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By Lord Wallace of Saltaire
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New Ofcom Chair Says His Views On "The Woke Agenda" Will Not Hinder Impartiality

3 min read

Lord Grade, the government-favoured newly-appointed Ofcom chair, has said his views “on the woke agenda” are “not particularly relevant” to the role.

Speaking at a hearing of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, the former BBC1 controller said his opinion on "woke issues" was “best kept to myself”. 

Last week, after a lengthy recruitment process, it was announced that Grade would be the next chair of Britain’s communications regulator. 

The decision followed months of debate within government over who should take up the powerful role.

Former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre was said to be Boris Johnson’s preferred candidate, however the long-serving tabloid editor pulled out of the race in November last year.

Grade’s appointment as Ofcom chair has not been welcomed by all MPs, particularly due to the peer’s history of making controversial statements relating to “woke” issues, among others.

However, speaking to the DCMS committee, Grade insisted his views on the "woke agenda" will not affect his impartiality as Ofcom chair.

“We will have to deal with complaints in this area, which will come to the board,” Grade said. 

“And as always with Ofcom, we will deal with it on the basis of the evidence, checking what has been broadcast or said or portrayed against our programme codes,” he added. 

“I've spent a lifetime resisting undue political pressure as a broadcaster.”

When asked by committee member John Nicolson to define the word "woke", Grade said he “would not like to define it” but thinks the idea forms part of “a wonderful debate that’s going on in the country”. 

The peer has previously described Ofcom workers as “woke warrior apparatchiks”. 

Discussing the matter of diversity and representation at Ofcom, and whether he was the right candidate for the job in light of aims for greater representation at the organisation, Grade told the committee “I can’t help who I am”.

The peer added he believed there was a problem with lacking diversity at boardroom level at Ofcom and that he would be “pressing very hard” to ensure a wide range of candidates apply for vacancies when they become available. 

Alongside his comments regarding Ofcom workers, Grade has stirred controversy for his praise of Reclaim Party leader Laurence Fox.

The former actor has previously spread Covid-19 disinformation and has spoken out vigorously against a range of social justice issues. 

"I admire his courage," Grade told the committee when asked for his views on Fox.

"I've known his family – his grandfather and my father were partners in business going back a long way," the Ofcom chair apointee added.

"I admire his courage in speaking out and contributing to the debate. I don't necessarily agree with what he says but I admire his courage and speaking out."

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