A few weeks ago, Newsnight featured Peter Lilley MP. He was presented as an expert who'd written 'a report' on climate science. The report itself wasn't scrutinised at all, and nor were his credentials. Instead, he launched into a bizarre diatribe, a torrent of abuse which basically said all climate change science was lies (at the start and from 5.50):
Fair enough - some people believe this stuff. But what really annoyed me was Newsnight's failure to mention that Mr Lilley is the director of Teuthys Petroleum: an oil exploration company, and might be thought to have a vested interest in promoting fossil fuels and damning climate change science. So I fired off an email to Newsnight asking whether they knew this, whether they should routinely check for conflicts of interest, and if they did know, why they didn't mention it. No reply. So I went through the BBC Complaints procedure, which turns out to be run by Capita.
A few weeks later, I get a reply:
In order for us to look into your concerns, we would need a transmission date. If possible, please write back using the complaints webform.
Thanks again for contacting us.
www.bbc.co.uk/complaintsNB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided.
Which is bollocks. The complaints website consists of a series of drop-down boxes to be filled in. If you don't fill it in, you can't move to the next page and the next question. So they do have the date. Furthermore, I cannot believe that the combined forces of Capita and the BBC lack the resources to find out when a particular guest was on a particular edition. I'd assume they have a list. Failing that, how about checking Newsnight's website, or good old Google? But no: they mail me. And not, I notice, via an e-mail to which I can reply: that would be too simple. Instead, I have to go through the whole complaint again - 20+ questions (including the original one asking for the broadcast date) simply to provide them with information they a) already have and b) can easily find.
It feels, frankly, like a delaying tactic. Not just for me, but a way of fending off most people's complaints by making it as difficult as possible.