The millions in EU funding the BBC tried to hide

Following on from our article about the “nobbling” of the BBC in he 1970s, our attention has been drawn to this article in the Spectator, which appeared last year. Although now firmly in the pro-EU camp, the BBC is not keen to let us know just how much money it receives from Brussels.

Miles Goslett writes:-

Over the last three years the BBC has secretly obtained millions of pounds in grants from the European Union. Licence fee payers might assume that the Corporation would have been compelled to disclose the source of this money in its annual reports, but they bear no trace of it specifically. In the latest set of accounts, for example, these funds are simply referred to as ‘other grant income’.

Instead of making an open declaration, the BBC’s successful lobbying for this money had to be prised out of it using a Freedom of Information (FoI) request lodged for The Spectator, proving that there was never any danger of the state broadcaster’s bosses volunteering it willingly.

The FoI response confirms that BBC staff applied for, and accepted, about £3 million of EU funds between April 2011 and November 2013, most of which has been spent on unspecified ‘research and development’ projects, with the remaining £1 million spent on programming.

Next to the £3.65 billion tax-free income that the BBC receives each year via the licence fee, £3 million is, admittedly, a mere speck of dust – just 0.8 per cent of its annual guaranteed revenue and, obviously, even less than that when spread over 36 months.

However, the size of these EU gifts is arguably irrelevant, even though they are indicative of the BBC’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for public money. What is undeniably true is that the BBC has acted with characteristic slyness by concealing that it ever requested, let alone received, this European cash, suggesting that it is uneasy about the public being aware of its financial arrangements.

With the European elections only three months away, {this article was written in February 2014} the timing of this disclosure is certainly unhelpful to the BBC, fuelling longstanding pro-EU bias concerns.

Rob Wilson MP, an aide to the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, says that he believes evidence of the BBC receiving any EU money leaves it open to attack because being on its payroll risks feeding the perception that is incapable of reporting objectively on European affairs. Mr Wilson also questions why the BBC needed to go ‘cap in hand’ to the EU for funds in the first place when its enviably secure financial position allows it to outgun commercial rivals in so many spheres.

He says: ‘The whole point of the licence fee is to protect the BBC’s political independence and impartiality by providing it with a source of funding that is outside the hands of governments and politicians. Thanks to this FoI response, we now learn that it has been going cap in hand to the EU for millions of pounds on the quiet over the last few years. Such outrageous flouting of the principles on which the BBC is based and funded will only promote cynicism about its political impartiality and lead to a loss of trust in the BBC’s independence.’

In the FoI response, the BBC refuses to name any of the ‘research and development’ projects or television programmes on which it spent the EU grant money.  This, apparently, is information that’s far too sensitive for mere licence payers to be told about.

All it says by way of explanation is that the funds come from two separate sources – the EU Framework Programme for Research and Development; and the European Regional Development Fund. It admits that during the financial year 2010/11 it accepted £956,000 from the first of these funds and that during the following financial year it was given a further £435,000 for the same purpose.

During the first half of the current financial year, between April and November 2013, it was awarded a third EU research and development grant worth £812,000.

More money – none of which is given without a formal application – is expected before April 2014 but the running total for these three tranches stands at £2.2 million.

A BBC spokesman says the money was used for ‘technology-based projects based on existing BBC R&D priorities and business needs’ but would elaborate no further.  The BBC’s response then reveals that it has also received EU grants for programme-making from the European Regional Development Fund.

Although it claims such funding is commonplace among Europe’s public service broadcasters, it has declined to provide a breakdown of the grants beyond insisting that none of the money was spent on news programmes. A helpful BBC insider has worked out that the total amount of EU money spent on programmes over the last three years is likely to have been £1 million.

However, with a straight face, the BBC does explain in its response that Channel 4 has in the past received funding from the same source, and that it used its EU prize money to make the 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire.

When the BBC is prepared to use an FoI response to state how a rival organisation spent its EU booty, but refuses to explain how it spent its own, its standards of transparency are surely broken.

Eurosceptic Labour MP Kate Hoey, now part of an unofficial coalition of politicians overseeing the privately-funded organisation Newswatch, which monitors the BBC for EU bias at a cost of £60,000 per year, says the FoI disclosure is ‘shocking’. She says:

‘I have grave concerns about the bias of the BBC when it comes to EU matters. I find the whole thing shocking. The lack of transparency is unjustified. Why does it seem so worried about people knowing where it gets its money? What has the BBC got to hide other than knowing that many of us don’t trust them on EU matters and the need for a referendum on Britain’s EU membership?’

Ms Hoey adds that she has concerns that the BBC ‘very rarely’ reports Labour MPs’ views on Europe. She says:

‘Even Today in Parliament [on Radio 4] always tries to convey Tory splits on Europe, and this doesn’t help the perception of an EU bias. There are Labour MPs with strong views on Europe as well. It doesn’t help that the BBC very rarely reports these views.’

The evidence contained in this FoI response is the latest in a series of examples shining some light on the BBC’s relationship with the EU.

The dangers of Corpus Juris

This letter was sent to the Daily Telegraph on 14th October by Christopher Gill, President of The Freedom Association.

Sir,

Lord Bamford (Daily Telegraph 14th October) is right to draw attention to the ‘price we all pay for our EU membership’ but there is yet another price that we all ignore at our peril.

Remaining within the EU means that ultimately we will find ourselves obliged to adopt the EU’s corpus juris in lieu of our own criminal justice system.

The existing European Arrest Warrant which permits arrest without the necessity to produce evidence of an offence having actually been committed is but a foretaste of what is to follow.

Under corpus juris there would be no law of habeas corpus, no presumption of innocence, no right to trial by jury, no protection against double jeopardy etc. etc.

In short, the loss of all the defences and protections against State inspired coercion that British subjects have enjoyed since time immemorial is a yet another not inconsequential price we would also have to pay.

Yours sincerely,

Christopher Gil

Anti-Democratic and Second Class

This letter from our Chairman, Edward Spalton, was sent to the Derby Telegraph on 14th October 2015

Sir,

From the beginning, the EU project was anti democratic. Dr Hallstein, the first President of the European Commission (1958-1967), asserted that the unelected Commission was “empowered to take all measures necessary…on its own authority without having to rely on special and specific approval by the Council of Ministers” (now the European Council).

More recently the EU Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, gave the brush off to a petition by War on Want with over 2 million signatures against the highly secretive negotiations for TTIP, the EU/USA trade agreement. She told them that she does not take her mandate “from the European people” . As John Hilary of War on Want said “In reality, as a new report from War on Want has just revealed, Malmström receives her orders directly from the corporate lobbyists that swarm around Brussels”.

Although Britain pays a first class membership subscription, second only to Germany, we remain a second class member without influence. This was demonstrated when Mr. Cameron opposed the appointment of Mr Juncker as President of the EU Commission without success. Nobody took any notice of him. Mr Cameron is there to pay in our money and do as he is told.

Mr. Juncker has the usual EU view of referendums.“If it is a yes we will say “on we go” and if it’s a no we will say “we continue””. That is the rule which will apply as long as Britain remains an EU member under any terms.

For three years now the EU authorities have been preparing for a new treaty after the British referendum. Essentially it will allow the countries of the Eurozone to merge into a single economic government with a permanent majority of votes. Mr. Cameron is waiting to hear what sort of “associate membership” they will offer him. Our second class status will be institutional and permanent.

When they tell him, he will come and tell us of the wonderful deal he has made. But, of course, it won’t have happened before our referendum .So, if people are persuaded to vote to remain in the EU, the eventual outcome will be out of Mr Cameron’s or Britain’s control. It will be a blank cheque for a future government to make us pay. The EU does not have a good record in keeping its word in such cases, as British politicians have learned over the years – or maybe they haven’t.

Yours faithfully

Edward Spalton

Nothing is rosy in the “Remain in the EU” camp

Talks of a split in the “Leave” camp following the launch of two competing pro-withdrawal organisations, leave.eu and vote.leave, in recent weeks is not exactly the sort of news those of us supporting independence from Brussels want to see splashed all over the media. Of course, there is a long way to go and many alliances will be made before the official “Leave” campaign receives its imprimatur from the Electoral Commission.

On Monday 12th, however, it was the turn of the “Remain” campaign in the spotlight and it wasn’t a particularly impressive show. The main speaker at the launch of Britain Stronger in Europe was Sir Stuart Rose, the former Chairman of Marks & Spencer. Being a businessman, he talked much about trade – the world’s largest free trade area, the significant volume of exports to the EU and so on. We were told that “a range of experts” linked three million jobs to our trade with the EU. Hang on, haven’t we heard this canard before?

This is a defence not of EU membership but of the Single Market which, of course, we would still have access to if we replaced our EU membership with membership of the single market. Flexcit proposes that through EEA and EFTA, the European Free Trade Association, we would still have access to the Single Market but would not be subject to the European Court of Justice or to the EU anti-competitive tariff walls. We could negotiate our own trade arrangements and would not be compelled to put every piece of EU legislation onto our statute books – a real win/win situation. For the umpteenth time, there would be no job losses. Jobs would increase as  our exports outside the EU accelerated beyond the current 63% of our total exports.

A pre-released version of the speech contained several references to supporters of withdrawal as “Quitters”, but for some reason, Mr Rose did not actually use the term in the speech. He also stated that Britain’s EU membership was worth “around £480 million a year” to each British household. A few hours earlier, he had said £450 per year. Confusion worse confounded! The real cash direct cost paid by the UK will be £13.5 billion+ (Over £400 per second.)

Furthermore, what’s wrong with quitting something in favour of something better? Did anyone deride AFC Bournemouth, Norwich City and Watford as “quitters” when they gained promotion from the Championship to the Premier League? Let’s face it, even by Rose’s admission, the EU is not the Premier League. He said lots of good things about our country and there were Union Jacks all over the pace at the official launch, but by contrast, he admitted that the EU was deficient – in need of reform. That has, however, been steadfastly been refused for over years. Indeed, the EU just grabs more and more power away from the member states. Lisbon was the last straw.

What is particularly sinister about Mr Rose’s decision to spearhead the campaign is that, until recently, he appeared to be somewhat less enthusiastic about the EU. A few months ago, he said it was nonsense to suggest businesses would quit Britain if it was not in the EU. Today, however, he played the fear card, talking of withdrawal as a “leap into the unknown”. What is unknown about functioning as a sovereign independent state once again? We did very well until 1973 and the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan are still working very well without being part of a supra-national empire. Did Singapore take “a leap into the unknown” when it was expelled from the Malaysian Federation in 1965? Perhaps, but it has never looked back – its citizens enjoy greater prosperity and freedom than their Malaysian counterparts.

The European project, an attempt to weld a group of very diverse nations into a single political entity, is is the leap into the unknown – and one which has already caused immense suffering in countries like Greece Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland.

The other speakers weren’t particularly impressive either. Baroness Brady, a Tory peer and successful businesswoman said that, “we cannot cope on our own in a very tough market.” What an unpatriotic, negative loser! We are the sixth largest economy in the world. The idea that we need those kindly Brussels bureaucrats to hold our hand in this big, frightening world because we are so incapable on our own is, frankly, risible.

Of course, for big businessmen like Sir Stuart Rose, who have benefitted from the pool of cheap EU labour, the EU has been a good thing. The army of lobbyists in Brussels have done much to oil the wheels of the EU machinery in favour of the big multi-nationals, but it hasn’t done much for the rest of us. And herein lies the weakness of the “remain” message. Rose speaks nonsense. A patriot is someone who feels positive about their country, not a negative loser.

The “leave” camp has mnany excellent arguments for leaving. The CIB and other like-minded groups are the true, positive patriots, with an exciting vision for our country’s future.

Photo by NHS Confederation

Déja Vu

Peter Farrell, one of our supporters has kindly passed on a transcript of a programme broadcast on Radio 4 on Thursday 3rd February 2000, entitled “A Letter to the Times”. It is a shocking exposé of the underhand tactics used by a number of leading Europhiles in the run-up to our joining the EEC in 1973.

In December 1970, six months after Edward Heath’s unexpected election victory, an opinion poll showed that only 18% of the UK electorate supported him in his long-term dream of taking our country into the EEC. A massive 70% were opposed. While the decision on accession was to be taken by Parliament, it was apparent to Heath that he would never gain a parliamentary majority in the face of overwhelming public opposition. While some of the tactics he used are well-known, notably disguising the political project as an economic project and not mentioning loss of sovereignty, other underhand tricks employed at this time have only come out into the open more recently.

The programme revealed one particularly successful tactic: a barrage of letters to the Times during the Autumn of 1970 all apparently written by MPs who supported accession. In reality, these MPs only signed them; they were all produced by an ardently pro-European PA to the MP Sir Tufton Beamish.

But how were the rest of the population, who didn’t read the Times, to be converted? Equally clandestine methods were used. Those of us of a certain age will remember the name Jack de Manio, who presented the Today programme from 1958 until 1971 and who was twice voted British Radio Personality of the Year. He was also strongly Eurosceptic. Geoffrey Tucker, who was closely linked to Heath and who organised breakfasts for supporters of accession, lobbied for his removal. The following year, the programme was reorganised to feature two presenters. De Manio was not happy with the new arrangement and resigned. A coincidence? Whatever, by 1971, the BBC had been effectively “nobbled.” The managing director of BBC Radio, Ian Trethowan, was another friend of Edward Heath and was very willing to accede to the wishes of Geoffrey Tucker’s breakfast group to deal with any broadcasters perceived to be opposed to accession. Far from being an organ of impartiality, the BBC became the main propaganda vehicle used to shift public opinion in these crucial years.

However, the most disturbing revelation in this programme was the funding of the European Movement by the American CIA. Dr Richard Aldrich, a political historian, came across the archived documents of a CIA front organisation which poured millions of dollars into the UK. In typical CIA style, the audit trail had made it difficult to trace the source of the European Movement’s funding, but it seems that even the office cleaners ultimately were being paid by US intelligence!

Heath himself was interviewed in the documentary and he is heard expressing his regret that the job was never fully done. He described the subsequent rise of euroscepticism within the Conservative Party as “the most devastating blow of all.” However, in view of the deceit he encouraged, such a man deserves no sympathy whatsoever. The only person to come out at all well from the programme is Roy Hattersley. Although a pro-European, he was horrified by the tactics being used during this period. He attended one of Tucker’s breakfasts and was so appalled by what he heard that he never went again. In his opinion, the use of spin all those years ago, has prejudiced the argument ever since.

Telling words indeed and vital lessons for supporters of withdrawal as the referendum looms. Already, one has a sense of déja vu as one businessman after another is given air time on the BBC saying how disastrous it would be to leave the EU. Our opponents are not going to play fair, but we cannot allow them to get away with it this time. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Photo by TechnicalFault (formerly Coffee Lover)

UK level playing field to be unlevelled by plough of EU and Juncker’s troops

With two competing pro-withdrawal groups, leave.eu and vote.leave launching their campaigns in the last fortnight, it is easy to feel that the withdrawal movement, for all its fragmentation is building up a head of steam.

In reality, however, our opponents intend to do all they can to ensure we vote to stay within the EU. Two articles have been brought to our attention which illustrate the contempt which some members of our own government have for democracy and that the powers that be will ensure that the forthcoming referendum will be anything but a level playing field.

Firstly, the European Commission has admitted to a UKIP MEP that it has set up a task force with an initial staffing of nine officials to “coordinate” its activities for Britain’s remain/leave referendum. And it says the Eurocrats will oversee “information activities” in the run-up to the vote.

The revelations will heighten concerns that Brussels intends to launch an all-out propaganda offensive, financed by taxpayers’ money, in order to persuade the British public to stay in the EU.

Commission President Jean Claude Juncker told Eastern Region MEP Patrick O’Flynn in a written parliamentary answer: “The Commission has decided to create a Task Force for Strategic Issues related to the United Kingdom referendum. It will coordinate the Commission’s work on all strategic issues related to the UK ahead of the referendum. In a later phase it will oversee the Commission’s input into information activities in the run-up to the UK referendum. In addition to its Head, the Task Force will consist initially of six administrators and two assistants.”

Mr O’Flynn said: “I am grateful to President Juncker for being reasonably open about the Commisssion preparing to launch a propaganda offensive designed to keep Britain in the EU. The British public will no doubt already be familiar with what the Commission considers ‘information activities’. If Mr Juncker has in mind something similar to the material that is circulated to schools then I think propaganda would be a more accurate label.”

“While this unit is relatively modestly staffed by Brussels standards, I note that Mr Juncker says that nine is merely its ‘initial’ size and I will be looking closely to see if it is expanded and by how much in the months ahead. In my view the referendum should be a matter for the British people alone and European Union institutions would be well advised to keep out. However, if this attempt to skew the referendum battleground were to prove counter-productive it would come as no surprise. British voters do not like anything that smacks of interference with fair play.”

Meanwhile another UKIP MEP, Gerard Batten, has highlighted how our own government is acting hand-in-glove with the EU institutions to undermine national democracy.

Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference, Karen Bradley, the Home Office Minister boasted, “When I’ve sat down with my counterparts and ministers from European countries and talked about passenger name records it’s quite clear that at goverrment level in all these countries they also want passenger name records but they cannot get them through their national parliaments, so they say to us – please help us get it through at European level. One of our MEPs, Timothy Kirkhope, is pushing passenger name records through the European Parliament as we speak.”

Mr Batten responded. “It’s the transparent contempt for Parliamentary democracy that shines through. Now we have a Government Minister boasting how Conservative MEPs are doing other Governments’ bidding. It also shows why the establishment elite so love the EU. They can ignore the public and do whatever they want.”

A vote to leave the EU would therefore be final and impossible to contest, for it will have been achieved against overwhelming odds – not only against the ample resources of the European establishment but also against some unscrupulous and unsavoury members of our own political class.

With thanks to the UKIP head office and Gerard Batten MEP for permission to reproduce their articles. The originals may be viewed at http://www.ukip.org/juncker_admits_to_eu_referendum_taskforce and http://www.ukip.org/government_admits_it_uses_the_eu_to_subvert_democracy