The BBC's policy about reporting people to the authorities

J. Kemple made this Freedom of Information request to British Broadcasting Corporation

Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

The request was refused by British Broadcasting Corporation.

Dear British Broadcasting Corporation,

On August 1st the BBC Sport Twitter account sent a “message” about hateful comments in the replies to its posts. This is available at:

It reads in part:

“We will report the most serious cases to the relevant authorities”

Please provide copies of any policies, guidance, forms, or other documentation you use when you identify such cases and report them to the authorities.

Yours faithfully,

J. Kemple

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

1 Attachment

Dear  J Kemple,


Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. Your request was received on 2 August 2021.


We will deal with your request as promptly as possible, and at the latest
within 20 working days. If you have any queries about your request, please
contact us at the address below.


The reference number for your request is RFI20211267.


Kind regards,


Information Rights


BBC Freedom of Information

BC2 A4, Broadcast Centre

201 Wood Lane

London W12 7TP



Email: [2][email address]




Visible links
1. file:///C:/Users/sharmn13/Desktop/FOI%20docs/
2. mailto:[email address]

FOI Enquiries, British Broadcasting Corporation

2 Attachments

Dear J Kemple,


Please find attached the response to your request for information,
reference RFI2021-1267.


Yours sincerely,


BBC Information Rights

Room BC2 A4

Broadcast Centre

White City


W12 7TS



Website: [1]

Email: [2]mailto:[email address]




Visible links
1. file:///tmp/
2. mailto:[email address]

Dear FOI Enquiries,

Thank you for this response. I have now raised a complaint with the ICO. In the interest of transparency, this is the text of the complaint:

"The BBC has wrongly refused my request on the basis of the “art, journalism or literature” derogation. The BBC links to ICO decision notice FS50758321 which sets out the legal standard. In my case, there is no “sufficiently direct link” between the purpose for which the BBC holds the requested information and any of the derogated purposes. The most plausible purpose would be ‘journalism’, but the three-element definition of journalism set out in Sugar v Information Commissioner is failed in my request: nothing about the BBC’s process for reporting some commenters to the authorities has anything to do with the collection of news or the exercise of editorial judgement or the enhancement of journalistic standards.
The BBC’s explanation for the refusal is that “Decisions relating to what content BBC Sport publishes on its Twitter platform, and how BBC Sport moderates audience comments, are editorial decisions that take into the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines and the BBC’s public services mission and values, as well as any other legal and safeguarding considerations.” I accept that such decisions would be made for a derogated purpose. But my request was not about “what content BBC Sport publishes on its Twitter platform” (it merely referenced a tweet as an explanation for how I became interested in the information). Nor was my request into “how BBC Sport moderates audience comments” (e.g. by blocking users or hiding replies). My request was narrowly tailored to information related to the BBC’s commitment to “report the most serious cases to the relevant authorities” which is qualitatively distinct from editorial comment moderation. Any such reports to the authorities can have nothing to do with “the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines and the BBC’s public services mission and values”, which are not legally enforceable against commenters. Such reports can only be made on the basis that a commenter is thought to have broken the law. I therefore dispute that the derogation applies."

Yours sincerely,

J. Kemple