WATCH: Rusbridger Speaks Says It Went Right to Number 10

Something they deny:

Who do you believe?

Guardian v Spooks: Key Questions

Guido gives you a fair and balanced (as always) run down of everything you need to know on the developments of the last few days. As well as the key questions to both the Guardian and the security services that have gone unanswered.

  • David Miranda, the partner of Glenn Greenwald, was detained at Heathrow by UK security services. They took his computer and memory card.
  • It has since emerged that Miranda was carrying sensitive information from one of Greenwald’s contacts, something which was not mentioned in the initial Guardian report.
  • Miranda says he did not know anything about the contents of the documents but was simply transporting them for Greenwald.
  • Why did the Guardian fail to mention any of this in their initial report? Why has their side of the story, at least in part, begun to unravel?
  • What justification do the security services have for detaining him under the Terrorism Act? Did they believe he was a terrorist?
  • Alan Rusbridger claims that GCHQ spooks smashed hard drives in the Guardian basement after a series of demands that they were returned.
  • Why did Rusbridger allow this to take place? Why did he not begin a legal battle or do his reporting from abroad, as he ponders in his article?
  • With the knowledge that the Guardian would have made copies, for what purpose did GCHQ do this other than intimidation? What did it achieve?

Worthwhile further reading on this from Dan Hodges and David Allen Green. Both sides have important questions to answer…

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…

Andrew Rawnsley Still on Holiday

Three weeks since Guido published the remarkable similarities between Andrew Rawnsley’s Observer column and a piece in the Economist. Three weeks since Andrew Rawnsley has appeared in the paper. Still no comment from him despite Guido asking again and again. Hope he is enjoying his break…

Smacked Bottom For Press Gazette

Press Gazette’s scoop on Friday that Guardian hack Nick Davies is off to America will remain exclusive. They reported that the paper’s “US invasion gathers pace” as “Nick Davies joins Paul Lewis Stateside” in a now pulled piece.

No need to get the PCC involved this time, but still. Ouch.

Labour MPs Attack Labour Terror Law

Whatever your position on the Guardian’s in-house “pompous douchecanoe” Glenn Greenwald, the detention of his partner under the Terrorism Act raises eyebrows, to say the least. Front of the queue is Labour’s favourite bandwagon-jumper Keith Vaz:

“What is extraordinary is they knew he was his partner… Bearing in mind it is a new use of terrorism legislation to detain someone in these circumstances, I’m certainly interested in knowing, so I will write to the police to ask for the justification of the use of terrorism legislation – they may have a perfectly reasonable explanation. But if we are going to use the act in this way … then at least we need to know so everyone is prepared.”

Yvette Cooper is particularly angry:

“Any suggestion that terror powers are being misused must be investigated and clarified urgently – the public support for these powers must not be endangered by a perception of misuse. The police and security agencies rightly work hard to protect national security and prevent terrorism. But public confidence in security powers depends on them being used proportionately within the law, and also on having independent checks and balances in place to prevent misuse.”

While Tom Watson has helpfully chipped in:

The answer, of course, is that David Miranda was detained under the Terrorism Act that Watson, Cooper and Vaz’s party voted in. If it turns out it is being used to go after journalists and their partners, it won’t take a whistleblower to work out where the blame lies…

Leaked Guardian Editorial Salaries

According to the ONS the median gross annual earnings for full-time employees in 2011/12 was £26,500. A lower sum than that paid to every single full-time editorial member of staff at the Guardian. Guido has been leaked the pay structures of junior staff, and it makes for an intriguing read in these austere times. Given the interest the paper takes in how much other people are paid, it’s only fair that this document sees the light of day:

For some reason the rates for columnists and executive level staff have been left off the list. And lets not forget all those workers on zero-hour contracts that actually keep the paper and website going…

Police Arrest Deranged Smackhead at Guardian

A leather jacket-clad suspicious looking “warm, sweaty and dazed” man turned out to not be a returning David Leigh to the Guardian offices. He was a heroin addict caught “chasing the dragon” in the toilets at Kings Place. No one batted an eyelid when Clayton Earlington wandered through the security alongside a pack of Guardian hacks, presumably because he fitted right in. After twice approaching Alan Rusbridger’s office and doing smack in the loos, the cops were called.

“Three to four weeks before that I had used the Guardian toilets – I had asked a guard and he had let me in. So I went back. This time there was no guard there so I tailgated some people. I had been there before but I couldn’t remember where the toilet was. At the time my state of mind was not good, I was ‘clucking’. That was why I didn’t want to talk to anyone or ask anyone where it was. But I found the toilet eventually. I ‘chased the dragon’, I burnt it on a piece of foil. I used the drugs, basically. And I went back out. That is all. I didn’t want to steal nothing, it was just to use the drugs. I left and I went back home.”

Confirming long held suspicions that those inside Guardian towers are on drugs…

Via Camden New Journal.

Maggie Funeral Final Cost: £1,205,809

The final figures are out: Margaret Thatcher’s funeral cost £261,976, plus £943,833 for security. A total of £1,205,809, or 1.9p per person. Worth remembering again how it was reported by some at the time:

For some reason the final figure hasn’t made the front page…

Spotted in Today's Guardian Editorial Meeting

A special guest who somewhat stood out from the crowd:

If they ask Nigel Farage about his offshore tax arrangements he can just ask them about theirs…

The Invitation Westminster Advisers Won't Comment About

As reported last night, the Guardian have added some important details to their Lynton Crosby/healthcare yarn, after Guido’s little fact checking yesterday. Lobbying firm Westminster Advisers “declined to comment” last night over Guido’s revelation that the firm “run by the Labour supporter and former councillor Dominic Church, organised a cross-party meeting at the end of 2010 which was shown the Crosby Textor research.” They told the Guardian: “I’m not going to go into that. I have given you the statement we are giving out. That is all we are saying.” For the sake of clarity, here is the invitation to their event:

“That is all we are saying.”

Guardian Puts Record Straight

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The Guardian has done a follow up which largely corrects the record after Guido pointed out the factual errors in their healthcare lobbying story from this morning. Namely that they had got the target audience completely wrong and that the firm organising the event wasn’t Tory leaning CTF, it was in fact Labour leaning lobbyists Westminster Advisers. A statement issued by Mark Detre from Westminster Advisers confirms the accuracy of Guido’s version of events:

“Crosby Textor Fullbrook provided research and advice into public attitudes on healthcare to H5. H5 is a predecessor to the Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations and they did that in 2010 and 2011. The arrangement between CTF and H5 ended in mid 2011. AIHO is a new organisation formed in March 2013 and has no relationship with CTF.”

Nicholas Watt at the Guardian reports that

Detre declined to comment on a report on the Guido Fawkes website that Westminster Advisers, run by the Labour supporter and former councillor Dominic Church, organised a cross-party meeting at the end of 2010 which was shown the Crosby Textor research. Detre said: “I’m not going to go into that. I have given you the statement we are giving out. That is all we are saying.”

Judge for yourself…

"Crosby Presentation" Organised By Labour Lobbyist Labour MPs Attended Event Held in Commons

clippingThe Guardian, which likes to boast that they give “the whole picture”, are very excited this morning with the suggestion that “The lobbying firm founded by the Tories’ chief election strategist, Lynton Crosby, advised private healthcare providers on how to exploit perceived “failings” in the NHS, according to a leaked document obtained by the Guardian. The presentation was made by Crosby Textor, known as CTF Partners in Britain, towards the end of 2010.” The timing is right, just who the presentation was actually made to has been conveniently left out of the story.

dominic-churchThe Guardian claims that the “leaked” presentation was made by CTF to private healthcare profiteers, it was actually organised by the lobbying firm Westminster Advisers for MPs – who were all given copies – making it more of a handout than a leak. Westminster Advisers is headed by Dominic Church, a wealthy Labour supporter and a former Hammersmith and Fulham councillor for the party. He is a Blairite private healthcare lobbyist

Church lobbies for the H5 Private Hospitals Alliance. The slideshow was shown at their parliamentary reception themed ‘Improving Britain’s healthcare’ on 29 November 2010 in the House of Commons. The invitation was open to all MPs and Guido understands that many Labour MPs enjoyed the hospitality served in Dining Room A. One attendee remembers seeing, for example, Gisela Stuart at the event. CTF merely providing polling data for the report. It was a briefing for MPs by private healthcare, not a briefing to private healthcare.

wholepicture

Mysteriously there is plenty missing from slideshow the Guardian have published. They have run just 4 pages out of the 31 slide presentation, leaving out what does not fit the story. Take this page for example which is positive about the NHS, and inconveniently shows – for the Guardian’s preferred narrative – that the public back reforms:

Nowhere is this to be seen on the Guardian website. Despite cutting pages, they have re-numbered the 4 pages so you would never know. Guido senses a lengthy Corrections and Clarifications coming tomorrow…

Full presentation:

UPDATE:

Guardian Still Losing Half-a-Million a Week

Guardian News and Media made an annual loss of £30.4 million last year, as hard as they try to spin it that still means they are haemorrhaging half a million quid a week. Guardian Media Group made an operating loss of £54.8 million last year, reporting profits before tax of £22.7 million. Presumably meaning their profits after tax were £22.7 million. For three years Guido has been asking GMG where their 50.1% stake in TMG (Autotrader) is held. Guido has asked the GMG CEO Andrew Miller and Alan Rusbridger, who to be fair – despite sitting on the GMG board – admitted he had no idea. Also fortuitously Guido was sat at a lunch next to Dame Liz Forgan chair of the Scott Trust, asked her about GMG’s offshore secrets and she said Guido was the last person she would tell. So much for that famed commitment to openness and transparency.  Still no answer, we’re working on the theory that they have created an aggressive tax avoidance structure – solely to avoid UK tax – maintaining for 7 years an offshore Cayman’s holding corporation.*

Some good news though: the Guardian annual report says their hedge fund investments and investments exploiting third world emerging markets are performing well. Alan Rusbridger meanwhile took home total remuneration of £491,000, with chief executive Andrew Miller pocketing £769,000, including a £100,000 bonus fat-cat bonus putting him on some 72 times the earnings of the Guardian’s lowest paid staff. Austerity is only for the staff…

*If any bean counters have any ideas as to why Trader Media Group’s financing costs are so high when it is so profitable, please share in the comments, could it be that they loaded the onshore part of the group up with debt that is serviced by paying the interest, presumably tax-free, offshore to the GMG Caymans holding company? They then can use the tax free profits to support the loss making journalism? Does that theory make sense? How exactly does the money flow from TMG to GMG?

See also Guardian’s Offshore Secrets

First New Snowden Photo

Wearing the same shirt as the last time he was pictured, he certainly has the look of a man who has slept in an airport for the last two weeks…

Via Guardian.

Grande Floppuccino

By Guido’s calculations the Guardian coffee shop is costing them £240,062-a-year, that’s around £20,000 blown already since it opened at the end of May. They were clearly having a slow start when Guido paid them a visit, though perhaps things have picked up? One co-conspirator decided to find out yesterday lunchtime:

The numbers don’t look good either. At prime time they had only sold 94 cups, well short of the 270-a-day they need to stay afloat.

Maybe Guido is being unfair and it’s not just Guardian Coffee that is struggling. How might the other cafes and restaurants in the Shoreditch box park be getting on by comparison?

Oh dear…

H/T @libdemlife

Telegraph's Rowena Mason Off to Guardian

Congratulations are in order for the Telegraph’s political correspondent Rowena Mason, who has landed a move to the Guardian. She is off in the next few weeks. Perhaps a more natural home.

Rowena isn’t taking Guido’s calls, this time…

Seumas Milne Despairs at Fall of Berlin Wall

Given the incredible footage of the mass protests coming out of Egypt against an Islamist leader who has betrayed his country’s transition to democracy, you might have thought our metropolitan liberal elite would come down on the right side for once. As ever, the strongest defence of a terrible regime comes from the Guardian’s former Stalinist Seumas Milne. In Milne’s warped world, apparently tearing down the Berlin Wall was a bad thing:

“The tumultuous Paris upheaval of May 1968 was followed by the electoral victory of the French right. Those who marched for democratic socialism in east Berlin in 1989 ended up with mass privatisation and unemployment. The western-sponsored colour revolutions of the last decade used protesters as a stage army for the transfer of power to favoured oligarchs and elites. The indignados movement against austerity in Spain was powerless to prevent the return of the right and a plunge into even deeper austerity.

In the era of neoliberalism, when the ruling elite has hollowed out democracy and ensured that whoever you vote for you get the same, politically inchoate protest movements are bound to flourish. They have crucial strengths: they can change moods, ditch policies and topple governments. But without socially rooted organisation and clear political agendas, they can flare and fizzle, or be vulnerable to hijacking or diversion by more entrenched and powerful forces.”

Bonkers…

Observer Pulls Splash After Source Turns Out to Be 9/11 TrutherRead Pulled Story in Full Here

Today’s Observer first and second editions look very different:

A quick Google of Wayne Madsen, their source for a series of serious allegations made against the National Security Agency, would have told them he is a conspiracy theorist who believes Mossad were involved in 9/11 and that President Obama is gay. Here is the Observer story that was humiliatingly pulled late last night:

“At least six European Union countries in addition to Britain have been colluding with the US over the mass harvesting of personal communications data, according to a former contractor to America’s National Security Agency, who said the public should not be “kept in the dark”.

Wayne Madsen, a former US navy lieutenant who first worked for the NSA in 1985 and over the next 12 years held several sensitive positions within the agency, names Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy as having secret deals with the US.

Madsen said the countries had “formal second and third party status” under signal intelligence (sigint) agreements that compels them to hand over data, including mobile phone and internet information to the NSA if requested.”

You can read the full pulled story here. Guardian journalists are this morning frantically distancing their paper from the Observer, despite them sharing a website and a boss. Google is your friend…

Wake Up and Smell the Losses

Guido has done his best to provide free advertising for the Guardian’s ill-fated coffee shop, yet it all seems to have been in vain. This is the scene in Shoreditch sent in by a reader this afternoon:

At the time of going to pixel just 41 cups have been sold today, well short of the 270-a-day they need to flog to break even.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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