Rupert ‘The Evil One’ Murdoch
13th Jul 2011
Yesterday I featured some fresh evidence on Bloggerheads that suggested News of the World had accessed Robert Thompson’s mobile phone/records in violation of a court order.
Today will be a little bit different in that (a) it is not news that Milly Dowler’s phone was ‘hacked’, and (b) I’m going to be a little more conventional about this post for reasons that should be obvious.
I’m publishing the following – a full scan of the original/relevant article as it appeared in News of the World and some analysis – so you might judge for yourself how likely it is that then-editor (Rebekah Wade, now Rebekah Brooks) and then-deputy-editor (Andy Coulson) did not know about any of it.
Why am I doing this? Because someone should have been arrested or at least cautioned in April 2002, but police declined to act, and it is only public opinion that is driving this forward. Surrey Police, London Metropolitan Police, certain Members of Parliament and even the serving Prime Minister all have (or perhaps in some cases had) a vested interest in letting Rupert Murdoch and his underlings sweep much of this under the carpet. Rebekah Wade/Brooks especially needs to be compelled to face the authorities, but we are, incredibly, still left in a position where her guilt needs to be established in the court of public opinion to some extent before any serious preliminary/investigative action is taken against her by the criminal justice system.
(Whatabouters and Murdoch Apologists: Please keep in mind that this position is entirely distinct from that of Rebekah Wade/Brooks, who in 2002 openly defied police because paedophiles were not punished/”caged” sufficiently in her view, mostly after the criminal justice system had already dealt with them.)
And so, on to the specific article in News of the World that has caused the most outrage. As far as I know, this is the first time it has appeared in the public domain since its original publication:
While it has already been reported that staff from News of the World told Surrey Police about the illegal method(s) used to obtain the material that led to this article (link), it is not until you read a key revelation in that recent report and the article itself that you are likely to realise how much police contributed to the article, and judge how much this action might be interpreted as tacit approval of the methods of the tabloid staff who had broken the law in pursuit of this lead:
It was Surrey detectives who established that the call was not intended for Milly Dowler. – Guardian, 4 July 2011
Police believe the sick hoaxer called into a recruitment agency… It is thought the hoaxer even gave the agency Milly’s real phone number. Police believe she may have got it by gaining the trust of people who knew the schoolgirl… The twisted creature also contacted TV’s Crimewatch programme, claiming to be Milly. Police say the hoaxer has hampered the investigation and previous high-profile enquiries… A senior officer involved in the hunt said last night: “Our inquiries and those of other forces have been plagued by a professional hoaxer who has much experience of the practices of police and investigation methods. The chances are extremely high that the individual concerned is a rather disturbed lady who needs care. – News of the World, 14 April 2002
I’m sensing some past history here, and some frustration that more couldn’t be done to control this reckless fantasist (hey, I can relate). That might explain some of this content offered up by police. Then again, perhaps it was more a case of police deciding to address matters with a coded message to the editor of News of the World or (more likely, in my view) much of the lecture above was aimed at the unnamed hoaxer and Rebekah Wade, and only half of it made it to print in the form of an attack on the hoaxer. (This is what tabloid scum do; they selectively edit reality, attempting to shape it to their will, and act in monstrous ways while screaming; “Look out! Behind you! MONSTER!!!!”)
Whatever the reason(s) for this material being offered to the newspaper, News of the World were in no position to publish a lecture about anybody hampering this investigation or any other. This same newspaper openly defied police in the pursuit of dozens of alleged paedophiles, complicating all sorts of police procedures and potential prosecutions (more). Later, they also hired the man who deleted messages sent to Milly Dowler’s phone (in pursuit of more ‘scoops’, i.e. money), thereby leading us to the tipping point in this scandal; the public realisation that this gave the family false hope that the then-missing girl was alive (more).
Here I will draw your attention to the heart-breaking appeal under the article, featuring Milly Dowler’s mother desperately clinging to the hope that her daughter was still alive and had perhaps run away. News of the World went on to repeatedly exploit Milly Dowler’s family in a similar fashion for weeks on the back of false hope that they themselves had generated:
The Dowler family then granted an exclusive interview to the News of the World in which they talked about their hope, quite unaware that it had been falsely kindled by the newspaper’s own intervention. Sally Dowler told the paper: “If Milly walked through the door, I don’t think we’d be able to speak. We’d just weep tears of joy and give her a great big hug.” – Guardian, 4 July 2011
While this article and the appeal underneath it may have appeared all the way back on Page 30, it should not have escaped the attention of a worthy editor, because it is a big part of the editor’s job to protect the newspaper, staff and owners by ensuring that all claims (of criminality especially) are properly sourced. However, this is a Murdoch newspaper and I have learned from personal experience that Murdoch journalists and editors do not see a problem in a poorly-sourced claim if they don’t name the target.
(SIDEBAR: Take a bow, Camilla Long of the Sunday Times, who stated as fact that Conservative MP Nadine Dorries had a stalker and rather bravely backed this up with an assertion that police were involved… without actually checking any of the detail with police, who would have told her that Dorries does not have a stalker, or even a harasser. Camilla Long and her editor later defended themselves on the basis that no name was published alongside the accusation, and it appears that the thoroughly useless PCC are prepared to side with them.)
With libel law and press regulation being in the sorry state it’s in, it is entirely feasible that a lazy editor would look at a story like this and not care about the source, because the paper was effectively shielded against any complaint the subject/target could hope to make about it.
However, I do not think it reasonable to believe that police were made aware of this illegal act involving News of the World staff and did not at least alert/warn the editor about this activity, the illegality of same and the potential impact on the investigation into Milly Dowler’s disappearance. That’s why I asked Surrey Police if they had discussed this matter with editors of that newspaper. Here’s my question, and their response:
Did the investigating officers discuss this hacking matter with editors at News of the World in an effort to at least warn them on the potential consequences of this kind of behaviour? Are you able to name which editors were warned, if any?
The ‘answer’ from Surrey Police:
The Metropolitan Police are currently investigating allegations of phone hacking and therefore it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time.
From this point on, the argument is entirely circular; police will not comment on evidence that might implicate Rebekah Wade/Brooks, but neither will they act against her with any conviction (pun intended) while the public remain in doubt about the extent of her awareness/involvement. It has taken a week of extraordinary outrage to bring us to the point where she might be willing to take part in a police interview, but only as a witness, and not a suspect. It is blindingly obvious to all concerned that she enjoys this privilege because she remains under the protection of Rupert Murdoch.
The only way to break the circle is go public with the available evidence in an effort to convince public servants to finally serve the public (i.e. rather than cower before a powerful foreign media owner).
Tomorrow, I will publish a further scan of an article obviously involving intercepted text messages that cannot have escaped the attention of the police, or the editor(s) of News of the World.
UPDATE (24 Jan 2012) – Phone hacking: News of the World journalists lied to Milly Dowler police
NEW POST (26 Jan 2012) – News of the World: 110% certainty, the remainder fact
12th Jul 2011
There’s a lot of coverage about and fresh revelations are emerging left, right and centre, so I wanted to make this article about Robert Thompson, News of the World, and Murdochian antics a bit different. That’s why I turned it into a comic strip starring some pretend scientists from Miami. Enjoy.
In other news, Nadine Dorries is making some wild claims in an effort to convince us that she’s part of the story, while Andy Hayman has been issuing some theatrical denials to convince us that he’s not.
Apropos of nothing, here are two articles from my vaults about Andy Coulson, the former tabloid editor who dreamed of greater power, and Andy Hayman, the former police officer who dreamed of one day being a journalist:
Oh, and if you’re looking for news that doesn’t even remotely involve the implosion of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, then I can recommend this post about Christopher McGrath and sock puppetry and/or this post about ‘David Rose’ and sock puppetry. Back soon(ish) with some more that I’ve found by browsing through News of the World archives at Colindale.
UPDATE (28 Aug, 2011) – Metro – James Bulger’s killer Robert Thompson ‘had phone hacked by NOTW’: Metropolitan Police officers working on Operation Weeting have contacted Thompson to let him know his details were found in documents they examined as part of the phone hacking investigation. Detectives believe Thompson and people close to him may have had their voicemail intercepted by an investigator working for the tabloid, reports the Sunday Times.
UPDATE (20 Feb, 2012) – Telegraph – Bulger killer could be in line for compensation from News of the World – Lawyers acting for Robert Thompson, 29, have informed Scotland Yard that they plan to take legal action that could see the killer paid tens of thousands of pounds in compensation. The action was started after the team from Operation Weeting informed Thomson that his voice mails had been targeted between 2002 and 2007… It is thought that Thompson was informed by the Operation Weeting team in August last year that they had uncovered evidence that his phone had been hacked on several occasions after 2002. References to him were found in notebooks seized from Glenn Mulcaire, 41, a private investigator working for the News of the World who was jailed in January 2007 for intercepting the phone calls of royal aides.
Outrage about compensation going to a convicted killer appears to be overshadowing the really important questions here (including ‘When will we see someone charged with contempt of court?’):
Hacked Off – If a Bulger killer was hacked, how did Mulcaire get his top secret number?: Robert Thompson was living under a secret and protected identity when Glenn Mulcaire acquired his mobile number, apparently in 2002. He had been released from detention only months earlier and, after many threats to his life, was one of the handful of people in the whole country most at risk from violent attack. How did the News of the World penetrate the official security around him? Very few people can have known both his phone number and his real identity, and all of them must have been in positions of trust. The Mirror and the Telegraph don’t seem to be interested in whether one of these people betrayed that trust, or indeed in whether money changed hands. And there are other questions, which may be more alarming still. If Mulcaire could get through that protective barrier, who else could, was anybody else hacked, and were people placed in danger?
7th Jul 2011
See if you can detect any hidden meaning in today’s Page 3.
From what I can see, it makes oblique reference to tonight’s 2011 Police Bravery Awards (“Hosted in partnership with The Sun”) and may or may not have some bearing on the embattled position of the former Sun and News of the World editor Rebekah Wade/Brooks. Or am I reading too much into it?
7th Jul 2011
I’m sure I don’t need to bring you up to speed and explain what this scandal is about, so let’s just open with Rupert Murdoch’s position, as stated yesterday:
“I have made clear that our company must fully and proactively co-operate with the police in all investigations and that is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks’s leadership.” – Rupert Murdoch, from a statement released 6 July 2011
I’m sure you can think of one or two reasons why Rebekah Brooks (formerly Rebekah Wade) is the wrong person to be in overall charge of this investigation into her own editorship, but I invite you to consider one other; her attitude toward police/co-operation.
The following is an excerpt from an editorial by Rebekah Wade at a peak in her 2000 campaign to ‘name and shame’ paedophiles:
“Now, because we have suspended our naming of sex offenders, our opponents are trying to suggest that we have backed down. They are wrong. We took the decision to suspend naming of paedophiles on FRIDAY – when the authorities agreed to back our fight for Sarah’s Law.” – Rebekah Wade, News of the World editorial, 6 August 2000
Note that her clearly stated position is that she is only co-operating because/while the police back her politically.
After this editorial, she proceeded to name and shame paedophiles intermittently anyway, and the following is from a relevant editorial anticipating a poor reaction from the police.
“Now the police may bleat that by naming the sinister Santa of Hull we have hindered their job. That is not our intention and again we beg readers not to take the laws into their own hands.” – Rebekah Wade, News of the World editorial, 3 December 2000
Note how respectfully she treats police and their concerns. Note also how confident she is that she is in control of her mob. (Psst!)
A similar attitude is shown to privacy orders applying to the killers of James Bulger:
“While forbidden from seeking information about them, this newspaper will not be alone in receiving such information. Last week, for example, we were able to disclose how the youths were being prepared for re-entry into society at a cost of £1.5 million to the taxpayer.” – Rebekah Wade, News of the World editorial, 24 June 2001
This is the Rebekah Brooke/Wade version of co-operation with police.
Rebekah Brooks/Wade acted in the way she did back then because she was certain she was in the right and confident that her readers would behave responsibly… just as she is today* certain of her own innocence and confident about the integrity of her old newsroom team.
So, to close, let’s have another look at Murdoch’s position, and see how it stacks up now:
“I have made clear that our company must fully and proactively co-operate with the police in all investigations and that is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks’s leadership.” – Rupert Murdoch, from a statement released 6 July 2011
[*If we are to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she is not lying.]
5th Jul 2011
I can’t imagine there’ll be much to be proud of in the upcoming issue of News of the World (see: ‘Missing Milly Dowler’s voicemail was hacked’), especially if Rebekah Brooks/Wade is allowed to continue as chief executive at News International, an organisation that has pledged to investigate illegal acts undertaken under her editorship… illegal acts undertaken by a man who was paid the kind of money most editors make it their business to know about.
So I have been going through this list of recent NotW advertisers and making a personal short list based on my own shopping habits. Where I am a customer, I ask the company the following question via the email address for their press or customer relations office (which is typically one of the few in the public domain):
Simple question: Will you be advertising in the next issue of News of the World (10 July 2011)?
If they do intend to advertise or won’t say, I will go on to advise them of my intentions (and reasons) regarding a boycott of their company (for a period that will be influenced substantially by their attitude to the query).
Mine is a short list, but my intention to boycott any brand that subsequently advertises in the 10 July issue is sincere, and I think realistic and reasonable.
It should be abundantly clear that no good can come of any commercial association with this upcoming issue of News of the World when News International refuse to even acknowledge Rebekah Brooks’ ultimate responsibility (i.e. according to standards she demands from others). There can be no genuine contrition without Brooks meeting up to her own damn standards.
27th Jan 2011
[See also: Andy Coulson and Andy Hayman: Friends]
Lately, we have been treated to the ‘earnest’ opinion of one Tory cloaca after another reminding us that Andy Coulson is innocent until proven guilty… as if there is no cause for concern about the way London’s Metropolitan Police Service repeatedly turned a blind eye to available evidence and re-opened their investigation into phone-hacking only hours after Tom Watson demanded it be handed to another police force. You couldn’t shut these fuckers up about the stench of corruption they insisted they could smell everywhere before the Tories took over. In fact, one of Coulson’s loudest cheerleaders even repeatedly assured us of the guilt of Tom Watson during ‘smeargate’, based on evidence he knew to be false at the time. Iain Dale later part-justified this deliberate libel on his assumption that Tom Watson must have known something because he worked in the same office as Damian McBride of Satan*.
However, in this instance, Iain Dale tells us that “Coulson’s accusers can go to hell”, even though Coulson ran the relevant office, and it was and is standard protocol for him and every other editor in the land to check the source of every major story. For Dale to pretend not to know this when he big-notes himself as a responsible publisher goes beyond the absurd; it is an insult.
Dale, like other tabloid scum of his type, is entirely flexible on the matter of ‘innocent until proven guilty’, and his position appears to depend entirely on whose side the accused is on.
(*Psst! Iain’s still rewriting history on this one, too. His latest self-serving interview with Watson is enough to make you sick and, strangely, during this same interview, the subject of Coulson and Watson’s ongoing attempt to hold him to account never comes up. Yet Dale still claims his junk-mail magazine Total Politics couldn’t possibly be biased, when it couldn’t be otherwise with old tilt-head at the helm. Dale is a proven liar, and even his categorical denials about this have turned out to be outright lies. Strangely, even though he has all that Ashcroft money lining his pockets and claims Bloggerheads.com is chock to the brim with libel about him, he has yet to sue. In fact, the only time a claim of libel was ever raised formally, his lawyer quietly dropped the matter after he was challenged to identify a single instance of libel on this site. I guess that’s what you get for signing off on a client’s letter instead of doing your own homework.)
Oh, I do apologise. I’ve inadvertently strayed into an area where the stakes are merely a minor smear about my stalking people that’s been put about by Iain Dale and his dirtbag mates, and how that feeds the accusations/delusions of the man who’s been watching my house (see: irony), when what I really want to do today is show you how flexible Andy Coulson is on the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ when someone gets shot in the head.
Here we turn the clock back to the opening days of June 2005.
Following the rejection of a third inquest into the shooting of Harry Stanley by London Metropolitan Police, the two officers involved in the shooting had just been arrested and interviewed, following an investigation by Surrey Police involving new forensic evidence.
Andy Coulson was at this time the editor of News of the World, and he came out hard in defence of London police in several subsequent editions of this ‘news’ paper. After some research at the British Library Newspaper Reading Room in Colindale (soon to be closed, er, I mean ‘improved’) I have to hand some full-page scans from two of those editions, and I invite you to inspect them.
The first of these scans is dated June 12, 2005, and it presents to readers what the article describes as “dramatic new evidence that could clear two police firearms officers,” stating that “these amazing pictures, uncovered by News of the World, show the policeman could not know he wasn’t holding a gun”:
1. They show that, do they? Looks a tad contrived to me.
2. I’d rather police only killed someone when they were left with no choice because they were certain that person was carrying a gun. (Or maybe wearing a bomb vest. Or perhaps taking part in a peaceful protest.)
3. Gosh, I wonder how News of the World uncovered these amazing pictures.
Note also the
reader ‘jury’ survey, conducted on the back of an earlier opinion piece by Michael ‘Deathwish’ Winner, that clears police. Oh, and also take a look at the enormous picture caption under their ‘evidence’ that echoes a letters-page call to “end this witch hunt”.
Public pressure was a major factor in the subsequent investigation/inquiry process (Coulson’s paper even makes a big deal about the expenditure to date), and this clearly prejudiced stance by the News of the World was a major push to influence public thinking in favour of the police.
The next week, Coulson even had the audacity to run the dead man’s police record past readers as if this somehow excused the decision by officers to shoot him. Without a lick of shame, News of the World describe it as the ‘rap sheet from hell’ (i.e. this is where he must have ended up after police shot him) and even imply that Stanley may have intended suicide (i.e. he deliberately goaded police into shooting him):
See? The blood they shot him in wasn’t cold at all. Why, if you stir it fast and furious enough, the friction alone generates just enough heat to justify a bullet. (Or maybe two, just to be sure. There’s no margin for error in this job.) That, or it was Harry Stanley’s idea to get shot in the first place, perhaps even to make police look bad. Surely no dastardly act was beneath him; one need only look at his record.
Again, one can only guess at the possible source of this amazing scoop.
It should be obvious from his stance on this issue that Andy Coulson contended that the police were innocent until proven guilty (and so incredibly innocent that an external investigation into their conduct must stop), but the bloke they shot in the head must have earned it, because he totally looked guilty… judging by what
the police a unnamed source told him.
Less than a month after the latter article, Andy Coulson was busy making excuses for some other London police who shot another innocent man; Jean Charles De Menezes. The same man in charge of that botched operation was also in charge of the later lackadaisical investigation into the conduct of staff at News of the World.
I put it to you that the London Met may have deliberately held back on their investigation into News of the World and the conduct of Andy Coulson and his staff as a favour to a mate (and/or a source of auxilary income), if not a special allowance for a tabloid scumbag who knows where the bodies are buried. Literally.
Inquiries to date by the London Met should be subject to an external/independent inquiry, regardless of any new evidence they and their News of the World cronies claim to have found behind a cupboard. If it turns out that any hint of corruption is evident, the London Met should be taken off the case immediately.
Hell, I’ll go even further than that; what should happen here is exactly what Andy Coulson was trying to halt/prevent after Harry Stanley was shot by police; there should be a full investigation by Surrey Police that looks into any new evidence of alleged phone-hacking.
Anything less risks corruption if not loss/destruction of evidence and a dramatic downturn in public confidence in London’s Metropolitan Police Service and the criminal justice system generally; not something police need in the capital, especially when they are tasked with policing major demonstrations against the Conservative machete-without-a-mandate that Andy Coulson worked for at the highest level until just last week.
13th Dec 2010
[UPDATE (27 Jan 2010) NEW POST -Andy Coulson: innocent until proven guilty]
To follow this recent post about John Lennon, and in response to the perfectly formed announcement of Andy Coulson’s complete and total innocence, I thought I would blog something about true friendship, because I’ve seen evidence that it can exist between tabloid scum and (some) public figures…
Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World, said on Friday he was on friendly terms with the senior police officer who oversaw a criminal investigation that sent one of his reporters to prison for hacking into the mobile phones of the royal household.
Giving evidence to a Scottish criminal court, Mr Coulson said he remembered having tea with former assistant commissioner Andy Hayman and “may well have had lunch with him” as well.
But he denied that he had been in possession of personal information about the officer that the News of the World could have used to prevent Mr Hayman mounting a thorough investigation of the scandal.
Of course he didn’t have dirt on the man; that’s not how friends behave.
Let me show you how friends behave:
An innocent man by the name of Jean Charles de Menezes was shot on Hayman’s watch. Here’s how Andy Coulson shaped the response:
As you can see, the headline doesn’t read ‘police kill innocent man’; instead, it offers readers a decidedly (ahem) loaded question. The article also seeks to lead the public with a series of mitigating circumstances that would go some way to excusing what police had done… if any of it were true:
– The article states as fact that Jean Charles de Menezes was wearing “a bulky winter coat despite the warm weather” (i.e. something conspicuous that might have hidden a bomb belt). He wasn’t.
– The article states as fact that the police shouted a challenge to Jean Charles de Menezes “screaming for him to stop”. They hadn’t.
– The article states as fact that Jean Charles de Menezes then “made the decision that cost him his life” and “vaulted over the ticket barrier and ran down the escalator”. He didn’t.
As you can see, when police shot an innocent man and Andy Hayman’s arse was on the line, Andy Coulson acted like a true friend; rather than rely on any of the investigative journalism that News of the World is supposed to be famous for, Coulson chose instead to take a friend at his word and not bother looking at or into any of the pesky detail.
Later, in 2006, Andy Coulson was editor of News of the World, and Andy Hayman was the officer in charge of the inquiry into the News of the World phone hacking affair
When it was suspected that News of the World had targeted hundreds if not thousands of innocent people and Andy Coulson’s arse was on the line, Andy Hayman acted like a true friend; rather than rely on any of the investigative skills the police are supposed to be famous for, Hayman chose instead to take a friend at his word and not bother looking at or into any of the pesky detail:
Police who investigated the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World obtained previously undisclosed telephone records which showed a vast number of public figures had had their voicemail accessed – and then decided not to pursue the evidence…
Here’s the riddle. If the Guardian, the New York Times and Channel 4′s Dispatches can all find numerous journalists who worked at the News of the World who without exception insist that the newspaper routinely used private investigators to gather information by illegal means, why can’t Scotland Yard find a single one who will tell them the story?
In their original inquiry into the phone-hacking affair, in 2006, detectives arrested the paper’s royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, and charged him with listening to messages on the royal household’s mobile phones. Goodman refused to answer questions.
Scotland Yard then interviewed not one single other journalist, editor or manager from the paper. Detectives took this decision despite holding evidence that – we now know – clearly identified other News of the World journalists who were involved in handling illegally intercepted voicemail.
In their recent inquiry, which ended fruitlessly last week, they attempted to interview only three journalists, all of whom were identified for them by news organisations.
They approached those three not as witnesses but as suspects, warning them that anything they said could be used to prosecute them: two gave interviews in which they declined to answer questions; the third challenged them to arrest him in handcuffs, and so they never even spoke to him.
There are some who might describe this as something dangerously close to corruption, but obviously such people are reactionary leftist scum with an anti-Murdoch agenda…. the same type of people who would dare to raise an eyebrow at Hayman later leaving the police to work for News International as a columnist.
Clearly, what we are looking at here is nothing more than innocent goodwill shared between two men who know and trust that their good friend is on the level. Surely this is a quality to be applauded in these deeply cynical times.
Related blogagge: Septicisle – Coulson in knowing nothing shocker
UPDATE (27 Jan 2010) NEW POST -Andy Coulson: innocent until proven guilty
27th Apr 2010
It’s comforting to know that every white van man who enjoys a quiet moment with Page 3 today will be sufficiently alert to the dangers of a hung parliament and proportional representation.
(In other news, they’re also worried about young women in porn. Positively outraged, in fact.)
If you haven’t done so yet, pop the tag #disobeymurdoch into Twitter. The alternative is submitting to this bullshit and eating out of the trough like everybody else:
“At the Sun, we deliberately ignored the Lib Dems,” admits David Yelland, their former editor
“It is my job to see that Cameron fucking well gets into Downing Street,” says Tom Newton Dunn, present political editor of the Sun
17th Nov 2009
The following is the full, unedited and uncensored text of a letter from Graham Dudman (Managing Editor of The Sun) to the PCC, written in relation to the ‘Alan Sugar terror target’ story that was first revealed here at Bloggerheads to be based on fabricated evidence, a fact that was later confirmed by Jenvey himself in September 2009, after a hell of a lot of needless fuss.
I’m publishing the letter here after repeated appeals to Graham Dudman for an apology have met with nothing but silence, so the public might have a shot at (again) dealing with something the PCC refuse to address.
The short version is that Dudman turned a blind eye to evidence and instead attacked those presenting it (a tactic that regular readers of this blog will be quite familiar with given past adventures with various tabloid wannabes).
– | -
1 Virginia Street
Telephone: 020 7782 4117
Fax: 020 7782 4029
FROM THE MANAGING EDITOR
January 27 2009
Will Gore Esq
Press Complaints Commission
20/23 High Holborn
Dear Mr Gore
Thank you for you letter of 13 January addressed to the Editor regarding an online complaint from the administrator of a website (www.ummah.com) (“the Website”) concerning an article published by The Sun on 7 January. We have investigated the complaint and are now in a position to respond.
In his complaint, the complainant makes a number of claims suggesting that the article published in The Sun on January 7 is inaccurate. Most notably, he claims that the Website was accused by The Sun “of compiling a list of well known Jewish people to be targeted with a campaign of violence”. In fact, what the article actually said was that:
“… Sir Alan Sugar is among the top British Jews feared [our emphasis] targeted by Islamic extremists …”. Additionally, the article also made clear as early as the second paragraph that the list does not exist but that “fanatics called for a list… to be drawn up”.
We believe that this inaccuracy suggests a mis-reading of what was published and the basis for it. The facts of the matter are that a posting was made on the Website by someone using the avatar ‘Saladin 1970′ asking fellow users to help in order compile a list of individuals who support Israel. In response to a posting asking for a list of “top Jews we can target”, ‘Saladin1970′ provided a link to another website (www.thejc.com) which referred to a number of prominent British Jews including Sir Alan Sugar, Foreign Secretary David Milliband and the musician Mark Ronson, amongst many others. ‘Saladin1970′ is not an avatar for either a journalist or an agent for The Sun, nor is he connected in some way to Glen Jenvey (the terrorism expert quoted in the article).
The complaint suggests that “the intent of the thread was to start a polite letter writing campaign to persuade the influential Jewish people that what Israel is doing in Gaza is wrong”. With respect, we do not agree that the intent of the thread was simply to start a “polite letter writing campaign”. It is clear from even just a cursory review that the Website carries numerous extreme views and is widely used by Islamic extremists to discuss radical and/or extremist subjects. We have reviewed both the thread which prompted the article and other threads on the Website and we have no doubt that it was reasonable for The Sun to describe the Website as a “fanatics website”. For example, the Website contains one message board entitled “Does anyone here recognise Israel’s right to exist” which contains threads that include quotes such as “Muslims are a patient people. Jews are a greedy people. Who will win in the end?” (posted by ‘AbuMusaab’ at 7:56am on 4 January 2009); “you are a fool if you think that the Muslims will let you live in peace” (posted by ‘SunniHammer’ at 8:39am on 4 January 2009); and “you won’t find any peace until all of you thieves were kicked out from the Palestine inshallah” (posted by ‘Ammarcool’ at 9:56am on 4 January 2009). These are just three examples.
In light of this, in our view, to regard Islamic extremists as being in the business of sending “polite letters” is naive and extreme. This is based on the expert opinion of Glen Jenvey, an expert in radical Islam. In any event, as a matter of common knowledge, we are unaware of a single incident of Islamic extremists writing polite letters. It is quite obviously a euphemism which almost does not require expert opinion to establish.
The matters raised in the article are plainly matters of public interest. Exposing, even at the earliest of stages, a proposed conspiracy to cause harm to prominent British Jews is a matter that The Sun is and should be free to report. It is not the case that public interest is and can only be served by reporting such matters to the police.
Central to the complaint is the suggestion that Glen Jenvey, the terrorism expert quoted by The Sun in the article is connected to (or in fact may possibly be) a freelance journalist called ‘Richard Tims’. Additionally the complaint suggests that it was ‘Richard Tims’ who posted the thread on the Website using the avatar ‘Abuislam’ which is referred to in the article. We have spoken to Mr Jenvey regarding the complaint, particularly in relation to the allegation that he is in some way connected to ‘Richard Tims’. Mr Jenvey has categorically denied that he is, or that he uses the name, ‘Richard Tims’ or, indeed, that he ever met anyone by that name. Mr Jenvey also denies that he ever posted any threads on the Website.
I can also confirm that The Sun has no association with any person called ‘Richard Tims’ and that this person (if he indeed exists) was in no way connected with the publication of the article on 7 January.
We should add that Mr Jenvey is an extremely well respected expert on terrorism who has contributed to various radio and television programmes in this country. In this respect, we make the following points:
1. As recently as November 2008 Mr Jenvey was interviewed by BBC Radio 4′s File on Four programme on the subject of “Violent Extremism”. Mr Jenvey was introduced on air during that programme as “an investigator who has been monitoring extremist websites for years”. Mr Jenvey has also contributed to articles for The Sunday Times and CNN amongst others.
2. The Sun has used Mr Jenvey as an expert on terror-related matters previously and has had no reason to doubt the veracity of his views.
3. John Coles (the journalist responsible for the article) was also assured by the South West News Service (“SWNS”), the news organisation which originally supplied the story to The Sun , that Mr Jenvey was a reliable expert. SWNS had dealt with Mr Jenvey on an earlier terror-related story and, in this respect, SWNS had been reassured by Conservative MP Patrick Mercer (Chairman of the House of Commons Counter-Terrorism sub-committee) that “Glen Jenvey is an extremely capable and knowledgeable analyst of fundamentalist matters and ought to be listened to. If he says that this is a risk worth looking at, then we must take it seriously. He and I have done quite a lot of work together, and he is a source of reference for me”.
4. After speaking to Mr Jenvey, John Coles contacted the Community Sceurity Trust, the charity which oversees security for Britain’s Jewish community, and was given the contact number for its security spokesman, Mark Gardiner (who is also quoted in the article). M Coles subsequently briefed Mr Gardiner about the story and specifically mentioned Mr Jenvey by name. At no point during this conversation, did Mr Gardiner suggest that Mr Jenvey was someone not to be trusted.
5. To confirm, Mr Jenvey was not paid for his contribution to the article.
The complainant would also be trying to discredit Mr Jenvey (and by implication the article published in The Sun on 7 January) without any foundation. In this respect, the complaint includes a link to a website (http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2009/01/glen_jenvey_has.asp) which contains a number of extremely serious allegations against Mr Jenvey. As well as the allegation that Mr Jenvey, ‘Richard Tims’ and ‘Abuislam’ are all one and the same, which I deal with above, the website also makes a number of personal attacks on Mr Jenvey. Those attacks include allegations, amongst many others, regarding Mr Jenvey’s sexuality as well as claims that he is a paedophile (eg “or is it that he likes young muslin boys around?”). Mr Jenvey categorically denies that he is a paedophile. In this respect, we understand that Mr Jenvey has been in a stable relationship for the past 16 years. The website also contains a purported interview with an individual claiming to be Mr Jenvey’s daughter. This interview is manifestly false. Mr Jenvey does not have a daughter.
Mr Jenvey informs us that when he has been critical of the Website in the past, he has been subjected to similar personal attacks. The allegations concerning Mr Jenvey on www.bloggerheads.com is again a tactic we understand that the Website has chosen to use before and, as before, they are based on false claims.
It is our view, from what I set out above, that the complainant has not been full and frank with the PCC, both as to the nature of the information discussed on the Website and the implication that Mr Jenvey was in some way responsible for posting one of the threads referred to in the article. This is a further matter which should be taken into consideration.
Without withdrawing any what I have set out above, I have arranged for the article to be removed from The Suns’ website and I trust that this is now the end of the matter.
If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. Indeed, if there are specific issues that you want me to address, then plea\se let me know.
– | -
If others wish to reproduce and/or fisk this letter, then feel free (but please ensure than you link back to this post, just in case there are any updates or corrections).
I offer the following observations in no particular order:
- Dudman can take that potential ‘mis-reading’ and “feared targeted” dodge and stick it right up his fundamental orifice.
- Note how it is taken as a given that Ummah.com is a hotbed of extremism, thereby rendering “polite letters” an “obvious euphemism” for something more sinister. This rampant bigotry alone blows apart any notion The Sun may wish to put about they were innocents duped by Jenvey. While The Sun may have apologised for ‘inaccuracy’ (while blaming Jenvey) they have failed/refused to withdraw or correct their description of Ummah.com as a “fanatics website”, even though the only evidence produced to back this up was also provided by Jenvey and is extraordinarily thin, even if taken at face value.
(I recognise the anti-Semitic aspects of some of the quoted comments, but have seen worse hosted on YouTube, Twitter, Blogger, etc. – I haven’t seen any of these described as a “fanatics website” in The Sun and I doubt I ever will… unless of course it’s a result of this Murdoch-owned paper having another go at Facebook or any other social media provider it regards to be a direct threat to the Murdoch-owned MySpace.)
- In the paragraph citing what he sees as evidence justifying the description of Ummah.com as a “fanatics website” Dudman misuses the term ‘avatar’ and clearly confuses a ‘message board’ with a post/thread and describes responses within a thread as new ‘threads’, suggesting that he doesn’t even have the basic understanding of a forum one might require to make a valid judgement of any online community of this type (that, or he’s deliberately giving a false impression that this type of content is far more widespread on Ummah.com than the evidence suggests). Further, none of this evidence proves it is warranted to suggest that a “letter writing campaign” is anything but a threat of further lip-flapping, if it is to be regarded as a threat at all.
- The Sun claim that Jenvey was not paid for the story, but this is contradicted by the claim published on the SWNS website that they had sold this specific story of Jenvey’s to The Sun. Perhaps what Dudman meant to say is that they paid SWNS, who then paid Mr Jenvey.
- Unlike other ‘leading’ bloggers, I take responsibility for the comments that appear on my website, but it cannot be stressed enough that the ‘daughter’ content did not originate on my site, and was instead repeated under comments as part of a background information dump by a well-meaning comment contributor. It was irrelevant to the body of the post, and was publicly dismissed as irrelevant the time. In this letter, Dudman only makes passing mention of the body of the post (i.e. the part containing key evidence showing their expert to be a fraud) and instead focuses on the comments underneath, greatly misrepresenting their content and context in many ways, not the least of which being:
- The ‘paedophile’ text (as with the other text about Jenvey’s daughter) was mirrored information from another website posted to my website as a comment, and allowed as background only. It did not originate from me, nor was it highlighted, encouraged or expanded upon in any way. The Sun imply otherwise. Further, the text The Sun claim was published by me ‘to discredit Glen Jenvey’ does not accuse Glen Jenvey of being a paedophile, as a wider quote from that passage reveals (“‘is bin laden a gay? or is it that he just likes young muslin boys around? is jihad a form of child sex?”). The comment is about Osama Bin Laden, and was originally posted to ummah.com under the name ‘saddam01′, which according to Ummah.com is yet another alias of… Glen Jenvey! Yes, the ‘paedophile’ text wasn’t *about* Glen Jenvey, and it was most likely written *by* Glen Jenvey!
(As many of you are aware, Glen Jenvey later went on to falsely accuse me of being a paedophile. Repeatedly. On hundreds of websites. What role this letter/accusation played in that decision and if Jenvey was confused enough to believe that I had done anything like that to him is unknown at this time.)
- It has been put to me by the PCC that the accusation that I called Jenvey a paedophile may have been an honest mistake resulting from an unfortunately-placed line-break in a print-out/fax, but my response to this is that – if this is the case – then The Sun appear to have taken no care before making this very serious accusation. Further to this, if it were an error in reading a print-out/fax, then it is clear that they did not look at the website itself. Therefore, they did not even look at the evidence I presented on my website in any depth before banking so much on their ‘expert’ and rejecting any notion he may have used the alias ‘Richard Tims’ (which he did) or posed as ‘Abuislam’ (which he also did).
- The Sun, who had a go at Gordon Brown for misspelling a name, cannot spell ‘Muslim’.
- Note the sleight of hand (or unfortunate error) in the use of “the Website” in the final paragraph under ‘Glen Jenvey’; the majority of people I’ve shown this to take to be a reference to Bloggerheads.com and not Ummah.com
- That they then go on to complain that “the complainant has not been full and frank with the PCC” is the height of chutzpah. If Graham Dudman suddenly drops dead from audacity, I recommend that he be immediately replaced by Iain Dale, who shares with him an equal if not greater capacity for (a) playing the man while playing the victim, and (b) taking bullshit to new and dizzying levels.
- The removal of the article from their website was far from the end of the matter. The Sun did not admit error or publish any form of correction until months afterwards, and even then it was nothing to write home about.
Graham Dudman has, since writing this letter, repeatedly refused to withdraw the false allegations he made about me in a clear attempt to draw attention away from his publication’s failure(s) to act reasonably and responsibly. (Surprisingly, I find myself in a very similar dispute with Private Eye, and I look forward to addressing that properly soon after giving them more than ample time to reply.)
The PCC – the body currently speaking of the potential to ‘regulate’ blogs (more) – has at every stage refused to investigate or even publicly acknowledge the attempt by the Managing Editor of the The Sun to attack me instead of addressing the evidence I presented.
13th Nov 2009
Not a lot of people know, understand or appreciate what’s been happening on Page 3 since 2003, so I made a video that explains it and includes all the evidence anyone could want that The Sun have been royally taking the piss and brainwashing their readers with boobage for well over 6 years now. Enjoy:
Apologies that it took so long to collect and collate this evidence (in between unconscionable attacks by right-wing thugs), but I would hope this video has been well worth the wait, and is successful in showing both the individual outrage and the cumulative impact of the propaganda on Page 3.
The video is, of course, an ART and is therefore designed to speak for itself, but it will also be playing part of a wider campaign to address this issue, just in time for 40th anniversary of the reinvention of The Sun, and the introduction of Page 3.
[A Page 3 girl first appeared on Nov 17, 1969. A Page 3 girl first appeared topless on that tabloid's first 'birthday'(Nov 17, 1970) wearing her.... hold on to your sides... birthday suit. They got away with that, so repeated the stunt the next year with a run of four topless models over four days (Nov 17-20, 1971), but it wasn't until later (1972-1973) that almost every Page 3 girl was topless. The Sun probably celebrate their Page 3 anniversary a year after their main anniversary so they get two hits from each major milestone, but in truth Page 3 has been with us since Nov 17, 1969. Pardon my pedantry.]
What follows is a draft of a long-overdue A4 insert for the media watch site The Sun: Tabloid Lies. It is designed to be left inside copies of The Sun, and its call to action is the core of the campaign that starts here:
Since 2003, the Page 3 feature in The Sun has carried an item called ‘News in Briefs’ instead of the usual pun-filled caption of days of yore.
Even the title itself is a lie; this ‘news’ item rarely carries news, and instead carries an editorial/opinion (an important distinction to make, especially when dealing with media owner Rupert Murdoch, the father of FOX News).
We are not saying that a young woman with her tits out is not allowed to have an opinion; far from it. We are instead asking, if Page 3 is as ‘empowering’ as some people claim, then why aren’t these women allowed to choose which issue(s) they discuss and/or express their own opinion about that when appearing on Page 3?
At present, they are clearly often (if not always) compelled to echo/repeat the opinions of Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Wade, Dominic Mohan, Graham Dudman, or whoever else is calling the shots that day. This is not empowerment; rather, it is exploitation.
We challenge The Sun to allow Page 3 girls to use their paid appearance(s) in that tabloid as a personal/political platform, just as they do for columnists such as Jeremy Clarkson, Jon Gaunt, Lorraine Kelly and Jane Moore.
If there is to be editorial content on Page 3, then it should be clearly labelled as opinion (not news) and it should always be the heartfelt, unprompted opinion of the woman whose name, face and tits are being used to sell the idea. End of.
Any standard less than this exploits these women and cheats the readers.
If you agree with that, simply talk to someone about it, or even better write/blog/email/tweet something about it… and then leave this insert inside another copy of The Sun for someone else to find.
13 November, 2009
PS – I do realise that my headline is potentially misleading, but if you read The Sun, then you should be well used to that by now.
More information (and downloadable copies of this pamphlet) available via:
http://bit.ly/page3 | http://www.bloggerheads.com | http://the-sun-lies.blogspot.com
NOTE – Even if I reach a million people with this message, The Sun will reach more people on a single day (with a single pair of tits) so please share a link to the video and this page with as many people as possible.
I’ll be back shortly with more bloggage on this issue. Bring tissues.