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Wednesday 2 May 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Beeb Protects Delingpole

[Update at end of post]

It is not difficult to discern the dislike that James “Saviour of Western Civilisation” Delingpole has towards the BBC. From the piece he enthusiastically contributed to Mail Online about the non-existent “BBC abandons BC and AD” story, through his regular attacks on the Corporations’ coverage of climate change, to the abuse hurled at Paul Nurse over Science Under Attack, he is superbly consistent.

Del Boy fails to impress George Monbiot

But Del Boy also appears regularly on BBC TV and radio: he’s done The Big Questions recently, and also Any Questions? He’s even been let loose on Question Time, and his tête-a-têtes with George Monbiot are well known, although Del never seems to come off too well when put up against anyone who can differentiate one end of their subject from the other.

Put directly, Delingpole makes serious money out of the BBC, which might seem strange, given his explicit hostility to it. But exactly how much money, the Beeb will not tell, despite the existence of the Freedom of Information (FoI) act. Why so? Ah well. The Corporation refuses to divulge how much Del Boy is trousering at its expense – and ours – because it calls him part of “BBC Talent”.

You read that one correctly: although Delingpole is a freelance, and not under contract to the BBC, the Corporation still lumps him in with all its “names” in citing Part VI of Schedule I to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), meaning that information may be given only if it is held for “purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature”.

So that means Del Boy can slag off the BBC incessantly, while trousering what I estimate is tens of thousands of pounds a year in fees, travel and other expenses – all, ultimately, paid for by licence payers – and that the Corporation will cover his backside if anyone has the temerity to ask what is being done with their money. Nice work if you can get it.

[The FoI request, for those requiring this level of detail, is numbered RFI20120367, and was logged in response to an enquiry made on April 2. The response was made on April 30, so just about within the 20 working days specified. Meanwhile, Del Boy’s latest missive at Telegraph Blogs puts the boot in on the BBC once again]

[UPDATE 3 May 1200 hours: with exquisite precision, Delingpole has added the strong whiff of hypocrisy to his ability to hide behind the Beeb's FoI get-out: in his latest rantfest at Telegraph Blogs, he accuses the Australian National University of, er, hiding behind an FoI get-out, and then suggests that Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia may be doing the same.

So clearly FoI get-outs are a bad thing, except when they benefit Del Boy. And regular rant connoisseurs will not be disappointed in Del's latest, which contains the now customary Holocaust smear against the Guardian, and the superbly dishonest assertion that "I do my damnedist to stick to the truth". Yes Del, of course you do. It's the pictures that got small.

And finally, a mention for @DamoclesBDA, who suggested the FoI to the BBC in the first place. We do not always agree, but he's got Delingpole figured out]


Anonymous said...

As someone who appears every now and again as a BBC pundit, you are wildly over-estimating the amount of money he earns from the Beeb. "Tens of thousands of pounds" in appearance fees and expenses? Nothing like it.

Damocles said...

If you consider a single trip to Cardiff to do TBQ on a Sunday morning then the cost is:

Travel to
Homeopathic Massage, Colonic and other Spa Treatments
'Incidental' expenses
Travel to studio
Lunch and other 'green room' costs.
Travel Home

Plus an "appearance fee", I don't know about you but for myself such an appearance fee would have to be at least a grand for the inconvenience as much as anything.

All at the expense of the license fee payer.

Then of course he'll get paid by the Telegraph for writing about the trauma he's experienced at the hands of the wicked BBC.

Poor lamb.

Aren't you glad I suggested the FOI Request? You don't even credit me. All I got was a lousy h/t in a tweet. You're lucky I'm not a vengeful man, Tim.