Nazi jibe presenter Jon Gaunt loses court case

By Jennifer Lipman, July 13, 2010
Jon Gaunt

Jon Gaunt

The former TalkSport presenter, Jon Gaunt, has lost his legal battle with Ofcom over calling a councillor a Nazi on air.

The High Court found that the watchdog was justified in upholding complaints against the radio show host and that this "did not constitute a material interference to his freedom of expression".

Mr Gaunt was fired from TalkSport in 2008 after the media regulator found that he had breached the Ofcom code for addressing Michael Stark, a Redbridge councillor, as a "health Nazi" and an "ignorant pig".

Backed by human rights organisation Liberty, Mr Gaunt said the Ofcom decision breached Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and was an unlawful infringement of his freedom of expression.

His lawyer told the court that the word Nazi was "now a recognised slang word rather than an historical insult.

However Sir Anthony May and Mr Justice William Blair said Ofcom was in the right and dismissed his judicial review proceedings.

Judge Blair said that freedom of expression may not extend to “gratuitous offensive insult” nor to “repeated abusive shouting, which serves to express no real content."

He said the use of the word Nazi “was not, in the context, a description of Mr Stark's wider political or ideological position."

Sir Anthony said: "The abusive nature of the broadcast was gratuitous, having no factual content or justification.”

Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom, said he was pleased with the result.

He said Ofcom aimed to respect “the important principles of freedom of expression whilst at the same time protecting audiences from unjustified offensive and harmful material."

Mr Gaunt, who now presents internet radio show SunTalk, said he planned to challenge the ruling within a fortnight and if necessary would go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

He called the outcome “bonkers”.

Last updated: 2:33pm, July 13 2010