Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mirror, Mirror on the Fall

As speculation matures into full-blown witness statements and accusations, Trinity Mirror have called in the law firm Herbert Smith and launched an investigation into phone-hacking across its titles. Until now there have been only present tense denials of such actions.

One shareholder told the FT they expected “nothing less” than an investigation, but it hasn’t come in time to stop the company’s share price going into free fall, with a 9.8% plummet on Monday since Guido, swiftly followed by the BBC, and grudgingly some other papers, began lifting the lid. He’s not sure a mere review is going to do much to reassure investors…

Monday, July 25, 2011

Growing Concern for David Rose’s Mental Health

Guido understands the Indy team used every card in the book to secure a delay in the announcement that Johann Hari has been stripped of the 2008 Orwell Prize. The words “delicate” and “state” keep coming up. Sources for the prosecution seem to be outraged at how the Indy are conducting themselves during this humiliating time. While many are concerned at what a fall from grace might do to someone who already claims to be unstable, using a threat of their suicide as emotional blackmail to avoid professional embarrassment has been seen as a step too far. Johann Hari’s accomplice and loyal defender, David Rose, is said to be on suicide watch…

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sunday Mirror’s Tina Weaver Isn’t “Fit and Proper” for the PCC

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

  • they hired a voiceover artist to imitate celebrities to blag information
  • they “saw Liz Hurley’s phone being hacked and a reporter listen to her mobile phone messages”
  • Ex-Sunday Mirror journalist Richard Watson confirmed hacking took place “pretty much every day”

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 newspapersgo 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…

Friday, July 22, 2011

James Murdoch Claimed Three Sentence Long
Law Firm Memo “Cleared” News International

Under questioning this week by the DCMS Select Committee, James Murdoch said he “relied upon” media law firm Harbottle & Lewis’s report when he and Rebekah Brooks claimed that hacking was the work of one rogue reporter. According to a Bloomberg newswire report Harbottle & Lewis is now seeking clarification from New York-based News Corp., by whom they were retained, about the extent to which its duty of client confidentiality is waived. The lawyer who first reviewed the emails, Lawrence Abramson told the Guardian that “Professional duty of confidentiality prevents me from commenting on this.”

Guido, in an effort to be helpful, is publishing the report. The report is from Lawrence Abramson of Harbottle & Lewis LLP to Jon Chapman, the in-house counsel at News International Limited, which James Murdoch told the Select Committee cleared News International is published in full below:

Re Clive Goodman

We have on your instructions reviewed the emails to which you have provided access from the accounts of:

Andy Coulson
Stuart Kuttner
Ian Edmondson
Clive Goodman
Neil Wallis
Jules Stenson

I can confirm that we did not find anything in those emails which appeared to us to be reasonable evidence that Clive Goodman’s illegal actions were known about and supported by both or either of Andy Coulson, the Editor, and Neil Wallis, the Deputy Editor, and/or that Ian Edmondson, the News Editor, and others were carrying out similar illegal procedures.

Please let me know if we can be of any further assistance.

29 May 2007

Count ‘em, it is three sentences long. Not exactly in-depth is it? Guido is increasingly of the view that James Murdoch is, without being too legalistic, totally f****d.

Mirror Journo Speaks Out Against Morgan’s Version of Events

Today’s guest publication is The Australian, not normally Guido’s first choice for news, but somehow they got the interview that he was chasing all morning. James Hipwell, the former Mirror journalist whose insider information about the paper under Piers Morgan puts the former editor’s denials into serious doubt, has spoken out for the first time in five years. He claims phone-hacking was rife and that “bosses” were in on it:

“I know that for one simple reason: I used to see it going on around me all the time when I worked at the Daily Mirror. I sat right next to the show business desk and there were some show biz reporters who did it as a matter of course, as a basic part of their working day. One of their bosses would wander up and instruct a reporter to `trawl the usual suspects’, which meant going through the voice messages of celebrities and celebrity PR agents. For everyone to pretend that this is some isolated activity found only at the News of the World is ridiculous, it’s just a lie.”

Hipwell says, depending on legal advice, that he is likely to offer his insight to Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry. This is very bad news for Piers Morgan…

UPDATE: This is also pretty bad news for current Mirror editor Richard Wallace. He was Showbiz Editor at the time. Awkward…

Indy Newsroom’s Hari Missing Poster

One of Guido’s co-conspirators at the Indy sent this in. They are clearly worried about Johann Hari and have put this thoughtful missing poster at strategic points around the Indy’s newsroom floor at Northcliffe House.

The Council of the Orwell Prize met yesterday to consider and review Johann Hari’s cut ‘n pasting as well as evidence of plagiarism and passing off helpfully submitted by the public and readers of this blog. We await their judgement. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mirror Group’s Sly Warning Cuts No Ice
Did Sunday Mirror Blag Rio Ferdinand’s Mobile Phone?

Mirror Group CEO Sly Bailey has gone into full Rebekah Brooks mode, issuing threats to the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee, telling them to stop questioning her papers and their tactics. Sky’s Mark Kleinman makes the very good point that just like Brooks, Bailey has issued a denial before instigating any investigation. Given her papers beat all of the competition in the number of blagging cases discovered by the Information Commissioner, Guido would recommend she gets onto this forthwith.

If Sly is going to continue to deny Trinity Mirror didn’t illegally hack voicemails and blag phones, perhaps she would like to explain how they got this Pulitzer worthy Sunday Mirror story:*

Football In Crisis: Rio phone sensation: WHY TEXT HIS DOC?
by JAMES SAVILLE Oct 19, 2003

THE mystery over the Rio Ferdinand missed drugs test takes a dramatic new twist today as we reveal that the first contact he made after leaving the ground was a text message to a private doctor. The Man Utd footballer sent the message within minutes of leaving the club’s training ground and just an hour after being ordered to attend the random check. The Sunday Mirror can reveal that the 24-year-old had his mobile phone on at all times – contrary to reports that his phone was still off after finishing training. And although a desperate phone call and a series of text messages had been left on his phone by club doctor Mike Stone, it took Ferdinand nearly half an hour to call back.

How did the Sunday Mirror know about Rio’s text messages? That his phone was switched on at all times? Where he was when he texted? They of course had illegally blagged acess to the mobile phone records including location data. Plenty more where that came from…

* Emphasis added.

Ex-Mirror Journalist Puts Morgan’s Denial in Doubt
Morgan:“With New Technology Comes New Temptation”

Piers Morgan told CNN on Wednesday: “For the record, in my time at The Mirror and the News of the World, I have never hacked a phone, told anybody to hack a phone or published any story based on the hacking of a phone.” That’s not what one former Daily Mirror journalist who worked for him says though.

“Many of the Daily Mirror’s stories would come from hacking into a celebrity’s voicemail,” James Hipwell said of his time at the Mirror between 1998 and his sacking in early 2000. Morgan was editor from 1995 to 2004. Hipwell was jailed in 2006 for his part in the City Slicker Viglen share tipping scandal. Despite Morgan buying £67,000 worth of shares in Viglen the day before Hipwell tipped them in the Mirror’s finance column, the editor got away with it. 

Talking to the Guardian in 2006, Hipwell added that targets for voicemail hacking during his period at the Mirror had included the Spice Girls. On one occasion a fellow Mirror journalist even deleted a voicemail message from one of the Spice Girls’ phones to stop his rival on the Sun getting hold of it. Hipwell also confirmed that the Mirror found out about Ulrika Jonsson’s affair with Sven-Goran Eriksson from a voicemail left by the then England coach on the TV presenter’s phone, something Guido covered in some depth last week.

While Hipwell and fellow City Slicker journalist Anil Bhoyrul were under fire for writing about the shares in which they had invested, a sympathetic colleague had hacked into Morgan’s voicemail in an attempt to track down any messages from Mirror executives. Morgan confirmed this incident in GQ just five months ago:

“It was pretty well-known that if you didn’t change your pin code when you were a celebrity who bought a new phone, then reporters could ring your mobile, tap in a standard factory setting number and hear your messages. That is not, to me, as serious as planting a bug in someone’s house, which is what some people seem to think was going on.

…loads of newspaper journalists were doing it. Clive Goodman, the NOTW reporter, has been made the scapegoat for a very widespread practice… Not defending him, just expressing sympathy for someone who has been made a scapegoat.

…they used to do it to me. And no, I didn’t like it. But with new technology comes new temptation and new issues.”

Hipwell also mentioned to the Guardian that he was planning a still unpublished book, and had already written four chapters of it, describing the lengths to which the Mirror, when edited by Piers Morgan, went to get stories:

“It details many examples – dozens in fact – of celebrity phone taps… This has been going on for years.”

Guido thinks we have found another prime candidate to testify, under oath, at Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry…

Guido is going to be very blunt about this, Piers Morgan is a bare-faced liar. It will come out in the course of the inquiries that hacking was rife at the Mirror during his time as editor. It will not be in doubt that stories were published based on information obtained by hacking – Piers will definitely be caught out on that one. Morgan is betting that no one will testify that he knew and no invoices or otherwise will be produced in evidence. Exactly the calculation Andy Coulson made. Ask yourself this: Do you believe Piers Morgan, knowing all about how to hack celebrity’s phones, told his staff not to hack phones, refused to run stories based on phone hacks and never asked from where the stories came?

Hat-tip to the eagle eyed Neal Mann of Sky News for spotting the GQ article.

The Met Widens the Net

With Cameron on his feet for three hours, and the reality of the Euro crisis taking the hold, for the first time in weeks the phone-hacking scandal isn’t top of the news. It’s still worth noting the Met’s interest in other newspaper groups though. The Beeb is heavily trailing a Radio 4 documentary that reveals tonight:

“Police have asked for files of an earlier inquiry into the use of private investigators… the files from Operation Motorman, which was run by the Information Commissioners Office in 2003, were requested three months ago. They contain 4,000 requests from 300 journalists and 31 publications for confidential information from a private investigator, which in many cases had been obtained illegally.”

Just what these illegal activities might have been was summed up by Nick Davies in 2009. As Guido revealed graphically last year, this is bad news for Trinity Mirror:

Guido has something up his sleeve for the circular firing squad today. Watch this space…

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

BSkyB and News Corp Shares Up on Testimony

Yesterday’s hysteria in Westminster was heavily discounted in the City and on Wall Street. As we go to pixel BSkyB shares are up well over 3% since yesterday’s open and News Corp’s shares bounced 4.51% yesterday on the back of the Murdoch testimonies.

Punters also slashed the odds of James Murdoch being forced to resign as News International CEO from odds on favourite to go, to a little less than evens. James Murdoch actually performed solidly yesterday, demonstrating a clear grasp of the issues. The way some people have been talking you would think they were on the verge of being burnt at the stake.

There will no doubt be more thrills and spills to come, wiser heads around Miliband might question the wisdom of becoming the anti-Murdoch party. When the dust settles, Labour may regret lashing itself to a cause of little interest to anyone outside the Westminster bubble and in the process making a mortal long-term enemy of James Murdoch. Guido has heard it remarked that it is actually right-wingers who should be wary of the media business being dominated by the next generation of Murdochs. James, Lachlan and Elisabeth are not conservatives like Rupert, they are actually centrist liberals with greenish tendencies who are embarrassed by the excesses of Fox News. Elisabeth was a big fundraiser for Obama. Imagine both the BBC and Murdoch empires preaching from the same hymn sheet.


Seen Elsewhere

Politicians Never Safe From Being Recorded | Stephen Pollard
Superstar Carney | Alex Brummer
Gulf Dividing Labour | Mary Riddell
Labour Reverts to 1980s Anti-Capitalism | Allister Heath
Nothing Dave Can Say Will Stop UKIP | Danny Finkelstein
Hunt Told Off By Former Head | TES
Scrap Tax on Family Flights | ConHome
Has May Declared War on Downing Street? | James Kirkup
The Nasty Left | Dan Hodges
Men Flock to UKIP | Andrew Cadman
London-Britain Divide | Alex Wickham


Find out more about PLMR AD-MS


A ‘senior Conservative party official’ passes judgement on Theresa May:

“She is boring. A technocrat. She is Philip Hammond with a fanny. Not interesting, but rendered interesting by circumstance. And that circumstance is that she is a woman. And in an age when the Prime Minister gets it in the neck for refusing to wear a fucking T-shirt that says he is a feminist, that is a rocket boost right underneath you.”



Left on Left says:

The lefties are attacking because the panellist is a millionaire and lives in a London home worth upwards of two million. Someone had best tell them he’s called Ed Miliband.


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