I Hope He Wins

Jon Gaunt is fighting the Ofcom decision that censured him and led to his dismissal.

A radio presenter who was sacked after calling a councillor a ”Nazi” and an ”ignorant pig” live on air has won permission to bring a High Court challenge over the media watchdog’s decision to uphold complaints against him.

Good. It’s about time someone stood up to the bullies who cannot handle robust criticism.

The case arises out of an interview by Gaunt with councillor Michael Stark about Redbridge Council’s decision to ban smokers from becoming foster parents.

Councillor Stark deserved all that he was called, frankly.

Mr Stark defended the decision on the grounds that the welfare of young children should be put ahead of the needs of foster families.

Ah, yes, never mind that they will become institutionalised, mustn’t let them breath that evil smoke, must we?

But Gaunt, who was in care as a child, accused his interviewee of being a ”Nazi”, an ”ignorant pig” and also a ”health Nazi”, arguing that children in care would be deprived of the chance of finding a foster home under the new policy.

Gaunt, having been through the process as a child has more understanding than Stark and his comments seem perfectly reasonable to me. Indeed, they appear to be pretty accurate.

Gaunt claims his fundamental right to free speech and to criticise a professional politician has been infringed by Ofcom’s findings.

Well, yes and no. Freedom of speech does not apply on private property and the radio station is not obliged to allow a free for all if it doesn’t want to, so actually, Gaunt’s freedom of speech wasn’t curtailed. There is nothing wrong with a broadcasting code in principle and nothing wrong in principle with it being enforced, or the station dismissing an employee who breaches it. I don’t think Gaunt will succeed because I don’t believe that his freedom of speech was actually infringed. That said, I’d be happy to see him win if for no other reason than it will upset the lemon suckers.


  1. There are two issues here: Ofcom’s right to set minimum standards for broadcasters and his employers right to set higher standards.

    He should win the first because that is effectively the state controlling free speech and calling people Nazi’s has been de rigeur on the left for some time to mean authoritarian, which is fair comment in this case. The ignorant pig is a bit intemperate but nothing more than a politician should expect and an apology might be in order, but nothing more.

    As you say, his employers have a right to set higher standards. As long as those standards are clearly published as part of his contract then he probably doesn’t have a leg to stand on. But that should be private contract law and not set by the State.
    .-= My last blog ..Excuse me for being cynical but…. =-.

  2. As TGS said above, I suspect this comes down to a contractual battle rather than a human rights challenge.

    If he’s not allowed to verbally abuse interviewees or grossly offend them then he is toast.

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