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!


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


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:

Sunday March 8,2009

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?)




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.

[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.]

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.

Posted in Old Media | 4 Comments

An enormous penis

Guardian – Padding the truth: But the truth is that circulation – at least in the short term – has little to do with a newspaper’s quality or the editor’s skills. Marketing campaigns, price cuts (or rises), free offers and even, as we have seen, unusual activity by a rival have more influence on sales than anything journalists do. Rebekah Wade may be editing the Sun brilliantly but, since the paper sells for 15p less than its main rival, the Mirror, it is hard to tell. Even the figures themselves are not all they seem. At some time in its history, every newspaper has had its circulation improved by “bulks” – copies that go for a nominal price, mainly to airlines and hotels as freebies for customers…. Such figures may be extracted from the 11 columns of the ABC’s monthly table. But they rarely get quoted and newspapers and magazines, always spinning the figures, discount bulks only when it suits them. At the New Statesman, my successor as editor, John Kampfner, achieved circulation of 30,000 and understandably shouted it from the media rooftops. But it was based largely on giving away 5,000 copies, until the proprietor, Geoffrey Robinson, decided bulks were a waste of money.

Of course, people don’t lie about their circulation figures just to diddle advertisers*… as the above article acknowledges, the “more money = better than” equation is also at work:

[*FINE PRINT: According to an official statement from MessageSpace, Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes’) “is neither a shareholder, director or employee of MessageSpace and never has been.” Overt and implied claims made by Paul Staines about his profits and those of MessageSpace are seemingly contradicted by claims made by Alex Hilton (aka ‘Recess Monkey’), but Alex may merely be confused… as he clearly must have been when he was under the impression that he had sold all but a small remainder of shares to Paul Staines, who “is neither a shareholder, director or employee of MessageSpace and never has been.”]

Posted in Old Media | Comments Off on An enormous penis

Paula Murray: certified depth

Everyone from 4chan to Fark knows that it takes a special kind of person to enjoy the challenge of being the very first to comment, especially if one has nothing to say (other than “First!”, obviously).

If there were a real-life league of such people, Paula Murray would top the main table.

Why? Because after over a decade of freedom from press intrusion, the child survivors of the Dunblane massacre are now over 18, and therefore fair game… and Paula Murray has covered herself in glory by going after them first on the flimsiest of pretexts.

We interrupt this endorsement for a public service announcement:

New citizens of Teh Internets should be aware that keeping a Facebook profile is not unlike collating your trash in a presentation folder for the benefit of passing tabloid scum. Some weblogs also fit this description, but at least a blog provides you with the means to fight back; all Facebook lets you do is moan to your mates.

Sunday Express – Paula Murray: Anniversay shame of Dunblane survivors: 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.

Anton Vowl – A new low for the Express: Regular reader Keith sent me the tipoff to this latest disgrace from the front page of the Scottish Sunday Express and called it ‘a new low’. At first I was a little sceptical, given that I wondered just how much lower it was possible for the Express to sink into its midden of unpleasantness, but he’s right: it really is an atrocity.

Justin McKeating – Paula Murray is an idiot: So, the survivors of an atrocity try to live their lives in as normal a way as possible only to find judgement at the hands of a gutter journalist trying to stir the pot of moral outrage.

As I was creating this post the original article appeared to be clumsily withdrawn from the Express website.

There’s no apology or admission of guilt, naturally, but the article has been quietly withdrawn with little-to-no public condemnation/consequence outside of the blogosphere, and the reporter appears to have emerged safely from this new depth.

So, once the band stops playing and the medals have been handed out, I would like to make a mark at *this* level, and propose that it be considered as the lowest certified safe depth for reporter Paula Murray.

Please be advised that this is an extreme depth, not to be attempted lightly, and that Murray is not certified to sink any lower.

UPDATE – Via Carl Eve, a somewhat related link:

BBC – Chris Summers: How crime has lost out to showbiz: Believe it or not, once upon a time, newspapers and television news bulletins were full of actual news involving actual people, much of it generated by reporters on the crime beat. The demise of the crime reporter, and the decline of investigative journalism in general, has coincided almost perfectly during the past 20 years with the rise of celebrity news.

(Quite. Rummaging through Facebook and feigning outrage is now the pinnacle of investigative journalism in some quarters. No wonder Staines thinks he can make a good fist of it. Not that he needs to, what with his website being worth a million dollars and everything.)

UPDATE (11 Mar) – A minor update here and some fine bloggage here…. and via Septicle’s post, I hear reports of popping rivets. This depth may not be as safe as it first seemed.

Oh, and BenSix’s post and Justin’s update both remind me of an idea I had for an ‘Express Watch’ weblog; its working title is ‘The Express Newspaper: Rebuttals’ and the plan involves a single editor whose only job is to report when the Express is outraged about anything sexual, ‘dirty’ or similarly ‘unseemly’ and counter it with the simple but true observation that Richard Desmond is a pornographer.

This simple action would be then be repeated (constantly, and hopefully to comic effect). The only departure from this pattern would be the occasional attempt to reach readers of OK! magazine with a similar message.

Posted in Old Media | Comments Off on Paula Murray: certified depth

Eclectic link dump #25

Mr Jenvey is busy elsewhere early today, but he has promised to share a statement with us later.

I’m happy waiting for that, but here are a few extras for those of you who have looked through the old magazines and fiddled with the empty play-table and are now getting fidgety:

Teh Man somehow saw to it that I missed this epic thread.

Save the ‘ I Love Horses’ website!

Julian Petley cups John Beyer’s logical fallacies. (link via another great weekend link-fest from Septisicle)

Ignore the link if you like, and just love the headline; Arrest in Mandelson custard probe

Mail on Sunday – How MI5 colluded in my torture: Binyam Mohamed claims British agents fed Moroccan torturers their questions

Telegraph – Binyam Mohamed torture claims: Calls for judicial inquiry

And finally, as if some strange hand of fate were at work, I arrived at (pfft!) the Jack Straw weblog this morning to discover that is was updated yesterday with the following message:

With regret blog comment moderation has been turned on. Political argument is welcome (see posts below), but name-calling and general abuse is not and won’t be published.

So good luck bringing up any of that torture nonsense there and seeing anything substantial published; even thinking for a moment that the sainted Jack Straw would allow torture on his watch constitutes ‘abuse’. How very dare you.

UPDATE – You’re *still* bored? Tch. OK, I’ll have the nurse put some cartoons on:

Saturday Morning Watchmen (more) (via)

UPDATE – Tut. Me and my memory. Sir Paul Judge would like a quiet word with you about the party system.

Posted in Christ..., Geekage, It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!, Teh Interwebs, The Political Weblog Movement, Updates, Video | 2 Comments

But let’s not make a fuss

PA – [Rebekah ‘red mist’ Wade and] Ross Kemp given ‘quickie’ divorce: In a written question-and-answer style divorce document before the court Ms Wade, 40, is asked: “State briefly your reasons for saying that the respondent has committed the adultery alleged.” She answers: “I found certain evidence indicating adultery. The respondent then admitted the adultery.” Asked on what date it first became known to her that he had committed the adultery alleged, Ms Wade said it was in October 2006. In another question she was asked: “Do you find it intolerable to live with the respondent?” She answered: “Yes.”

Another quiet mention here.

Meanwhile, Jade Goody gets front-paged for an outburst with a neighbour FFS, and we’re all to watch.

I must say; it’s turned out nice for some.

Posted in Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch | 2 Comments

Daily Mail Watch now live – fab prize up for grabs

The new and renewed Daily Mail Watch is now live.

Check out my personal intro post and those of the other editors for full details beyond this short mission statement from my intro:

The purpose of the site is simple; editors will be quietly documenting outright lies peddled by the Daily Mail, and seeking to bring this culture of fear and falsehood to the attention of those Mail readers curious enough to use a search engine or browse the evil underground world of weblogs.

(Note – Our search engine kung fu is strong. Soon it will be mighty.)

However… if you think I’m going to read the Daily Mail every single day from now on, you’re mental. I’m not going to ask any other editors to do what I’m not prepared to do myself, so I’m asking readers of Daily Mail Watch to keep an eye out for any outright lies in the Mail that our editors should be writing about, which should take the pressure off our editors, and make sure that important lies don’t pass without mention (even if they don’t result in a main-page report).

To this end I have just announced a special competition with a really neato prize; a Knife Crime Awareness Gift Pack that’s worth close to £200 (in theory).

Please share this good news with your friends.

Posted in Old Media | Comments Off on Daily Mail Watch now live – fab prize up for grabs

Glen Jenvey is experiencing some difficulty

I’ve been very patient with our Mr Jenvey. I have gone to great lengths to better appreciate and even adopt his position on ummah.com (i.e. that they are in league with terrorists), but Mr Jenvey still persists with a Carnival of Irrelevant Evidence; an endless barrage of historical data, none of which is relevant to the matter at hand, and none of which provides an answer to the following question that he has gone to considerable effort to avoid again and again and again (and again):

Did you register to comment on ummah.com using the profile names ‘saddam01’ and/or ‘r.tims’?

Glen Jenvey has, in two responses, denied involvement with the ‘abuislam’ account. Again. He has also claimed that an unknown party has scanned a computer that he owns, ‘proving’ that this computer has not been used to post to ummah.com (ever ever ever), but this is only an alleged scan of a single machine (in a world where many people own or have access to at least two), and it does nothing to answer my question regarding specific profile registrations.

Also, after more than a day’s worth of email correspondence, Mr Jenvey still hasn’t decided if the audio featured in this post is authentic or not (when my initial request was for a statement regarding its authenticity).

Patrick Mercer’s people are kindly looking into the matter, but not a word has reached me from Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles or his staff.

I’m out ploughing the lower forty for most of the day, but my current thinking is that I should release more audio to help Mr Jenvey in his endeavour to make a ruling on its authenticity and maybe chase the alleged cousin/’Mike’ for comment.

Posted in Old Media, The Political Weblog Movement | 5 Comments

Craig Murray must be heard by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights

You know I don’t typically ask this of people, but your voice is needed today.

Here’s Craig Murray:

Craig Murray – Your Help Needed – Reveal Torture to Stop It

On Tuesday 10 March the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights will discuss whether or not to hear my evidence on the UK government’s policy of using intelligence from torture. They discussed whether to hear my evidence on 3 March but failed to reach a conclusion.

The government is lobbying hard for my exclusion. I need everybody to send an email to jchr@parliament.uk to urge that I should be allowed to give evidence. Just a one-liner would be fine. If you are able to add some comment on the import of my evidence, or indicate that you have heard me speak or read my work, that may help. Please copy your email to craigjmurray@tiscali.co.uk.

Please also pass on this plea to anyone you can and urge them to act. Help from other bloggers in posting this appeal would be much appreciated.

More here in a must-read post.

My letter appears below. Please don’t feel that you need to echo my point, as it addresses matters in a practical way that some might consider insulting:

To: jchr@parliament.uk
CC: craigjmurray@tiscali.co.uk
From : Tim Ireland
Subject: Craig Murray’s evidence

Dear Sirs,

I became aware of Craig Murray after he warned our government of torture and abuse in Uzbekistan, and had his career and reputation rubbished in response. I then later watched a senior cabinet member (Blunkett) praised by then-PM Blair as a man without a stain on his character – after he had actually done what Foreign Office elements of the same administration had only falsely accused Murray of (see: visas/favours and adult situations).

I have also watched Jack Straw turn down the most perfect opportunity to challenge Murray on his claims at a public meeting (see: 2005 general election). It wasn’t until Murray had left the room that Straw felt comfortable enough to claim that ‘we don’t do torture’.

Only now we find out that, in some cases, we do. We also found out a while ago that Jack Straw and Tony Blair had arrived at a policy of not being drawn on detail when discussing torture with the public.

And part of what Craig Murray claims – “I was told at this meeting that it is not illegal for us to obtain intelligence gained by torture, provided that we did not do the torture ourselves” – fits perfectly with recent discoveries of our role in overseas rendition, does it not?

It’s those pesky details is what it is, but I think you’ll find them the key to this matter, rather than a distraction.

You’ll also find that many people will remain deeply suspicious of this government (regardless of your findings) if Craig Murray is not allowed to present his evidence, especially after so much effort has gone into suppressing it.

And one of the big factors of torture – i.e. one that impacts on us as a nation – isn’t how things are sometimes, but how they appear.

Close Murray out of this investigation and the government will look as guilty as all hell, if you’ll pardon my manners.


Tim Ireland

A lot of work has gone into burying Craig Murray and/or his testimony. Let’s help to undo it. Just for kicks, because we’re wild and reckless and bored.

Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely! | Comments Off on Craig Murray must be heard by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights

Morning, all!

Two pretty things to kick us off:

1. I made an art.

2. While I’ve got you nicely freaked out, here’s a little sample of what manufactured pop used to sound like.

And now, to business:

I shared a direct email exchange with our Mr Jenvey last night and I expect our conversation to continue later today.

Also on the immediate horizon is a little show of numbers in the media war.

Brace yourselves.

UPDATE (12pm) – It goes slowly with Mr Jenvey, who has just signed off for a time. The short version is that I’m willing to take on board all claims of ummah.com’s involvement with terrorism and listen with great interest to anything he’s got to say on the record, but Glen’s doing everything he can to avoid answering this question:

Did you register to comment on ummah.com using the profile names ‘saddam01’ and/or ‘r.tims’ ?

(I should point out that, in reply to this question, Mr Jenvey has again denied posting as ‘abuislam’. Twice.)

Posted in Old Media, Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch, The Political Weblog Movement, Updates | 7 Comments

Eclectic link dump #24

Outstanding: The Crisis of Credit Visualized (via)

Viz now has a website that’s even slightly less shit than before, which makes me very happy.

Some kind (and really quite true) words from Ian Appleby leading into the antics of the Indy and their bad habit of pretending to accept comments when they’d really rather you shut up and went away. It could be a simple case of poor housekeeping, but I’ve watched entire comment threads disappear from the Independent website; they’re as bad as many of the tabloids on most fronts. More newspapers have been willing to try the comments-lite solution since the public face of blogging was taken over by a bunch of comment cheats. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

The new and renewed Daily Mail Watch is about to loom on your horizon. You have been warned.

Via Carl comes news from (and of) another jolly useful site from the good people at mysociety.org:
FOI Request re: Mark Thompson’s trip to Israel for talks with Ariel Sharon

The Sun didn’t really discover Atlantis via Google Earth. I can tell by that look on your face that you’re totally shocked by that.

And now, some things you can see from Google Earth that The Sun would rather you didn’t.

(So is The Sun spending most their budget on watching Jade Goody die and filling in any blank spots with stuff they found on Google Earth? It certainly seems like it. And if you don’t mind me saying so, it’s this kind of clever newspapering that makes Rebekah Wade long overdue for a promotion.)

Iain Dale’s somewhat misinformed view on Star Wars reminded me of Starcrash, the world’s greatest space adventure movie ever, ever, ever. It’s even got a hairy-chested Hoff. Watch the whole thing here, if you like.

Speaking of hollow imitations dressed with shiny lights; here’s what the pollsters are saying about Sarah Palin’s future.

On the subject of Google-bombing YouTube, here’s a result you might enjoy (screengrab)

And finally, some good news from the land of we-don’t-do-torture:

AP Newsbreak: CIA destroyed 92 interrogation tapes
The Times – Britain admits rendition of terror suspects
Guardian – UN attacks Britain over torture claims
Septicisle – Rendition flashback
Justin McKeating – David Miliband and Jaqui Smith: something to hide, something to fear

Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!, Search Engine Optimisation, The Political Weblog Movement, Updates, US Presidential Election 2008, Video | 3 Comments