Gaunty versus Ofcom
Padraig Reidy: the controversial "shock jock" Jon Gaunt has won the right to a judicial review of the broadcasting regulator's decision
28 Jan 10

Jon Gaunt, host of the SunTalk online radio show, is not a man to shy away from controversy. The scourge of the “liberal nutters” of the Guardian and the Equlity and Human Rights Commission has turned to the courts to defend his human right to free expression.

Gaunt was censured by Ofcom after describing a guest on his previous show on TalkSport (who proposed banning smokers from adopting) as a “health Nazi”.

Supporting him are the liberal nutters of Liberty. Corrina Ferguson explains why over at Liberty Central:

Much as he once called [Liberty Director] Shami Chakrabarti a danger to this country, these verbal barbs pulled no punches and caused enough offence that members of the public were moved to complain.

It’s what happened next that Liberty takes issue with: Gaunt lost his job and the regulator upheld the complaints in full, thereby vindicating TalkSport’s decision to sack him. We say this is wrong and that free speech protections enshrined in the Human Rights Act must be held to apply.

There are of course limits on free speech and it would be nonsensical to protect absolutely one person’s right to speak freely when this would have a grave impact on the rights of others – incitement to murder being an obvious example.

But there is no right not to be offended.

Quite. Gaunt should be supported.

By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.