Helena Kennedy Should Recuse Herself Over Harigate

A co-conspirator sent in this email this afternoon. If this is true and it was Helena Kennedy he overheard, she should recuse herself from the decision over Johann Hari and the Orwell Prize.

On Friday, mid afternoon I hopped on a train at Clapham Junction heading to Gatwick. Behind me was a softly Scottish accented lady who started to have a conversation on her mobile. There was someone quite upset on the phone and she was very consoling. She then announced that she was high up in the Media Standards Trust and started name-dropping her connections. I’d never heard of the MST till I read your blog today. She was clearly talking about the Hari story, which I had heard about, so I listened in. I don’t know who she was (their website is down* right now and didn´t see her), but she firmly came down on the side of Hari, and seemed to be suggesting that she’d be doing all she could to avoid the guy being treated badly. Who is she I wonder, and who was the person on the phone? She seemed to be being asked to give advice about what to do next, and kept on telling the person that she’d call them when she got home as she was on a train. It seemed rather urgent. I wondered if it might be Hari himself or someone being pulled down by the consequences. Kelner? I tried finding out who this Softly scottish accented woman was…

In a short time the co-conspirator and Guido came to form the opinion that it was Helena Kennedy. His second email continued:

Can’t be sure it was her because I didn’t see her (I was sitting directly in front of her and didn´t want to turn around). Her voice fits exactly. I’d never heard of the MST. In response to the call she received, she quickly declared her role in that organisation as well as some personal links some people associated with the Orwell Prize, and that was what pricked my ears up. If she’s the only “posh Scot” woman in that organisation, then it can’t be anyone else. The conversation that followed seemed to fit exactly as though she were talking about the Hari issue, and she was giving that defence of Hari I’ve read elsewhere. She didn’t actually mention Hari by name. She seemed to be travelling with two other people (men) as she was talking with them as I got off at Gatwick. I got on the train sometime around 3pm at Clapham if it helps.

Helena Kennedy is on the boards of both The Independent newspaper and the Media Standards Trust. Guido will caveat this by saying he has yet to speak to Kennedy to get her confirmation or denial. Prima facie this doesn’t sound like the beginnings of something that is going to be transparent and accountable. Hari deserves due process, not a liberal-establishment stitch-up…

*The Media Standards Trust website is currently down.




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