In Brief

BBC admits wrongdoing in not challenging climate-change denier Lord Lawson

Listeners complain after Tory peer claims world temperatures haven’t risen in the last ten years

nigel-lawson-070513.jpg

The BBC has apologised for not challenging Lord Lawson after he claimed official figures show average world temperatures have “slightly declined” over the last decade. 

Lawson, an avid climate-change denier, told BBC Radio 4’s Today in August that world temperatures had not risen in the past ten years, even though the scientific community says the world has seen record-breaking temperatures for the last three years, the The Guardian reports. 

Listeners complained after interviewer Justin Webb failed to challenge the claim, which was also contradicted by the Met Office.

Today disregarded the initial complaints by saying the Tory peer's views were similar to those of the current US administration and it was important to offer space to “dissenting voices”.

However, the complaints unit ultimately ruled the show had breached “its guidelines on accuracy and impartiality”, the BBC says, and that while the corporation offers time for dissenting views, Lawson’s claims were contestable and should have been challenged.

“Even a sixth-former would be able to tell you that wasn't so,” said one of the original complaints, retired GP Tim Thornton.

“So the BBC interviewer, if they are talking about climate change, should have done a little bit of homework.”

Twitter users applauded the BBC for apologising, but urged it not to make the same mistakes again:

However, others were not satisfied:

The Global Warming Policy Forum, of which Lawson is a chair, acknowledged that the temperature data he referred to was “erroneous”.

This is not the first time an interview with Lawson has received complaints. In 2014, Today was judged to have “given undue weight to Lord Lawson’s views” on one episode and had “conveyed a misleading impression of the scientific evidence on the matter”.

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