Broadcaster loses ‘Nazi’ appeal

Broadcaster Jon Gaunt, who called an interviewee a “Nazi” on air, has lost an appeal against a High Court ruling that media regulator 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 his 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.

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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 yesterday rejected his appeal against the High Court’s decision. Giving the ruling, the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, said: “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....”