English Heritage, the BBC, Cornwall and democracy! An open letter sent to Cornwall's MPs

22 April, 2014

Dear Members of Parliament for Cornwall

The Cornwall Branch of the Celtic League has a growing number of members who live across Cornwall and indeed beyond - members who live in your constituencies.

We wrote letters to you all several weeks ago and posted to the House of Commons regarding 'English Heritage' who now decline to answer any communications from the grassroots campaigning organisation 'Save Penwith Moors' This is astonishing particularly bearing in mind the fact that 'English Heritage' are publicly funded. We have not received any response from any of you concerning that matter.

However, that issue to one side, we now have another publicly funded organisation, the BBC, who use legislation to sidestep a perfectly simple question. This legislation is certainly being used to obfuscate a request and it is our belief that although the BBC are compliant with the legislation, they are not acting within the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.

Our simple request made of the BBC was this:

“Referring to the broadcast of a programme entitled 'W1A' on BBC2 at 2200 Wednesday 19th March, 2014 this organisation is aware of reports in the newspapers in Cornwall wherein many in Cornwall felt a sense of upset at the programme. Understanding that the BBC logs complaints and communications in respect of its broadcasts, we write requesting to be informed how many complaints have been received and logged thus far regarding this programme”

As you will see from the response from the BBC whose letter is attached, they state:

'The information you have requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature.’ The BBC is therefore not obliged to provide this information to you and will not be doing so on this occasion. Part VI of Schedule 1 to FOIA provides that information held by the BBC and the other public service broadcasters is only covered by the Act if it is held for ‘purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature”. The BBC is not required to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities.'

As an organisation, we are aware that an increasing number of publicly funded bodies such as English Heritage and the BBC feel that they stand above democratic accountability but trust that you will agree that their actions are from from satisfactory in what is supposed to be a democratic society.

As with our earlier communication regarding English Heritage, we await your response over this latest issue regarding the BBC.

Yours faithfully

Cornwall Branch of the Celtic League

kernow@celticleague.net Celtic League main website is at http://www.celticleague.net/

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