August 20th, 2013

Spooks Smash Guardian Hard Drives

Fascinating stuff from Alan Rusbridger last night. The Guardian editor claims that two months ago he was approached by a government official on behalf of the PM demanding he destroy material they were working on. A month later Rusbrisger says he received a phone call in which he was told “you’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back”. Then a quite extraordinary day at Kings Place:

“And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. “We can call off the black helicopters,” joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.”

You can read his account in full here. Of course there are unanswered questions, chiefly why did Rusbridger allow the spooks to do this? Though what this comes down to is that state security was in the Guardian’s basement destroying their hard drives. Which is a hugely worrying development. After all, this could be Guido one day…


  1. 1
    Andrew Efiong says:

    Always do a back-up.

    Very worrying though to see these public sector dimwits using the sinister force of the state to cover their tracks after they were exposed as nosy snoopers.

  2. 2

    No one can destroy data. I have mine in three different countries in two different continents. Guardian are not worthy of their name.

  3. 3
    Tony Bliars Industrial Shredder and Blender says:

    Left: Give a man a fish and he’ll eat fish that a day.

    Right: Give a man a net and show him how to catch fish and he can eat the fish or sell the fish and use the cash to buy pizza or a house and a life. He can use the cash to buy a boat and hire some men to go fish with him and they can use the cash to house and feed their families too.

  4. 4
    C.O.Jones says:

    So much for freedom of the press.

  5. 5
    Tony Bliars Industrial Shredder and Blender says:

    I did.

  6. 6
    Spooky says:

  7. 7
    Sp00ky says:

  8. 8
    genghiz the kahn says:

    So Alan tell me when did you start having these fantasies?

  9. 9
    The Guardian hates Britain says:

    Except when the press tries to publish state secrets.

  10. 10
    Liar.Politicians says:

    PPE technological illiterate like David Cameron, who would know what GCHQ and police are doing, must think it’s really difficult to copy files, and have lots off off site backups in different places.

    Police state Camoron has his Bilderberg orders, silence the free press, they are looking too much at the “leaders”.

  11. 11
    Smuggler says:

    Why didn’t he just hide it up his arse?

  12. 12
    David Shayler was right all along! says:

    Rusbridger is probably lucky he wasn’t found in a zipped up and padlocked holdall in a flat in Chelsea!

  13. 13
    Little Boy Blue says:

    They are hardly going to admit to doing the same cat. ( A! M )

  14. 14
    Del Becco says:

    It would be fun if they’d smashed Polly Toynbee’s computer. I look forward to her next cheerleading piece celebrating Labour’s terror laws.

  15. 15
    Al Rushbridger says:

    …and then I woke up and it was Tuesday

  16. 16
    D.Miranda says:

    Ooooh Glenn, you cheeky thing

  17. 17
    Keith Lemon says:

    And her backdoor.

  18. 18
    Little Boy Blue says:

    Boris says he would never ‘shaft’ his brother like Ed Miliband did. ( Telegraph )

    Why didn’t Boris protect his kin, you may ask.

  19. 19
    SAS - Black Ops Wetjob division - Oirish Chapter says:

    Ding Dong

  20. 20
    Warning says:

    Stolen state secrets. If you have stolen or illegal material, that can put individuals or the country in danger, don’t be surprised if the police try to access it.

  21. 21
    Yeah, right... says:

    Wouldn’t trust Rubisher as far I could throw him.

    There were no GCHQ spooks. It was more likely unpaid Grauniad interns smashing his hard drives because he had just had notice of a tax investigation.

  22. 22
    Mitch says:

    Rusbridger is a prize clown who has wet dreams about being Gabriel Byrne in Defence of the Realm.

    Grow up, Alan.

  23. 23
    Col. Nut says:

    Sounds bestial.

  24. 24
    Little Boy Blue says:

    David Blunkett joins criticism of Labour leadership’s performance.

    No such thing as blind allegiance it appears.

  25. 25
    Labour=Waste says:

    These are the people who thought Gordon Brown was the right leader! Miliband must be a prize pillock if a range of senior Labour folk are going public with criticism.

  26. 26
    The Telegraph says:

    Around two million people pass through UK ports every year, about 70,000 of whom are examined under the same anti-terror law.

  27. 27
    A citizen of the United Kingdom says:

    Err the press does not have the freedom to publish data that the state regards as secret. It is against the law.

    The Guardian may well think they are doing a public service but they are unaware of other factors that may combine to put individuals or the country at risk.

    It’s about time the Guardianistas were brought to book.

  28. 28
    A Stickler for Detail says:

    Examined but not detained.

  29. 29
    Fleet St Editor says:

    When the spooks ring me they always say “I work for the PM”. It gives them the kind of exposure which the *secret* services are famous for.

    Luckily, they’ve never heard of backing up data, so let’s just keep that to ourselves, shall we?

  30. 30
    Anonymous says:

    Oh yes they can.

    Having had companies I work for visited by GCHQ it is quite normal for them to destroy work and technology that they deem too dangerous.

    It is just one of the issues of doing high tech development in this country and why it all went abroad. They only delay the developments and make sure someone else owns the market/product. Both technologies became mainstream products a few years later.

    They honestly think there is a future for police states. In reality they become stale and die.

    Personally, I prefer a UK journalist to be the first port of call for any secret documents. Something that should not be discouraged. This does not help at all.

  31. 31
    Dweeb says:

    I realise the Guardian is strapped for cash but you can buy a 2 terabyte external hard drive for £65.

  32. 32
    CAGW funded Academia can lose Data says:

    Tell that to the University of East Anglia.

  33. 33
  34. 34
    Lord Stansted says:

    about 3 per-cent; seems about right.

  35. 35
    A stickler, but still wrong says:

    Oh right, they examine them walking down the corridor, do they? Or do they do it in a room, and take as long as they need, even if it’s 9 hours?

  36. 36
    Gary says:

    Seeing as GCHQ were “selling” stuff to foreigners while supposedly working for the UK taxpayer, they can’t really complain when they get a taste of their own medicine.

    The stuff that Snowden has revealed is in the public interest. Those fat, useless fucks in GCHQ who did nothing to stop HSBC funding Al Qaeda have been exposed as mercenaries offering to “give stuff” to whoever pays them fat dollops of money, and their actions stink of self-preservation and self-interest.

    The “war on terror” is just a way for the spooks, politicians, and their corporate profiteer friends, to get their hands on more taxpayer dough.

  37. 37
    Parasite says:

    They’re all members of the Tribe, you see.

  38. 38
    Lord Stansted says:

    Well said Mitch.

  39. 39
    fruitcake says:

    I like the “remains of a MacBook Pro” at 1500 quid a pop for the i7 version, is it any wonder the graun is in financial poo, after all they could have just removed and slagged down the hard drive. I bet Rushbridger thinks the MI5 boys were called Bodie and Doyle as well!

  40. 40
    domino316 says:

    It’s great news, hopefully the authorities in Liechtenstein and Switzerland will now be heading to HMRC to destroy the DVD’s that they knew to be stolen yet still bought.

  41. 41
    JH3942859230923-4 says:

    So, the paper that flew in formation with the BBC to obsessively encourage state interference in the media – purely to try and hurt a commercial rival – gets interfered with by the state.

    Cry me a fockin river.

    That’s what you don’t understand, lefties – throwing others to the wolf does not necessarily mean it will eat you last.

  42. 42
    Bingo says:

    Tom Watson is carefully carving his secret steak kidney pudding recipe into trees and rocks on Kinver Edge

  43. 43
    Gary says:

    Where is Mr. Fraser Nelson?

    Where is Mr. Michael Gove?

    Weren’t those two pompous Hunts bleating about freedom of the press during Leveson?

    They are awfully quiet now, aren’t they? Proof positive that they are hypocritical little shits who only care about their wallets and corporate chums.

  44. 44
    Bill Quango MP says:

    The left again: Tax the righty fisherman on the amount of fish he has. He must be a bastard to have so much fish when the lefty layabout has none. Tax him half his fish.
    And vilify him to for using up precious natural.

  45. 45

    My own strategy is to have my data in three different places physically, not on the cloud. I am the only person in the world who knows where those places are.

    My data is not held with the intention of threatening world peace but, if even if it did, they would not be able to find it without getting that information directly from me.

    But even if I was tortured in order to obtain this, they would still never know whether they had it all or not.

  46. 46
    rick says:

    Doubt if any of this leaked data involves genuine ‘national security’. Most of it is probably being used by the state to keep it’s citizens under control.
    I hate the Grauniad as much as the next grown-up, but in this case the rag is definitely on our side.

  47. 47
    I'm a lefty so my cause is just says:

    What is it with lefties when they always assume that the law does not apply to them?

  48. 48
    Sandra in Accounts says:

    I genuinely cannot understand what the left & militant BBC Pride Army are prickly about.

    Miranda was a document mule ferrying stolen state secrets to a filmmaker, who’s output will aid & abet enemies of the free world.

    I would be amazed if Miranda was not detained at the earliest opportunity.

  49. 49
    Erm.. says:

    Isn’t that a bit OTT for last years paddling pool sales figures?

  50. 50
    Soap Dodger says:

    Can fish be distilled into alcohol?

  51. 51
    Bingo says:

    change the lefty’s adult nappy and they may stop crying for a few hours

  52. 52
    Diane Abbotapotumus says:

    Pescist !

  53. 53
    Go Girl get them says:

  54. 54
    Tooth fairy says:

    EU – Not content with merely taxing the fisherman, allow the fisherman’s neighbours unfettered access to the fishing grounds and catch the fish to extinction, thereby ensuring the fisherman, his workers, his family his workers families and the community relying on the fishing industry to become destitute.

  55. 55
    Twitter ye not says:

    Has Geedo imposed a Tweet Ban?

  56. 56
    Mornington Crescent says:

    …after all, there’s plenty of room for storage up there…

  57. 57
    RWS says:

    Any large organisation worth its salt would periodically backup sensitive and critical data to a secure off site repository and as much as we like to think that they are the NONE intelligence agencies, they would be fully aware of this. Therefore your statement opens up holes in the Guardian story. If they “SPOOKS” did smash the drives might I suggest that they are as suspicious in their nature as the story itself.

  58. 58
    Anonymous says:

    In June 2013 there were 2.9 million overseas visitors. 5.9 million trips by UK residents. That is one month.

    UK airports handled 221 million passengers!

  59. 59
    Spot On says:


  60. 60
    Leopards' spots are indelible says:


  61. 61

    The situation is a lot deeper than you underestimation suggests.

  62. 62
    Critic says:

    If this was an episode of “Spooks”, Harry and his team would have broken into a newspaper office and removed all the sensitive material. Making sure a drug user in the toilet took the blame. I recall an episode when they were able to break into the US Embassy in London and wipe out a computer hard drive.

  63. 63
    Casual Observer says:

    Who would believe the Guardian?
    They and the BBC have a loony left agenda so until Labour get back in power (hopefully never) they will peddle their lies and half truths.
    Currently they are in a tizzy over their “journalist’s” lover being held in Heathrow. But he is not a professional accredited journalist. He is a lawyer masquarading as a journalist employed by the Guardian, and the main conduit to Snowdon.
    So his Brazilian lover was an information courier, and so subject to terrorism observance and stoppage.
    The Guardian and BBC prove the old statement correct “that it is not what is said that is important it is what is left unsaid”.

  64. 64
    Bejapers, one of ours! says:

    Gabriel Byrne, the best Irishman to be Prime Minister since Arthur Wellesley!

  65. 65
    Paniagua v5 says:

    He wants to be shallow chancellor.

  66. 66
    The BBC works for international Socialism says:


  67. 67
    Mornington Crescent says:

    I don’t remember the Graun getting outraged when Damian Green was outrageously arr3sted in 2008 under the OSA or when that 80-year old Labour supporter was manhandled out of the Labour Conference under the PTA. Hypocritical fuckers.

    The Beeboids are only making a fuss because he “ticks all the boxes”, innit:
    – he’s a leftie
    – he’s a metropolitan hack with all sorts of friends who are “activists” (yawn…)
    – he’s a homosexualist.

  68. 68
    James Bond says:


    I thought they wanted the data back, not destroyed?

  69. 69
    albacore says:

    So who needs cloaks and daggers and spooks and spies
    When it’s in Parliament where treachery lies
    Wiping out all that’s British in the nation
    With migration and E U subjugation?

  70. 70
    Give it a rest. It's the silly season don't you know. says:

    On holiday?

  71. 71
    Anonymous says:

    All sounds a bit suspicious to me.

    Did they smash all the storage at the Guardian? How did they know which machines to target? Was there a sticker on the Mac saying “All dodgy stuff on here only please”

    They are fully aware that taking copies onto removable media is simple and cheap. As is online storage.

    If it did happen as described it looks like a bit of malice and inconvenience causing with no real expectation of destroying the data.

    I trust Guido has safeguards in place on a server in a free country…like China or Albania.

  72. 72
    Gibraltar says:

    We caught 50 fish by dropping large concrete blocks on their heads.

  73. 73
    Gary says:

    What is it about righties and HSBC bankers that they think the law doesn’t apply to them?

    Has Boris done time for smashing up restaurants yet? Or is justice and community service only for the peasants?

  74. 74
    Polly Toynbee says:

    And he isn’t hideously white.

  75. 75
    Gary says:

    “Miranda was a document mule ferrying stolen state secrets to a filmmaker, who’s output will aid & abet enemies of the free world.”

    Are you so mentally deficient you believe everything the Police and spooks tell you, even though they are both deceitful and corrupt.

    GCHQ has been selling data to foreign governments, all Greenwald is doing is letting the TAXPAYERS know about the stuff being done behind their backs, which is a public service.

    Governments should be open and transparent.

  76. 76
    TrashBook Pro says:

    All we have to do is find 300-odd honest politicians. We don’t need to raise an army, or go onto the streets. Next election is May 15
    I suspect not enough people can be arsed.

  77. 77

    Very pleasant day here in Kent… ;-)

  78. 78
    Agree 100% says:

    The whole thing sounds made up.

    The Guardian’s copy was itself a copy, so they destroyed nothing.

    And, would the security services really draw attention to themselves in a stunt like this? Perhaps Alan was the victim of a rag week prank that got further than they ever hoped?

  79. 79

    I wonder if Special Branch used their tame Guardian journalists to smash the hard drives ? Probably. Save a few quid on taxi fares.

  80. 80
    Aardvark says:

    What the fuck does that mean?

  81. 81
    wtf says:

    What if that stolen or illegal material is obtained illegally by the state from a law abiding individual?

  82. 82
    Blind_leading_the_blind says:

    Was he on a “zero hours” contract (sorry, casual)?

  83. 83
    HJ says:

    It all sounds a bit unlikely to me.

    Surely The Guardian would have backed up the data secretly. Wouldn’t that be the obvious thing to do? GCHQ would know that destroying their hard drives wouldn’t achieve anything – unless, of course, The Guardian was daft enough not to make copies of the data.

  84. 84
    Riggsy Brown says:

    Agree with `Anonymous’. It doesn’t pass the smell test. Hope and trust that Guido doesn’t just roll over like Rusbridger if it goes down to the wire.

  85. 85
    Miranda Ticks all the BBC boxes says:

    And he cried on his boyfriend’s shoulder.

  86. 86
    Sir Jimmy of Savile says:

    Err.. Nelson’s writing for his own mag and Gove’s probably on jollies.

  87. 87
    Anonymous says:

    Now assume that the data is highly prized. Would you dare put it in places were you can not monitor. How would you get that data there, since you probably would be a assumed holder of the data.

    What would happen if your store was stolen and you let out the secrets. The place might burn down and the fire service search it. Holding data where the implications are not know, must be a terrifying experience. Until it is analysed you do not know how much damage could be done.

    Anyone responsible for this sort of data would not hold backups outside their control. If they did they would be worse than those they try to expose.

  88. 88
    Anonymous says:

    maybe he did.

  89. 89
    Mong Watch says:

    If they had any sense, and what was destroyed was of value, perhaps a backup and posting it on Wikileaks not a bad move.

    However – they were likely caught out in a sting operation.

    Ha ha ha ;-)

  90. 90
    Tommy Chalmers says:

    I find the idea of Guardian investigative journalism hilarious. Didn’t they stop that 25-30 years ago ? Orwell missed a trick when he left Rusbridger and Greenwald out of 1984.

  91. 91
    JH3942859230923-4 says:

    Best way to do that is to keep government small.

    But lefties don’t want that. They want the state huge and all-encompassing, because it provides them with a guaranteed income irrespective of the uselessness of their ideas.

  92. 92
    Feels like 1932 says:

    A copy of the data is with Glenn Greenwald in Brazil. Our spooks are fucking thick.

  93. 93
    Augusto Pinochet says:

    Confused Guidoite: ‘FREE SPEECH!’
    ‘Oh wait, it’s the Guardianista loony left and we hate them!’
    ‘Smash em up!’

  94. 94
    Mong Watch says:

    Governments should only be open and transparent if all other governments are.

    Such mantra preached disingenuously under Blair has significantly compromised the decision making ability of the UK government.

  95. 95
    Anonymous says:

    Mass surveilance a state secret? Not any more, hahaha. Anyway, fuck the state.

  96. 96
    Anonymous says:


  97. 97
    Feels like 1932 says:

    Then the state should use a D notice (like they did last month to attempt to suppress the G20 UK spying alegation). Even then, they can only take action after publication. This is about saving face, not state secrets.

    Oops, did I just cause this blog to breach a D notice? Shows how ridiculous it really is.

  98. 98
    Feels like 1932 says:

    It’s one thing to hate the Guardian and BBC, but your predudices are blinding you to the story here. How about if the Telegraph had been publishing the stories, what would your attitude be then?

  99. 99
    Feels like 1932 says:

    Free World. Ah, irony.

  100. 100
    Lavrenty Beria says:

    You tools of capitalism fail to understand the importance of swimming pool output to State security.

  101. 101
    Feels like 1932 says:

    Precisely, UK government has been selling us down the river to a foreign power.

  102. 102
    Older Person says:

    Arthur Worsley? Didn’t he always have his hand up a Lord’s rear? Lord Charles I think it was.

  103. 103
    Family Man says:

    These Turks stick together.

  104. 104
    Knowing Person says:


  105. 105
    Adult says:

    Grow up, thicko.

  106. 106
    Nworb Nodrog says:

    You think they didn’t clone it before deleting?

  107. 107
    Rumour Mill says:

    i) Child Abuse Cover Up
    – The Exaro news guys are ex Guardian aren’t they ?

    ii) Diana Death Cover Up

    iii) Child Abuse Cover Up
    – There is apparently an ex MI6 agent in Latam who has details on the higher level p3d0 rings. Allegedly in Argentina, apparently chased out of the country a few years back. Could be read herring, apparently has real evidence tying in members of the royal family to the Savile et al. goings on.

    iv) Tom Watson’s latest Smear manifesto
    – Perhaps GCHQ really are just doing the right thing here and saving us from a whole bunch of tawdry column inches designed to damage.

    v) Part of cover up / discrediting / clean up over involvement with Snowden, which appears to have failed to get an agent into the Russ!an / Ch!nese inner circles using the cover of global publicity to propagandize his apparent hate of the west.

    … The plot thickens…

  108. 108

    It is going to be one of three things:

    Rusbridger has no courage (probable)

    The security services have something on him

    Rusbridger is or has been a security service asset.

  109. 109
    Rumour Mill says:

    Perhaps it was just some heroin addicts in sharp suits with hammers claiming to be security service, and they had a thing against mac books.

    Alternatively – could the recently busted heroine addict who had access to Guardian have been an agent on deep cover ?

    Either way it should not help Guardian circulation.

  110. 110

    Given the hyperbole coming out of Greenwald’s mouth and printed in the Guardian, I would watch and wait. They are spinning the crap out of this story and the BBC is making sure that it all gets out there.

    Remember what Goebbels said, “Tell a big enough lie and tell it often enough and people will eventually believe it”.

    Modern update should add, “Getting the BBC to keep reporting half-truths and ignoring facts helps a lot in the process.”

  111. 111
    I Hate Tesco AND The Pope says:

    Are Nelson and Gove any worse than Bliar and the arch Machiavellian Campbell? Gove has an intellect. Perhaps that’s what so many on the left can’t stomach.

  112. 112
    Rob says:

    Guardian hoisted by their own petard. The supporters of dawn raids against their competitors feel the heat themselves.

    Oh dear how sad never mind. Fuck ‘em.

  113. 113
    A.A. Milne says:

    As a law abiding individual I am pissed off with the State every time it illegally obtains data from me. That does not mean I automatically want Edward Snowden, Arsehinge, or any other fucker on the make to illegally copy it and waft it around transit lounges for the benefit of nonces from the Grauniad.

    As me old mum use to say, ‘A.A, two wrongs don’t make a right – especially when some lefty journo is cruising for a crafty Nobel Peace Prize’.

  114. 114
    JH3942859230923-4 says:

    Sorry mate.

    It’s much more the case that the left don’t care about the rights of those they disagree with.

    If this had happened to Tommy Robinson, they would be punching the air.

  115. 115
    Duke of Wellington says:

    Egad, Sir!

    The last fellow to suggest I had my hand up somewhere, was challenged to a duel on Battersea Fields in 1829.

  116. 116
    Doomsayer says:

    Fell at the first hurdle with the oxymoron in the first sentence. I hope there was some irony in it. Honest politicians tend to have very short careers.

    Good luck to any politicians who will stand up in front of the great British public and tell them:

    # there’s no money in the bank and you cannot have a 42″ tellly and a iPhone unless you do something to earn it

    # Thanks to the green lobby we messed up our energy policies and you might end up sitting in the dark waiting for the wind to blow in a few years

    # We have no idea how to stop the proliferation generational increase of people on benefits. The are the only people who can afford to breed.

    # the Police and the Security forces are no longer under the control of government. We are as scared of them as you should be

    # The civil service will not allow us to reduce the size of the civil service

    Of course we can continue to dream that somehow miraculously the next lot will be better than the last lost and the current lot…

  117. 117
    Jimmy says:

    “After all, this could be Guido one day…”

    See, you can be funny when you try.

  118. 118
    Open Secret says:

    The best place to store these things is in the public domain.

  119. 119
    Rumour Mill says:


    vi) Child Abuse Cover Up
    – Allegations of high level UK politicians and public figures using services of child prostitutes in Brazil.

    ‘Child Abuse Cover Up’ seems to be dominant, which suggests that is what people are maybe meant to think.

    So that could likely be ruled out as being the reasoning in this case.

  120. 120
    Simon B says:

    That’s because the Guardian are commies and are undermining the work Our Boys in the security services and police are doing to keep us safe. They deserve everything they get.

    The cops should have sent Miranda to Guantanamo.

  121. 121
    Tommy Chalmers says:

    Rusbridger is definitely a security service asset. You don’t get half a million a year for being an anarchist / whistleblower.

    Greenwald and Rusbridger both supported the Iraq, Afghanistan wars. Snowden said leakers should be shot. His father also worked for the NSA . Phonies.

    Google Snowden ars technica

  122. 122
    Yeah, right... says:

    No, please, I beg you, not the piano.

    Here, take the hard drives….

  123. 123
    Ailurophile says:

    No, can’t find that one on my map of France….

  124. 124
    (I've been renamed) DA-Notice says:

    Possible DA-Notice?

  125. 125
    2112 says:

    Unlike some eh?

  126. 126
    TrashBook Pro says:

    Did the weasel Rusbridger tell us whether he handed over the data before the showtrial of the MacBook?
    I suspect he rolled over and let his tummy be tickled.

  127. 127
    TrashBook Pro says:

    I’m hopin’ for change.

  128. 128
    Keitho says:

    That made me laugh out loud. Well done Smuggler. :)

  129. 129
    Keitho says:

    :) Twice in one thread. That cracked me up LBB.

  130. 130
    Keitho says:

    +1 gigajoob

  131. 131
    Butch Dave says:

    Paddling pool production has risen year on year under the tories. Our secret statistics now show that we produce more paddling pools than tractors. The Chinese must never know. Please moderate this message.

  132. 132
    Chucka says:

    “for me party”?

  133. 133
    Cider drinker says:

    Its all very clear to me. Its just a ploy by the Guardian to have a starring role in the next Jason Bourne blockbuster. Say it isnt so ?

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