Tuesday, 4 September 2007

BC bias over coverage Patrick Mercer compared with coverage of Keith Vaz

Contrast the coverage of Patrick Mercer's agreement to work with Gordon Brown with Keith Vaz's joining the call for an EU referendum. Both stories are important and both have been covered by the BBC. The Patrick Mercer story has had much comment on the "back story" re his comments on racism (or lack of it) in the army that led to his demise from the shadow cabinet; fair or not, relevant or not - you decide. The Keith Vaz story has had no mention of why he fell from grace, the Hinduja passport affair and the subsequent investigation. Why the difference BBC?

To redress the balance, read about the Elizabeth Filkin's report on Keith Vaz and other inquires into his "activities" here, here are some extracts from the Wikipedia article - "In February 2000 the Parliamentary standards watchdog Elizabeth Filkin was requested to investigate allegations of undisclosed payments to Vaz from businessmen in his constituency.The following year... members of the opposition began to question what role Vaz may have played in helping the billionaire Indian Hinduja brothers - linked with a corruption probe in India - to secure UK passports. In March 2001, the Filkin report cleared Vaz of nine of the 28 allegations of various financial wrongdoings, but Elizabeth Filkin accused Mr Vaz of blocking her investigation into eighteen of the allegations. He was also censured for one allegation - that he failed to register two payments worth £4,500 in total from Sarosh Zaiwalla, a solicitor whom he recommended for a peerage several years later. Mrs Filkin announced in the same month a new inquiry which would focus on whether or not a company connected to Vaz received a donation from a charitable foundation run by the Hinduja brothers. The results of the inquiry were published in 2002 and it was concluded that Vaz had "committed serious breaches of the Code of Conduct and a contempt of the House" and it was recommended that he be suspended from the House of Commons for one month which gave him plenty of time to concentrate on his profitable sidelines. Keith Vaz was also a director of the company General Mediterranean Holdings' owned by the Anglo-Iraqi billionaire Nadhmi Auchi, who had in the past hired British politicians Lords Steel and Lamont as directors. Vaz resigned his post as director when he became Minister for Europe, but it was later discovered that he had remained in contact with Auchi and had made enquiries on his behalf over a French extradition warrant, Auchi even calling Vaz at home to ask the minister for advice."

You might also wonder why the BBC have paid so little attention to the way that Keith Vaz became a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee of which he is now chairman, the polite expression would be that the procedure to get him onto the committee was unorthodox. Just like the almost complete lack of coverage of the break in tradition that lead to Michael Martin becoming Speaker in 1997 rather than a Conservative MP, the BBC really cannot bear to investigate their beloved Labour party except over Iraq.

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