Give it a few minutes, but some popcorn worthy stuff from Newsnight last night:
There’s a rather warped transcript here.
Those of you following Guido on Twitter will know that for weeks Guido has been using the hashtag #CircularFiringSquad to drip out names of journalists from other newspaper groups, in particular the Mirror group, who are as guilty as those arrested at the News of the World. Illegal hacking and blagging, with no public interest defence, has been endemic at Mirror titles. Last night on BBC Newsnight they produced testimony from former employees that at the Sunday Mirror
Last week this blog reported on the record accusations against Tina Weaver, editor of the Sunday Mirror, that she was at the heart of a culture of journalistic illegality. Max Keiser claimed that she personally told him in 2002 about Piers Morgan’s working knowledge of phone hacking – at a time when he was editor of the Daily Mirror. Guido has extensively reported allegations against Piers Morgan dating back to his time at the Daily Mirror which have been followed up worldwide. We have reported testimony that when Mark Thomas was editor of the Sunday People, he was according to Guido’s source – who is a household name, “the biggest phone hacking enthusiast”. The evidence of the Information Commissioner against the Mirror group is compelling.
If it turns out that Sly Bailey’s Mirror group was a criminal enterprise, they will have to face the consequences, with a market capitalisation of only £140 million and damages that could mount up to tens of millions the consequence could be bankruptcy. Plus jail time…
Meantime, and until the due process of the law takes its slow course, Guido thinks it beyond credibility that Tina Weaver is a member of the self-regulatory Press Complaints Commission. Tina should step down.
On a personal note, if Mirror group newspapers “go after“ Louise Mensch MP, as they are openly threatening to do, they will be making a big mistake. She sits on the DCMS Select Committee and is determined to widen their inquiries out to other newspapers beyond the News of the World. Tina and Sly should remember that it was a similar threat by Rebekah Brooks against Tom Watson that eventually led to News International being brought to crisis point. Louise is just as tough as Tom…
Imagine a secretive organisation whose members have privileged access to Downing Street. Imagine that the members of this organisation receive information covertly. Imagine that the rules of this organisation force the members to withhold information from outsiders if the Prime Minister tells them so to do. Then consider that the members of this closed, opaque, secretive organisation are supposed to hold politicians to account on behalf of the public. After 208 years it is time to end the Lobby system.
The gentlemen of the Lobby drink in subsidised bars, from which the public are excluded, with the politicians they are supposed to hold to account on behalf of that same public. Cowardice and cronyism runs right through the Lobby because they are fearful of being taken off the teat of pre-packaged stories served to them. That is not journalism, that is copy-taking, this blog was established in part because Guido believes the Lobby system fails the public. The Fourth Estate may not have a formal constitutional role, but the role is real. The role is not to produce “client journalism”.
Peter Oborne in his brilliant Triumph of the Political Class characterises the Lobby system as having produced a tame “client media”. He is absolutely right, the Lobby is far too cosily embedded in the politico-media system, far too close to their subjects, with the likes of Nick Robinson flashing his taxpayer-financed credit card to pour the better vintages down the throats of ministers who have their lunch on the BBC telly-taxpayers. The same ministers who had their expensed groceries sent to their mortgage subsidised home at the taxpayers’ expense. The system stinks, those who are supposed to be watching over politicians – journalists – and the politicians themselves, are the only ones who benefit from the system staying the same.
Two years ago the then PMOS, Simon Lewis, and the then chairman of the Lobby, Jean Eaglesham, announced that the system of Downing Street Lobby briefings was to be reviewed “in light of the changes in the reporting of the work of government in an increasingly fast-moving and on-line media world”. A working group of six lobby hacks and five government spin doctors was to come up with recommendations to be implemented last year. No one from the fast-moving online media world was on the working group. Did anything change? No.
Tom Watson has just called for an end to the Lobby system and off the record briefings. Cameron has said he supports all contacts between politicians and newspaper executives being a matter of public record. More transparency is clearly a good thing. That transparency should be applied to the Lobby system…
See also: In 2007 Guido filmed this polemic against the Lobby system for Newsnight:
Watching Newsnight yesterday, post vajazzle, Guido was surprised to see they had on someone who looked and sounded like the third Kray brother; suit, hair and glasses all looked the part. It turned out that he was actually Ed Miliband’s new ideological guru, Maurice Glasman, of ‘Blue Labour’ fame. On the show a Labour MP sceptical of Blue Labour thinking suggested it was sexist and jingoistic. A bit like the Krays?
There are more similarities between Blue Labour and the Krays:
Presumably Maurice loved his mum as well…
Yesterday Rod Christie-Miller, the CEO of Schillings and the lawyer who has made millions covering up the truth for billionaires and celebrities, told Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis that Guido might get “a knock on your door and a long time in Pentonville” for revealing the truth. We shall see…
Here is Guido’s legal advice to billionaires and celebrities:
A lot cheaper and more effective than Schillings’ advice…
Schillings’ Rod Christie-Miller tells Emily Maitlis that truth tweeters…
“You may find a knock on your door and a long time in Pentonville.”
Look out for tonight’s Newsnight report from Comrade Mason who has spent the weekend sipping Molotov cocktails with Laurie Penny. For Mason these last few months have been an exciting period, reporting on a revolution which has Tweeted its way from Tahir Square to Trafalgar Square. Sometimes from dangerous territory with guerrilla protestors taking on tanks and now with those who think smashing up teacakes in front of old ladies is the moral equivalent.
Sometimes it has been as if he was broadcasting from Karl Marx’s bedroom – actually he did do that – embedded with friends this weekend his report should be an interesting exercise in straining impartiality. On his blog he let slip that: “At Fortnum and Mason the demonstrators who took it over are trying to get out, texting me…”. Above is our reconstruction of Mason in deep cover disguise this weekend…
Last night’s Newsnight special hardly covered the referendum in glory, despite the best attempts of the BBC to nail their colours to their sleeve. With the headline “Majority want overhaul of voting system, poll suggests” you would have thought that it was good news for the Yes campaign, but get to the second paragraph of their story and you find: “63% of those polled said a referendum on changing the system is a waste of time and money when there are other pressing needs in the country.” Hmmm…
Jo Swinson did not help her cause last night with her strictly quite ridiculous suggestion:
On Twitter in the aftermath even her own side rejected the idea. Messy.
Heydon Prowse has discovered that the UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) was involved in the selling of millions of pounds of fake bomb detectors to foreign governments. Military personnel demonstrated dud products to gullible buyers.[…]
Newsnight’s regular political panel, made up of Cameroon Danny Finkelstein, the LibDem’s Olly Grender and Blairite insider Peter Hyman, has a bit of a problem. Ever since the coalition emerged Grender and the Fink have moved closer and closer to each other, not only on the sofa but in terms of argument.[…]
If you missed last night’s Newsnight, you missed a classic of its kind.
Prezza, Pickles and the Huhney monster trashing each other and squabbling in a manner that would make fish wives embarrassed. Every now and then Prezza would shout “Ashcroft” like he had a politicised version of Tourette’s syndrome. […]