News of the World vs. Big Society: snakes in the grass

Posted by Tim Ireland at October 8, 2010

Category: Old Media, Tories! Tories! Tories!

This entry was posted on
Friday, October 8th, 2010
9:50 am and is filed
under Old Media, Tories! Tories! Tories!.

Watching Channel 4’s excellent documentary Tabloids, Tories and Telephone Hacking I was struck by the bravery of the victim of sexual assault who spoke out, especially in comparison to the majority of ‘journalists’ who worked under Andy Coulson and/or alongside Clive Goodman at News of the World (i.e. people who claim their life’s mission is to root out and report corruption).

I was also greatly amused to watch the footage of Coulson being confronted by the Culture Select Committee with a hard copy of the Goodman article that did him in (the bottom item in the scan below); this was a news gossip item that alerted the royals to the phone hacking that led to a police investigation, a conviction, and Coulson’s resignation (link), but Coulson looked at it as if he’d only just then laid eyes on it.

As you can see from the scan, Goodman drapes himself in the name of a familiar fictional character and casts himself as an anti-establishment warrior fighting for the rights of the common man. Moving quickly on from the shtick of this corrupt liar and how familiar it seems, I would like you to note that Andy Coulson portrays this man as a rotten apple in barrel, while Goodman seems/seemed to think of himself as more of a snake in the grass.

(There’s a clever sentence about apples and snakes that eludes me here; perhaps the accomplished writer and biblical scholar Nadine Dorries would care to tackle it.)

Yesterday, I did some research in the British Newspaper Library in Colindale, in an effort to (at least) familiarise myself with Goodman’s NOtW contemporaries from the period preceding/surrounding the act that led to his downfall.

What appears below is a list of ‘journalists’ who rated a byline mention in News of the World in 2005. I’ll refrain from highlighting any names that already stand out for me (it wouldn’t be at all fair in a post like this), but I will tell you that this list may contain the name of the individual who had an actor portray them in Tabloids, Tories and Telephone Hacking, and it may also contain the names of several people who are busy avoiding any mention of the matter at all, possibly because they still work for News International and/or fear having their lives ruined by the type of people who smear those who dare to expose their corruption.

Rather than waiting for newspapers, TV or (Dog forbid) the police to do something about this, I propose that we ‘Big Society’ this project and beat the grass with sticks ourselves, to see how (m)any remaining snakes react.

The way I picture it, any blogger with an interest in truth in media can pick a name (at random, if you want to try to be as fair as possible), find out what that person has been up to lately (starting with Wikipedia, Journalisted, etc.), source the relevant contact details in the process, approach that person for comment, then blog the details.

At the very least, we should end up with a pretty comprehensive list of people who would rather stay hidden in the grass for one reason or another.

Clive Goodman Blackadder Nov 13 2005 - Partial scan

List of News of the World ‘journalists’ granted a byline in 2005

(NOTE – People known to be still working for NOTW at the time of writing are highlighted in bold. Names preceded by an [e] have been emailed – or in some cases tweeted – with a request that they comment on this matter. Obviously those still working for NOTW or another News International newspaper are unlikely to comment, but there are Is to be dotted and Ts to be crossed.)

[e] Phil Taylor – ‘associate editor’
[e] Neville Thurlbeck – ‘chief reporter’ [response: no comment]
[e] Ian Kirby – ‘political editor’ [response: no comment]
[e] Keith Gladdis – ‘deputy politicial editor’/’whitehall editor’ [response: no comment]
[e] Mark Bolland – (former editor of ‘Blackadder’… and former director of the PCC) [response: no comment]
Clive Goodman – ‘royal editor’ [done]
[e] Ryan Sabey – ‘royal reporter’ (Now working for The Sun) [response: no comment]
Mahzer Mahmood – ‘investigations editor’
[e] Martin Samuel – ‘chief sports writer’
[e] Rachel Richardson – ‘tv editor’ [response: no comment]

Alice Walker
[e] Amanda Evans [response: no comment]
[e] Andrea Vance [response: no comment]
Carl Fellstrom [Has blogged about it here. And good on him.]
Carole Aye Maung
[e] Chris Buckland (Now working for The Sun) [response: no comment]
Chris Tate
[e] Dan Evans (currently “suspended from reporting duties” following a complaint by a female television personality that her voicemail was intercepted this year- source)
[e] Danny Buckland
David Martyn
David McGee
David O’Dornan
[e] Dominic Herbert [response: no comment]
Edward Trevor*
Frank Thorne (Sydney-based correspondent)
Gemma Calvert
Gemma Pearse
Georgina Dickinson
Gerard Couzens
Haili McHugh
Hayley Barlow
Holly Jarvis
James Desborough
James Hill
James Millbank
James Orr
Jane Atkinson
Jon Higginson
Lester Middlehurst
Lewis Panther
Lucy Laing
Lucy Panton
Mark Christy
Martin Breen
Matt Slater
Matthew Acton
Mike Hamilton
Mike Merrit
Nadia Cohen
Neil McLeod
Neil Syson
Paul Kennedy
Phil Cardy
Polly Graham
Primrose Skelton
Rachel Spencer
Rav Singh
Rob Beasley
Robbie Collin
Robert Kellaway
Ross Hindley
Ruth Skelton
Sara Nuwar
Sarah Arnold
Sharon Feinstein
Simon Freeman
Sonny Soper
Stella White
Stian Alexander
Stuart Kuttner
Sue McGibbon
Tim Wood
Tom Worden
Vanessa Altin
Vaz Sayed
Wayne Francis
Will Stewart
Zak Newland

MINI-UPDATE – I have added here the names of two three News of the World executives who were active at the time:

Ross Hall
Alex Marunchak (this article from 2002 will raise an eyebrow)
Greg Miskew (Miskew left in July 2005, but it is alleged he signed a contract with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire)

(Those with certain prominence and/or billed with a title in print in 2005 head the list, but other than that, the order is strictly alphabetical by first name. This is not a complete list, and it may grow; samples were taken from the main part of the paper in early, mid and later months of 2005. Some pseudonyms and/or nameless drones may be involved. Other people were afforded bylines at the time, but they are not in this list because they wrote opinion pieces and/or were unlikely to be based in the main office; e.g. Lord Stevens, William Hague, Tony Blair, Al Murray, the lovely Ulrika, and Mystic Meg… who we can only assume failed to see this coming.)

So, there’s your list. Many of these people worked alongside Clive Goodman in the months leading up to the event that led to his arrest, and may or may not have something to say about their recollection of events and/or the culture in the newsroom under Andy Coulson.

If you plan on starting on a name or two, do drop me a line privately, leave a comment, or ping me on Twitter (hashtag is #snakelist); I’ll probably start marking names as ‘taken’ and/or ‘done’ once we get rolling, or I may choose to leave the list unmarked to keep the drones guessing. Let’s see how we get on.

* UPDATE (29 August, 2011) – ‘Edward Trevor’ appears to be a fake name. The following has been reported by the Wall Street Journal:

Former News of the World staffers say it wasn’t unusual for the News of the World’s editors to put a reporter’s byline on a story not written by that person. In fact, one reporter whose name appeared on hundreds of News of the World stories over the years—Edward Trevor—doesn’t actually exist, former staffers say.


  1. little keithy says

    A quick look on wiki finds that Mark Bolland is well connected, sort of gamekeeper turned poacher, from Royal media guard to NOW in 2005. Maybe to mend fences after Goodman.Good mates with Beccy Brooks aswell

    • Tim_Ireland says

      Mark Bolland wrote the 'Blackadder' column *before* it was handed over to Goodman (13 March 2010). Here it is worth noting that Bolland's version of the column carried many royal titbits that may have come from his own sources or Goodman's.

  2. rob says

    Has anyone bothered to ask Mystic Meg for how she sees this turning out?
    What journalistic standards are being applied here? Downright sloppy if you ask me.
    Straight out of The Sun school of reporting – oh hang on………..

    Carry on. Keep it going.

    (This story just grows and grows – what it needs is more general public awareness – suggest put Bremner, Bird and Fortune or similar, not Simon Cowell, on the case )

    • yorkierosie says

      You are Andy Coulson and I claim my £5!

      • rob says

        Correct and the fiver will be on the way as soon as you let me have your voicemail pin number.

  3. Brian Cathcart says

    This is an excellent idea. At the risk of diluting the effort, there is more that can be done, too. Why should we believe that the phone-hacking was limited to the News of the World? The guilty silence of other papers suggests it wasn't. And just as it is interesting to comb the back numbers of the NoW, so it might be worth looking at issues of other tabloids in 2005, 5 and 7 to see whether there are stories which show signs of originating from phone hacking. Alert the victims, get the lawyers going … It's law enforcement, and you know the Met's not going to do it.

    • Tim_Ireland says

      Looking for "stories which show signs of originating from phone hacking" is a lot harder and a lot more time consuming than you might think, especially in cases where the hacking was used only as the initial lead on a story (Goodman's mistake was reporting something that could only have come from illegal access the voicemail of one of two people).

      I agree about the wider picture. Take for example the way these items were billed by one PI (as 'SunTimesNOTW', if I recall correctly), *but* it was the ongoing scrutiny of NOTW that uncovered this little nugget. I think that's worth sticking with NOTW for now, as it's there we have proven wrongdoing, and it is likely to reveal any wider wrongdoing.

      • Carl Fellstrom says

        As a freelance who has worked for most national newspapersover the past 13 years I can say that there has been illegal accessing of personal information (not just phone hacking) carried out by most of the newspapers. Only in a minority of the cases would a public interest argument have stood up to scrutiny. The Sun, Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, and Express have been just as guilty in the past ten years of going on the same celebrity fishing expeditions, often using the same private investigators and other "blagging" agents as the News of the World. We should not get blinkered that this is just a News International issue it is much wider than that. I am hopeful however that the Met will open up some of this when the re-investigation gets into its stride.

        • Tim_Ireland says

          Carl, I couldn't agree more, and I'm genuinely impressed with the stance you're taking. Cheers.

        • rob says

          Reading from other sites voicemail hacking appears in some parts of the general public as fair game.
          Do you think that knowledge of other "illegal accessing of personal information" methods would have the same effect or possibly create greater unease?

  4. @DocRichard says

    I'll take Primrose. She looks as if she has got a Skelton in her cupboard. (sorry).
    Is this the way you want us to do it?

    • Tim_Ireland says

      Hey Doc. All we need for each name is a quick report about if/where they work as a journo now (Still at NOTW? Still with News International? With another group entirely? Out of the business entirely?) and what comment (if any) they would care to make about their time at NOTW alongside Goodman and under Coulson.

      I expect we'll hear from some people who only wrote very occasionally for the paper and weren't part of the office culture, and some people who will restrict their comments to what a nice person Coulson is and how Goodman was a very naughty person who did this all by himself, etc. etc. but we're just getting started.

  5. @DocRichard says

    The thing that is holding witnesses from coming out with the truth is the fear of legal action against them, as well as fear that they could wreck their careers.

    Which is why the Green Party Conference put in a line about a general amnesty in its resolution on the affair.

    • rob says

      If you would care to take some advice from the man himself (see above), there could a career opportunity for a whistleblower or two, bearing in mind that if this affair does get opened up and everything goes pear shaped many careers are going to be wrecked any way. What you really need is someone with a grudge against me (see above again) there must be quite a number?.
      The bigger problem as I see it regarding potential witnesses is the size of the wallet of the Big Cheese. Is this going to be insurmountable? Within the global empire there seem to be an inexhaustible supply of jobs available for "useful" contacts.

  6. Tony says

    Good to see this post was highlighted by Alan Rusbridger in his letter to Det Super Dean Haywood.

  7. Haili Hughes says

    I am mentioned on this list as was a graduate trainee at the News of the World for two years. Sorry to burst your bubble but you will not find anything juicy on me seen as how I saw tabloid journalism for the snake it is and am now a very boring English teacher up North.

    Haili Hughes (or Haili McHugh as was)

    • Tim_Ireland says

      No bubbles were harmed in the submission of this comment. Delightful to hear from you, Haili, and I'm very happy to hear you're doing something far more constructive and rewarding than churning out tabloid content.

  8. Peter says

    be worth speaking to Lewis Panther.

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