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BBC Apologises to the Queen Over Abu Hamza Revelations, but Should They?

Posted on the 27 September 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost

The Queen: Did she speak out of turn on Abu Hamza? The Queen: Did she speak out of turn on Abu Hamza?

The background

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s stoic monarch, rarely expresses political opinions in public. Of course, that hasn’t stopped others from doing so for her: The BBC has apologized to Buckingham Palace after security correspondent Frank Gardner revealed that the Queen lobbied the Home Secretary to arrest Muslim cleric Abu Hamza.

Gardner, speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, said that the Queen was “pretty upset” that there was no way to arrest the radical anti-British cleric and imam of the Finsbury Park mosque. “She couldn’t understand why – surely there was some law that he had broken,” he said.

Gardner has penned an apology to the Queen whilst the BBC issued a statement of contrition that was, The Guardian noted, highly critical of Gardner. But commentators think the Queen was right to question the Hamza situation – so what’s the big deal?

Hamza, the one-eyed, hook-handed, pro-Al Qaeda cleric, was won a delay in his extradition from the UK to the US, where he’d face 100 years imprisonment in a “Supermax” prison.

BBC shouldn’t have apologised

It’s ridiculous the BBC apologised, Roy Greenslade (who is also a member of the Republic pressure group) declared at The Guardian, noting that he had no doubt the Queen said what Gardner said she said and that Gardner had a “good reason” to reveal it. “Are we to go on and on believing that the woman has no views at all? Are the public to think she is a political eunuch?” he wrote, adding too that many in Britain probably agreed with her. “It confirms what we have long suspected – members of the royal family have views and, given their position, are able to express them to ministers.”

The Queen shouldn’t meddle

This revelation makes one wonder what else the Queen has lobbied the government about, wrote Brian Reade at The Mirror. Wearing his Republican leanings on his sleeve, Reade further wondered if it wasn’t “right-wing, disability intolerant, racial ­stereotype ­delivering” Prince Philip’s views that the Queen was pushing: “Did Philip tell her we should close our borders on all the darkies, ­slanty-eyed and pot-bellied commies outside the EU, while keeping them open for the Greeks (his old family) and the Germans (his new one)?… Has she passed on his views that the unemployed should be abandoned if they cannot find jobs, with all benefits removed from all but the most needy (the ones with hefty bills for castle ­maintenance). Have Phil’s views got through about keeping women away from the top jobs (apart from his wife)?”

The BBC should apologise

Hugh Vickers, writing at The Telegraph, was gratified by the BBC’s apology to the Queen: “It’s good to know that the BBC yesterday acknowledged its mistake and apologised. On such occasions the Chatham House Rule applies: participants are free to use information received, but the identity or affiliation of the source may not be revealed.” Her views do her “no discredit” and don’t indicate any “undue” political influence, he wrote, noting, “Throughout her reign, the Queen has veered neither to Right nor Left, and has been gloriously unswayed by public opinion. In good times and bad she has maintained a clear vision of her role.” But nonetheless, they should be kept private.

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