Jon Gaunt loses complaints appeal
Broadcaster Jon Gaunt, who called an interviewee a "Nazi" on air, has lost an appeal against a High Court ruling that media watchdog Ofcom was justified in upholding complaints against him.
Gaunt's contract was terminated by TalkSport in November 2008, 10 days after an exchange with councillor Michael Stark.
During a hearing last month, the Court of Appeal was told that Gaunt's live interview with Mr Stark about Redbridge Council's decision to ban smokers from becoming foster parents - for which he later apologised - drew 53 complaints from listeners.
Mr Stark said the welfare of children should outweigh the needs of foster families but Gaunt, who was himself in care, accused the councillor of being a "Nazi", a "health Nazi" and an "ignorant pig".
Last summer, Gaunt challenged Ofcom's June 2009 finding that the interview failed to comply with the broadcasting code but the High Court backed Ofcom. Three Court of Appeal judges rejected his appeal against the High Court's decision.
Giving the ruling of the court, the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, said: "Freedom of expression - that is, the right to say what one wants and how one wants, and to impart and to receive information and ideas - is a fundamental human right."
But he added: "However, like virtually all human rights, freedom of expression carries with it responsibilities which themselves reflect the power of words, whether spoken or written. Hence the need for some restrictions on freedom of expression..."
Ofcom's finding in relation to the Gaunt interview "was essentially based on the proposition that it caused significant and unnecessary offence".
Lord Neuberger said it was important to observe that the Broadcasting Code recognised that "offensive material or language will often be justifiable, but justifiability must be assessed by reference to the context".
He announced: "In summary, when one combines the extremely aggressive tone of the interview, the constant interruptions, the insults, the ranting, the consequent lack of any substantive content, and the time which the interview was allowed to run on, it seems to me clear that Ofcom was right to conclude that there had been a breach of... the Code."