BBC Radio London provides a platform for conspiracy theories

h/t AH

The March 24th edition of the BBC Radio London late-night phone-in show ‘Duncan Barkes’ was hosted by stand-in presenter Chris Rogers.Radio London 24 3

Under the title “Terrorism and roadworks”, one topic put forward for discussion was the potential further arming of police in the UK in light of the terror attacks (interestingly, termed as such) in Brussels and Paris.

However, during the first hour of the show (available for a limited period of time here) listeners heard very little discussion of that topic. What they got to hear instead was the repeated promotion of bizarre conspiracy theories.

In relation to the Brussels attack two days previously, from around 22:17 ‘Steve in Streatham’ told listeners that:

“This is a terrorist false flag. Anyone who knows about false flags will know that these covert operations include Israel’s Mossad, the CIA and MI5 to blame other countries for their agenda in the Middle East and this is what’s going on time and time again. […] Those Zionists out there that are doing all this, they wanna blame certain sections of people to achieve their agenda of taking over the Middle East….”

Describing his guest’s views as “pretty contentious”, Rogers continued the conversation and even encouraged him to elaborate on his conspiracy theories so that listeners were exposed to the notion that:

“Obviously…there are terrorists about – I’m not denying they’re not terrorists [sic] – but a lot of the cases they train them up and they’re joining in with them – as sick as it might sound – they’re joining in with them, turning the gun on the terrorists at the last minute and getting away with it.”


“OK: let’s get this straight, right. America and Israel are the biggest terrorists in the world.”

Rogers interjected at that stage with a cautionary “steady on” – for which he later gave an interesting explanation. Following that caller, Rogers told listeners:

“So I do apologise if you found any of his views offensive or insulting. But he’s entitled to those views. We live in a free country and that’s what we’re fighting for, isn’t it?”

After having acknowledged that “there’s a lot of conspiracy theorists listening tonight”, at 36:26 Rogers introduced a caller named Ian who told him:

“I don’t think it’s any longer plausible for […] radio stations and TV stations to dismiss the role that the US and Israel have had to play.”

Rogers interrupted him, saying in relation to his previous conversation with ‘Steve’:

“I wasn’t dismissing that. I was dismissing the barmy conspiracy theories that President Bush blew up the Twin Towers in New York to create an excuse to go to Iraq. But I know what you’re saying…”

The conversation continues with ‘Ian’ repeating the claim that “the US and Israel are the biggest terrorist states in the world at the moment” and “just in the last three months Israel has killed 200 people”.

Failing to inform listeners that those “200 people” were for the most part terrorists caught in the act or violent rioters, Rogers did however say:

“That doesn’t make Israel a terrorist organization. That makes Israel a state that is protecting itself – they would argue – from terrorism.”

‘Ian’ was allowed to continue:

“Remember, they [the US] stole land they invaded and they kept the land. Israel’s done the same thing.”

“Just because the US and Israel claim that they’re doing it to protect themselves, that doesn’t make it right. You know Hitler had a claim. Mussolini had a claim. It doesn’t matter.”

Having told ‘Ian’ that he “made some really interesting points” Rogers went on to speak to ‘Michael from Fulham’ at 50:38 and in that segment he found it appropriate to interrupt his speaker as follows:

Michael: “There are actually verses in the Old Testament of the Bible – the Jewish Bible or the Christian Bible or the Torah – that are very, extremely violent. They are unbelievably violent. They….it was all about God’s wrath, you know…”

Rogers [interrupts]: “And the right to take Jerusalem by force as well.”

In the speech he made last summer about fighting extremism, the British prime minister spoke about “certain intolerant ideas which create a climate in which extremists can flourish”.

“And ideas also based on conspiracy: that Jews exercise malevolent power; or that Western powers, in concert with Israel, are deliberately humiliating Muslims, because they aim to destroy Islam. In this warped worldview, such conclusions are reached – that 9/11 was actually inspired by Mossad to provoke the invasion of Afghanistan; that British security services knew about 7/7, but didn’t do anything about it because they wanted to provoke an anti-Muslim backlash.”

As we see above, BBC Radio London defends its propagation of conspiracy theories on the airwaves of a station broadcast to over eight and a half million people by defining them as ‘free speech’. Whether or not the BBC would be equally sanguine about broadcasting conspiracy theories concerning other groups is debatable but obviously the ‘free speech’ clause was in this case used to excuse the broadcast of inadequately challenged conspiracy theories and antisemitic discourse. License fee payers funding that might well ask how that meets the BBC’s public purposes.

Related Articles:

Mainstreaming antisemitic discourse on BBC Radio London


BBC Radio London contact details


6 comments on “BBC Radio London provides a platform for conspiracy theories

  1. I (obviously) agree that the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory you’ve quoted shouldn’t have been broadcast.

    But two quick questions:

    1. Where has the BBC tried to defend this incident as protected free speech? I had a quick search online but couldn’t find any reference to that.

    2. What is your objection to Chris Rogers’ point that “there are actually verses in the Old Testament of the Bible – the Jewish Bible or the Christian Bible or the Torah – that are very, extremely violent”? It’s self-evidently true, and although you didn’t refer to the context of what ‘Michael from Fulham’ was saying at the time, it sounds like it could plausibly have been relevant.

    Looking forward to hearing back from you 🙂

    • 1. The presenter attempted to pre-empt complaints by using a fig leaf. During the show he said something to the effect of *if you’re offended by comments about israel then this is the free speech we’re fighting for*.

      2. He states that the torah encourages taking Jerusalem and also is full of child sacrifice (blood libel).

  2. The BBC have not and will not use the term “terrorist” in any context whatever when referring to the murderers and atrocity committers of ISIS. They are “militants” and “suspects” – even when, in the case of Brussels, they are claimed by ISIS. However, when it comes to Israel, who are anything but, they will allow the terms “terrorists” to describe Israeli defence forces. The UK is at war with ISIS and to their eternal shame, Radio London is aiding and abetting the enemy.

  3. I listened to his show and it overstepped the mark. There is a difference between free speech and thinly veiled racism that incites.

    What is scary is how anti Semitic tropes (such as controlling the media and causing wars) now substitute ‘Jewish’ for ‘zionist’ to avoid accusations of racism and have become so acceptable (and on a platform we all fund).

    Conspiracy theories usually involve leaving logic aside. In an uncertain world it makes people feel in control. Unfortunately these are ideologies which are not harmless and often invoke anti-Semitic ideas.

    In this case, the racist ranting really had no relevance to the subject of London police being further armed to prevent a terrorist attack.

    • Totally. If the caller had voiced anti-black rhetoric instead, would the radio host have allowed him to have continued for so long? citing freedom of speech? No, I imagine he’d have cut him off pretty damn quick. T

      The BBC and media don’t seem to recognise or even know what is anti-Semitic and they don’t appreciate the difference between inciting hate/racism vs freedom of speech.

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