Sugar's widow fights on with BBC bias case

By Jessica Elgot, August 18, 2011

The widow of solicitor Steven Sugar, who spent six years in the courts to try to force the BBC to publish its report about anti-Israel bias, will represent him when the case is heard at the Supreme Court on November 23.

A full court hearing was set for February 2011 to decide whether the BBC should release the Balen Report, an internal assessment of its coverage of the Middle East. But Mr Sugar, 61, died of cancer in January.

Mr Sugar believed the report would reveal bias against Israel, but the BBC has so far spent £270,000 to prevent the report, by its senior editor Malcolm Balen, from being released, winning in the Information Tribunal, the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

It has relied on a clause in the Freedom of Information Act, which says information does not have to be shared if it is for "journalism, art or literature".

Steven Sugar's widow, Fiona Paveley, 48, a clinical psychologist, will see the case through. She said: "I don't feel as strongly by any means as Steven did about the issue itself. But I do feel very strongly that I had to be the one to carry it on. I never really had any doubt that I would. It's really important we put up our best fight. I would just love us to win, for his sake."

Mr Sugar had suggested pursuing the case to the European Court of Human Rights as his last legal option.

A Supreme Court spokesman said: "The case will effectively establish the test for what constitutes a document held for journalistic purposes."

Four of the five judges due to hear the case also ruled on the JFS school admissions case in 2009.

Last updated: 12:50pm, August 18 2011