Liberty support "shock jock" Jon Gaunt’s free speech challenge to Ofcom

27 January 2010

Today the High Court will hear a judicial review application brought by sacked “shock jock” Jon Gaunt against Ofcom. Gaunt is bringing the challenge after Ofcom upheld complaints against him under the broadcasting code.

Liberty, the human rights group, has intervened in the case because of its wider importance to free speech.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said:

“Jon Gaunt’s job is fierce debate on the radio. Whilst he apologised for any offence, TALKsport and Ofcom went completely over the top. People fought the real Nazis so that we could enjoy our freedoms; the Human Rights Act is there to protect us from the speech police”

Jon Gaunt was sacked from TALKsport on 19 November 2008, two weeks after he called a Redbridge Council representative a 'Nazi', a 'Health Nazi' and an 'ignorant pig' during an on-air discussion about the Council's ban on placing vulnerable children with foster parents who smoke.

Contact: Liberty’s press office on 0207 378 3656 or 0797 3 831 128

Notes to Editors

In November 2008, Redbridge Council announced a policy prohibiting smokers (even those who smoked outside the home) from fostering or adopting children. Councillor Michael Stark defended the policy and was invited onto Jon Gaunt’s talkSPORT radio show on 7 November 2008. As a former foster child himself, Gaunt expressed the view that it was more important for children to have a good parent than a non-smoking parent. In the heated debate that followed, Gaunt referred to Councillor Stark as a “health Nazi”, a “Nazi” and an “ignorant pig”. Gaunt offered an apology for the comments; however a few days later the management at talkSPORT sacked him.