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R (Traveller Movement) v Office of Communications [2015] EWHC (Admin) 406 (Admin)

DATE: 20 Feb 2015

This was a challenge to Ofcom’s decision not to uphold a complaint that Channel 4 had breached broadcasting standards in relation to the TV programmes My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and Thelma’s Gypsy Girls.

The principal ground of challenge was that Ofcom’s procedures for dealing with broadcasting standards complaints allowed the broadcaster an opportunity to view and comment on Ofcom’s draft findings (known as the ‘Preliminary View’) but did not allow the complainant the same opportunity.

Although he dismissed the claim on the facts, noting that Channel 4 had not taken up the opportunity given to it to comment on the Preliminary View, Ouseley J. held at para. 71 that “If the broadcaster had made representations on the merits of the Preliminary View, I can see that there might be a case that it would be unfair in certain circumstances not to give a complainant, perhaps a representative complainant, the opportunity to make some comment on the change I mind, and adjust the procedure to accommodate it”. This has potentially significant implications for Ofcom’s handling of complaints in future.

The Claimants are seeking permission to appeal.

Christopher Jacobs and Charles Banner acted for the Traveller Movement, instructed by David Enright of Howe & Co Solicitors.