Via Iain Dale on Twitter I was alerted to an extraordinary post on the Archbishop Cranmer blog. I can't summarise the situation better than His Grace so if you want to know what I'm talking about nip over there and read The Freedom Association is ‘a posher version of the BNP’.
First, I have to declare an interest. I was never a close confidante of Norris McWhirter, co-founder of The Freedom Association, but we did work together, directly and indirectly, on various occasions and he was always very friendly and extremely supportive.
The first time we met was in the Eighties when I was analysing BBC current affairs programmes for, er, left-wing bias. I remember visiting him at The Freedom Association office off Oxford Street and again when the Association downsized to a smaller office south of the river.
In 1990 Norris wrote the foreword to a booklet entitled Broadcasting and Political Bias that featured an essay that was based on a speech I gave to Granada TV's 'Reporting the Nineties' conference in Manchester.
A decade later I'm pretty sure I interviewed him for Freedom Today, The Freedom Association magazine, when I was editor and he was still chairman of the Association.
Outside the Westminster village Norris was far better known for founding the Guinness Book of Records and presenting the BBC children's programme Record Breakers with our old friend Roy Castle. Despite Norris's fame he remained until his death in 2004 the nicest, most modest person you could wish to meet.
Appearances could be deceptive however because his self-effacing charm masked a steely determination never to submit to the unions, who very nearly destroyed Britain in the Seventies, or the IRA terrorists who murdered his twin brother Ross a short time after they launched the National Association for Freedom (later re-named The Freedom Association) in 1975.
The Freedom Association can fight its own battles so I won't bother to respond to comedian David Baddiel's claim on Five Live yesterday that the Association is "a very, very right-wing, kind of sub-BNP, slightly posher version of the BNP organisation".
I'm more interested in defending the reputation of McWhirter, six years deceased, who spent a large part of his life fighting totalitarianism and defending democracy. Ignoring this, presenter and comedian Alan Davies chose to ponder whether McWhirter was "a brown shirt with Mosley". With no-one in the studio to put him right this slur went completely unchallenged.
I'm sure Davies and Baddiel weren't being malicious. But that's not the point. In my view this is a classic example of the unthinking political bias that permeates the BBC at every level.
Fortunately Norris McWhirter has a lot of friends who won't rest until the BBC apologies for yet another deplorable lapse. Watch this space.
Last night I emailed an MP, a close friend of McWhirter's, who replied as follows:
"Please tell The Freedom Association that I shall be happy to send a letter to them in support of any formal complaint they make about any suggestion that Norris, who risked his life in the most successful anti-U boat task force during the Battle of the Atlantic, should be compared to the BNP scum."
I have suggested that those who were on the Members' Council of The Freedom Association when Norris was chairman should be invited to sign an open letter to the BBC denouncing Davies, Baddiel and Five Live for broadcasting such pejorative comments without a balancing opinion.
For the record, in 2001 members of the Council included:
Vice-Admiral Sir Louis Le Bailly KBE
Lord Blake FBA JP
Christopher Chope OBE MP
The Rt Hon the Lord Hamilton of Dalzell DL
Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE
Gerald Howarth MP
Lord Pearson of Rannoch
Laurence Robertson MP
and, er, John Bercow MP
Whatever happened to him?