Trustees' and/or Trust Unit staff behaviour
14 March 2017 at 15:51
To: Trust Editorial
Dear Ms Fairhead and Sir Roger,
Complaint: Trustees' and/or Trust Unit staff behaviour
I have had no response from the BBC Trust to my emails of 9
March. The emails concern an unanswered complaint from 2015 about
inaccuracy in an Editorial Standards Committee ruling.
Trustees misled in stating:
"In the following year, 2001, the UN published
a Road Map...It can be seen therefore that by changing the base line
for measuring the reduction of under-five child
mortality deathsto the year 1990, the target
in 2001 was a less demanding commitment than that made in 2000."
In reality it was not the "nations" who published the road
map; it was not only the child death target they proposed changing; there
was no "commitment" by member states to the 1990 baseline; and
even if there had been, nations
went on committing themselves to the 15-year targets set in the Millennium
Declaration and the food pledge from the 1996 World Food
The Trust Unit later applied the Expedited Complaints Procedure. However, at the time of the unanswered complaint in 2015 no such procedure was in force. The Trustees' decision of 19 October 2016 cited the procedure, which specifically applies to future complaints.
"The complainant should be notified in writing that the Expedited Complaints Procedure will be applied to their future complaints."
The Trust therefore appears to have a statutory duty to respond.
Since I am not aware of who is to blame for the failure, I cannot be
more specific in the allegation than to say there has been a failure to
The fact that Trustees failed to provide any evidence for their disputed
claim about a matter fundamental to key editorial complaints, or defend their
own reasoning, may undermine their decisions on related
I am aware that the Trust is to cease on 2 April. I propose
that the Trust do what it can and then pass the case to Ofcom.
In any case I request an answer to the complaint that the Trustees
Notes: The unanswered complaint of 9 October 2015 included a
document of evidence (attached).
The position appears even less favourable to the Trustees' statements
than I stated in the complaint.
Even in 2006 the US ambassador to the UN insisted world
leaders' 2005 summit had not endorsed the civil servants' MDG structure.
Contrary to the Trustees' message in their ruling, (and problematic
for BBC output over many years):
After the civil servants in 2001 proposed a 25-year period, member states instead again agreed 15 years.
"The General Assembly adopted resolution 56/192...on 21 December 2001. Reaffirming the Millennium Declaration goal of reducing by half, between 2000 and 2015, the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water..."
Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Governing Council of the UN Environmental Programme
Note by the Secretariat
30 January 2002
"The US has not officially endorsed the Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs) as outlined in the UN document "Road map towards the
implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration". It should be
noted that the MDGs have not yet been brought before any international forum
for formal endorsement of the International Development Goals (IDGs), the
subsequent endorsement of the IDGs at the 1998 G-8 Summit, and the signing of
the Millennium Declaration in September 2000. Though substantively similar, the
MDGs do not correspond exactly to the range of goals agreed in these other
The US does believe that indicators for measuring progress toward development goals should be distinguished from an official endorsement of principles by the international community. While potentially useful from an analytical perspective, the proposed indicators for measuring progress toward the MDGs should be separated from any future official endorsement of the MDGs themselves."
Letter to the Chairman of the Committee from USAID May 2002
House of Commons Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence
“We, the representatives of the peoples of the world...commit ourselves
to the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and to expedite the achievement of
the time-bound, socio-economic and environmental targets contained therein.”
Plan of Implementation:
"Develop programmes and initiatives to reduce, by 2015, mortality
rates for infants and children under 5 by two thirds, and maternal mortality
rates by three quarters, of the prevailing rate in 2000 and
reduce disparities between and within developed and developing countries as
quickly as possible"
"we agree to halve, by the year 2015, the proportion of people who
are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water (as outlined in the
Millennium Declaration) and the proportion of people who do not have access to
World Summit on Sustainable Development
4 September 2002
General Assembly Resolution 57/253:
...the Secretary-General will present a special BBC World Service lecture as part of the celebration of the seventieth anniversary of the British Broadcasting Corporation, and he will discuss...the goals enshrined in the Millennium Declaration."
10 December 2002
"In a direct appeal to the people of Iraq to be broadcast by the
BBC, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan ...
Delivering a lecture on the 70th anniversary of the British Broadcasting
Corporation's World Service, Mr. Annan spoke ...
On global problems, he stressed the importance of the targets
set in the Millennium Declaration adopted by world leaders at a UN
summit in 2000..."
In BBC address, Annan says Iraq must fully comply with disarmament obligations
10 December 2002
US still does not agree to the civil servants' MDG structure.
"The outcome [final summit] document clarifies
the term MDGs, which means goals in the Millennium Declaration,"
U.N. Document Clarifies Development Goals, State's Silverberg Says
"Subsequent to the adoption of the Millennium Declaration,
the U.N. Development Program and other U.N. agencies took those
goals and attempted to put them in quantifiable terms. Those
efforts at quantification were not endorsed by all member
governments, and specifically not by the United States.."
Senate Hearing 109-935
NOMINATION OF HON. JOHN R. BOLTON TO BE U.S. REPRESENTATIVE TO THE
July 27, 2006
2009: Nations reaffirm the more ambitious commitment of halving the 1996 number of hungry/malnourished by 2015:
“We, the Heads of State and Government, or our Representatives and the Representative of the European Community...decide to:...
Ensure...action to fully realize the target of Millennium Development Goal and the 1996 World Food Summit goal, namely to reduce respectively the proportion and the number of people who suffer from hunger and malnutrition by half by 2015.”
Summit on Food Security, Rome
16-18 November 2009
2012: Nations recommit to the agreements, which include the 1996 food target and the Millennium Declaration:
"We, the Heads of State and Government and
recommit to fully implement the internationally agreed commitments related to Africa's development needs, particularly those contained in the United Nations Millennium Declaration"
Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio de Janeiro
22 June 2012
"We, the Heads of State and Government and
heads of delegation...reaffirm our commitment to the Millennium
On 16 October 2015 at 17:58, Trust Editorial <TrustEditorial@bbc.co.uk> wrote:
Dear Mr Berkley
...You have also complained about the published
finding. We will revert to you in due course. But may I make it clear that a
decision by the Trustees is final and unless I am persuaded there is a factual
error I will not advise that it be changed.
Further to my email of this afternoon:
On 9 October 2015 at 16:36, Matt Berkley <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Dear Mr Ayre and Ms O'Brien,
Request for Trustees
to correct error in published ruling
Declaration, reaffirmed by the General Assembly in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008 and
2013, has a 2000 baseline.
for statements in the present account is at:
The Editorial Standards Committee of
the BBC Trust stated in a decision issued on 19 June 2015:
"In the following year, 2001, the UN
[clarification: the UN Secretary-General: the Trustees' words might be taken as meaning the nations themselves]
[clarification: "published proposals in"]
a Road Map...
It can be seen therefore that by changing the base line for measuring the reduction of under-five child mortality deaths
[correction: "by proposing a different baseline for child mortality, maternal mortality, hunger and the "dollara day" "]
to the year 1990, the target set
in 2001 was a less demanding commitment
[clarification: "than the commitment"]
made in 2000."
[correction: "made in 2000, on 21 December 2001, in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2013"].
Even if there had been a formal "commitment" by member states
to the MDGs in 2001, or even if there can be said to be such in any
year such as 2010, such a commitment is clearly outweighed by
the reaffirmation of the more demanding commitment, in 2013.
Since nations did not rescind or modify the commitments in the Declaration, the notion that there was any lesser commitment in a year subsequent to 2000 - or is now - appears redundant.
I refer to previous unanswered correspondence on this error - see below.
I have previously indicated my puzzlement at the Trust Unit
appearing to propose on 23 September a final decision on complaints never
assessed by the Executive.
I propose that unless
the Trust can find evidence to back up its claim, it inform
the Executive of the problem so that both reporting and complaints can be dealt
with by reference to reliable information.
From: Matt Berkley <email@example.com>
Date: 25 September 2015 at 11:27
Subject: Urgent. Request for immediate retraction
To: Trust Editorial <TrustEditorial@bbc.co.uk>,firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com
Dear Mr Towers, Ms O'Brien and Ms Buckle,....
On 15 September 2015 I wrote to Mr Towers, Ms
O'Brien and Mr Purnell ...
The same email explains a significant factual error
by the Trustees in their decision issued on 19 June.
The Trustees appear to have based their opinion
that an error was not duly inaccurate, on a false premiss that the UN "committed" to the easier MDG
targets in 2001.
The Trust Unit response ignores this.
It only takes 30 seconds to ask the UN librarians:
On 28 August 2015 at 15:41, Trust Editorial <TrustEditorial@bbc.co.uk> wrote:
...Please accept this as acknowledgement of receipt of
your three emails to the Trust, with attachments, received on 18 August 2015.
We will review the correspondence in the case and
reply more fully in due course.
"Dear Mr Towers and Ms O'Brien, ...
Perhaps it was not clear to members of the ESC that world leaders reaffirmed this pledge in 2005 and 2013, or that the consensus among Reuters, the Times of India, the Guardian, the Independent and the Economist in 2000 was that pledges other than on survival rates had a 2000 baseline."