Corrections and Clarifications: Brooks Newmark Sting

Over a period of six months, Media Guardian campaigned to stitch up the Sunday Mirror, consistently falling short of the journalistic standards it sets for others. In an extraordinary series of factually incorrect articles, Roy Greenslade alleged that “at least seven other Tory MPs were also offered similar lures” in “a giant trawl“. It is completely untrue to suggest that we “offered similar lures” to a “giant” number of MPs. If we had only tweeted at Brooks Newmark he would have seen the sting coming a mile off. The account followed and tweeted at many MPs, male and female, as well as celebrities and news organisations. Prior to the investigation we had a specific tip-off about Newmark. We only ever had a private conversation with one MP – Newmark – and it was instigated by him. 

Media Guardian claimed on multiple occasions that “Wickham approached the Mail on Sunday’s political editor, Simon Walters”, and that “the MoS was concerned about the methodology employed to obtain the story, believing that it amounted to entrapment and also involved a fishing expedition”. We can now reveal this to be 100% untrue. Alex Wickham never spoke to anyone from the MoS about the story. A very brief conversation was had between Paul Staines and the MoS, where the detail was not discussed and it was agreed that the story would not work for the mid-market paper on the grounds of taste – Lady Rothermere’s taste. Despite the innuendo and factually incorrect reporting of Media Guardian, at no point was the methodology ever considered by the MoS as the prime stumbling block to running the story. Whatever may have been subsequently briefed.

Greenslade then wrote in the Standard that “the net had been spread wide in the hope of a juicy catch”, concluding “It is impossible to disentangle the public interest from the methodology. Given that we have a code of practice, we cannot argue that the end justifies the means”. Again, we had a specific tip-off about Newmark, and IPSO has found that the methods employed did not breach the code of practice.

Much of Media Guardian’s error-strewn reporting can be explained by their reliance on unfounded innuendos made by less popular parts of the Twitterphere. Peter Jukes claimedthere are many abuses being perpetrated here“, accusing us of  “fishing others”, and again suggesting that two other newspapers “knocked back the subterfuge”. Our position has now been vindicated by IPSO. 

Buzzfeed report named a number of MPs with whom our account had interacted, implying they were targeted: “If you’re a middle-aged Conservative MP and a young attractive researcher starts taking an interest in you on Twitter, then be careful”. These MPs were not targeted, Buzzfeed’s irresponsible report was factually incorrect and responsible for much of the bad reporting that followed.

Finally those doyens of press accuracy at Hacked Off also made a series of untrue allegations about the story. They suggested there was no “prima facie evidence that any of the six MPs approached were engaging in inappropriate conduct on the internet”. This is clearly incorrect and the IPSO ruling has found that to be the case. They concluded: “There appears to have been nothing to justify the use of subterfuge by the freelance reporter”. This was always disputed by us and the Sunday Mirror, because we were in possession of the facts and we have now been vindicated by IPSO.

See also: Not So Pronto IPSO

You can read the IPSO ruling in full here.

IPSO Clears Sunday Mirror Over Brooks Newmark Sting

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has cleared the Sunday Mirror of any wrongdoing over the sexting sting on Tory MP Brooks Newmark. Despite unfounded allegations made by the the less popular elements of the Twittersphere and the sloppy journalism of Media Guardian, among others, the press regulator found that the use of subterfuge was justified. The ruling also accepted that the story was in the public interest because it exposed “serious impropriety” by Newmark.

The CEO of IPSO Matt Tee said:

“The editors’ code prohibits subterfuge unless in the public interest, and only then where there is no other practical means of obtaining the story. After a lengthy investigation we have found that the subterfuge used was justified at each stage of the investigation and publication was in the public interest.”

As Guido said all along, the story was legitimate and carried out in the public interest. Brooks Newmark was one of the founders of “Women2Win”, a campaign to get more Conservative women into politics. This was no fishing operation, it was a narrowly targeted effort. As the later revelations of his affair further proved, and IPSO have finally agreed, the investigation was justified. Subterfuge and clandestine methods will continue to be used to go after wrong ‘uns – there is no other way.

“Widespread and Habitual” Hacking at Mirror

Today the High Court was told:

“The evidence demonstrates that voicemail interception, as well as the unlawful obtaining of personal information by blagging or use of private investigators, was in widespread and habitual use by a large number of journalists across all three MGN titles.”

The Guardian reports:

“Between June 2002 and mid-2006, Sherborne said MGN journalists made nearly 10,000 phone hacking calls to Orange’s voicemail platform.

There are reporting restrictions in place.

Press Ethics Crusaders Strangely Silent on Mirror Hacking

Mirror[1]

A national newspaper group today admits that “some years ago voicemails left on certain people’s phones were unlawfully accessed” and that it “apologises publicly to all its victims of phone hacking”. Yet for some reason the Leader of the Opposition is not calling for a Commons debate and a judge-led inquiry, and past crusaders for press ethics turned Mirror columnists, Tom Watson and John Prescott, are silent. How can Prezza, the victim turned scourge of phone hackers, work for the very people who hacked phones? What is about his grand-a-week column that makes him turn a blind eye to the criminality of his paymasters? What about Hacked Off? There is nothing about hacking at Trinity Mirror on the front page of their website this morning. The humblest day of their lives…

UPDATE I (11.42) Hacked Off have belatedly noticed the Mirror’s front page, over an hour after we clipped their ears for their silence.

UPDATE II

Gove’s Jag Snag: Red Box Missing From Footage

At his speech in Westminster this morning, Grant Shapps was quick to point out that he had not driven the 400m from CCHQ to the Institute of Directors in “a government car”, nor was he willing to get drawn “into commenting on individual’s car use”.

Andrew Mitchell, for example, refused a car when he was in the same job. Both Gove’s people and the Cabinet Office are kicking back hard at the Mirror’s splash today, claiming that the car was carrying important government papers for the Chief Whip. Gove is holding a folder in the footage, but there does not seem to be any sign of his red box – in which official documents are kept – neither when Gove got in nor out of the car.

Decide for yourselves here.

Leon Brittan Buried in Accordance With Jewish Customs

The Telegraph, Mirror, Metro and Mail have all followed up Exaro’s top scoop that Leon Brittan has been buried in an unmarked grave for fear it would be vandalised. The MailOnline headline has however since been changed with no explanation, though the URL remains the same:

Why the subtle change? As is being pointed out this morning, and as the new Mail copy states: “In accordance with Jewish tradition, the former home secretary is said to have been interred in an simple plot without flowers in Golders Green Cemetery”.

Wonder what other assumptions Exaro have failed to check…

Bi-Textual:  Letter Is Cut ‘N Paste Job
Sham Business Endorsement Written by Chuka

Goldman Sachs predator turned Olympics boss Charles Allen has a letter in the Mirror today praising Labour’s plans for British business. It does not mention he’s actually the Chairman of Executive Board of the Labour Party, but who cares for such details. The letter is so generous it could almost have been written by Chuka Umunna. In fact, it was.

Lord Allen, ennobled by Labour, uses the exact same words in his letter as this article by Chuka for LabourList last year:

Allen: “We cannot and we should not push Britain towards the EU exit door or putting Britain’s future at risk for the sake of party management.”

Chuka: “Not pushing Britain towards the EU exit door or putting Britain’s future at risk for the sake of party management.”

Allen: “This plan means creating a new high-quality technical baccalaureate to give our young people the skills they need, with all young people studying English and Maths until they are 18.”

Chuka: “Creating a new high-quality technical baccalaureate to give our young people the skills they need, with all young people studying English and Maths until they are 18.”

Allen: “It means more rigorous standards so that apprenticeships last a minimum of two years and using the money the government spends to create new opportunities by requiring suppliers on large contracts to offer apprenticeships.”

Chuka: “More rigorous standards so that apprenticeships last a minimum of two years and are level three qualifications, and using the money the government spends on procurement to create new opportunities by requiring suppliers on large contracts to offer apprenticeships.”

Allen: “It means investing for the long term and making sure businesses of all sizes can get access to the finance they need to grow, with a proper British Investment Bank supported by a network of regional banks.”

Chuka: “It means investing for the long term and making sure businesses of all sizes can get access to the finance they need to grow, with a proper British Investment Bank supported by a network of regional banks.”

Allen: “It means giving the Green Investment Bank – initiated by the last Labour government – borrowing powers to enable it to support low-carbon industries of tomorrow.”

Chuka: “Giving the Green Investment Bank – initiated by the last Labour government – borrowing powers to enable it to support low-carbon industries of tomorrow.”

Allen: “But most importantly it means an open, outward-facing approach to the world: engaging positively with our European partners and reforming the EU so it is more focused on growth.”

Chuka: “It means an open, outward-facing approach to the world: engaging positively with our European partners, reforming the EU so it is more focused on growth.”

Where’s Bill Somebody when you need him? 

Guardian’s Small Correction & Clarification

coulson-correction

Over page after page last summer the Guardian splashed on the front page of G2 about the baby-eating antics of News of the World journalists. Today hidden back on page 32 a small clarification reveals allegations were untrue. Notice how the Guardian is currently now splashing page after page, day after day, about the Daily Mirror’s corporate malfeasance and multi-million pay outs to hacked celebs? Nope.

Ex-Sunday Mirror Hack Pleads Guilty to Phone Hacking in 2001
“Shown By Senior Person How to Access Voicemails”

Graham Johnson is the first Mirror employee to plead guilty to hacking, admitting he accessed the voicemails of a celeb in October 2001 after being “shown by a senior person in a supervisory capacity how to” do so.

Reporting restrictions […]

+ READ MORE +

WATCH: Newmark Story Was Not Entrapment

Fleetstreet Fox’s defence of the Sunday Mirror’s Brooks Newmark story on Question Time last night is worth watching. Critics who have not read the original story and trigger happy IPSO bosses should watch:

“I think in this particular case that

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Trinity Mirror CEO Blasts Brooks Newmark Story Critics
Buzzfeed, Telegraph Criticised for Revealing Innocents’ Names

brooks-newmark-mirror-frontpage

Trinity Mirror CEO Simon Fox has put out an extremely robust defence of the Sunday Mirror/Brooks Newmark story:

“Whilst this has attracted a barrage of negative comment and the threat of an IPSO investigation, we believe that we were

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Not So Pronto IPSO

IPSO’s Sir Alan Moses is in a rush for the three weeks-old new press regulator to get to the bottom of our Brooks Newmark investigation published in the Sunday Mirror. For the record and the avoidance of doubt, Alex […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Labour’s Austin Mitchell muses on the campaign:

“What’s the problem? No use pointing at the leader. Too late to change and unnecessary for Miliband is doing well at Question Time. His problem is connecting with the real world. He doesn`t speak people and his protective team of naive kids are playing West Wing rather than letting the leader relate to real people. We could point at the party, shrunk in numbers and enthusiasm because everything, from policy formulation to candidate selection, comes top down rather than bubbling up from below so campaigning becomes the opium of members deprived of any real role, though they`re not even sure what they’re campaigning about, with or for, but its role is marginal.”

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