Old Media

Glen Jenvey knows people

Everything Jenvey emails me with from here on in is ‘on the record’ as far as I’m concerned. Last week, he took advantage and feigned a serious/extended illness in order to avoid answering questions (while conducting his usual ‘business’ behind the scenes) and he hasn’t changed his tune since last night.

Even now, with damning evidence piled at his feet, all he has to offer is an irrelevant email from some misguided NYPD analyst (in an email with the date blacked out, which probably dates back to 2-5 years ago when more people took him seriously) and this personal message in the subject header:

“the plot get’s deeper? your site is a joke! hope you never want to go to america…?”

Because Glen Jenvey knows people, you see. And it’s totally above board to use your law enforcement (pfft!) ‘contacts’ as political muscle.

Jenvey then claimed that he was going “to work” and wouldn’t be back until this evening. Yeah, right.

Notice the complete absence of any claim of innocence, just the threats and accusations of delusion.

Meanwhile, after weeks of radio silence, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles has finally been in touch. We’re still discussing what will or won’t be said on the record, but he’s not standing shoulder to shoulder with Jenvey by any means.

(Psst! Glen! You may want to clutch your archived emails that little bit closer… they could well be the only ‘friends’ you have left.)

Mr Starkey [headline snipped - see update]

[UPDATE 13 Sep 2009 - A few non-vital chunks of this article have been generously snipped as a courtesy. All snips are marked in square brackets.]

“I was… I basically… I basically uncovered all the films. With…. a professor whose cousin, Sherard, is the British Ambassador to Afghanistan…” – Glen Jenvey

“Mike went to the MI5 in two thousand and… I think he went in 2006… ‘cos I arranged a meeting… Um… for Mike to go and visit MI5 and hand over tapes.” – Glen Jenvey

1. The man identified in the audio as the cousin of Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles is not a professor, but a lecturer.

2. The mystery cousin and ‘Mike’ are the same person

3. And his name is Mike Starkey

[snip]

Thanks to this useful link to the Cowper-Coles family tree from Richard Bartholomew, we know that Michael W. Starkey is indeed a cousin of Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, former ambassador to Afghanistan and now envoy from the UK to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Michael Starkey is also the younger brother of Sir John Philip Starkey, 3rd Baronet of the Starkey Baronets. Sir John Starkey was formerly on the executive committee for Conservative MP Patrick Mercer. [snip-related UPDATE: Sir John Starkey was reportedly last on the executive committee over 30 years ago before Patrick Mercer became an MP, but Mercer confirms that they still knock heads politically]

Damn! How did we get back to Patrick Mercer again? No matter, you can read of John Starkey’s displeasure with Patrick Mercer joining Brown’s big tent when there was talk of deselection over the matter. There’s more here.

[snip]

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Glen Jenvey

So, here we have Glen Jenvey, a borderline if not outright fantasist whose only talent judging from the audio/interview is the patience to sit in one place for a very, very long time to catch files and messages that are only live/exchanged for short periods of time.

Fine, the police/authorities maybe don’t have the manpower to do this a lot or at all, but they do at least know what evidence management is, and Jenvey appears totally blind to it.

For all the evidence he claims to have collected and the arrests/convictions he has taken credit for, Mr Jenvey cannot produce a single example where he, or his evidence, sees the inside of a courtroom.

Something is wrong with Mr Jenvey, his evidence, and/or the manner in which he collects/delivers it.

The police, I imagine, regard him to be a bit of a joke, and/or a right royal pain in the arse.

But Jenvey can’t or won’t allow himself to see this; instead, even when he is threatened with arrest, in his mind it is the fault of inept police, overworked systems, useless, corrupt or politically-correct governments, and even the perceived threat of civil fucking war.

Pardon my language, but this man’s fantasies are clearly interfering with our nation’s security and Western security interests across the globe.

Here, by way of example, is an extract from the recently-authenticated audio of that interview where he blabbed and blabbed and blabbed about a year ago, because he was too busy bragging to think straight (or is an even bigger idiot than I took him for):

“The Abu Hamza videos led to the actual conviction and.. of… of… James Ujaama, because I uploaded them the day before he went to court. They hadn’t been shared by the FBI and the American Embassy who already had those… um… those tapes. See, it was the first time the Seattle FBI had actually had seen James Ujaama sat on a platform next to Abu Hamza, and they were struggling with the case and even struggling to keep him in prison. So if I hadn’t’ve uploaded the original page of ‘Al-Qaida Exposed’… videos.. um… basically… James Ujaama would’ve got off scot free. Probably, the snowball effect that then led to Abu Hamza extradition and case being built, which Ujaama in his plea-bargaining helped the FBI build, would never have happened… and the police in this country arrested Abu Hamza on an American extradition (“right?” iaudible) and then they tripped over… boxes of (VHS) videos similar to the ones that I uploaded. That I’d given them several years before.” – Glen Jenvey

Videos *similar* to the ones from several years before, If we can believe his claims about what he has and has not sent into the authorities. (Elsewhere, Jenvey has claimed prior knowledge of 9/11. What a pity the poor deluded fool didn’t think to make sandwiches or something when the police just didn’t listen.)

The action he describes above – releasing ‘evidence’ already rejected by authorities to the public a day before a trial – may be legal (just), but I can’t see it pleasing anyone doing the hard work of making a clean conviction stick.

No, all I can see is a yappy pup who continually spooks the game because he wants so much to be in on the hunt.

And we can only hope that his poking Muslim communities with a stick and inventing evidence when this tactic doesn’t produce any is a recent development.

There were some serious excesses during T.W.A.T. (The War Against Terror), so I’m willing to cut people some slack here and there, but everyone who trusted this guy to any extent at any time must be feeling pretty bloody stupid by now, especially if they put any faith in his claims to be a terror expert or professional spy.

Just for starters, professional spies do not pose as reporters. Well, they may do, but they generally try not to get caught doing it and don’t brag to reporters about doing it, even if they think it’s off the record.

Now, normally somebody like Jenvey wouldn’t be too much of a problem; the police and security personnel are well equipped to handle amateur sleuths, bigots and fantasists, but they are not going to have an easy time when interfering tosspots have access to diplomatic and parliamentary channels that work with those tosspots to promote in the media (a) themselves, and (b) evidence that the police have already rejected as unreliable/unusable.

I’ll need to stress this point, as it’s bound to come up; in those cases where Jenvey is on the trail of an actual extremist, this only makes things worse, *especially* when he goes public with what he knows ahead of any prosecution, making the task of police and security service that much harder:

It’s not rocket science; Jenvey’s much-heralded evidence is less to do with the quiet types who collect fertiliser and play with trains and mostly about extremists and/or shouty people (and/or their supporters) being careless and volunteering/recording/sharing evidence. Jenvey waving it about before anyone has a chance to prosecute risks alerting them to the danger of arrest and driving them and their circle deeper underground. There’ll be no shutting some of these people up, but it’s a sure bet that Jenvey’s clumsy blundering into one nest or another (or worse, poking it with a stick to extract ‘evidence’) does more to help extremists than the qualified professionals tasked with monitoring them.

-

Michael Starkey

Without Michael Starkey, Jenvey would not have enjoyed this level of access to Conservative MP and former Shadow Minister for Security Patrick Mercer, or former ambassador to Afghanistan Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles.

[snip-related UPDATE - While Starkey admits that Jenvey may have dropped his name when doing so, he contends that Jenvey introduced himself to Patrick Mercer well after they had met. He is also "unhappy" with the way Jenvey mentions his cousin in the audio, and does not regard that reference to be proper or correct. Please keep this contention in mind when reading the closing paragraphs.]

Without this access and the connections/credibility that came with association with these gentlemen, there is no way Jenvey would have been covered beyond the tabloids, if at all… and there’s certainly no way that Jenvey would have survived his (hopefully) recent period of fabrication, because the first thing that got wheeled out privately when questions were asked about Jenvey was a reassuring endorsement from Patrick Mercer, former Shadow Minister for Security.

And never mind the access and credibility, Jenvey doesn’t have the brains to keep a modest conspiracy together; his reliance on primitive and pointless bullying alone even at this stage makes that crystal clear.

[snip]

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Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles and Patrick Mercer

[snip]

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles and Patrick Mercer may wish to play dumb [snip], but this doesn’t put them in a position where they can later walk away clean and/or with any credibility.

No, the last chance for that is this morning, and their best bet is to take this last chance to Back. Away. From. Teh Jenvey.

Otherwise, they risk copping some if not all of the political fallout from this little game with matters of national security:

“If I don’t think the cops are taking me seriously… or not acting on information given over to them or MI5… we bypass them and I will use one of my number of diplomatic contacts… or it will go to Sherard. And if that fails, I then go to the press.” – Glen Jenvey

To summarise that once more; when the police do not regard certain evidence to be useful/usable for some reason, they will be bypassed and high-placed contacts within our diplomatic corps will be put to work to see if justice can’t be meted out by some other means. If those avenues fail, it will be time for trial by media.

This is not a valid, helpful, or constructive arrangement, and it’s time to bring it to an end.

Glen Jenvey is T.O.A.S.T.

Glen Jenvey has confirmed that the audio featured in this post is genuine.

Obviously not intentionally, but I couldn’t have done it without him.

LOTS more below the fold. It’s really quite awesome, but today is not a good day to crowd the front page:

[ ----------- fold -----------]

(more…)

Paula Murray, drunken hack, mocks dead and makes light of underage drinking

SPECIAL UPDATE – If you’re into Facebook (I’m not, myself) click here to join the group created in response to the shameful front-page attack on Dunblane survivors.

[For those who came in late: Paula Murray: certified depth and text-only archive of her article, which earned her front-page headline from her editor Derek Lambie in the Scottish Sunday Express on March 8, 2009]

How do you like my headline? Please keep in mind that it’s only a draft, and based in part on the following photo from Paula Murray’s Facebook profile:

Drink up, kids! Auntie Paula sez underage drinking is Teh Funny!

OK, readers, I can hear the cruel laughter and the shocking personal abuse from here and I want it to stop right now.

No, seriously, I want you to stop it right now before we proceed beyond the fold.

I can wait all day, people….

[ ----------- fold -----------]

(more…)

Morning, all!

As you may or may not have heard by now, yesterday’s editions of the Scottish Sunday Express carried no apology for the appalling front-page attack on Dunblane survivors last week.

So they’re not going to apologise for the article, but they’re not going to go on the record and defend it, either.

(The most editor Derek Lambie had to offer was an evidence-free denial of Elizabeth Smith’s claims and an attempt to end the matter there.)

Clearly there must be something about the article that the Express staff regard to be less-than-perfect, because they themselves removed it from their website.

I’m still waiting for my copy of the Scottish Sunday Express, as I need some region-specific advertiser data before my next big move.

But there may be a small feature about Paula Murray later today, regardless of what does or does not get delivered.

(Psst! On an unrelated but equally current affair; there will also be some very, very special items relating to Glen Jenvey, freelance spy/reporter released later today. I’ve found something quite magical in the audio.)

It’s all on Lambie

I now have chatted via email with Peter Hill (editor of the Daily Express) and Martin Townsend (editor of the Sunday Express) and Derek Lambie (editor of the Scottish Sunday Express).

Here’s what we’re looking at:

While Martin Townsend may be Derek Lambie’s boss and while all three titles may share a single website (where the article also featured), each title is distinct in a way, and – to cut a long story short – it’s all on Lambie.

The official position is that the Dunblane front-pager ran only in the Scottish Sunday Express, which makes it Derek Lambie’s problem*.

(*Until Derek decides to be unprofessional about his response in any way, or there are other conflicts or difficulties that warrant kicking it upstairs, obviously.)

So here’s what I’m going to do:

On Sunday, I am going to sit down with a copy of the Sunday Express and the Scottish Sunday Express.

I may or may not have cause to compare advertisements and produce a more focused list of advertisers… a lot depends on what kind of apology I see in the Scottish edition (if I see one at all) and if that apology appears buried in the ‘teens or on the front page where it belongs.

If an acceptable apology appears in the Scottish Sunday Express, I will be pushing for a copy of that same apology on the Express website, ideally hosted at http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/88113 (where the online version of the article was hosted before its removal).

Have a good weekend, folks.

Elizabeth Smith MSP wishes to sit this one out

For the benefit of newcomers, I’ve timelined this one… watch as Elizabeth Smith is seen to attack survivors of the Dunblane massacre, before standing up for them… and then sitting down again:

Sunday 8 March

Elizabeth Smith MSP is quoted in an article by Paula Murray about survivors of the Dunblane massacre:

MSP Elizabeth Smith, Scottish Tory spokeswoman for children, schools and skills, said: “I have to say personally I’m not happy. Some of the things that go up on these websites are very unfortunate and I don’t think they give a very good picture about the youngsters. Some of them are in great bad taste and I am quite worried about that. I feel embarrassed about it and I’m sure other people do too. In some cases the people are still really young and you can’t really expect them to have a sense of responsibility. I’m sure that when they look back at what they have done in 10 years time they will be cringing with embarrassment.” (archive of source)

Monday 9 March

In response to widespread outcry from “mass bloggers”, Smith issues the following statement to ‘Catkins’, a comment-contributor to Anton Vowl’s weblog:

“My comments were not made in the context of Dunblane. The journalist did not ask me anything about Dunblane nor did I comment on it or on any individual involved. It would be quite wrong for me to do so. I have made comments recently to several newspapers about the issues related to young people using internet sites and the inappropriate use of that material. It is in relation to these views that I was approached and I can assure you there were no references to Dunblane. What the Sunday Express chooses to print as the context is a matter for the relevant editor.” – Elizabeth Smith (source)

Wednesday 11 March

Your humble author (and notorious “mass blogger”) chases Elizabeth Smith with a polite email, and asks specifically if she is claiming that her interview was conducted with no mention of Dunblane or any of the survivors. She replies:

“May I give you a categorical assurance that, in her press enquiry to me, Ms Murray did not mention any names of the individuals involved in Dunblane and may I also repeat the fact that the journalist did not ask me anything about Dunblane nor did I comment on it or on any individual involved.” – Elizabeth Smith (via email)

Various writers and editors at Express Newspapers are notified of this, and asked for a response. A number of ‘read’ receipts arrive, but the only reply that day comes from Daily Express editor Peter Hill, who dismisses it as somebody else’s problem, especially now that the article has been removed from the (shared) website at express.co.uk

Thursday 12 March

A report about Smith’s claim is published on Bloggerheads in the wee small hours. Later that morning, a response from Express Newspapers finally arrives via Derek Lambie, editor of the Scottish Sunday Express, who claims to have a transcript and recording of the Smith/Murray interview, and (eventually, when prompted) disputes Smith’s claim:

“Liz is on tape speaking about this. We have full transcript. I hope the personal attacks on paula murray will cease or further action will be taken.” – Derek Lambie (more)

["I note that in your email you don't dispute Elizabeth Smith's claim... Do you dispute Elizabeth Smith's claim?" - Tim Ireland (more)

"Dispute that and as I say it is on record. This should be the end of the matter." - Derek Lambie (more)

A request for an extract from the transcript is ignored. Twice. Needless to say, no recording is produced or offered, either.

[Psst! Lambie rather hopefully (and a bit snippily) declaring the entire issue to be closed on the basis of what he claims about a single aspect is quite possibly my favourite thing ever. Include the 'no comment' card, the 'abuse'/victim card and the non-specific-threat wild-card, and it's identical to the hand Paul Staines has played for everything from his 1986 adventure with the BNP to his mysterious encounter with bankruptcy. See? I keep telling you he's got Teh Skillz.]

Meanwhile, the PCC are in touch and wanting to know if Elizabeth Smith wishes to proceed with a complaint about this aspect of Paula Murray’s Dunblane article. I relay the question to Smith.

Friday 13 March

Elizabeth Smith contacts me via email with the following message:

“Thank you for your enquiry yesterday. A satisfactory resolution has now been reached between myself and the [Scottish] Sunday Express and, as a result of that, I have no further comment to make.” Elizabeth Smith (via email)

Your humble author (and notorious “mass blogger”) responds and asks quite specifically if she will be withdrawing her earlier claim. She responds:

“I have made it clear that I am not prepared to make any further comment on this matter. I am very satisfied with what has been agreed with the Editor of the [Scottish] Sunday Express.” Elizabeth Smith (via email)

1. The editor of the Scottish Sunday Express is Derek Lambie, who appears to enjoy conducting the bulk of his public-facing affairs in a most secret fashion. I sense, at the very least, the sweet tang of hypocrisy from this tabloid editor that could lead to some conflict between us.

2. The following is the official current position of Elizabeth Smith, Conservative Member of the Scottish Parliament for Mid Scotland and Fife on the subject of a petty and needless media attack on survivors of the Dunblane massacre in which she appeared to take part:

“______________________________________________________________________.” – Elizabeth Smith, MSP

Elizabeth is the education spokesperson for the Scottish Conservative Party, and was once a teacher. Her experience in dealing with vulnerable young people speaks volumes… but I guess it has to when she won’t say anything herself.

(Note – So far, no-one from Express Newspapers has been in touch to demand that I remove/quantify Smith’s claims. Email correspondence with advertisers will continue shortly.)

-

UPDATE (6pm) – Entry corrected. Derek Lambie is editor of the Scottish Sunday Express, and the man Smith is referring to. My bad. Typing in waiting room. Muzak numbs mind.

Some recent advertisers with Express Newspapers

[UPDATE (19 Mar) - I'm going with the consensus on this one, withdrawing from the boycott, and advising against action of this kind until further notice. There is a clear groundswell here, and Derek Lambie's position looks increasingly untenable. This post remains only as an archive, and is not a call to action. If you wish to take action, start here then here. Thank you.]

-

The following companies, all represented by their main domain name, advertised in the front half of the Daily Express today. I will be writing to all of them this afternoon about the Dunblane matter, with the following two exceptions:

- I am not including Comic Relief, partially on the assumption that their ad placement was free of charge.

- I am not including mybreast.org, as I have no present or future plans to invest in breast enhancement (with or without the homeopathic care these kind people offer).

BT’s the tough one. I get broadband from them, and moving providers is a pain. Plus, the list gets bigger from tomorrow if the Express peeps continue to be snippy about it. I hope my oxygen provider isn’t advertising with them at some stage, or I’ll find myself in difficulty.

Anyway, here’s the list:

alliance-leicester.co.uk (contact)
specsavers.co.uk (contact)
austinkaye.co.uk (contact)
bmw.co.uk (contact)
asda.co.uk (contact)
bathstore.com (contact)
seat.co.uk (contact)
lv.com (contact)
dfs.co.uk (contact)
dell.co.uk
postoffice.co.uk (contact)
marksandspencer.com (contact)
bt.com (contact)
halifax.co.uk
nationwideautocentres.co.uk (contact)
tesco.com
morrisons.co.uk
dreams.co.uk
greenflag.com
rac.co.uk
norwichunion.com
totesport.com
williamhill.com
ladbrokes.com
coral.co.uk

I’ll enrich this post with contact links/details for anyone who would care to join me in the exercise with a letter of their own.

A template for my letter appears below:

Dear Sirs,

It is with regret that I must refuse to do any further/future business with your company (a) for as long as you continue to pump advertising money into Express Newspapers, while (b) they refuse to apologise for the March 8th 2009 Sunday Express attack on innocent survivors of the Dunblane massacre (see attached PDF).

If you choose to withdraw your advertising from Express Newspapers and/or hear of an apology from Derek Lambie, Martin Townsend and/or Paula Murray, then please do let me know.

Cheers

Tim Ireland
www.bloggerheads.com

I don’t appreciate being fobbed off with aggressive bluffs. I get enough of that from populist cheats like Dale and Staines.

[Note - The role of MSP Elizabeth Smith in the offending article is a side-issue (albeit it a potentially shocking one), but so far it does not paint the staff of the Express in a particularly good light. Smith claims Dunblane was not mentioned by Paula Murray in any way during the relevant interview, and Derek Lambie from the Scottish Sunday Express now claims otherwise. So let the Express start producing tapes or issuing writs or something, because Smith's accusation stands until they do, and I'll keep repeating it for as long as she's willing/able to stand by it.]

-

UPDATES – She’s a busy old afternoon, but if there’s a ‘contact’ link next to a company, then I’ve emailed them.

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UPDATE (6pm) – Position on the post office is mail only and no extras (not so much as an envelope). I’d like to do something similar with BT and t’internet, but it’s a cop-out when broadband alternatives exist.

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UPDATE (13 Mar) – Busy day today follows a busy afternoon yesterday. I haven’t heard a peep from anyone at Express Newspapers since this email exchange. I’ll be adding to my list and writing more letters this afternoon, time permitting. Cheers all.

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[UPDATE (19 Mar) - I'm going with the consensus on this one, withdrawing from the boycott, and advising against action of this kind until further notice. There is a clear groundswell here, and Derek Lambie's position looks increasingly untenable. This post remains only as an archive, and is not a call to action. If you wish to take action, start here then here. Thank you.]

What Derek Lambie has to say for himself

Well, this post finally earned me a reply from the good people at Express Newspapers; I’ve just recently enjoyed an email conversation with Derek Lambie, editor of the Scottish Sunday Express.

Happily, almost everything was said ‘on the record’, so I can bring you 99.8% of the conversation verbatim and let it speak for itself.

Here ’tis:

-

—– Original Message —–
From: Derek Lambie
To: Tim Ireland
Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2009 10:51 AM
Subject: Dunblane

Tim,
Liz is on tape speaking about this. We have full transcript. I hope the personal attacks on paula murray will cease or further action will be taken.
Derek
Editor, scottish sunday express

-

—– Original Message —–
From: Tim Ireland
To: Derek Lambie
Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2009 11:10 AM
Subject: Re: Dunblane

Hi Derek. Thanks for finally getting in touch.

I note that in your email you don’t dispute Elizabeth Smith’s claim, so I’d
like to address that first.

1. Do you dispute Elizabeth Smith’s claim? She claims: “in her press enquiry
to me, Ms Murray did not mention any names of the individuals involved in
Dunblane and may I also repeat the fact that the journalist did not ask me
anything about Dunblane nor did I comment on it or on any individual
involved”

2. May we see the transcript or at least a passage or two from it that
contradicts her claim?

3. Could you specify a personal attack on my website, rather than making
vague accusations?

4. Why no reply from Martin Townsend yesterday? I have a ‘read’ receipt
that’s almost 24 hours old now.

5. *Further* action? What action have you taken?

6. This is all on the record, yes?

Cheers

Tim

-

—– Original Message —–
From: Derek Lambie
To: Tim Ireland
Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2009 11:12 AM
Subject: Re: Dunblane

Dispute that and as I say it is on record. This should be the end of the matter

-

—– Original Message —–
From: Tim Ireland
To: Derek Lambie
Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2009 11:22 AM
Subject: Re: Dunblane

Hi Derek.

There are other aspects of the story that are a genuine cause for concern.
This would not be anywhere near the end of it, even if you took a successful
stand with what amounts to your word against that of an MSP (until the
recording emerges).

But getting back to my unanswered questions… if you had a moment to
address these, I’d be most grateful:

2. May we see the transcript or at least a passage or two from it that
contradicts (Smith’s) claim?

3. Could you specify a personal attack on my website, rather than making
vague accusations?

4. Why no reply from Martin Townsend yesterday? I have a ‘read’ receipt
that’s almost 24 hours old now.

5. *Further* action? What action have you taken?

Armed with some or all of this information, I can then make a suitable
update to my article.

Cheers

Tim

-

An off-the-record question immediately followed the 11:12 AM email from Derek that appears here.

I offered to answer that question on the record, but it’s been some 40+ minutes now and no-one’s taken me up on that offer.

Derek Lambie’s last word on the record was “this should be the end of the matter”… so I guess I have to start making a list of advertisers.

What have Martin Townsend and Paula Murray got to say for themselves?

Adam Bienkov has kindly published a scan of the Sunday Express feature, and I strongly urge you to at least take a look at this thumbnail if you don’t have the time to fully appreciate the readable PDFs hosted by Justin and featured at the tail of this post.

The scan makes it clear that this was The. Front. Page. Story. for the [Scottish] Sunday Express on March 8, 2009

Nothing that happened the day or week before was more important than this incredible scoop.

Got that? Good. Onward!

The headline screamed; “ANNIVERSARY SHAME OF DUNBLANE SURVIVORS”

Actually, it was a little bit bigger than that. It screamed;

“ANNIVERSARY SHAME OF DUNBLANE SURVIVORS”

Even if an editor/sub-editor/rogue-typesetter were to blame for that headline, there’s no mistaking Paula Murray’s focus and intention in her article…

Extract from the lowest point in the 90-year history of the Sunday Express:

ANNIVERSARY SHAME OF DUNBLANE SURVIVORS
Sunday March 8,2009
By PAULA MURRAY

DUNBLANE survivors have “shamed” the memory of their dead peers with foul-mouthed boasts about sex, brawls and drink-fuelled antics as they reach adulthood.

A number of the youngsters, now 18, have posted shocking blogs and photographs of themselves on the Internet, 13 years after being sheltered from public view in the aftermath.

Sixteen pupils and their teacher died when gunman Thomas Hamilton burst into the gym at Dunblane Primary School and opened fire on March 13, 1996.

In the days and months that followed the survivors, then aged just five and six, were the subject of overwhelming worldwide sympathy.

But now the Sunday Express can reveal how, on their web-based social networking sites, some of them have boasted about alcoholic binges and fights.

(Psst! For a rundown of these and other crimes of Dunblane survivors, see this excellent post.)

So after they’ve enjoyed more than a decade of protection from the press, Paula Murray dives in at the first chance she gets and attacks these people with… well, nothing really… she just wants to be first.

To add to her excitement, this is a Sunday exclusive that’s she’s worked all week on, fearful that someone might beat her to it.

Can you imagine the elation and pride she must have felt when she saw that big beautiful front page, then scanned the other papers just to make sure that, yes, she was first. For reasons that had yet to sink in, Paula Murray was the only reporter with this ‘story’, and hers was the only newspaper hitting Dunblane survivors with a stick.

But let’s turn away from Paula’s impending epiphany for a moment, as a minor detail in this article is screaming for your attention…

MSP Elizabeth Smith is one of the two critical voices used in the published article. I have gone a little wider than usual on this extract, as it’s important that you see how Smith’s comments were bracketed by a grandmother talking specifically of those touched or taken by the Dunblane tragedy, and the reporter reinforcing how very lucky we are that this vital information can reach us now that childhood survivors of Dunblane have finally come of age…

Extract from the lowest point in the 90-year history of the Sunday Express:

Nancy McLaren, whose granddaughter, Megan Turner, died in the tragedy said the behaviour “brought shame” to the community.

She said: “It is insulting. They were damn lucky to come out of it and they should be making the most of it. Maybe that’s what they think they are doing, but it is in bad taste.

“We go to the cemetery every Sunday and we nearly always meet some people who are visitors, and they come and have a wee look. I think that is lovely and I always say to them that it is nice they remember.

“So the behaviour of these children is a real contrast to all those caring people. It’s shameful.”

MSP Elizabeth Smith, Scottish Tory spokeswoman for children, schools and skills, said: “I have to say personally I’m not happy. Some of the things that go up on these websites are very unfortunate and I don’t think they give a very good picture about the youngsters.

“Some of them are in great bad taste and I am quite worried about that.

“I feel embarrassed about it and I’m sure other people do too. In some cases the people are still really young and you can’t really expect them to have a sense of responsibility.

“I’m sure that when they look back at what they have done in 10 years time they will be cringing with embarrassment.”

The Dunblane survivors were kept away from the spotlight in the aftermath of the tragedy to allow them to cope. Indeed, no photographs of any of the children have been seen in more than a decade, and the social network sites give the first insight into how their lives have progressed.

You may have noticed that I’ve made the passage relating to MSP Elizabeth Smith bright red. I have done this because these words do not belong in this article, and you really need to take a very close look at how her words were presented, *plus* the statement Smith issued to me via email after I chased her about an earlier comment at Anton Vowl’s weblog:

“May I give you a categorical assurance that, in her press enquiry to me, Ms Murray did not mention any names of the individuals involved in Dunblane and may I also repeat the fact that the journalist did not ask me anything about Dunblane nor did I comment on it or on any individual involved.” – MSP Elizabeth Smith

Now read how this MSPs words were used in this article; in fact, read all the bits in red again, just to get your jolly up.

All done? Jolly up? Bally good.

If what Smith claims is true, then this amounts to an extraordinary betrayal of this MSP and every reader of the Sunday Express; the level of suffering differs vastly from one end to the other, but the number of victims in this affair just went through the roof.

But I’ve contacted both reporter Paula Murray and Sunday Express editor Martin Townsend, and neither cared to comment on Elizabeth Smith’s assertion that her input was obtained without any mention of the Dunblane massacre and its survivors.

All the Express editor Peter Hill had to offer was that it wasn’t his problem and the article had been removed from their shared website (making it even less his problem).

And that’s it. They haven’t responded with a correction or a retraction or an apology or anything. For any of it!

Do remember that last part if circumstances force a grudging or even grovelling apology from these people… for days, all they offered the public were their backs.

I know it may seem inadequate or futile to once again pit the PCC against Express Newspapers and their rogue proprietor, but for those who would care to finally spend a few minutes making a short complaint to the PCC after years of thinking better of it, I offer the following link:

Press Complaints Commission >> Making a Complaint >> How to make a complaint

(Considering it? How about doing it? Oh, of course I’ll wait. How could I not after making all that fuss?)

(waits)

(waits)

(waits)

OK, all done? Top banana.

Now we finally return to Paula Murray and her impending epiphany:

If Paula will forgive the creepy intrusion into her personal life on spurious grounds, I ask you to imagine her standing there on a chilly Sunday morning in front of the rack of newspapers at the local garage, nipples erect and gusset mois*….

Oh, I’m so sorry; it’s late and I got my Desmond-owned properties all mixed up.

Let’s start again:

If Paula will forgive the creepy intrusion into her personal life on spurious grounds, I ask you to imagine her standing there on a chilly Sunday morning in front of the rack of newspapers at the local garage, gleefully lifting the clouded and scratched Perspex lids to reveal that she and she alone had thought to set upon these unsaintly victims of shocking violence at the first available opportunity.

She takes two copies home; one for her to read with her partner (or cat) over breakfast, the other to keep for her scrapbook. Not that she’s precious; she’s written quite a lot that she’s proud of – that feature lecturing Lord Tebbit for his failure to understand Dunblane parents, for example – but only front pages go into the scrapbook. Front page on a Sunday scoop is the big-time, baby.

So of course she’s going to show family (if she has some) and friends (if she has any) how clever she is… does she really make it all the way to checking her email or getting a call from her editor before she realises (or is told) that maybe this wasn’t the brightest move in the world?

And how long after that do you think it took her (or will take her) to realise that she’s clearly in the wrong on this one?

And how long after *that*, do you think, would any respectable human being in that position last before admitting the error, apologising for it and addressing the harm done… regardless of any order from the boss to keep schtum?

Given the circumstances, I don’t think I’m wrong in judging Paula Murray and finding her wanting.

Martin Townsend should be equally ashamed for his complicity in this act and his role in the response to date; his silence even in the face of Smith’s statement screams contempt.

Derek Lambie (editor of the Scottish Sunday Express) has issued the only known response so far, and in it he has the audacity to play the victim:

“Many thanks for your letter. As you are no doubt aware – thanks to mass bloggers on the Internet – we have been inundated with letters and comments. Many of them have been extremely personal.
I can assure you each and every one of the Comments from readers and residents in Dunblane is being read and discussed.” – Derek Lambie (source)

Tch. Well, I hope they finish with their internal chat soon. Some of mass bloggers on the Internets have a few concerns, and we’d like to see them addressed.

Oh, and the Express peeps will want to worry less about the occasional slagging off, and more about the polite letters to advertisers that I plan to kick off with if I’ve not heard of an adequate response by midday today.

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[To Paula Murray, on a note that is quite personal: Picture someone having to deal with a cruel world where for no reason that makes sense to anyone, a soulless creature appears out of nowhere and attacks them. It does not make for a happy childhood, but they emerge into adulthood, hopeful for the future and - oh, for Christ's sake - for no reason that makes sense to anyone, a soulless creature appears out of nowhere and attacks them! What the hell were you thinking, and why is it taking you so long to do the decent thing and apologise? You silly old moo.]

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UPDATE (12:25) – Derek Lambie chose to speak in place of Martin Townsend and/or Paula Murray. He denies Elizabeth Smith’s claim. Read all about it here.

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