Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, has ruled that former MP George Galloway’s show on TalkRadio has breached impartiality rules. The regulator received complaints for phone-in shows about antisemitism in the Labour Party on July 27th and August 6th 2018.
Mr Galloway’s phone-in focused on antisemitism in the Labour Party, portraying allegations of antisemitism as a smear against Jeremy Corbyn. Mr Galloway said on his show on 27th July that: “Jeremy Corbyn has this week been the victim of a crazed, unhinged assault by the agents of the powerful. A frenzied attack to destroy him for fear that he might win. The proximate method is the exploitation of deep-seated Jewish fear. Literally summoning up the demons of Nazism against Britain’s finest anti-fascist.” He added that “a pig that is the British media and political class that is frightening Jewish schoolgirls in London on a giant Goebbellian lie [referring to Josef Goebbels, the infamous Nazi propagandist] that Jeremy Corbyn not only hates Jews but that the existential future, the existence of Jewish life in Britain, is threatened by this mild-mannered geography teacher in his woolly jumper.”
During the course of his show Mr Galloway ridiculed and attacked those concerned over antisemitism within the Labour Party, branding someone taking the concerns of the Jewish community seriously as an “ignorant woman”.
Mr Galloway was found to have violated Rule 5.11 of the Broadcasting Code which mandates broadcasters to maintain due impartiality and Rule 5.12 requiring that significant views must be included and given due weight. Ofcom also ruled that Mr Galloway had breached the Broadcasting Code on an additional code over his coverage of the Salisbury poisoning case.
Following these three charges Ofcom will now be considering sanctions against TalkRadio.
A spokesperson for Ofcom said: “Our investigation found that these phone-in programmes breached our due impartiality rules. They failed to give due weight to a sufficiently wide range of views on allegations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party. We are minded to consider imposing a statutory sanction for these breaches. The Licensee now has an opportunity to make representations to us, which we’ll consider before proceeding further.”
Ofcom found that while it was legitimate to broadcast programmes in support of Jeremy Corbyn, principles of balance had to be maintained. They expressed concern that Mr Galloway continues to “express pride” in his broadcasts despite breaching impartiality rules. Sanctions may include a fine of up to £250,000, as Mr Galloway has been found to be in breach of the rules multiple times on the same station.
In response, Mr Galloway demanded that Ofcom itself be investigated for wasting public money for daring to deal with a complaint against him and his TalkRadio show. He described the investigation as an attempt “to silence the only presenter on British radio and television who is prepared to defend the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in the teeth of industrialised prejudice and legalised lying when it comes to Mr Corbyn about which Ofcom have precisely nothing to say” he finished by saying he was “proud of my performance on this particular radio show. The people who should be ashamed are Ofcom and its single complainant.”
Mr Galloway has form on the issue of Labour antisemitism. In an interview with Sky News earlier this month, Mr Galloway said that the Labour Party’s antisemitism crisis was part of a “Black Op” and that the media were telling a “Goebbellian lie” by reporting on it, referring to Josef Goebbels, the infamous Nazi propagandist. Presenter Niall Patterson swiftly responded: “We just mentioned Luciana Berger. Do you think it’s entirely appropriate to talk about Goebellian propaganda where we’ve got a Jewish Labour MP leaving because of antisemitism?” However Mr Galloway stood by his comment, retorting: “I don’t believe she’s leaving because of antisemitism. I believe you want people to believe that, and the Goebbels is you, and The Times and the other organs that are pumping out this foul slander against the Labour Party and knowing that it’s untrue.”
Mr Galloway, who blocked Campaign Against Antisemitism on Twitter after we highlighted an antisemitic tweet he had shared, has said that he is applying to rejoin the Labour Party after being expelled in 2003, but the Party told the Jewish News that it had received no such application.