BBC ruling highlights abuse against Jeremy Vine from One Chiswick

Presenter gives his reaction to the ruling

The finding by the BBC’s Complaints Unit that Jeremy Vine breached BBC rules on impartiality by expressing his opinion on a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) in Chiswick has highlighted the abuse he has received repeatedly from members of the One Chiswick Facebook group.

Commenting on the ruling, Jeremy Vine said:

‘I’m grateful for the impartiality ruling by the Editorial Complaints Unit of the BBC. Most importantly, the ruling identifies the complainant as the person who “superintends” a West London Facebook page which has spent years targeting named cyclists, like me, with abuse.

“By accident or design, the complainant’s role in the personal vilification of cyclists in my area – “wishing me harm” – has been exposed by the BBC ruling, which goes on to confirm that the abuse was all one way, and I never responded in kind.”

Margie Frew, one of the moderators of the Facebook group, complained to the BBC that Tweets by Vine represented “a campaign of abuse” against a legitimate local campaigning group.

The BBC did not uphold this part of her complaint. The Complaints Unit response said:

‘Mr Vine had primarily been responding to posts from a Facebook group superintended by the complainant, which had been drawn to his attention by member of the group, wishing him harm and describing him in opprobrious terms.

‘In the ECU’s view Mr Vine was entitled to object to such personal abuse and, as he did so in terms which were not themselves abusive, his tweets were consistent with the relevant BBC Guidance in that respect.’

Vine has published on Twitter a selection of the personal abuse he has received: ‘What an utter c–t’… ‘Should have pushed him off. What a cock’ … ‘Maybe we could have a new sport – cyclist josting.’

Abuse continues

The complaint against Jeremy Vine was made last year but the comments continue.

YouTuber Alex Belfield was found guilty of stalking Jeremy Vine and three others in August. The court heard Jeremy had received 5,000 to 10,000 hateful Tweets after Belfield’s comments and that his stalking had not only affected the presenter but also his family.

During the trial Maggie Dodge, who posts as @mortonpeas and comments regularly on One Chiswick, posted in support of Alex Belfield: ‘Here’s hoping you win this. You’ll do us all a favour.’

David Giles, another frequent contributor, posted: ‘Anyone who dislikes Jeremy Vine is welcome to donate to OneChiswick.’

Jeremy Vine is often seen around Chiswick on his bike – a normal bike – but also enjoys riding a pennyfathing. When he fell off it in February and was knocked unconscious, Claire Morton wrote:

‘Amazing news. Self-appointed entitled cyclist fanatic falls off bike. Couldn’t happen to a nastier person.

‘Never mind Jeremy, if you are permanently brain damaged and suffer irreversible physical damage from this episode (not apparently the case) that won’t be any excuse in your book for not cycling everywhere. Karma.’

Image above: Jeremy Vine on his pennyfarthing

Jeremy Vine asked One Chiswick to ‘tone down the constant abuse’

Government figures from the Department of Transport show that on average two pedal cyclists died and 83 were seriously injured (adjusted) per week in reported road casualties over the period 2015 to 2020.

A van driver Tweeting as Stokesie80 posted in response to a Twitter thread by Jeremy Vine about One Chiswick:

‘I clip 3 or 4 cyclists a month in my van. Yesterday I clipped one into a verge in the countryside. I find it extremely relaxing afterwards.’

Vine wrote: ‘This Tweet shows how the abuse on the site can permission actual violence on the roads’.

He says he has asked OneChiswick to tone down their rhetoric.

As mentioned, the site is superintended by @Margiefrew. When I asked a mutual friend to reach out to her and discreetly ask if she could tone down the constant abuse on the ‘One Chiswick’ Facebook page, I was given the message: “Margie says she doesn’t do secret squirrel.”’

The role of a moderator on Facebook is to police its content. The moderator has power to approve or deny membership requests and posts in the group, to remove posts and comments on posts, and to remove and block people from the group.

Facebook’s published line on hate speech is:

‘We aim to prevent potential offline harm that may be related to content on Facebook. While we understand that people commonly express disdain or disagreement by threatening or calling for violence in non-serious ways, we remove language that incites or facilitates serious violence.

‘We remove content, disable accounts and work with law enforcement when we believe that there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety. ‘We also try to consider the language and context in order to distinguish casual statements from content that constitutes a credible threat to public or personal safety.

‘In determining whether a threat is credible, we may also consider additional information such as a person’s public visibility and the risks to their physical safety.’

Image above: Cycle lane in Chiswick High Rd

‘I will keep talking about my local cycle lane’ – Vine

Jeremy Vine campaigns for cycle safety. He does it by filming examples of what he considers to be bad driving on his way to work and making them into video stories in his social media. The way he exposes the behaviour of drivers divides opinion. Fellow Chiswick cyclist Nigel Walley posted this after the BBC’s impartiality ruling was published:

‘He really is the worst advocate for cycling. Sneering and confrontational, he does more damage to the cause of cycling than anyone I know.’

The BBC’s guidelines say what staff publish in social media should meet the standards of what it broadcasts, to ‘avoid unjustifiable offence’ and to be ‘sensitive to, and keep in touch with, generally accepted standards’.

In general terms the BBC guidelines say staff should ‘avoid bringing the BBC into disrepute’.

The BBC’s finding in this complaint was that Jeremy did not carry out “a campaign of abuse” against One Chiswick. He himself was not abusive and his Tweets about One Chiswick met BBC guidelines.

The part of Margie Frew’s complaint that was upheld was that the BBC found Jeremy Vine had breached its rules on impartiality by expressing his view on an LTN.

The BBC’s Complaints Unit said his Twitter activity ‘appeared to endorse one viewpoint on that topic and controvert another’ which, they said was ‘inconsistent with the BBC’s editorial standards’ since he is a journalist who works in factual programming.

In response to the ruling, Vine wrote:

‘The Judgement is about comments I have made about LTNs. I understand that I am still allowed to praise cycle lanes, which are different. I can certainly praise the cycle lane which runs down the end of my street.

‘I’m happy to accept that I should not praise LTNs that I haven’t used myself. This is helpful guidance for me.’

We have asked One Chiswick for a comment.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: BBC finds Jeremy Vine broke its impartiality rules after complaint from Chiswick resident

See also: Alex Belfield found guilty of stalking Jeremy Vine and three others

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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