Nazi is now a recognised slang word rather than an historical insult, Jon Gaunt's lawyers told the high court today in the former TalkSport presenter's legal battle with media regulator Ofcom.
Gaunt is challenging, on freedom of speech
grounds, Ofcom's decision to censure the station after he labelled a councillor a Nazi on air, an exchange which resulted in his sacking.
His lawyer, Gavin Millar QC, told the court that Ofcom had acted disproportionately by censuring
TalkSport and impugning his client's professional reputation, in contravention of article 10 of the European convention on human rights.
He said that Gaunt had not used the word Nazi in an historical or ideological sense. There is now a
recognised slang of the word Nazi [as] one who imposes their views on others.
Gaunt's legal team say that Ofcom's responsibility to enforce the broadcasting code, which commits it to upholding generally acceptable standards of behaviour, must
be balanced against the right to free speech as enshrined in the convention.
Millar told the court that fundamental right could only be infringed when there is a pressing social need to do so.
He said that European law
recognised that different standards apply to journalists carrying out their professional duties and to politicians who are being quizzed about policies they support or uphold. Journalists have a duty to disseminate information to the public and the
public have a right to hear it, he added.
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Jon Gaunt labelled a guest on his TalkSport show a Nazi because it was his intention to offend , the high court was told today. David Anderson
QC, who is acting for Ofcom, said Gaunt wanted the right to bully and insult a guest on a radio. That is what he is saying he had a right to do .
Anderson said Gaunt's use of offensive language , including Nazi , health
Nazi and ignorant pig was part of a bullying and hectoring approach which exceeded the expectations of the audience for his programme .
Anderson said: To call someone a Nazi is... slightly different to calling someone a health Nazi
but in either case the intention was to offend .
The hearing has now ended and a ruling is expected by the end of next week.