Kate Middleton Prank Call Taker Found Dead Suspected Suicide

KILLER-PRANK

The Mail is reporting that the receptionist who was pranked by the Australian Queen impersonator has been found dead in a suspected suicide. Scotland Yard say:

‘Police were called at approximately 9.25am on Friday, December 7, to a report of a woman found unconscious an address in Weymouth Street, W1. London Ambulance Service attended and the woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Enquiries are continuing to establish the circumstances of the incident. The death is not being treated as suspicious at this stage’.

Nasty.

UPDATE:

Leveson Demands Laws to ‘Civilise’ the Internet Brian Speaks Down Under

levFresh off the plane to Sydney, jet-setting Lord Justice Leveson has wasted no time in having a pop at the internet on tour down under. His withering and rather unfortunately timed moan ended up almost as a Leveson Report 2.0:

“I am watching developments in the UK with interest. I treat the report as a judgment and judges simply do not enter into discussion about judgments they have given. They do not respond to comment, however misconceived, neither do they seek to correct error. The established media broadly conforms to the law and, when they do not, they are potentially liable under the law. In so far as the internet is concerned, there has been, and for many, there remains a perception that actions do not have legal consequences. There is not only a danger of trial by Twitter, but also of an unending punishment, and no prospect of rehabilitation, by Google. Just as it took time for the wilder excesses of the early penny press to be civilised, it will take time to civilise the internet. The internet does not trade in gossip. It simply publishes it online, conveys it on Facebook, uploads it onto Youtube, tweets and re-tweets it. It is likely that new legal norms and new laws will need to be developed.”

Now who was it that broke the Max Clifford story?

Balls Off Script Again

Ed Balls blamed his stammer for getting his script wrong yesterday but he still did not have anything to say this morning:

“I’m not going to come on the Today programme within 24 hours and start making ex cathedra statements without taking a proper judgement”

That didn’t stop his boss doing just that when he recommended implementing Leveson in full, just five hours after receiving the 2,000 page document.

Kate Prank Call From “the Queen”

Luckily Brian Leveson is off to Oz so he can clamp down on this blagging of private information…

Labour MP: Guido is “Witty and Well Written”

Guido cannot fault Jonathan Reynolds’ taste. The Labour MP told the House last night:

“Some of my favourite media sources are those that feature very different politics to mine. I like reading The Spectator and Guido Fawkes’s blog. I find them entertaining because they are witty and well written, and they do not simply mirror my own politics back at me. We want a lively press.”

Not so much with Reynolds’ red colleague Jim Dowd, who went off on one at those that will not bow to a state regulator:

“What these people are basically saying is that they are above the law. This parliament, the British public, can say what they like. If it does not meet their approval, they will not abide by it. That is the calibre, that is the type of people we’re dealing with and we cannot trust them to act in the public interest.”

Needless to say, the Spectator have had a thing or two to say about that. Guido is currently working on his “naughty and nice list” for this year. Sadly not many members actually turned up for yesterday’s debate so it’s tough to get an accurate picture. Despite that groundswell of public support for the topic…

Roy Greenslade on Media Accuracy

Roy Greenslade was giving his views on Leveson to his students today.  “Significant and reckless disregard for accuracy”? Well Guido can see one howler…

Via @HenryCTaylor

Labour Using Milly Dowler to Harvest Election Data

Tom Watson used the Labour Party mailing list to send out a characteristically dramatic email over the weekend, calling for the government to “implement the core recommendations” of the Leveson report:

“We will bring to bear every resource, call in every promise, rattle every skeleton in every cupboard. This is a step too far by Cameron. The whole country knows he doesn’t have the moral legitimacy to do it. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure we implement the core recommendations of the Leveson report. Cameron wants to sell-out to Rupert Murdoch and powerful press interests because he is scared, and he is weak. But that is why he cannot succeed – because he is weak. And he is wrong.”

Despite the celebrity astroturf group calling for full implementation, Watson is using Labour Party resources to direct people to the Hacked Off petition, where you can sign up as many times as you like, with as many fake names and watch the supporter count grow. Guido signed as Divine Brown.

Team Miliband have rowed back slightly from their hook, line and sinker swallowing of Leveson last week. Apparently there are some data protection worries to deal with. Talking of data, Labour HQ are using Leveson as an opportunity to cynically harvest voter data for the next election. A section of the party website features Maddie McCann and Milly Dowler, asking people to pledge their support. Except the small print reveals the postcode and email data will be used for Labour MPs to contact you. Stay classy…

The Celebrity Inquiry

Why was Leveson clapped earlier?

Mr Jay was even signing autographs…

Vid via Liar Politicians 

Leveson Damning of Piers Morgan

Worth noting that Leveson refrained from naming too many names and is was clearly keen to avoid making direct accusations. One person he didn’t hold back on though was good old Piers Morgan. While discussing Pier’s evidence Brian claimed:

“This was not, in any sense at all, a convincing answer. Mr Morgan could not even resist a further side-swipe at the Guardian (he had earlier referred to that title as the self-appointed bishops of Fleet Street), perhaps in an attempt to draw attention away from the broader ramifications of the question. When linked with other evidence, his reference to ‘the rumour mill’ somewhat downplayed the quality of the evidence incriminating the industry as a whole. And Mr Morgan chose his words very carefully when asked to speak about the Daily Mirror. Overall, Mr Morgan’s attempt to push back from his own bullish statement to the Press Gazette was utterly unpersuasive.”

In other words…

UPDATE:

UPDATE II:

Via @Unnamedinsider

How Statutory Regulation Would Work

+ + LEVESON REPORT TOP LINES + +


+ + PCC TO GO, NEW BODY UNDERPINNED BY LEGISLATION + +
+ + POLITICIANS MUST PUBLISH DETAILS OF ALL CONTACT WITH SENIOR MEDIA + +
+ + LEVESON SAYS ‘NO DEAL’ BETWEEN NEWS INT AND TORIES + +
+ + HUNT CLEARED OF BIAS, CABLE CRITICISED + +

Lord Justice Leveson slams press saying “behaviour can only be described as outrageous” across all papers and says criminality was ignored. The police get off relatively lightly, but politicians are slammed for years of turning a blind eye and getting too cosy.

The PCC is a goner. Brian recommends parliament legislate to set up a body to regulate the press that has the power to force due prominence apologies and corrections and fine up a million pounds or 1% of turnover. It should have investigative power.

The press will have to come up with their own body and pay for it. The new body will be “validated” by Ofcom. The body will have no power to make organisations and titles join it but those that do not will be seen in the eyes of the law as negligent and showing wilful disregard for standards and thus face far high costs in civil claims. He says government might want to consider Ofcom regulating those that refuse to join and should be considered as overseeing body if new system fails.

Leveson dresses up new legislation as enshrining freedom of the press and closes with a quote from Sir John Major saying its now or never. Leveson says this is not state regulation but an independent body given powers by the state.

The police are to stop using the term “off the record” and politicians should publish all relationships with senior media figures and brief notes of what was discussed. Estimate of all forms of contact including emails and texts should also be published

On a political note Leveson says there was no deal with the Tories and News Int, criticises but does not name politicians for being too close to media, turning blind eye and failing to get a grip sooner. All too close. Hunt is cleared of bias, though Cable gets a slap for letting his own views get in the way.

More follows…

LibDems on the Fence: Murdo-phobia v Press Freedom

It could not be a great matter of state without the LibDems sitting on the fence. Yesterday they briefed the FT:

“In spite of the party’s liberal heritage, Mr Clegg’s team say the vast majority of Lib Dem MPs would support Leveson if he says that independent regulation must be underpinned by law to make it fully effective.”

However this morning team Clegg is in full reverse ferret mode:

Overnight it emerged that the Burns/Blunkett letter had cross party support, also Ming and Hughes have been making plenty of noise on the issue. Interestingly the party’s leader in waiting, who is not a man adverse to regulating, has been rather quiet. The last time Vince Cable said anything interesting about press regulation was when he had been at the sharp end of a sting. After his complaint about the secret ‘war on Murdoch’ recording by Heidi Blake, then of the Telegraph, was upheld by the PCC, Vince said:

“I’m delighted with the findings which fully vindicates the complaints I and my colleagues made to the PCC. It’s very rare the commission comes down so clearly and we are very pleased with the outcome. It was important this was established by an independent, respected and reputable body.”

Will Cable and the rest of the LibDems be voting to keep regulation “independent” or will their Murdoch phobia overcome their liberal anti-statist, pro-freedom traditions?

George Eustice’s Letter to Recruit Press Haters

Cameron’s former Press Secretary George Eustice is leading the charge for state intervention on the back benches. Here is what he has just sent Tory colleagues:

From: EUSTICE, George
Sent: 26 November 2012 13:50
To: EUSTICE, George
Subject: A brief history of “last chances” for the press

Following speculation that the government might be about to offer the press, “one last chance” to make self regulation actually work, I thought colleagues might be interested in the history of previous “last chances” over the past 65 years. Parliament has not always been good at learning from its mistakes, so has condemned journalism to suffer crisis after crisis. Here is the record:

1. 1953. Four years after a Royal Commission told the press to start regulating itself, nothing had been done. Only the threat of legislation forced them to create the General Council of the Press. Withdrawing his Private Member’s Bill, C.J. Simmons MP told the Commons: ‘I give warning here and now that if it fails, some of us again will have to come forward with a measure similar to this bill.’

2. 1962. A second Royal Commission told the press to make self-regulation effective: ‘We think that the Press should be given another opportunity itself voluntarily to establish an authoritative General Council . . . We recommend, however, that the government should specify a time limit after which legislation would be introduced.’

3. 1977. The third Royal Commission on the Press urged radical changes to the Press Council and said that if nothing was done parliament should act. The report said: ‘We recommend that the press should be given one final chance to prove that voluntary self-regulation can be made to work.’

4. 1990. Parliament backed the Calcutt Committee recommendations for radical improvements to self-regulation, including the establishment of an effective Press Complaints Commission. Papers were given a ‘year of grace’ to make this work and the Home Secretary, David Waddingston, told the Commons: ‘This is positively the last chance for the industry to establish an effective non-statutory system of regulation.’

5. 1993. The Calcutt Review concluded that the PCC was ‘not . . . an effective regulator of the press’. It recommended a Press Complaints Tribunal backed by statute. A Major government with a slender majority failed to implement this.

6. 2011. Amid public outrage over the revelation that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked, David Cameron told the Commons: ‘I accept we can’t say it is the last chance saloon all over again. We’ve done that.’

If you are interested in doing your bit to try to break this cycle of failure but would like further information or want to discuss the issue more fully, please do not hesitate to make contact.

George Eustice MP
Member of Parliament for Camborne, Redruth and Hayle
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
020 7
www.georgeeustice.co.uk

It’s said he has never forgiven the papers for nicknaming him “Useless Eustice”.

National Paper Hushed Up Savile Story ‘Because of Leveson’

Guido has been chatting to Miles Goslett, the former Sunday Telegraph and Mail on Sunday hack, who is now freelance, broke the story about Newsnight dropping the Savile report:

“Before Christmas, when I offered several newspapers the story about Newsnight shelving its Jimmy Savile investigation, Savile hadn’t been dead that long. I was told by several of the papers that taste was a factor in their decision but in at least one case the Leveson Inquiry, which was then at its height, was mentioned as being a problem as well. It’s common knowledge that at that time no paper wanted to take on what could turn out to be a controversial story, so they didn’t.”

As Guido reported in February, no paper touched it and the story ended up coming out in The Oldie magazine. Fast forward eight months and the BBC Director General is preparing to give evidence to an independent inquiry about the cover up. Well done Brian.

Coogan Tells Guido: I'm Brave to Take Murdoch Shilling Press Freedom Under Attack at Hacked Off Meeting

20120925-220946.jpg

Hacks, MPs and LibDem delegates assembled in a packed Grand Hotel conference room last night for the Hacked Off debate on press reform. Hugh Grant was bundled away from his meeting with Clegg by his many minders before proceedings began, leaving Steve Coogan as the sole star attraction. Somewhat predictably, the evening quickly descended into an all-out assault on press freedom.

Panelists and delegates focused their ire on the likes of Page 3, Boris and Kelvin Mackenzie, so it seemed as if Coogan was playing to the gallery somewhat when he exhorted: “I float between Labour and LibDem. But never Tory. I’d rather pull out my own eyeballs than vote Tory. Alan Partridge backs David Cameron”. The journalists present looked on with horror as NUJ boss Michelle Stanistreet condemned editors and Hacked Off professor Steve Barnett laughably admitted that “I have this vision of Kelvin behind bars”. The mood was summed up when a technical issue saw the lights briefly go down, only for delegates to shout “Murdoch!”. They promised a debate, but there was none to be found.

20120925-222412.jpgThen came the star of the show. Guido found it interesting how Coogan spent at least a minute beforehand standing and pretending to speak in order that paps could get their money shot. Evan Harris plugging his new book for him was no coincidence either – Coogan is only too happy to use the press when it suits him. When it came down to it, the Latvian-loving tabloid star was full of style but no substance. Apparently “press freedom is a lie peddled by proprietors and editors who only care about profit”, and when it comes to the Mail and the Sun there are “dark forces afoot”. Afterwards Guido asked Coogan about the charge that attacking Murdoch then selling his show to Sky could be seen as hypocritical:

“I am aware of it but I see a flipside, I think it makes me even braver. It would be even more hypocritical if I took his money and didn’t criticise him. What I’m doing puts me in even more danger.”

Just how brave do you have to be to trouser a seven figure sum…

Knowing Me Alan Partridge, Knowing You Nick Clegg

It does not get any easier for the Deputy Prime Minister. Nick Clegg is having a one-on-one right now with Steve Coogan. Apparently the coked-up starf**ker is back on his high horse and is seeking “assurances from Nick Clegg that he will continue to stand up to the power of newspaper editors and owners when the moment comes to decide” whether the press will be able to point out his hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy like waging a war against Murdoch and then taking his money as soon as he needed a channel for his new so-so Sky TV show.

Guido will be at the Hacked Off fringe meeting at 18.15 to ask him about it. Details of the meeting in Brighton at LibDem conference are here.

Ecuador President: I am Like Leveson

Raids on newsrooms, journalists arrested, politicians demanding greater regulation of the press. No it’s not Britain, but rather the latest revelations surrounding the Ecuadorian government’s crackdown on the country’s media. Now President Rafael Correa has hit back, telling the Guardian that he is no worse than Lord Justice Leveson:

“We won’t tolerate abuses and crimes made every day in the name of freedom of speech. That is freedom of extortion and blackmail. Do we have an unwritten law that we can’t sue a journalist? Since when? So nobody should sue Murdoch and his partners in crime in Britain? The Ecuadorean and Latin American press is not like the European press, which has some professional ethics. They are used to being above the law, to blackmail, to extort. I am sorry about good people on an international level who defend this kind of press. The newspapers have power.”

Would-be press regulators should be careful what they wish for…

Missing Mr Jay?

Click above and head over to Popbitch to play their Leveson crossword.

What better way to spend your lunchtime… 

Lord Black at Leveson Guido Giving Evidence Again

Last month Leveson ordered Guido to submit a third witness statement to his Inquiry, this time asking for Guido’s thoughts on Lord Black’s proposals for a future press regulatory system. Lord Black is currently telling Mr Jay about those suggestions for keeping the press under control.

You can read Guido’s written evidence here… 

Exclusive: Gordon Disputes Times's Story Claims Son's Cystic Fibrosis Was Not Known

The Times is reporting that News International has written to the Leveson Inquiry asking them to seek further evidence from Gordon Brown over his claim that they illegally accessed his son’s medical records. The move comes after the Dundee-based Sunday Post revealed that they had got a story about his son a few weeks earlier but decided not to run it after contacting Brown. […] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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