The journalist and leading climate change sceptic Christopher Monckton (Viscount Monckton of Brenchley) has failed in an attempt to obtain an injunction to restrain the broadcast of a BBC Four Programme “Meet the Climate Sceptics“. His application was first listed in the “Interim Applications Court” on 27 January 2011. It was then relisted for a full hearing on 31 January 2011 before Mr Justice Tugendhat.
Lord Monckton applied for an injunction to restrain the broadcast of the programme until it included his “reply”. He complained that he had been “unreasonably treated and misled” and complained of breach of a contract which he entered into with the production company, Fresh One Productions Ltd, in October 2010. The programme filmed Lord Monckton over the past year as he travelled across Australia and the United States challenging the proposition that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes climate change and global warming and was critical of his views. He sought the inclusion of his reply of 500 words or three minutes.
Desmond Browne QC, for the BBC, the production company and the film maker Rupert Murray, said that changes had been made to the film in the light of Lord Monckton’s concerns about accuracy and bias. He argued that the contract provided for absolute editorial control by the production company and the BBC. He also argued that although it was “dressed up” as a claim in contract, the real complaint was one of defamation.
Mr Justice Tugendhat refused the application on the basis that the agreement on which Lord Monckton relied lacked the clarity and the “balance of justice” favoured its refusal. There is no judgment presently available.
Although, in principle, an injunction could be granted to restrain a broadcast which was in breach of a contract to include content from a particular person, such a contract would have to be in very clear terms. Two other potential “interviewees” on the programme – Anthony Watts and James Delingpole – have commented on the documents that they were asked to sign. It appears that, understandably, the programme makers were not not prepared to give rights of approval or reply to interviewees and, in these circumstances, it is not surprising that the injunction application failed.