Only 7% Believe That Brooks Did Not Know

A poll by Survation for Channel 4 News has found 72% of the public do not believe that executives at News International were unaware of the new hacking allegations. As the nation wakes up to the confusion that the newspaper that most ardently supports our armed services was snooping on our dead servicemen, things aren’t looking good for anyone.

The country seems split on the BSkyB deal, with 48% now thinking News Corp are unfit to proceed with the deal, but that could the least of the worries. The magnificent Peter Oborne has given Cameron two barrels in the Telegraph:

“Until now it has been easy to argue that Mr Cameron was properly grounded with a decent set of values. Unfortunately, it is impossible to make that assertion any longer. He has made not one, but a long succession of chronic personal misjudgments…

So the Prime Minister is in a mess. To put the matter rather more graphically, he is in a sewer.”

Things are starting to turn for Cameron very rapidly and we’re yet to reach the bottom…

Phone Hacker Glenn Mulcaire Asks Press to Respect His Privacy

From: Charlotte Dewar
Date: 5 July 2011 14:53
Subject: STRICTLY PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL: The wife and children of Glenn Mulcaire

PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL; NOT FOR PUBLICATION

The Commission has this afternoon been contacted by Sarah Webb, a representative of the wife of Glenn Mulcaire. As you will see, Ms Webb has said that a number of representatives of the media are at the family home. Mr Mulcaire is not at the home. Mrs Mulcaire and the children are distressed by the attention and have asked that the PCC make editors aware of their request that journalists should leave the area. Ms Webb states that press enquiries relating to Mr Mulcaire should be directed to her at the email address provided.

We are happy to make editors aware of the position. Please feel free to give me a call to discuss any Code issues.

Best wishes
Charlotte

From: SARAH WEBB
Sent: 05 July 2011
To: Charlotte Dewar
Subject: Glenn Mulcaire

I act for the wife of Glenn Mulcaire.

As you know, Mr Mulcaire is the subject of considerable news attention today. At the moment, his house is being besieged by press. He is not at home. His wife and children (who are under the age of 18) are in the home. They are distressed by the presence of large numbers of reporters and photographers, which has stopped them from entering or leaving the home.

Mrs Mulcaire and her children do not wish to speak to the press; they have not been involved in any way in allegations of phone hacking. I would be grateful if you could make clear our request to editors, in line with Clause 4 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code, that their representatives leave the area of the home. Media enquiries regarding Mr Mulcaire should be directed to me at the email address above.

Thank you

Sarah Webb
SARAH WEBB
Partner

Brooks: I Won't Quit

Robert Peston’s very reliable source at News International has been on the phone:

It seems Rebekah Brooks wants us to believe that as editor of the Screws, she didn’t read her own paper’s coverage of a massive story. She is denying knowledge of what happened, despite Milly’s answer phone being mentioned directly in print. The punters give her a 40% chance of keeping her job...

Screws Hacked Missing Milly's Mobile

The Guardian are reporting this afternoon that the News of the World hacked into Milly Dowler’s voicemail and deleted messages so that pending ones could come into her inbox. In other words they tampered with evidence in a police investigation into a missing young girl for the sake of some column inches. Current News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks was the Screws editor at the time. Someone will take the fall for this one.

Hari's "Scoops"

The sun isn’t going down on the Johann Hari scandal. The careless whisper that he was tidying up what the subjects of his “interviews” were saying, doesn’t cover all of his artistic prose. What about when the interviewee isn’t a writer, yet still gets a spruce up? How are we meant to find a little faith then? 

Anna Raccoon and The Debrief have been pondering Hari’s “exclusive” interview with George Michael in the Indy back in 2005. The same interview exclusively appeared on Hari’s personal site the same day. Amazingly Hari seems to have blagged another interview with the troubled singer in 2009, this time for the Huffington Post. Except it’s not a new “exclusive” interview, it’s the same one – he simply changed the ages in the piece to reflect the time passed. A simple google from the HuffPo team would have proved that. Oh and of course there were bits of the original stolen from elsewhere. Wham!

Elsewhere around the web Archbishop Cranmer has his take, the Staggers’ notes Hari’s great affection for the Daily Mail. The HuffPo covers the scandal of the Indy journalist (Hari) who is a terrible fraud, neglecting to mention that Hari has written (or rather cut and pasted) for them, for years. Fancy that…

UPDATE: Guido understands that this week’s edition of Private Eye is going to be Hari-tastic.

When Hari Met Reality: The First Time Hari Got Sacked for Making Things Up

Johann Hari has made a living out adding a little first person je ne sais quoi to his articles, also known as bullshit. Day after day new evidence emerges of his Matilda-ish tendency towards fakery and deception, and it appears to be a trick that he picked up early in his career. In October 1999 he was sacked as News Editor of Cambridge University’s Varsity student newspaper. He told friends at the time it was because the editor was “jealous of my intellect”. Another pure fabrication.

Hari was sacked after his sexed up copy, printed in the October 29, 1999 edition, included the made up fact that 1,500 students had taken part in a protest against tuition fees. It turned out to be a ridiculous exaggeration and when the editor discovered that the figure was way out, it was the final straw amidst a growing suspicion that Hari had an unfortunate tendency make up things to spice up his copy.

At least his then editor had some spine…

The Orwell Prize Council revealed yesterday that:

“Prior to presenting the award, as part of our due diligence, one of the judges contacted Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent, who expressed his full confidence in the Hari articles”

Other former winners have confirmed to Guido that this was a one off and did not happen regarding their submissions, as far as Guido is aware no other editors have been contacted in this way to vouch for their hacks. What was suspicious about Hari’s work? His reputation for embellishment was known well enough in newsrooms to make the judges nervous.

The Orwell Prize Council pointedly claimed this week that they had, since awarding Hari the Orwell Prize in 2008, tightened up the rules regarding attribution of quotes. Did they have anyone in mind when they made that rule change?

On discovering yesterday that Hari entered work this year for the 2011 Orwell Prize, Guido asked the director of the prize to list the articles Hari had entered, he declined. They are it seems to go down the Orwellian memory hole. Jenni Russell won the prize this year, Hari’s continuing claim to be a former prize winner tarnishes the name of the prize. Guido knows for a fact that other prize winners feel genuine anger that Hari is among their prestigious number.

Hari defended himself in his mea culpa article using his own unique definition of plagiarism. To the charge of plagiarism we can add passing off, fraud, deception, profiting from the work of others and lying. He should be asked by the Orwell Prize Council to return the £3,000 prize money and to refrain from describing himself as a former Orwell Prize winner. As for Hari, he should note what happened to Matilda:

Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one’s Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,

For every time she shouted ‘Fire!’
They only answered ‘Little Liar!’
And therefore when her Aunt returned,
Matilda, and the House, were Burned.

Chris Blackhurst was announced as the new editor of The Indy today…

Guardian Hack Kia Abdullah Laughs At Death of Gap Year Kids

The news broke overnight that three students were killed on their gap year adventure to Thailand. Bruno Melling-Firth, Conrad Quashie and Max Boomgaarden-Cook, all 19, died when their bus travelling to Chiang Mai collided with another bus. A tragedy and a nightmare scenario for the parents of thousands of students travelling around the world every year. There have been outpourings of sympathy from across the media today, with one exception – one Guardian class crusader:

The three boys were all state-educated at The Charter School in South London.

UPDATE:

http://twitter.com/#!/KiaAbdullah/status/86733909974454272

So heartfelt.

Kelner Up and Out at Indy

Simon Kelner has been promoted out of editing the Indy. He will take the title of Editor-in-Chief, but have no day-to-day control over the paper. Chris Blackhurst, currently the business editor of the Standard, will take over after thirteen years of Kelner.

Given the appointment was made by Evgeny Lebedev, the Indy and Standard’s Russian billionaire owner’s son, isn’t it time for the Indy to scrap the “Free from Proprietorial Influence” nonsense from their front-page?

Dirty Hari: Johann Story Rapidly Unravelling

Guido is fairly sure Johann Hari has breached Article 1 of the PCC Code. He has admitted misleading his readers. Despite the desperate attempts by his editor, Simon Kelner, to spin that his favorite son is being attacked for political reasons, the Hari-wagon is coming off of the tracks.

The Telegraph are coming down on him heavily. Firstly there is Brenden O’Neil rightly pointing out that “the notion that one can reach “the truth” by manipulating reality should be anathema to anyone who calls himself a journalist.” Janet Daley weighs in with a valid arguement:

“Many, if not most, of his interviewees were people whom he admired and whose political views he shared. By replacing what he admits were often their less-than-articulate responses to live questions with text from their published works, he was performing a service to their reputations which was worthy of a spin doctor or a professional propagandist.”

Toby Young points us to the career ending decision:

“His fate now turns on whether the committee that awarded him the Orwell Prize for Journalism asks him to return the prize (and the £3,000 prize money). It is hard to see how they could do otherwise, given that Hari still doesn’t seem to think his cut-and-paste habits are anything to be ashamed of.”

And in a slap to Kelner’s face and reputation, this issue goes beyond any left or right divide. The New Statesman is being particularly thorough in making sure the golden child of the left is held to the level of accountability that his platform and reputation deserve. The most damning revelation of the day so far comes from the Staggers, who reveal that Hari directly lifted other peoples work for an “interview” he did with Chavez in 2006. The dictionary definition of plagiarism. 

Meanwhile The Guardian have provided a helpful poll on whether you think Hari’s apology was enough, needless to say it’s not looking good for him. Guido is digging around rumours of Hari being fired from his student paper for “making things up in order to make a story stronger”. He also bought you two more accusations of plagiarism earlier and Forbes have compiled cases of Hari getting his facts completely wrong, deliberately perhaps. Hilariously historian Guy Walters has found Hari lifted text Ann Leslie’s biography for his own interview with her. No wonder she said he wasn’t “a real journalist” on Newsnight last night. Brian Whelan, who triggered this onslaught has found another smoking gun.

Right now hundreds of articles by the disgraced bard are being scrutinised, fact-checked, cross-referenced and flagged up. You shake one branch….

Full Text of Hari's Mea Culpa


Guido doesn’t usually quote articles verbatim, but since this isn’t online and in the interests of doing a full “intellectual portrait” here it is:

The Lessons I Must Draw From These Attacks On My Journalism

It’s clearly not plagiarism or churnalism, but was it an error in another way? Yes. I now see it was wrong and I wouldn’t do it again

Yesterday on Twitter I was accused of plagiarism. This accusation is totally false – but I have reflected seriously on this and do have something to apologise for. When you interview a writer – especially but not only when English isn’t their first language – they will sometimes make a point that sounds clear when you hear it, but turns out to be incomprehensible or confusing on the page. In those instances, I have sometimes substituted a passage they have written or said more clearly elsewhere on the same subject for what they said to me, so the reader understands their point as clearly as possible. The quotes are always accurate representations of their words, inserted into the interview at the point where they made substantively the same argument using similar but less clear language. I did not and never have taken words from another context and twisted them to mean something different – I only ever substituted clearer expressions of the same sentiment, so the reader knew what the subject thinks in the most comprehensible possible words.

I stress: I have only ever done this where the interviewee was making the same or similar point to me in the interview that they had already made more clearly in print. Where I described their body language, for example, I was describing their body language as they made the same point that I was quoting – I was simply using the clearer words from their writing so the reader understood the point best. This is one reason why none of my interviewees have, to my knowledge, ever said they were misquoted in my nearly 10 years with The Independent, even when they feel I’ve been very critical of them in other ways. My critics have focused on my interview with Gideon Levy as supposedly distorted. So what does Gideon Levy say? These are his words: “I stand behind everything that was published in the interview. It was a totally accurate representation of my thoughts and words.”

This does not fit any definition of plagiarism. Plagiarism is presenting somebody else’s intellectual work as your own – whereas I have always accurately attributed the ideas of (say) Gideon Levy to Gideon Levy. Nor can it be regarded as churnalism. Churnalism is a journalist taking a press release and mindlessly recycling it. It is not a journalist carefully reading over all a writer’s books and quoting it to best reflect how they think.

Over the years I have interviewed some people who have messages we desperately need to hear – from Gideon Levy about Israel, to Malalai Joya about Afghanistan, to Gerry Adams about how to end a sectarian war. Just this week, I interviewed one of the bravest people I have ever met – Shirin Ebadi. I would hate people to not hear these vital messages because they incorrectly think the subjects have been falsely quoted. Every word I have quoted has been said by my interviewee, and accurately represents their view. I hope people continue to hear their words.

When I’ve been wrong in the past – as I shamefully was over the Iraq War – I have admitted it publicly, tried to think through how I got it wrong, and corrected myself. So I’ve thought carefully about whether I have been wrong here. It’s clearly not plagiarism or churnalism – but was it an error in another way? Yes. I now see it was wrong, and I wouldn’t do it again.

Why? Because an interview is not just an essayistic representation of what a person thinks; it is a report on an encounter between the interviewer and the interviewee. If (for example) a person doesn’t speak very good English, or is simply unclear, it may be better to quote their slightly broken or garbled English than to quote their more precise written work, and let that speak for itself. It depends on whether you prefer the intellectual accuracy of describing their ideas in their most considered words, or the reportorial accuracy of describing their ideas in the words they used on that particular afternoon. Since my interviews are long intellectual profiles, not ones where I’m trying to ferret out a scoop or exclusive, I have, in the past, prioritised the former. That was, on reflection, a mistake, because it wasn’t clear to the reader.

I’m sorry, and I’m grateful to the people who pointed out this error of judgement. I will make sure I learn from it.

UPDATE: Noam Chomsky has accused Hari of fabricating quotes from him supposedly spoken in conversation, calling them a “flight of the Hari imagination”.

UPDATE II: Rowan Wilson alleges that contrary to the blended “intellectual portrait” / interview / fictional account of a meeting with Antonio Negri “that there was no taxi called, I didn’t say the things ascribed to me, Negri wasn’t behaving arrogantly as suggested, there was no angry confontation with ICA staff” all of which “casts serious doubt on the veracity of anything that Hari says.”

Orwell Would Be Turning In His GraveHari Should Be Stripped of His Prize


Guido has just got off the phone with the Media Standards Trust, a charity “that fosters high standards in news on behalf of the public”. As sponsors of the Orwell Prize they funded the award to Johann Hari of the prestigous prize in 2008. Orwell is the giant of British political writing, the inventor of the Ministry of Truth and creator of Winston Smith who had the job of “rectifying” the past. Johann Hari has done far too much “rectifying” of quotes and facts to have the honour of holding a prize named after Orwell.

The Media Standards Trust tell Guido that procedure has to be followed, that the governance process for the Orwell Prize council involves worthies and due process has to be seen to be done. It is farcical for a charity that aims to foster the highest standards of political journalism, in the name and tradition of Orwell, to have as a recipient of their highest award a journalist who fakes interviews.  George Orwell once wrote “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” Johann has been caught deceiving, it is time for them to act…

UPDATE: Guido just spoke on the phone with Hari (like a real journalist, not one who just pretends to interview the sources of his quotes) to ask him “Will you be giving back the Orwell Prize?”. He hesitated for a moment before saying “I have an article in the Independent tomorrow… thank you.” He then put the phone down…

Cut and Paste Hari

Bleeding-heart socialist Johann Hari has been caught red-handed as a bleedin’ cheat. He has been called out for stealing quotes from a book and pretending he had been told them face to face, adding descriptions of the scene like “with a shake of the head” and “then he says, in a quieter voice”. Brian Whelan the UK Editor of Yahoo! has demolished Hari:

“The quote is sewn together with a string of other ideas Levy may or may not have shared with Hari but at no point does Hari indicate the quotes are taken from elsewhere… While Hari has questions to answer over the quotes he claims were given directly to him he also seems to be freely creating mash-up quotes out of disparate statements levy has made over the years. Not the practice of an award winning hack… If the Indy really did send him to Scotland for these quotes I think Hari’s editor needs to sit him down for a chat.”

Hari has responded saying that he was merely accurately quoting the works of the writer he has interviewing, but his argument falls apart when you look at the other sources of some of the quotes –  interviews with other hacks, that are not referenced or acknowledged. Sod the Orwell Prize, Hari can add The Stephen Glass Award 2011 to his already cluttered mantelpiece.

UPDATE: Guido sat down for a quiet chat with Johann this morning. He said pensively “I have become the Nadine Dorries of the commentariat, though it is 70% made-up with me.”

UPDATE II: This from August 2010 is worth re-reading: Johann Hari is a liar

Prescott Accused of "Cyber-Bullying"

Prezza went on the rampage at the weekend after a sub-editor at the Sunday Times cut a key line out of their front-page story, accidentally attributing a quote to him in their first edition. Despite a written apology he maintains it’s a Muuur-doch conspiracy to get him.

Apparently the News International legal team haven’t taken too kindly to his sustained attacks on their Political Editor Isabel Oakeshott, and have threatened Prezza over his “cyber-bullying” and asked him to stop calling the new mother at seven o’clock in the morning to shout. No doubt Rupert authorised it personally…

Weiner's Wiener Tweet: Bloggers v Mainstream Media

For a week the Washington press corp has been ignoring or down playing the most amusing story in politics, accepting instead at face value the implausible claims of a Democrat congressman. The story of congressman Weiner trying to send semi-naked pictures of himself to a young woman, specifically of his wiener, via the direct message function on Twitter, but accidentally instead sending the picture to the world, turned out to be completely true. He wasn’t hacked after all.

The footage of Congressman Weiner’s press conference has gone around the world, but there was a much more significant confrontation with the mainstream media just minutes before. Andrew Breitbart, the blogger who broke the story, was consequently derided by the established D.C. liberal media who decided to support the Democrat over the right-wing blogger. Once it became undeniably clear he was in fact right Breitbart seized the podium prior to the Congressman’s own presser and took on his detractors:

There’s a lesson there somewhere folks…

The View From the Top

Without a hint of irony Polly Toynbee said in her column this morning:

“Public perception of the shape of society has been so warped that most no longer know how others live, where they stand in relation to the rest, who earns what or why.”

Too true. Did you know the multi-millionairess, three-property-owning, Tuscany dwelling, bleeding-heart socialist gets paid £2,300 per week to write such drivel? Guido reckons you could fill a book with such hypocrisy. Now there’s a thought…

UPDATE: A co-conspirator emails; “When I was a glorified tea boy on the Andrew Marr show, Toynbee was the only person who ever made me remake her cup of tea. ‘What have you done? Far too much milk. Could you make me another please.’ Just what you want having been up since five on a Sunday morning.” Classy.

Turkeys Make Pre-Christmas Clucking Sound

Is anyone actually surprised by the fact that 81% of peers are opposed to reforming the House of Lords? Ironically that’s the figure that will end up being elected if the Coalition Agreement is implemented.  The Times thundered this morning that Clegg’s plans were facing a revolt. What did they think was going to happen?

With only four hundred peers actually doing any work, or even turning up, regardless of whether you think they should be elected or not, it’s time for a cull. In other news, public sector workers don’t like spending cuts…

What Are Guardianistas Reading Nowadays?


No further evidence m’lord, the prosecution rests its case…

Hemming Names Giggs In Parliament

It was the “Sun Wot Lost It” in court earlier, but LibDem MP John Hemming has just blown Ryan “CTB” Gigg’s privacy injunction out of the water.

Great PR for Schillings, tomorrow their client will be plastered across the front pages of every single national newspaper. Form an orderly queue for Schillings services celebs, they can do for you what they did for Giggs…

UPDATE: Full legal judgement originally made by Mr Justice Eady after hearings on the 14 & 20 April 2011 can be found here.

UPDATE II: In all its technicolor glory:

Video via the indispensable Liar Politicians

Schillings Give Salmond an Open Goal

Never one to miss a trick in public, as well as working things below the radar, Alex Salmond certainly looked and sounded smug this morning. He has been quick out of the blocks to defend the Sunday Herald’s actions. On the Today program he said any “inglish” attempt to go after the paper would be “extremely foolish”. “It looks to me like English law and English injunctions are increasingly impractical in the modern world” He went on to mock the idea that English law “should pertain across the planet”.

Ryan Giggs should demand a refund after someone at Schillings, supposedly market leaders, forgot to file the papers in a Scottish court as well. The blunder has certainly done wonders for the SNP cause. The Sunday Herald, known for their close links to the party, have given the First Minister a gift this morning. The road to freedom is going to be one of small steps, and the English courts making Scotland seem like the badlands could certainly be considered one.  Guido can’t help but wonder, was there any communication between the paper and the First Minister’s people before that front page went to print?

Prezza Wins Judicial Review

With a little help from Chris Bryant and Brian Paddick, Prezza has just won the right to a Judicial Review into the Met’s handling of the phone hacking saga. The court heard he’d had his voicemail accessed some forty-four times. Just when the Screws thought they had started to clear up the mess, with their £100,000 payout benchmark set, it’s all going to drag on for months more.[…] Read the rest

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Rafael Behr writes…

“By 2012, the number of Brits with more or less active Twitter accounts had overtaken the number of people who regularly bought a newspaper.”

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