terror policies, the prosecution of wars etc. In Jon Gaunt's case he should be free to challenge a controversial childcare policy. Presenters in political debate should not be looking over their shoulder waiting for the Ofcom gag to be slapped on. Tyranny triumphs when good men are silenced. Our democracy has more to fear from faceless bureaucrats thumbing their thesaurus than from the plain speaking polemic of Jon Gaunt.

Jon Gaunt was sacked from TALKsport on 19 November 2008, two weeks after he called a Redbridge Council representative a Nazi , a Health Nazi and an ignorant pig during an on-air discussion about the Council's ban on placing vulnerable children with foster parents who smoke.

 

18th June
2010
  

Update: Ofcom Nazis...

Jon Gaunt argues that 'nazi' is slang term for those imposing their views on others

greenaziNazi is now a recognised slang word rather than an historical insult, Jon Gaunt's lawyers told the high court today in the former TalkSport presenter's legal battle with media regulator Ofcom.

Gaunt is challenging, on freedom of speech grounds, Ofcom's decision to censure the station after he labelled a councillor a Nazi on air, an exchange which resulted in his sacking.

His lawyer, Gavin Millar QC, told the court that Ofcom had acted disproportionately by censuring TalkSport and impugning his client's professional reputation, in contravention of article 10 of the European convention on human rights.

He said that Gaunt had not used the word Nazi in an historical or ideological sense. There is now a recognised slang of the word Nazi [as] one who imposes their views on others.

Gaunt's legal team say that Ofcom's responsibility to enforce the broadcasting code, which commits it to upholding generally acceptable standards of behaviour, must be balanced against the right to free speech as enshrined in the convention.

Millar told the court that fundamental right could only be infringed when there is a pressing social need to do so.

He said that European law recognised that different standards apply to journalists carrying out their professional duties and to politicians who are being quizzed about policies they support or uphold. Journalists have a duty to disseminate information to the public and the public have a right to hear it, he added.

Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Jon Gaunt labelled a guest on his TalkSport show a Nazi because it was his intention to offend , the high court was told today. David Anderson QC, who is acting for Ofcom, said Gaunt wanted the right to bully and insult a guest on a radio. That is what he is saying he had a right to do .

Anderson said Gaunt's use of offensive language , including Nazi , health Nazi and ignorant pig was part of a bullying and hectoring approach which exceeded the expectations of the audience for his programme .

Anderson said: To call someone a Nazi is... slightly different to calling someone a health Nazi but in either case the intention was to offend .

The hearing has now ended and a ruling is expected by the end of next week.

 

16th July
2010
  

Comment: Nazi Censors Win...

High Court finds that Ofcom were right to censure Jon Gaunt over 'nazi' jibe

Old BaileyThe radio host, Jon Gaunt, who called a councillor a Nazi live on air has lost a legal bid to challenge Ofcom's decision to uphold complaints against him.

Ofcom received 53 complaints over Gaunt's interview with Redbridge councillor Michael Stark, which took place in November 2008. The pair had been debating the council's decision to ban smokers from fostering children when Gaunt called Stark a Nazi , a health Nazi and an ignorant pig .

Gaunt apologised on-air following the exchange, but Talksport sacked the presenter after its own investigation.

The TV censor Ofcom noted the apology, but in June 2009 upheld the complaint under the rules regarding offensive material.

Gaunt's lawyers argued that Ofcom infringed Gaunt's right to free speech under article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and won the right to take the case to judicial review.

But at London's High Court, Sir Anthony May and Mr Justice Blair dismissed the proceedings. May said Ofcom was justified in its conclusion: The broadcast was undoubtedly highly offensive to Mr Stark and was well capable of offending the broadcast audience. The essential point is that the offensive and abusive nature of the broadcast was gratuitous, having no factual content or justification.

Gaunt was refused permission to appeal although he can renew his application directly to the Court of Appeal. \

Human rights group Liberty, which intervened in the case because of its wider importance to free speech , said Gaunt and his legal team intended to challenge the ruling.

Comment: Court should consider the underpinning law rather than Ofcom's code

16th July 2010. Based on contribution from IanG on the Melon Farmers Forum

Sir Anthony appears to be quoting Ofcom's Code when offering his opinion. He's not applying or reading the law and assessing if Ofcom's Code does what Ofcom are required to do by law.

Section 319(2)(f) of the Comms Act 2003 requires Ofcom as part of their Standards Objectives to ensure generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of TV and radio services to provide adequate protection to members of the public from the inclusion in those services of offensive and harmful material .

Clearly, the host/presenter/guest is not responsible for what is broadcast by the licensee. The generally accepted standard means of preventing offensive and harmful material leaving a broadcaster's aerial during live transmissions is to employ a short delay such that an operator can bleep or silence any offensive material so that it is not included in their transmission and the the public are thus adequately protected from exposure to it...that is as per the requirements of section 319(2)(f) of the Comms Act and Ofcom's Standards Objectives as dictated by THE LAW.

As Ofcom's Code doesn't state what generally accepted standards are to be applied to adequately protect the public from inclusion of offensive and harmful material in programmes; and the Code fails to specify what is to be considered offensive and harmful material; and fining people after the fact or giving them a ticking off doesn't prevent the inclusion of such material then, IT IS ENTIRELY OFCOM'S FAULT for NOT ENSURING Talksport prevented the inclusion of Gaunt's comments in their broadcast.

Just to illustrate: If the Comms Act required Ofcom to ensure adequate protection against people being shot and then someone got shot, who could and should be held accountable?

Surely, Sir Anthony cannot believe the intent of Parliament was to allow Ofcom to prevent people expressing their thoughts and feelings on air? Such a notion is an absolute violation of Freedom Of Expression. Clearly, no matter how offensive 53 people found Gaunt's comments, his right to state his opinion in any terms he so chooses is sacrosanct - as is everyone's right to do the same.

Jon Gaunt needs to appeal on the grounds that Ofcom's Code doesn't do what is required by law and request or force a Judicial Review of Ofcom's pathetic excuse for a Code according to the letter of the law. The High Court is not there to enforce Ofcom's unenacted Code. They're there to uphold and enforce the LAW. 319(2)(F) certainly doesn't say Ofcom are supposed to hang around waiting for someone to complain about feeling offended and then fine the channel - but that's exactly the line they've chosen to adopt.

 

25th January
2011
  

Update: People's Court...

Jon Gaunt continues his legal battle to liken excessive political correctness to Nazism

Old BaileyThe radio presenter Jon Gaunt who called a councillor a Nazi live on air has won the right to appeal a High Court decision which branded his interview offensive and abusive.

Gaunt launched the appeal after an earlier judicial review failed to overturn a decision made by Ofcom that he had breached the broadcasting code.

The broadcast regulator upheld complaints against Gaunt after he called Redbridge councillor Michael Stark a Nazi and an ignorant pig during an interview on his TalkSport radio show in November, 2008. Gaunt, who was in care as a child, was angry as he felt that the chance of finding a foster home would be lost under the new policy.

Gaunt then sought a judicial review claiming the broadcast regulator unlawfully interfered with his freedom of expression. However, Sir Anthony May and Justice Blair dismissed his judicial review proceedings at London's High Court in July last year saying that: the essential point is that the offensive and abusive nature of the broadcast was gratuitous, having no factual content or justification.

Lord Justice Thomas, granting permission to appeal, said Gaunt should be entitled to argue whether the High Court had followed the correct principles.

 

12th May
2011
  

Update: At the People's Court...

Jon Gaunt gets his day in the Court of Appeal

Old BaileyRadio presenter Jon Gaunt has put his case to the Court of Appeal. He contended that his right to freedom of expression was violated by a decision to uphold complaints about him calling an interviewee a Nazi.

Gaunt, whose contract was terminated by TalkSport in November 2008, 10 days after the exchange with councillor Michael Stark, says media watchdog Ofcom's response was disproportionate .

His QC, Gavin Millar, told three judges headed by the Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger that context is everything when considering rights under Article 10 of the European Convention.

Last summer, Gaunt, supported by Liberty, challenged Ofcom's June 2009 finding that the interview failed to comply with the broadcasting code but the High Court backed Ofcom.

The judges have indicated they will give their decision at a later date.

 

17th June
2011
  

Update: The People's Court Judgement...

High Court upholds Ofcom's censure of Jon Gaunt's health nazi jibe

Old BaileyJon Gaunt has lost his appeal against a high court ruling that media watchdog Ofcom was justified in upholding complaints about a TalkSport interview in which he called a local councillor a Nazi .

Gaunt appealed after last year losing a high court freedom of expression challenge against Ofcom's ruling that the interview breached its broadcasting code. However, three court of appeal judges have now rejected his appeal against the high court's July 2010 decision.

Lord Neuberger said it was important to observe that the broadcasting code recognised that offensive material or language will often be justifiable, but justifiability must be assessed by reference to the context .

In summary, when one combines the extremely aggressive tone of the interview, the constant interruptions, the insults, the ranting, the consequent lack of any substantive content, and the time which the interview was allowed to run on, it seems to me clear that Ofcom was right to conclude that there had been a breach of ... the code .

It had been suggested that Ofcom attached too much weight and too much offensiveness to the Nazi , health Nazi and ignorant pig insults levied at Stark. But Neuberger said: In my view, however, Ofcom quite correctly took those insults into account, but only as a factor among others which, when taken together, rendered the interview in breach of ... the code.

An Ofcom spokesman said: The court of appeal agreed that the interview had an extremely aggressive tone combined with constant interruptions, was full of insults, ranting, and lacked any substantive content and that it was a breach of generally accepted standards.