Sacked 'Gaunty' takes on watchdog

Shock jock Jon Gaunt, who was sacked after calling a councillor a Nazi live on air, has won permission to bring a High Court challenge against the media watchdog, Ofcom.

Northamptonshire-based Mr Gaunt - known as Gaunty - lost his job with Talksport in November 2008 following the exchange, which involved a discussion about Redbridge Council's decision to ban smokers from becoming foster parents.

The presenter, who was in care as a child, was sacked after calling councillor Michael Stark a "Nazi" and an "ignorant pig" live on air, and prompted several complaints from listeners.

When Ofcom upheld the complaints under the broadcasting code of practice, Mr Gaunt launched an appeal, claiming his fundamental right to free speech and to criticise a professional politician had been infringed.

At a hearing at the High Court yesterday, the presenter was granted permission to bring an appeal against Ofcom. He said: "The right of every British citizen to speak his or her mind, free of the fear of sanction from faceless government-appointed bureaucrats is a right that we must all protect and preserve.

"Ofcom overstepped its remit in my case, and infringed the free speech which I, and every other British citizen, has enjoyed since the time of Magna Carta.

"I do not intend to allow an unelected quango like Ofcom to rob me of my right to free speech."

Gaunt, who lives in the south of the county, apologised on air for the comments, but was sacked by TalkSport a few days later.

Ofcom said it was required by Parliament to ensure "generally-accepted standards" were applied to radio programmes.

A spokesman said: "In this particular broadcast, Ofcom decided that Jon Gaunt went too far with offensive language and a bullying style."