Gaunt loses the “Nazi” battle
Former TalkSPORT presenter Jon Gaunt has lost his legal challenge of Ofcom’s decision to uphold complaints against him, under offensive material rules.
Gaunt called a councillor a “Nazi” on his live show in 2008 and was claiming that the regulator unlawfully interfered with his freedom of expression.
Ofcom received 53 complaints about the use of the word, which occurred during a discussion about the council’s decision to ban smokers from fostering children. Mr Gaunt also called Redbridge councillor Michael Stark a “health nazi” and an “ignorant pig”.
Despite an apology on-air later, TalkSPORT decided to fire the presenter and the regulator upheld the complaint under its rules on offensive materials.
Gaunt’s lawyers argued that Ofcom infringed the broadcasters right to free speech under article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and won the right to take the case to a judicial review back in January, but at the High Court Sir Anthony May and Mr Justice Blair dismissed the proceedings.
Sir Anthony said: "The broadcast was undoubtedly highly offensive to Mr Stark and was well capable of offending the broadcast audience … The essential point is that the offensive and abusive nature of the broadcast was gratuitous, having no factual content or justification."
Ofcom's chief executive Ed Richards, said: "We were perfectly happy for this case to be taken to court to review the way in which we interpret our statutory duties. We are very pleased that the High Court has recognised that we came to the right decision in this case. This is a thorough endorsement of our judgment in what was a difficult case."