While Roger Harrabin filed a piece for his ‘Harrabin’s Notes’ on Population Overload yesterday and a piece on Monday about MPs saying the government must be more green and appoint the Cabinet Office (yes, them again) to ensure the environment is considered in the government’s decision-making processes, there is a notable absence of BBC News pieces from Harrbin concerning the ongoing furore over the Met Office’s private weather forecast that was supplied to the government’s Cabinet Office.
It seems curious that a story as big as a contradictory weather forecast for what turned out to be the coldest December since national records began in 1910, was covered in the high profile news vehicle that is the Radio Times, but not on the Science & Environment pages of BBC News online.
Surely news pieces should be reported on BBC news sites. But this hasn’t been the case. Harrabin’s focus appears to have been less on reporting news stories for his employer and more on issuing what look like PR pieces to assist the Met Office in reputation management. Harrabin has said more to other journalists and bloggers about his Radio Times piece than he has to users of BBC News services.
Not only does Harrabin appear engaged in putting out the Met Office’s side of the story, it now seems he has his sights set on deflecting attention from the Met Office’s contradictory weather forecast and putting the government under pressure instead. As we learned yesterday, the BBC has filed a Freedom of Information request with the government to secure details of the winter forecast the Met Office hopes will exonerate it from accusations of poor forecasting accuracy. And we saw that Harrabin is again at the centre of this story – but still there is still no news copy filed on the BBC Science & Environment pages about it.
So is the Met Office paying Harrabin for his services? Has he been seconded to Exeter, or given a sabbatical? Or are licence fee payers simply cross-subsidising his activity to dig the Met Office out of a hole and fill column inches in the newspapers with pro-Met Office copy that carefully calls into question the government’s role in the matter? Perhaps we BBC licence fee payers can be excused for asking why, despite funding Harrabin’s hyperactivity and pivotal role in this story, the BBC is the one place not carrying any output on it. Perhaps we should also be asking if Harrabin’s apparently central role in this story has any link with the contract the BBC signed with the Met Office, buying weather forecasting services?
It seems reasonable for people to ask, given his role in this story and his outside activities has Harrabin now gone too far in turning his reporting role into one of advocacy for and involvement with selected entities who push the global warming narrative, and is he breaking the BBC’s code of conduct regarding bias and impartiality?