The Mail were bang on the money with this morning’s revelations about the cosy close-knit community of Guardianistas and tabloid-bashers advising the Leveson Inquiry. One of Sir David Bell’s previous endeavours that they highlight was founding the Media Standards Trust which gave birth to the Hacked Off campaign. According to their website the MST is “governed by a board comprising respected figures from civil society and the media”.
So just who are these respected figures?
The MST’s deputy chair is Julie Middleton, CEO of Common Purpose. Her superior on the board, acting chair Baroness Helena Kennedy, is a Labour peer and former chair of anti-Thatcher group Charter 88, who is herself reportedly associated with Common Purpose, Medical Aid for Palestinians and perhaps should not be described as a Guardianista given she sits on the Indy’s board. Then we have Anthony Salz, who is a member of the Scott Trust which controls the Guardian, and Albert Scardino, a Murdoch-hating Guardian contributor who is married to Marjorie Scardino, CEO of FT owners Pearson PLC.
In their mealy mouthed mission statement about the “news ecosystems” and “think-and-do-tanks”, the MST pride themselves on “promoting quality, transparency and accountability in news”. So just how accountable are they? They hold no elections and have no membership structure for supporters. Guido asked board member Mary Ellen Barker how he could get on the board, she told him that proposals are made and discussed by the board. The very definition of a self-selecting elite. They claim not to be a lobby group yet admit “we do seek to influence policy and will try to talk to senior figures in politics”. Sounds like a lobby group to Guido.
The MST has a self-selecting, closed circle leadership structure that is accountable only to themselves. Essentially it is a clique of the usual chattering class suspects who are using their influence inside the Leveson Inquiry to try and undermine their more successful press competitors. They really are enemies of a free press…