WARE v FRENCH GOES TO COURT

July 6, 2020

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THE JOURNALIST John Ware has issued a writ for libel against Press Gang editor Paddy French.

Ware seeks £50,000 in damages.

Press Gang is contesting the action and has instructed solicitors to act for Paddy French.

The case will now go to court.

Ware’s action concerns the Press Gang pamphlet “Is The BBC Anti-Labour? — Panorama’s Biased Anti-Semitism Reporting: A Case To Answer” published last December.

This was a critical analysis of last July’s Panorama programme “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?”

John Ware was the reporter and presenter.

Labour called the broadcast an “authored polemic” by Ware and “an overtly one-sided intervention in political controversy by the BBC”.

The Corporation hit back: “the BBC stands by its journalism … we completely reject any accusations of bias or dishonesty”.

The Press Gang pamphlet came down on the side of Labour and was critical of John Ware.

Ware called our reportseriously defamatory”.

Press Gang has instructed the London solicitors Bindmans.

A crowdfunded appeal has been launched to help pay the legal costs of the action.

So far, more than 260 backers have donated over £8,000 to this fighting fund.

The link is here.

Panorama_v_PG_04

UPDATE

By 14 October, the fighting fund had reached £25,000 from more than 900 supporters.

The target is £100,000.

There will be a preliminary hearing in the next couple of months.

JOHN WARE v PRESS GANG

April 15, 2020

BBC_series_head_6C

THE BBC Panorama reporter John Ware has threatened legal proceedings against Press Gang editor Paddy French.

Press Gang is contesting the action.

An appeal been launched to help pay the heavy cost of instructing solicitors to fight these potential libel proceedings.

BBC_cover_08_b

REPORT
OUR INVESTIGATION into the Panorama programme was published on December 7 last year — five days before the general election.
It can be read here. 

Readers can back the fighting fund here.

Ware’s action concerns the Press Gang report Is The BBC Anti-Labour? — Panorama’s Biased Anti-Semitism Reporting: A Case To Answer.

John Ware claims this publication is seriously defamatory.

And demands

 a full retraction 

 an apology

 a statement to be read out in open court and

 payment of substantial damages and legal costs.

Mark Lewis of Patron Law, who acts for Ware, has agreed a “conditional fee arrangement” where the firm acts for Ware on a no-win, no-fee basis.

In addition. Patron Law has taken out insurance which limits Ware’s exposure should he lose.

This means that if Press Gang fails to win, the website will also be liable for the cost of the insurance.

WARE 3

JOHN WARE
JOHN WARE was the reporter and presenter of the controversial Panorama programme “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” broadcast in July last year. The Labour Party complained about the broadcast but the BBC stood by Ware’s journalism — “we completely reject any accusations of bias or dishonesty.” The television watchdog, Ofcom, also rejected complaints about the programme.
Photo: BBC

Press Gang has instructed the London solicitors Bindmans to act for Paddy French.

In a statement, issued today (April 15) Paddy French said

“It’s clear John Ware feels our report is an attack on his professional integrity.”

Press Gang feels equally strongly that the report met the highest standards of ethical journalism — and we’ll be defending it strongly.”

“We’re confident it was a fair criticism of a contentious piece of broadcasting and that a court will agree with us.”

“But we cannot get to that point without your help.”

Press Gang asked the BBC if it was supporting John Ware’s action.

A spokesperson told us “the BBC won’t be commenting.”

♦♦♦
Published: 15April 2020
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

UPDATE
21 April 2020 

YESTERDAY OUR lawyers, Bindmans, replied to the letter from John Ware’s solicitor claiming the Press Gang pamphlet “Is The BBC Anti-Labour?” is “seriously defamatory”.

The five page Bindmans letter says editor Paddy French has “complete defences” under section 2 (Truth), section 3 (Honest Opinion) and section 4 (Public Interest) of the Defamation Act 2013.

Bindmans conclude:

“The defamatory allegations against your client are matters of opinion, based on the facts set out in the …. report.”

“Mr French is surprised that an experienced journalist like your client has threatened libel proceedings rather than joining in public debate and we invite you to withdraw the threat forthwith.”

“In the event that your client commences legal proceedings then the matter will be vigorously defended.”

John Ware’s solicitor, Mark Lewis of Patron Law, has acknowledged receipt of the letter and says he will reply by the end of the month.

The Press Gang appeal has now passed its initial £5,000 target.

“It’s often said that libel is a rich man’s game,” said Paddy French.

“In this case, the support of 200 people is helping to level the playing field.”

“It’s also a vote of confidence in the integrity of Press Gang journalism.”

♦♦♦

CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

SCRIPTEASE

February 21, 2020

  BBC_series_head_4b

IN JULY last year the BBC broadcast an edition of Panorama on the alleged anti-Semitism crisis in the Labour Party.

Labour branded the programme an “authored polemic” by reporter John Ware.

And condemned the broadcast as “an overtly one-sided intervention in political controversy by the BBC”.

The BBC defended Panorama: “… we completely reject any accusations of bias or dishonesty”. 

The party submitted a long complaint to the BBC about the programme.

The Corporation rejected it.

Labour could have escalated the complaint to the broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom.

However, a Labour spokesman would not tell Press Gang if the party have done so. 

We suspect it has not.

A Press Gang investigation — published in December, just before the election — found in favour of Labour.

We concluded the edition of Panorama was biased and dishonest — it was “rogue journalism”.

See the panel (right) for more details.

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BIAS
OUR INVESTIGATION into the Panorama programme was published on December 7 last year — five days before the general election.
It can be read here
Although it was an interim report, it found ten possible breaches of the BBC’s own Editorial Guidelines. 
We found Panorama guilty on nine counts and cleared it of one.
The programme broke the key BBC commitment to “achieving due impartiality”.
And failed to honour the BBC promise not to “knowingly and materially mislead its audiences.”
The BBC, of course, rejects these criticisms while Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog which regulates the Corporation, declined to investigate.
The Press Gang investigation continues … 

The BBC also rejected complaints from viewers that Panorama had broken its rules on impartiality and fairness.

Some of these complainants did appeal the BBC’s decision to the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom.

At the end of December, Ofcom decided not to investigate any of these complaints.

It did not explain why.

Now, one of the complainants — the academic Justin Schlosberg, former chairman of the Media Reform Coalition — has successfully crowdfunded £25,000 to take Ofcom to a judicial review. 

Press Gang contributed to this campaign.

But more is going to be needed.

Since Ofcom will contest the case — and may be joined by the BBC — the legal costs are going to be high.

Another crowdfunding effort will be needed in the near future. 

Press Gang believes Ofcom’s decision will not survive serious judicial examination.

This issue will be explored in the next article — Ofcom Waives The Rules. 

Meanwhile, more evidence is emerging of bias among the Panorama team.

In this article we examine some of the filming, editing and scripting techniques used to buttress the editorial bias of the programme.

The BBC declined to provide a full script — so Press Gang prepared its own.

This is attached, see below.

Stripped to its bare bones, the script reveals techniques designed to convince viewers  they were watching an impartial investigation.

In fact, what they were seeing was anti-Labour propaganda …

♦♦♦

THE PROGRAMME starts with a “tease” — a short introduction to the broadcast.

This is designed to “hook” the viewer with a selection of the most dramatic moments from the programme.

The Panorama tease is two minutes and five seconds long. 

It has four elements:

—  first, it claims there’s a “constant stream” of anti-Semitism complaints from Jewish members of the Labour Party

— second, it says “former Labour Party insiders” have broken their silence on Jeremy Corbyn’s “failure to drive out anti-Semitism”

— third, it presents new evidence that contradicts the leadership’s statements on the issue and

— fourth, it dramatically asks if Jeremy Corbyn, himself, is an anti-Semite.

WARE 3

ANTI-CORBYN
PANORAMA REPORTER John Ware is an open critic of Jeremy Corbyn. In an article for the magazine Standpoint in June 2017 he said the Labour leader’s “… entire political career has been stimulated by disdain for the West, appeasement of extremism, and who would barely understand what fighting for the revival of British values is really all about”. The BBC Editorial Guideline 4.3.11 states: “Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC output the personal opinions of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy …” 
Photo: BBC

The first element is illustrated by the testimony of two Jewish members of the Labour Party.

Neither is named.

Viewers will have assumed they are ordinary Jewish party members.

After the programme, online journalists revealed their identities — and that both are leading members of Jewish groups opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

They are Ella Rose and Adam Langleben.

Ella Rose is a leading figure in the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM). 

The JLM was opposed to Jeremy Corbyn even before he became leader in 2015 — and before the allegations of an anti-Semitism problem began to emerge.

In the first leadership contest, JLM endorsed Yvette Cooper — in the second, Owen Smith.

In 2015, shortly after Jeremy Corbyn became Leader, Ella Rose went to work at the Israeli Embassy in London. 

Her job was described as a Public Affairs Officer. 

At the Embassy she met Shai Masot, a Senior Political Officer.

In January 2017 Al Jazeera broadcast a sensational series called “The Lobby” revealing Israel’s clandestine attempts to influence British politics. 

It featured both Masot and Rose.

Shai Masot was filmed trying to “take down” then Tory Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan.

Duncan is an outspoken critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

In the wake of the programme, Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev was forced to apologise.

It was not, he insisted, official Israel policy to “take down” British government ministers.

Masot was sacked and sent home in apparent disgrace.

Ella Rose also featured in the programme.

She had left the left the Israeli Embassy to become the first full-time Director of the Jewish Labour Movement.

It was in this role that Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter caught her boasting that she could “take” down the Labour activist Jackie Walker using martial arts techniques developed by the Israeli army.

Screen Shot 2019-10-06 at 13.40.34

Jackie Walker is a Jewish Labour member who opposes Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. 

Rose was reprimanded by the Labour Party for her conduct. 

Panorama did not mention this in the programme. 

By the time of the Panorama broadcast, Rose had stepped down from her role as full-time director of the Jewish Labour Movement.

She is now its Equalities Officer. 

The second testimony came from Adam Langleben, a former campaigns officer for the Jewish Labour Movement.

He tells viewers

… it’s been soul destroying being a member of the Labour Party and Jewish. 

Langleben left the party in February 2019.

He is also a prominent figure in the Jewish Leadership Council.

The Council is a charity which claims to bring together “the major Jewish organisations” in the UK.

Among its constituent members are the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Zionist Federation of Great Britain.

In July 2019, at the time of the Panorama broadcast, Langleben was described as ‘Head of Digital and Shareholder Engagement’. 

A month after programme went out, he became ‘Head of Communications and Political Adviser’. 

Panorama did not inform viewers that Rose and Langleben — apparently ordinary Jewish Labour Party members — were also senior figures in pro-Israeli pressure groups opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

There is another unusual aspect in the programme’s treatment of Rose and Langleben.

Normally, the tease includes material which is then repeated in the main body of the programme.

But Rose and Langleben never reappear.

One reason for this may lie in the fact that their testimony is echoed by a further eight, anonymised witnesses.

As with Rose and Langleben, these additional eight witnesses are also unnamed by Panorama although one gives her name in the interview.

All but one are Jewish. 

All are allowed to give their evidence direct to the camera.

Again, all were later identified by internet journalists.

Seven of them are, like Rose and Langleben, current or former officers of the Jewish Labour Movement.

The eighth, Phil Rosenberg, is the Director of Public Affairs at the Board of Deputies, a Jewish religious group opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. 

He would not tell Press Gang if he is also a member of the Jewish labour Movement. 

There is a final twist to the saga of Panorama’s anonymous witnesses.

It is possible to remove the testimonies of all ten — and not affect the programme’s narrative.

It is also possible to shuffle the ten interviews and insert them randomly back into the programme — again, without affecting the narrative in any way.

♦♦♦

ELLA ROSE is given star billing in the Panorama programme.

In an extended, 59 minute broadcast which was widely promoted across the BBC.

For 45 seconds, at nine o’clock on a Wednesday evening, she’s allowed to address the nation.

Directly.

ELLA ROSE

VICTIM
ELLA ROSE giving evidence directly to the camera about her experience of anti-Semitism. Panorama was silent about her threat to “take” down the Jewish activist Jackie Walker using hand to hand combat techniques developed by the Israeli military. Rose was caught making the threat by an Al Jazeera undercover documentary broadcast in January 2017. She was given a warning by the Labour Party.
Photo: BBC

Unchallenged.

Her testimony is given immense additional weight by a series of filming and editing techniques. 

The Panorama programme opens with a black screen.

A second later, sombre music is heard as Rose appears, looking directly at the camera. 

Then the BBC logo is superimposed.

Rose is briefly silent but, four seconds in, we hear her say the words:

I joined the Labour Party because of my Jewish values and because of the things that I was taught in my family and in my synagogue.

After this — at 11 seconds — the screen fades to black. 

Two seconds later, Rose is back, this time speaking directly to the camera:

I’ve been the unfortunate victim of a lot of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party and stuff I never thought I’ve receive in 2019 let alone in the Party that I thought was anti-racist.

This ends at 24 seconds with the camera again fading to black.

This device — fading to black — is an editing tool designed to provide a visual pause to emphasise the words that have just been spoken.

The screen remains black for more than two seconds.

The viewer then sees Rose silently looking at the camera.

This time we only hear her say:

Whilst leafleting at a party conference someone came up and screamed abuse in my face.

At 33 seconds, the screen cuts to a close up of Rose.

There’s a brief pause. 

She’s still looking at the camera when the viewer hears her say:

I wouldn’t say to a friend …

At this point the camera briefly fades to black.

She continues:

… go to a Labour …

At 38 seconds, she’s back in vision, talking directly to the camera:

… Party meeting if you are Jewish. I couldn’t do that to someone I cared about.

Her contribution ends with two seconds of her silently nodding.

She appears close to tears.

Her sequence ends 45 seconds after the programme began.

This technique of allowing an interviewee to give evidence directly to the camera is highly unusual in current affairs broadcasting.

Normally, it’s a technique used in documentaries where the testimony is accepted by journalists and historians as being truthful.

Programmes about the Holocaust, for example, often feature survivors giving harrowing testimonies direct to the camera. 

In the Panorama programme, Ella Rose is treated as if she is a proven survivor of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

But, in British current affairs television, where impartiality is supposed to be sacrosanct, Rose’s evidence should have been tested.

zionist+shits

ZIONISTS
 ELLA ROSE poses with her friend Izzy Lenga in a photo posted on Twitter in July 2018. In this version, the photo has been edited  — the full logo is “Zionist Shitlords”. Izzy Lenga is another Jewish Labour Movement member who appears in the Panorama broadcast. Although not named by the programme either on screen or in commentary, she gives her full name during her interview. 

And, especially when the subject is  controversial and a general election is likely.

Reporter John Ware should have asked her

— where is the evidence of the anti-Semitism you describe?

— who is the person who screamed abuse at you at the party conference?

— did you make a complaint to the party about this person and, if so, what was the result?

— you are a Zionist who worked for the Israeli Embassy before becoming Director of the anti-Corbyn Jewish Labour Movement. Are you exaggerating the extent of anti-Semitism in order to discredit Jeremy Corbyn because he is seen as a major threat to Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians? 

None of these questions are asked.

John Ware abdicates the role of an impartial reporter.

He allows a partisan witness to give unchallenged testimony.

♦♦♦

THE TEASE also seeks to damage Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party right at the start of the programme.

John Ware deploys the technique of asking questions and combining them with statements which leave the viewer with only one realistic answer.

At 1.13, he talks of “Mr Corbyn’s failure to drive out anti-Semitism”. 

This is stated as fact.

At 1.31 Ware says he has evidence “that contradicts what the party leadership has said in public”. 

At 1.47 Jeremy Corbyn is allowed to say:

The idea that I’m some kind of racist or anti-Semitic person is beyond appalling, disgusting, and deeply offensive.

This is followed, at 1.56, by Ware asking former Labour Party staffer Mike Creighton if he thinks Jeremy Corbyn is anti-Semitic.

Creighton says:

 … it’s still a question I struggle with. 

This is then followed by the main programme titles:

Is Labour Anti-Semitic? 

Ware and Panorama have set out their stall:

— anti-semitism is rife in the Labour Party

— Jeremy Corbyn has failed to stamp it out

— his team are potentially lying about the issue and

— a former Labour official says he can’t rule out that Corbyn is anti-Semitic.

Ware and Panorama take up 92 per cent of the tease to establish their argument.

Jeremy Corbyn gets nine seconds to argue against.

Who is the average viewer going to believe? 

Throughout the rest of the programme, Panorama uses editing techniques to further undermine Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.

At 17.12, for example, we see footage of Jeremy Corbyn which has been treated so that it is blurred and grainy.

Screenshot 2020-02-21 at 09.04.50

DOCTORED
FOOTAGE FEATURING Labour Leader was treated by Panorama to produce blurred and grainy images. This technique is used again and again.
Photo: BBC

This follows John Ware saying that anti-Semitism complaints “were growing and beginning to seriously undermine the party’s anti-racist credentials”. 

This technique is used again and again, often accompanied by sombre music. 

The subliminal message is that there’s something sinister going on.

At 37.40 John Ware is talking about alleged attempts by Jeremy Corbyn to influence decisions on anti-Semitism cases.

To go with Ware’s commentary, we see a night sky showing the moon. 

This cuts to a blurred traffic shot taken through the bars of what appear to be a set of railings. 

There’s sombre music throughout.

Here, the subliminal message is that something dark and shady is going on. 

The same techniques are used whenever the Labour Party comments on John Ware’s allegations.

These statements are shown against a background of blurred night-time traffic.

However, there’s an extra twist when it comes to the woman Panorama chooses to voice these comments

The programme does not say who she is.

Her accent suggests she’s of British-Asian heritage.

Why did Panorama choose this person?

A conventional British accent would have been just as appropriate. 

There are many ethnicities in Labour’s membership but the majority are of white British heritage. 

Was Panorama trying to plant the idea that Labour is more sympathetic to Muslims than Jews? 

♦♦♦

THIS IS an initial assessment of the editing and scripting techniques used in the programme. 

Future articles will examine these in more detail.

The full script follows the Right of Reply section.

This is the fourth instalment of the series Is The BBC Anti-Labour?

The previous three articles are

— an introductory article: it can be found here

— the second, BBC v Ofcom, is here

— article three, Indictment, is here

In addition, an interim report has been published. It’s available here.

♦♦♦  

Notes
1
Press Gang editor Paddy French declares an interest in this issue. A life-long Labour voter, he joined the party when Jeremy Corbyn was elected Leader.
2
The ten anonymous witnesses were identified by online websites including The Canary, Electronic Intifada, Vox Political and Jewish Voice for Labour.

♦♦♦
Published: 21 February 2020
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

♦♦♦

CORRECTIONS
  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

♦♦♦

PANORAMA
“IS LABOUR ANTI-SEMITIC?”
Wednesday, 10 July 2019
9pm
59 mins

NOTES

1
This is the fourth instalment of the series Is The BBC Anti-Labour?
The previous three articles are
— the opening article can be found here
— the second, BBC v Ofcom, is here
— article three, Indictment, is here
In addition, an interim report has been  published. It’s available here.

2
The BBC declined to provide a script of the programme. Press Gang prepared this one from the iPlayer version of the broadcast. This is still available:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0006p8c
However, it will be removed from iPlayer in July.

2
This script is annotated:
— comments in black square brackets are based on information provided in the programme
— comments in red square brackets are based on information acquired after the programme was broadcast. Press Gang believes Panorama knew this information but decided not to share it with viewers. 


3
Where an interviewee is marked ANONYMOUS, it means Panorama does not name them either on screen or in reporter John Ware’s commentary. There are ten of these interviews. One interviewee names herself and another gives her first name.


4
SYNC means pictures and sound are combined: reporter / interviewees can be seen talking. 

5
V/O means voice over pictures. The voice is mostly from reporter John Ware, an interviewee or the spokeswoman for the Labour Party. 

6
FTB means “fade to black”: a device where the picture on screen dissolves to a completely black screen for a few seconds.

7
CTB means “cut to black” — a picture cuts directly to a black screen, without dissolving. 

8
ACTUALITY means archive film of an event or an interview which has already taken place. That is, it was not filmed for this edition of Panorama.

9
The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) is a major influence in this programme but is, in fact, never mentioned. At least ten of the 21 interviewees is, or has been, a member or an official of this long-established campaign group. Established as Poale Zion in 1903, it changed its name in 2004. Affiliated to the Labour Party, it accepts Jews and non-Jews as members. It is opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership — in the 2015 leadership election it supported Yvette Cooper. In the 2016 contest it backed Owen Smith. In November 2018 the group asked the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to investigate the Labour Party which it said was “institutionally racist”. In April 2019 it decided to remain affiliated to Labour but passed a motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn over his alleged mishandling of the anti-Semitism issue. 

10
The photographs which illustrate the script are taken from the iPlayer version of the programme and are, therefore, the copyright of the BBC.

SCRIPT

TEASE
00.00 – 2.05

00.00 – 00.02
[from black screen, an unnamed young woman fades up, looking directly at the camera, sombre music]
00.03
[BBC logo appears]
00.03
ANONYMOUS
[ELLA ROSE
Ex-employee, Israel Embassy in London before becoming full-time Director of Jewish Labour Movement (JLM). She is currently JLM’s Equalities Officer. She now works for the Holocaust Educational Trust as Public Affairs Manager]
ELLA ROSE
[V/O — voice over]
[Ella Rose looking directly at camera]
“I joined the Labour Party because of my Jewish values and because of the things that I was taught in my family and in my synagogue.”
00.11
[FTB — fade to black]
00.13
[SYNC]
“I’ve been the unfortunate victim of a lot of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party and stuff I never thought I’ve receive in 2019 let alone in the Party that I thought was anti-racist.”
00.24
[FTB]
00.26
[V/O] [Ella Rose looking at the camera]
“Whilst leafleting at a party conference someone came up and screamed abuse in my face.”
00.33
[V/O] [close up of Ella Rose looking at the camera]
00.35
“I wouldn’t say to a friend …”
00.36
FTB
“… go to a Labour …”
00.38
[SYNC]
“… Party meeting if you are Jewish. I couldn’t do that to someone I cared about.”
00.44
[nodding, looking upset]

00.46 – 00.58
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
WARE 3
[V/O]
[over shots of 4 people all, like Ella Rose, looking directly at the camera. The background is the same for all ten anonymised interviewees]
“Labour says anti-racism is at its very core. Why, then, is there a constant stream of anti-Semitism complaints by party members?”

00.46  ANONYMOUS
[ALEX RICHARDSON
Formerly worked for Joan Ryan, ex-Labour MP, Enfield North. He’s currently Membership Officer for Jewish Labour Movement]
ALEX RICHARDSON


00.49  ANONYMOUS
[REBECCA FILER
Formerly Jewish Labour Movement’s Political Education Officer]
REBECCA FILER

00.52  ANONYMOUS
[STEPHANE SAVARY
Currently a National Vice Chair, Jewish Labour Movement]
Screenshot 2020-02-03 at 22.35.28

00.55 ANONYMOUS
[later self-identified as IZZY LENGA
Currently International Officer, Jewish Labour Movement]
IZZY LENGA
00.58
FTB

00.59
ANONYMOUS
[ADAM LANGLEBEN
Ex-Campaigns Officer for Jewish Labour Movement, ex-Labour councillor, Barnet. Now Head of Communications for the Jewish Leadership Council]
Screenshot 2020-02-06 at 12.57.08
[SYNC]
“Since 2015 it’s been soul-destroying being a member of the Labour Party and Jewish.”
1.03
FTB
1.04
[SYNC]
“Jewish members across the Labour Party have, don’t know what to do. No one knows what to do …”

1.13
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
[over pix of 5 people, none of whom are identified at this point]
“Tonight eight former Labour insiders break their silence on Mr Corbyn’s failure to drive out anti-Semitism.”

1.13
MARTHA ROBINSON
[later captioned as Administrator, Disputes Team 2018-2019]
MARTHA ROBINSON

1.15
DAN HOGAN
[later captioned as Investigator, Disputes Team 2016-2018]
DAN HOGAN

1.16
BEN WESTERMAN
[later captioned as Investigator, Disputes Team 2016-2017]
SAM WESTERMAN

1.18
MIKE CREIGHTON
[later captioned as Director, Disputes Team 2009-2017]
MIKE CREIGHTON

1.21
LOUISE WITHERS GREEN
[later captioned as Officer, Disputes Team 2017-2018]
WITHERS GREEN

1.22
SAM MATTHEWS
[later captioned as Chief Investigator, Disputes Team 2017-2018]
SAM MATTHEWS 2
[SYNC]
“I am heartbroken and disgusted that the party I joined over a decade ago is now institutionally racist.”

1.31
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [actuality of Jeremy Corbyn at conference]
“We also reveal new evidence that contradicts what the party leadership has said in public.”

1.37
LORD (IAIN) McNICOL
[later captioned as: Lord McNicol
Labour General Secretary 2011-2018]
LORD McNICOL
[SYNC]
“The emails that you have shown me you are really important.”
1.41
[cut to different camera angle]
[SYNC]
“The issues that are raised within them should ring alarm bells …”
1.43
[V/O] [cut to John Ware looking at Mike Creighton]
1.45
[SYNC]
“… across the party.” 


1.47
ACTUALITY
[no caption, but R4 World at One seen on the background]
JEREMY CORBYN
[SYNC]
“The idea that I’m some kind of racist or anti-Semitic person is beyond appalling, disgusting and deeply offensive.”

1.56
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
[over a shot of Mike Creighton, camera slowly zooming in]
“Do you think Mr Corbyn …”
[SYNC]
“… is anti-Semitic?”

2.00
MIKE CREIGHTON
[SYNC]
“It’s still a question I struggle with.”
2.02
FTB

2.04
[Aerials of Parliament, music with drumbeats]

2.05
TITLES
IS LABOUR ANTI-SEMITIC?

2.09
REPORTER: JOHN WARE

2.14
ACTUALITY
[Demo outside Parliament — crowd shouting “shame on you, shame on you”]

2.21
[V/O]
[over more shots of the demo]
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
“Many British Jews once saw the Labour Party as their natural political home. No longer.”

2.28
ACTUALITY
[Captioned: Luciana Berger MP, 26 March 2018]
LUCIANA BERGER
“Being a bystander who turns their head the other way is not an option. The time for action is now.”

2.36
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [more pictures of the demo]
“They say they are being pushed out of Labour by a left-wing version of the world’s oldest form of racism.”

2.45
DAVE RICH
[Captioned: Dave Rich
Author: The Left’s Jewish Problem]
DAVE RICH
[SYNC]
“Anti-Semitism is prejudice or hostility towards Jewish people. It’s anti-Jewish racism.”
2.52
[cut to John Ware listening]
[V/O]
“All based on a general suspicion …”
2.55
[SYNC]
“… that you can’t trust Jewish people that they are always up to something …
[cut to close-up of Rich]
2.59
“… and it’s usually got something to do with money or with power or with influence.”

3.04
[Aerials of Parliament, sombre music]

3.08
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis burst into the open in April 2016 with a row in Westminster.”

3.17
ACTUALITY
[John Mann, MP  “doorstepping” Ken Livingstone.]
JOHN MANN

[Labour MP for Bassetlaw until he resigned his seat in October 2019. Created a peer by Theresa May and currently the Tory government’s “independent” adviser on anti-Semitism]
“A Nazi apologist.”
KEN LIVINGSTONE
“Check your history.”
JOHN MANN
“You’re a Nazi apologist. You’re a disgusting Nazi apologist, Livingstone.”

3.24
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“The former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has a history of false claims that Jews were in cahoots with Nazis in establishing Israel.”

3.35
ACTUALITY
[blurred traffic]
[Captioned: Ken Livingstone, BBC Radio London, 28 April 2016]
KEN LIVINGSTONE
[V/O]
“Let’s remember when Hitler won his his election in 1932 …”
[Cut to unblurred London traffic]
“… his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel.”
3.44
[cut to different interview, captioned 30 March 2017]
[SYNC]
“So you had right up until the start of the Second World War real collaboration and everyone who studies history just knows this is true.”


3.52
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [over blurred London traffic]
“In fact, what historians know is that this is a gross misreading of history — one that’s deeply offensive to Jews.”

4.01
[External views of Southside, Labour HQ, London]

4.02
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“Inside Labour’s London headquarters — called Southside — were the Disputes Team who police the party’s rulebook.”
4.10
[shot change to Mike Creighton, side angle camera]
“Mike Creighton was in overall charge.”

4.12
MIKE CREIGHTON
[Captioned: Director, Disputes Team 2009-2017]
“People were going ballistic all over the place about about what Ken had said because, you know, he’s a repeat offender, really.”
4.22
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC] [shot over Mike Creighton’s shoulder to John Ware]
“What do you mean, a repeat offender? What do you mean by that?”
4.25
MIKE CREIGHTON
[SYNC] [different camera angle]
“Well, it’s not the first time that he’s been called out.”

4.28
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [over shot of Kat Buckingham listening]
“Kat Buckingham was the disputes team’s chief investigator. She had to respond to what Mr Livingstone — one of Mr Corbyn’s closest colleagues — had said.”

4.40
KAT BUCKINGHAM
[V/O]
[shot of Ware listening]
4.42
“I had prepared a suspension letter and …”
[Captioned: Kat Buckingham, Chief Investigator, Disputes Team 2015-2017]
KAT BUCKINGHAM
[SYNC]
“… was sitting waiting to get it sent, to get it signed off and to get it sent.”
4.48 [camera angle changes]
“As the hours went by … it just still didn’t get the go, didn’t get the sign-off and I couldn’t understand why — it seemed obvious to me that this is what we would be doing.”

4.57
[blurred shots of pedestrians]

4.59
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“In Mr Corbyn’s office, we’ve been told, …”
5.01
[SYNC] [Ware standing outside Labour HQ]
“… some staff grinned as they watched news of what Ken Livingstone had said. Most thought his comments not that bad.  We’ve also been told a key Corbyn advisor was heard referring to “a Jewish conspiracy” behind the growing demands for Mr Livingstone’s suspension.”

5.21
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [blurred traffic shots]
“The Labour Party say this account is completely false.”

5.26
ACTUALITY
[Captioned: 28 April 2016]
JOHN MANN, MP
“You know nothing about it, you know nothing about what Hitler did in …”
5.30
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [over shots of John Mann confronting Ken Livingstone]
“Labour MP John Mann laid into Ken Livingstone for his crank history. It was the first of Labour’s many public car crashes over anti-Semitism.”
5.40
ACTUALITY
[John Mann confronting Ken Livingstone.]
JOHN MANN
“You’ve lost it mate! You need help!”

5.43
[shots of Southside at night, sombre music]
5.45
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“Mr Livingstone was invited to attend a formal interview with the Disputes Team at party HQ.” 

5.52
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [over Labour HQ shots and
“Did you get the sense that he was taking it seriously?”
5.54
KAT BUCKINGHAM
[V/O]
“Not at all.
[SYNC]
“He signed the sign-in book at the party as ‘visiting the torture chamber’.”
6.01
[cut to John Ware listening, nodding]
[V/O]
“He had the opportunity to …”
[SYNC]
“…express regret, should he have felt regret…”
6.07
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“Did he?”
6.09
KAT BUCKINGHAM
[SYNC]
“No, he was extremely careful to not apologise for any of the statements that he had repeatedly made.”

6.19
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [grainy shots of Livingstone walking down the street]
“A year later Ken Livingstone was brought before Labour’s highest disciplinary body the national constitutional committee or NCC. The charge —  bringing the party into disrepute.”

6.35
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [shot of Sam Matthews followed by another camera angle of Matthews]
“By then there was a new chief investigator, Sam Matthews. He saw the Livingstone case as a Litmus test.”

6.44
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC]
“Ken Livingstone was given a two years suspension by the NCC.”
[V/O] [cut to Matthews listening]
“Did you think that was a fitting …”
[SYNC]
“… penalty for what he’d said?
6.52
SAM MATTHEWS
“No, not at all …”
[Captioned: Sam Matthews, Chief Investigator, Disputes Team 2017-2018]
SAM MATTHEWS
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
6.54
[V/O]
“Why?”
6.57
SAM MATTHEWS
[SYNC]
“What the NCC did in finding the charges proven but giving a two-year suspension was essentially saying yes, we acknowledge that what you said is anti-Semitic: we just don’t care that much — you can be back in within two years. That’s an outrage. That’s not zero tolerance, it’s not even close to …”
7.16
[cut to John Ware listening]
[V/O]
“… zero tolerance. These views …”
[SYNC]
“…  have absolutely no place in the Labour Party, whoever says them.”
7.22
FTB

7.23
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [Andrew Gwynne, MP walking into the room to be interviewed]
“Jeremy Corbyn refused to be interviewed for this programme. The shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne was sent in his place.”

7.34
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC]
“All of our questions have been directed to the leader of the Labour Party and key advisers in his office. None of whom have agreed to be questioned and you have been sent —  why are they not sitting where you’re sitting?”

7.49
ANDREW GWYNNE
[SYNC]
“Well I think it’s important that somebody from the Labour Party …”
7.51
[Captioned: Andrew Gwynne MP, Shadow Secretary Of State For Communities & Local Government]
Screenshot 2020-02-06 at 15.42.56
“… is here to make it very clear on behalf of the entire Shadow Cabinet …”
7.58
“… we will do all we can to make it very clear to anybody who thinks that they can have those abhorrent views in our party and in our family that they are not welcome.
FTB

8.10
[Visuals of a full moon with clouds either side, sombre music]
8.14
FTB

8.15
IZZY LENGA
[V/O] [woman, looking directly at the camera]
IZZY LENGA“I’m Izzy Lenga. I joined the Labour Party in 2015.”
FTB
8.21
[V/O] [Izzy Lenga nodding ]
“The anti-Semitic abuse I received was what I was subjected to every single day.”
8.25
FTB
[SYNC]
“Telling me Hitler was right, telling me Hitler did not go far enough.”
8.30
FTB
[V/O] [shots of her looking directly at camera]
“In Labour Party meetings we’ve seen people engage in Holocaust denial and that’s terrifying for Jewish members.”
8.37
FTB
8.39
[SYNC]
“It absolutely breaks my heart to say but I do not think the Labour Party is a safe space for Jewish people any more.”
8.45
FTB

8.47
ACTUALITY
[Labour leadership election, 12 September 2015]
“Jeremy Corbyn has won more than 50% of the votes cast in this round and I’m therefore delighted to declare Jeremy Corbyn elected as Leader of the Labour Party.”

8.58
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [shots of Jeremy Corbyn winning Labour Leadership]
“Before Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader in 2015, complaints in the party about anti-Semitism were rare.”

9.09
MIKE CREIGHTON
[V/O] [over Labour leadership election meeting]
“Complaints relating to anything were fairly low.”
[SYNC]
“At the time we probably had three, four, five members in that unit but they were mainly dealing with compliance issues.”

9.25
KAT BUCKINGHAM
[V/O] [over shots of Labour leadership election meeting]
“We began …”
9.27
“… when I started that role, having a manageable workload, some serious cases but it was within …”
9.33
[V/O] [over shots of Labour leadership election meeting]
“… my capacity.”

9.37
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [more actuality of Jeremy Corbyn]
“After Mr Corbyn became leader, party membership surged — some attracted by his decades of radical left activism.”

9.46
MIKE CREIGHTON
[SYNC]
“So there was an increase in members from a particular perspective …”
9.49
[switch to different camera angle]
“… and they brought with them a particular world view which unfortunately, allowed breathing space for anti-Semitism to arise.”

9.57
SAM MATTHEWS
[SYNC]
“This is about the creation of a culture within the Labour Party that makes …”
10.03
[shot change]
“… anti-Semites feel that it’s their political home.”

10.06
ACTUALITY
[demonstration
Captioned: Official Jeremy Corbyn Channel, 9 October 2016]
JEREMY CORBYN
10.10
[V/O]
“We want a world where …”
10.12
[SYNC]
“… there is unity and peace not racism, xenophobia, poverty and division. Thank you very much.”

10.21
DAVE RICH
[V/O]
“Many people on the left, they define themselves by being anti-racist.”
10.26
[SYNC]
“And, actually they define the right as being racist.”
10.30
[switch to different camera angle]
“So in their world they can’t be anti-Semitic because they are left-wing.”

10.36
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [Free Palestine demo]
“For Jeremy Corbyn and those who share his worldview, part of being anti-racist is near unconditional support for the Palestinian cause.”

10.47
ACTUALITY
[demonstration, then grainy pictures of Jeremy Corbyn speaking]
[Captioned: 31 May 2010]
JEREMY CORBYN:
“In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians.”

10.58
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
[Free Palestine demo, banner saying “Israel is a disease, we are the cure”]
“Yet the campaign for Palestinian rights can blind some anti-racists to another kind of racism … against Jews.”

11.07
DAVE RICH
[V/O]

[over demo shots & banner saying “Well done Israel” over Israeli flag with a swastika on it and underneath the words “Hitler would be proud”]
“If you look back at the kind of anti-Semitism …”
11.00
[SYNC]
“… that existed in the 1930s …”
[cut to different camera angle]
“… Jews using their money, Jews controlling governments.”
11.15
[cut to Free Palestine demo]
[V/O]
“Instead you started to see the same ideas being directed towards Israel – these kind of ideas …”
11.23
[SYNC]
“… are much more acceptable on the left and in pro-Palestinian …
[cut to Free Palestine demo shots]
[V/O]
“… campaigning circles because they talk about Israel, they don’t talk about Jews — but actually underneath the surface it’s the same ideas.”

11.38
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [Alan Johnson being interviewed]
“Alan Johnson, a life-long Labour Party member and historian, has campaigned against anti-Semitism on the left the since the 1980s.”

11.47
ALAN JOHNSON
[V/O] [John Ware listening to Johnson]
“It’s completely possible to criticise Israel within the Labour Party and … ”
11.52
[Captioned: Professor Alan Johnson, Author: Contemporary Left Anti-Semitism]
DAVE JOHNSON
[SYNC]
“… not come near an anti-Semitism charge. You can say the occupation is wrong, you can say the settlements are wrong, …’
[cut to second camera angle]
“… you can say that the treatment of Arab minorities is discriminatory, …”
[cut to main camera angle]
“… but if you say Israel is an inherently racist endeavour — that should therefore be abolished — that’s something different.”

12.07
ACTUALITY
[grainy shots of Jeremy Corbyn at a Free Palestine demo, captioned 10th May 2008]
12.11
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“Mr Corbyn’s office argues that the idea of peacefully replacing the world’s only Jewish state with a single Israeli-Palestinian one is not anti-Semitic. However, Mr Corbyn has sometimes shared platforms with Palestinian groups like Hamas and its supporters who want Israel to be dismantled — but by force.”

12.31
ACTUALITY
[Speaker saying: “If they deny you life, explode in their faces. It would be jihad, jihad and jihad until Palestine is free. Assalaamu Alaikum”]

12.47
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [still of Jeremy Corbyn]
“Mr Corbyn has said that Hamas represents a future for peace and justice in the Middle East.” 

12.56
ACTUALITY
[grainy close-up of Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally]
JEREMY CORBYN

“The idea that an organisation that is dedicated towards the good of the Palestinian people should be labelled as a terrorist organisation by the British government is really a big, big historical mistake.”
13.08
FTB

13.08
[Captioned: LABOUR PARTY RESPONSE]
[Woman’s voice, possibly of British Asian heritage, over blurred traffic shots]
“Jeremy has a long and principled record of solidarity with the Palestinian people. It is false to claim that he has associated with extremist groups.”

13.21
[blurred shots of traffic, ominous music]

13.27
ANONYMOUS
[RACHEL MEGAN BAKER.
Currently personal assistant to London Assembly member Onkar Sahota. A non-Jewish member of the Jewish Labour Movement]
Screenshot 2020-02-06 at 15.52.29
[V/O] [Baker looking at the camera]
“My name is Rachel.”
[SYNC]
“I’ve been a member of the Labour Party since I was 17 so that’s nine years at this point.”
13.31
FTB
[SYNC]
“Obviously, there are some real atrocities being done by the current Israeli government and I’ve seen, yeah, Jewish friends in the Labour Party feel completely held to account for that.”
13.43
FTB
[SYNC]
“You know my Jewish friends will tweet about stuff that is nothing to do with Israel or being Jewish or anything and have responses being like, well ‘what about Palestinians? Don’t do you care about the Palestinians?’ Which of course they do.”
13.57
FTB
[V/O] [Baker looking at the camera]
“Quite frankly my Jewish friends don’t feel safe or welcome in the Labour Party.”

14.05
ACTUALITY
[Labour Party conference, upbeat music]

14.14
[V/O]
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
“All his political life Mr Corbyn’s worldview has been on the fringe of the Labour movement. Now, as leader, that fringe was becoming the mainstream.” 

14.26
ACTUALITY
[Labour Party conference, captioned: 29 September  2015]
JEREMY CORBYN
“Welcome all our new members — more than 160,000 have joined the Labour Party.”

14.35
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [over conference shots]
“Complaints about anti-Semitism began to surface. Corbyn loyalists dismissed them as smears, a plot to undermine the party’s new left-wing leadership.”

14.47
KAT BUCKINGHAM
[SYNC]
“It was huge, the problem was massive and it absolutely wasn’t constructed by embittered old Blairites as we were frequently described as. It was real, it still is real.”
14.58
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“Were you all Blairites?”
[SYNC]
KAT BUCKINGHAM
[Captioned: Kat Buckingham, Chief Investigator, Disputes Team, 2015-2017]
“No, absolutely not.”
[V/O] [John Ware listening]
15.00
“It would make no difference — we had standards …”
[SYNC]
“… we had clear rules that we had to try and uphold.”

15.12
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [shots of 2015 Labour conference]
“Life long Marxists were now joining the party clashing with the traditional centre left of Brown and Blair now fading into history.”

15.23
KAT BUCKINGHAM
[V/O] [more conference shots]
“The environment was extremely hostile — we had …”
15.26
[SYNC]
“… what was akin to a civil war in the party and our role was to try and bring some civility back into the proceedings.’
[V/O] [John Ware listening]
“The civil war between members and new members was …”
15.37
[SYNC]
“… was just unbelievable: it was, a mushroom cloud of abuse and it wasn’t pleasant for anyone.”

15.48
ACTUALITY
[Labour Party conference]
JEREMY CORBYN
“Let us build a kinder politics, a more caring society, together. Let’s put our values, the people’s values back into politics. Conference, thank you.”

16.04
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [shot of Kat Buckingham, listening]
“And of course we were promised a kinder, gentler politics I think weren’t we?”
16.08
KAT BUCKINGHAM
“Yes, that’s right. It was not my experience.”
FTB

16.11
[Dark, moody shots, sombre music]

16.16
ANONYMOUS
[ALEX RICHARDSON
Formerly worked for Joan Ryan MP, Enfield North, currently Membership Officer, Jewish Labour Movement]
ALEX RICHARDSON
[SYNC]
“Yeah, it’s been a really nasty experience as a Jew in the Labour Party.”
16.22
FTB
[V/O] [Richardson looking at the camera]
“A party member posted online comments saying that Israel was responsible for the creation of Isis …”
16.32
[SYNC]
“…and also for 9/11.”
FTB
16.35
[SYNC]
“And then I saw the individual at party conference and I was absolutely horrified that nothing had been done.”
16.42
FTB
[SYNC] [sombre piano music]
“I’d really like Jeremy Corbyn to show leadership on this issue.”
16.49
FTB

16.51
ACTUALITY
[Captioned: 28 April 2016, grainy close-up]
“It’s not a crisis, there’s no crisis. I have been an anti-racist campaigner all my life. The number of cases is very, very small indeed.”

17.02
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [over blurred night-time traffic]
“But … complaints were growing and beginning to seriously undermine the party’s anti-racist credentials.”
[grainy shots of Jeremy Corbyn and Seumas Milne walking.]
“Mr Corbyn’s closest political advisor Seamas Milne sought advice from Mike Creighton.”

17.22
MIKE CREIGHTON
[SYNC]
“He said ‘I want to talk to you about anti-Semitism, how we deal with it’ …”
17.25
[cut to John Ware listening]
“… and I gave him my advice which as I recall …”
17.28
[SYNC]
[Captioned: Mike Creighton, Director, Disputes Team 2009-2017]
“… was two things.”
“One was we should deal with some of the top level anti-Semitic cases much more swiftly and much more robustly.”
[cut to second camera angle]
[SYNC]
“Second thing I suggested was that it would be the right time for Jeremy Corbyn as Leader to make a significant speech on the issue of the Middle East, particularly saying that Israel had a right to exist.”
18.02
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC]
“And when you made this suggestion to Mr Milne, what was his response?”
18.08
MIKE CREIGHTON
[SYNC]
“He laughed at me.”
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [Mike Creighton looking at John Ware]
“He laughed at you?”
MIKE CREIGHTON
[SYNC]
“He actually laughed at me [laughs] …”
[cut to second camera]
“… I mean I’d clearly mis-read it. I thought he actually wanted to know how we tackle anti-Semitism within the Labour Party. I think what he actually meant to say was how do we deal with the bad publicity we’re getting.”


18.28
[Captioned: LABOUR PARTY RESPONSE]
[over blurred traffic shots]
“The Labour party dispute this conversation ever took place. This allegation is false and malicious. Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly expressed his support for Israel’s right to exist and for a two state solution … So there is no reason whatever to laugh at any such suggestion. “

18.46
[aerial shots of Liverpool]
18.56
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“For 22 years Liverpool’s Riverside constituency has had a Jewish MP. In the wake of Mr Corbyn’s election as party leader there was an influx of new members. Some wanted her out. Party meetings descended into chaos.”
19.14
[cut to Ben Westerman looking at interviewer]
“Ben Westerman was dispatched to investigate.”
[cut to side angle]

19.18
SAM WESTERMAN
[V/O] [Ware looking at Westerman, nodding]
“The Riverside investigation really took on a life of its own, it was a very big investigation, lots of complaints. These …”
19.24
[SYNC]
“…  all featured anti-Semitism …”
[Captioned: Ben Westerman, Investigator, Disputes Team, 2016-2017]
SAM WESTERMAN
” … but also included bullying, harassment, generally unpleasant behaviour towards each other at party meetings. Uncomradely behaviour as the party rulebook defines it. So we opened a full investigation into that constituency party.”

19.43
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [Ware listening to Westerman]
“Ben Westerman was the only Jewish member of the Disputes Team.”

19.48
SAM WESTERMAN
[SYNC]
“Coming from a family with a history of oppression because they were Jews I thought this was intolerable and at this point it looked like it could be stopped.”

20.02
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [shots of an unnamed building in Liverpool]
“Westerman discovered that the word Zionism had been weaponised into a term of abuse.”

20.09
[On screen captions, unidentifed narrator reads them out]


“Zionists are targets … and deserve to feel uncomfortable”

“Every Jew is a Zio-fascist”
“Israel has no right to exist”

20.25
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“These attacks offended Jewish members because Zionism is the movement that established Israel as a secure Jewish homeland after centuries of persecution.”

20.37
DAVE RICH
[V/O] [more shots of same building in Liverpool]
“The left always thinks of itself as anti-racist …”
20.40
[SYNC]
[Captioned: Dave Rich
Author: The Left’s Jewish Problem]
]
“… but all you do is you’re swopping the word Zionist instead of Jewish or Israeli instead of Jewish and suddenly the language is cleansed — it’s acceptable on the left.”

20.52
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [set-up shots of Louise Ellman]
“Much of the vitriol was aimed at Riverside’s Jewish MP Louise Ellman.

20.59
LOUISE ELLMAN
[V/O]
“Well, I came wanting to talk about health …”
21.01
[SYNC]
[Captioned: Louise Ellman MP, Labour, Liverpool Riverside]
Screenshot 2020-02-06 at 16.13.23
 “… service, transport, public services, jobs and employment. And they wanted to talk mainly about the Middle East and particularly about the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”
21.13
[V/O] [cut to Ware listening]
“It became extremely…”
[SYNC]
“… unpleasant — people would leave the meeting in tears.”

21.23
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [wide shots of Liverpool, then Ben Westerman being interviewed]
“Ben Westerman received dozens of complaints. While interviewing one member he was confronted …”
[cut to wides of Liverpool]
“… with the very anti-Semitism he’d been investigating.”

21.34
BEN WESTERMAN
[V/O] [shots of the Mersey]
“We finished the interview, the person …”
[SYNC]
“… got up to leave the room and then turned back to me and said ‘where are you from?’ And I said ‘what do you mean, where am I from?’ And she said ‘I asked you where are you from?’ ”
[cut to second camera angle]
“And I said ‘I’m not prepared to discuss this’. And they said ‘are you from Israel?’ [pause] What can you say to that? You’re assumed to be in cahoots with the Israeli government.”
[cut to Ware listening]
[V/O]
“It’s this obsession with that …”
22.01
[SYNC]
“… that just spills over all the time into anti-Semitism.”

22.12
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [over shots of boat on the Mersey, sombre music]
“Ben Westerman’s report didn’t result in any individuals being punished but the Labour Party did change the rules about how constituency meetings were run.”

22.22
LOUISE ELLMAN
[shots of boat on the Mersey]
[V/O]
“It’s different today …”
[SYNC]
“… I don’t get the same harassment, I don’t get the same …”
[V/O] [John Ware nodding]
“… interrogation …
[SYNC]
“… but the hostility is still there.”

22.31 [blurred traffic shots through bars, sombre piano music, 4-5 seconds long]

22.36
ANONYMOUS
Screenshot 2020-02-10 at 13.04.39
[JOSHUA GARFIELD Currently Local Government Officer for Jewish Labour Movement][V/O] [shots of Joshua Garfield looking directly at the camera]
“I first voted for Corbyn as leader in 2015. I was 20 years old.”
22.41
FTB
[SYNC]
“I may only be four years older now but I definitely feel like I know an awful lot more.”
22.46
FTB
[V/O] [cut to Joshua Garfield looking directly at the camera]
“I’ve been active in the party pretty much all my entire life.”
22.53
FTB
[SYNC]
“I’ve noticed it descend into a really, really very unpleasant and, at times, hostile environment.”
[CTB – cut to black]
23.05
[SYNC]
“And they might not call me a dirty Jew but they will call me a dirty Zionist — with pride.”
23.15
FTB

23.19
[shots of Southside, Labour HQ London, neutral music] 
23.24
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“In early 2018 the disputes investigation team was joined by  …”
[cut to shot of Martha Robinson listening]
“… a young Labour member fresh out of university. Am I right you voted for Jeremy Corbyn?”
23.35
MARTHA ROBINSON
[V/O] [John Ware listening]
“I did in 2015, quite happily.”
23.38
[SYNC] [John Ware listening]
“And, when I started working for the party in London …”
[V/O]
“… I think that kind of sense of him coming in and him being this …”
23.45
[SYNC]
[Captioned: Martha Robinson, Administrator, Disputes Team 2018-219]
MARTHA ROBINSON
“… great progressive leader who is going to change British politics — I think that had kind of worn off a bit.”

23.51
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [grainy shots of Jeremy Corbyn]
“As had some of the sheen from Mr Corbyn’s reputation as a lifelong anti-racist campaigner.”
23.58
[cut to mural: Mear One, False Profits, sombre music]
“Six years earlier there had been a dispute over this mural in East London. Here the artist described the mural’s message.”

24.11
ACTUALITY
[shots of the artist painting the mural]
[Captioned: Mear One— False Profts, then Mear One, Graffiti Artist]
“I came to paint a mural that depicted the elite banking cartel known as the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Morgans the ruling class elite few, the Wizards of Oz. They would be playing a board game of Monopoly on the backs of the working class.”

24.28
DAVE RICH
[SYNC]
“The mural is a conspiracy theory through … ”
[V/O] [John Ware listening]
“… art.”
[SYNC]
“Some of the rich old white men, these rich bankers exploiting the workers were drawn to be Jewish.”
[V/O] [over shots of the mural]
“How are they drawn to be Jewish — the artist gave them big noses. I mean this is not subtle stuff.”

24.48
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [shots of the mural]
“Following complaints the local council planned to paint over the mural. On the artist’s Facebook page Mr Corbyn leapt to his defence.”
[over the entry from Jeremy Corbyn which says “Why?]
“Why, he wrote, protesting against the mural’s destruction.”

25.04
MARTHA ROBINSON
[V/O] [shots of the mural]
“If it was a member of the public …”
[SYNC]
“… who perhaps wasn’t, you know, wasn’t that political, wasn’t aware of that kind of thing, I can see how a mistake could be made.”
[cut to a different camera angle]
“But I don’t believe that Jeremy Corbyn has any such excuse — because, as he says or likes to repeat, you know, constantly, he is this lifelong anti-racist who should be able to spot anti-Semitic tropes when he sees them.”


25.31
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [shots of the mural]
“When his defence of the mural became public in 2018, Mr Corbyn apologised saying he hadn’t noticed it was anti-Semitic because he hadn’t looked closely enough.”

25.45
[shots of the moon against dark clouds, sombre piano music]

25.50
FTB

25.51
ANONYMOUS
[REBECCA FILER Ex-Political Education Officer, Jewish labour Movement]
REBECCA FILER
[V/O] [Filer looking directly at the camera]
“I received some really hurtful comments.”
25.55
FTB
[SYNC]
“I’ve seen friends of mine being reduced to tears.”
26.00
FTB
[SYNC]
“When I see or hear anything anti-Semitic in a party meeting it scares me that no one else might speak out about it.”
[CTB]
26.11
[SYNC]
“I think the leadership either don’t know how to engage fully with the topic — or don’t want to at all.”
26.24
[FTB]

26.25
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC] [John Ware at his BBC desk]
“Mr Corbyn and his office have repeatedly said that when party members are accused of anti-Semitism they don’t interfere in the disciplinary process. Indeed, the Labour Party said any such suggestion is categorically untrue.”
[cut to photo of Seumas Milne and Jeremy Corbyn]
26.42
[V/O]
“But that doesn’t seem to be the case — in an email Mr Corbyn’s director of communications …”
[camera pulls back from Seamas Milne and Jeremy Corbyn to reveal an email with the words “… we need to review …” and “… muddling up political disputes with racism” highlighted]
“… asked for a review of the disciplinary process into anti-Semitic complaints. There was a risk, he said, of muddling up political political disputes with racism.”

27.02
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [night shots of Victorian-style lamp-posts in an alleyway]
“The Labour Party told us this was not a request for any kind of formal review.”
27.09
FTB

27.10
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC] [shot of John Ware talking over Sam Matthews’ shoulder]
“How did you interpret that email …”
[V/O] [shot of Sam Matthews listening]
“… from Mr Milne?”
27.15
SAM MATTHEWS
[Captioned: Sam Matthews, Chief Investigator, Disputes Team 2017-2018]
[SYNC]
“The same way that all staff in Labour’s head office did — which is that this was the Leader’s office requesting to be involved directly in the disciplinary process.”
[change of camera angle]
“This is not a helpful suggestion, it is an instruction.”
27.32
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC]
“But it’s framed as a suggestion?”
28.22
SAM MATTHEWS
[V/O] [over shots of John Ware, then grainy shots of Seumas Milne and Jeremy Corbyn]
“Yes, it’s all framed as a suggestion but this is not some junior staff at the Leader’s office —  this is Seamas Milne, director of communications, part of Jeremy Corbyn’s inner circle. He is probably…”
27.46
[SYNC]
“… one of — if not the most — influential person within the Leader’s office and in that context when he says I think we need to review this process going forwards that isn’t a suggestion — that’s him instructing what he expects to happen, without needing to say it.”
28.01
FTB

28.02
[over night-time shots]
[Captioned: LABOUR PARTY RESPONSE]
“The Leader’s office did not intervene. These former disaffected employees sought the view of staff at the Leader’s office which was complied with in good-faith. These disaffected former officials include those who have always opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, worked to actively undermine it, and have both personal and political axes to grind.”

28.27
[night-time shots Labour HQ]

28.32
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“At Labour HQ the atmosphere was becoming distinctly chilly for the Disputes Team.”
28.39
DAN HOGAN
[Captioned: Dan Hogan, Investigator, Disputes Team 2016-2018]
Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 11.41.50
[SYNC]
“We had a really good team. We worked really closely together. We were, we all became friends through doing that job …”
[change of camera angle]
“… but there was an increasing darkness.”

[dark, night shots of Labour HQ, Southside, sombre music] 
28.53
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“Like his colleagues, Dan Hogan was having to adjust to the arrival of a new boss.”

29.00
DAN HOGAN
[SYNC]
“It became very apparent over the course of a few months that the Leader’s office and Jennie Formby and her team wanted us out.”

29.11
[still of Jennie Formby laughing with Jeremy Corbyn]
29.13
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“Jennie Formby — their new boss — was a long time Corbyn ally, now appointed General Secretary of the Labour Party. “

29.22
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC] [shot over Dan Hogan’s shoulder as John Ware quotes from a document]
“She said that ‘tackling anti-Semitism in the party is a central priority’?”
29.29
DAN HOGAN
[SYNC]
“It’s a joke.”
[change of camera angle]
“On a number of cases which I worked on, the people she brought in when she became General Secretary, over-ruled us. And downgraded what should have been a suspension to just an investigation or worse to just a reminder of conduct, effectively a slap on the wrist.”

29.46
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [out of focus shot of Jennie Formby and Thomas Gardiner, sombre music]
“One of Jennie Formby’s people was a local councillor and loyal Corbyn supporter.”

29.53
ACTUALITY
[grainy shots of Thomas Gardiner in a council meeting, captioned Camden Council]

30.03
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [over grainy Camden Council shots]
“We’ve been told that within days Thomas Gardiner was given a veto over which anti-Semitism complaints should be investigated.”

30.12
[blurred shots of email and pic of Thomas Gardiner] 

30.13
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [picture of email, the words “… political oversight …” highlighted]
“This email — circulated by Mr Corbyn’s chief of staff to his key advisers — proposes giving Thomas Gardiner political oversight over anti-Semitism complaints. The Labour Party told us the email was never sent to Mr Gardiner.” 

30.31
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC]
“The Labour Party say any suggestion that Thomas Gardiner was their political overseer is and I quote ‘a malicious political attack on a party staff member by a disaffected politically hostile former employee’. But political overseer was how the staff saw him.” 

[blurred footage of Southside, Labour HQ]
30.55
DAN HOGAN
[SYNC]
“Thomas Gardiner was to all intents and purposes the Leader’s office’s representative in head office. He wasn’t working there but he was carrying out their orders.”

[shots of Southside, daylight, sombre music] 
31.11
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“Mr Gardiner wasn’t short of work. In May last year a complaint was submitted about this image …”
[Photo of Statue of Liberty with an alien-like creature on its face and with a Star of David on its back.]
“… which had been posted online by a party member from Liverpool.”

31.23
DAVE RICH
[V/O] [over more shots of the image]
“This was an image of an alien creature clamped onto the Statue of Liberty …”
31.26
[SYNC]
“… the symbol of American freedom, with a big star of David on its back —  the same Star of David that you see on Jewish prayer books, see on the walls of synagogues, that Jewish people wear on jewellery. And the meaning of this image is that the Jews are an alien creature sucking the life out of America. It’s an image that belonged in 1930s Germany.”

31.52
MARTHA ROBINSON
[SYNC]
[Captioned: Martha Robinson, Administrator, Disputes Team 2018-2019]
“It was such a shocking image and to me, and to most of us, was so clearly anti-Semitic.”

32.03
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [still of Thomas Gardiner, sombre music]
“But not, apparently, to the disputes team’s new boss, Thomas Gardiner.” 

32.10
[V/O] [still of Thomas Gardiner]
MARTHA ROBINSON
“You know, a lot of the time he would bring up Israel …”
[SYNC]
“… and say ‘well, actually no I don’t believe this is anti-Semitic I believe this, you know, is anti-Israel or you know anti- the state of Israel’.”

32.21
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [still of Kayla Bibby]
“The image had been posted by this woman Kayla Bibby. She described it as ‘the most accurate photo I’ve seen all year’.”
32.31
[cut to film of Louise Ellman being interviewed]
“The complaint had been made by Ms Bibby’s MP Louise Ellman but Thomas Gardiner refused to suspend Miss Bibby against the recommendation of the disputes team.”

32.43
LOUISE ELLMAN
[SYNC]
“Well, that decision is absolutely appalling and that image screams out ‘this is anti-Semitism’.”
32.49
[cut to John Ware listening]
[V/O]
“Well, she should’ve …”
[SYNC]
“… either been expelled or immediately suspended and then expelled after that.”

32.59
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [more shots of the image with the words ‘blood sucking alien parasites killing America’ highlighted]
“The disputes team continued their own enquiries and learned that the image was from a far right website and was captioned ‘bloodsucking alien parasites killing America’.”

33.13
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [over shots of Southside Labour HQ]
“Kayla Bibby says she regrets any offence caused. Following an outcry over the original decision she is now suspended from the party. But the case highlighted the growing schism between what the disputes team regarded as anti-Semitic and …”
[cut to grainy shot of Thomas Gardiner]
“… what Thomas Gardiner and those in the Leader’s office thought.”

33.37
MARTHA ROBINSON
[V/O] [continuation of grainy shot of Thomas Gardiner]
“It was often just …
[SYNC]
“… spending day after day reading anti-Semitic comments …”
33.45
[V/O] [John Ware nodding as he listens to Martha Robinson]
“… that were made by Labour members. Then I would process them and pass on …”
[SYNC]
“… often to then given a disappointing answer from Thomas [Gardiner]. ”
[cut to different camera angle]
“He did suspend members and he did issue notices of investigations …”
33.57
[V/O] [John Ware listening]
“… but there should’ve been more suspensions.”
[SYNC]
“It just became so demoralising.”

34.03
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [shots of Sam Matthews listening]
“What was it like for you, the head of the unit, to have this man …”
[SYNC]
“… overseeing your work?”

34.11
SAM MATTHEWS
[SYNC]
“It was awful. It made it impossible for me to do that job in the way that that job has always been done previously.”
[change of camera angle]
“That is probably the most obvious example of how Jennie created an environment and a culture that was toxic for me and my team.”

34.28
[Captioned: LABOUR PARTY RESPONSE]
[over blurred night shots of traffic]
It is unfair to attack staff members who cannot publicly defend themselves … It is simply untrue to say that that there were any significant number of disagreements over what constituted anti-Semitism.”

34.43
[night-time shots, trees and blurred lights, sombre music]

34.48
ANONYMOUS
[PHIL ROSENBERG
Currently Director of Public Affairs, Board of Deputies, ex-Labour councillor, Camden]
ROSENBERG
[V/O] [Phil Rosenberg looking at the camera]
“Until 2016 being Jewish was either a neutral thing or it was a positive thing: people would celebrate diversity.”
34.56
FTB
[SYNC]
“That changed decisively in my personal experience in 2016 when a local member — who I’d sat sat with in meetings for 5 years, sometimes he was a bit objectionable but never racist — compared me to a Nazi in the local newspaper.”
[CTB]
[SYNC]
35.15
“Labour isn’t now an anti-racist party and that’s the sad truth of it.”
35.20
[FTB] [sombre music] 

35.23
ACTUALITY
[grainy shots of Jeremy Corbyn, captioned 2 April 2018]
JEREMY CORBYN
“I am very clear I’m not tolerating anti-Semitism in our party. ”
[cut to grainy close-up]
“We will not tolerate anti-Semitism in any form whatsoever.”

35.33
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [shots of Labour HQ, Southside, daylight]
“However we can reveal that a month after Mr Corbyn’s …”
[SYNC] [John Ware outside Labour’s Southside HQ]
“… solemn zero tolerance pledge, his office in Parliament and Labour’s new General Secretary here were working to extend their political influence beyond the Disputes Team.”

35.49
ACTUALITY
[very grainy shots of Jackie Walker]
“So I’m Jackie Walker.”

35.52
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [shots of Jackie Walker]
“Jackie Walker was a long standing …”
[cut to grainy close-up of Jackie Walker]
“… anti-racist ally of Mr Corbyn.”
35.57
[cut to photo of Jackie Walker and Jeremy Corbyn, sombre music]
“She seems to have had a blind spot when it came to anti-Semitism and had been the subject of a number of complaints.”
36.07
[cut to Louise Withers Green]
“The disputes team asked Louise Withers Green to interview Ms Walker.”

36.14
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC]
“What was the charge that the disputes team was bringing against Jackie Walker?”

36.19
LOUISE WITHERS GREEN
[Captioned: Louise Withers Green, Officer, Disputes Team, 2017-2018]
[SYNC]
“Jackie Walker had said a number of very offensive things.”
36.25
[V/O] [cut to John Ware listening to Louise Withers Green]
“She said that the Jews were financiers …”
36.19
[SYNC]
“… of the slave trade, she suggested that Jews were unwelcoming to black people and repeatedly reiterated tropes about Jews having undue power and influence.”
36.43
[V/O] [cut to John Ware listening]
“She showed …”
[SYNC]
“… absolutely no contrition or remorse for the things that she had said.”

35.51
[blurred traffic shots, sombre music]

36.56
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [traffic, then grainy shots of Jackie Walker]
The complaint against Jackie Walker had been sent up to the Labour Party’s National Constitutional Committee — or NCC — the body that has the final say over expulsions.”

37.10
REPORTER: JOHN
[V/O] [McNicol looking at Ware]
Lord McNichol used to be the Labour Party’s General Secretary.”
37.15
LORD McNICOL
[Captioned: Lord McNicol, Labour General Secretary, 2011-2018]
[V/O] [John Ware listening to Lord McNicol]
“The NCC has been …”
[SYNC]
“… and should be completely independent from the Leader’s office or from the general secretary’s office. It’s a committee in its own right to make the decisions based on the facts and the evidence of a case.”
37.29
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC]
“And that’s why the independence of the NCC is critical?
37.33
LORD McNICOL
“Critical. Yes and that’s why it’s stood the test of time.”

37.35
[blurred night-time shots, trees and lights, sombre music]

37.37
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [shots of blurred lights of traffic through bars, sombre music]
“Miss Walker was now at risk of being kicked out.”

37.40
[night sky with moon, sombre music, then shot taken through bars of night traffic]
37.45
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“On 5 May 2018 …”
[cut to night-time Victorian street lamps]
“… Mr Corbyn’s closest advisers discussed how they might exercise some control over the NCC.”

37.58
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC] [John Ware at his desk]
“This email chain, which include some of Mr Corbyn’s closest advisers, reveals what appears to have been an attempt to interfere with the selection of the NCC panel hearing the Jackie Walker case. One message from the General Secretary Jennie Formby says and I quote …”
38.16
[V/O] [cut to photo of Jennie Formby and email, with the words ‘The NCC cannot be allowed to continue in the way that they are …’ & ‘and I will also be challenging … the panel for the Jackie Walker case’ highlighted]
” ‘The NCC cannot be allowed to continue in the way that they are at the moment and I will also be challenging the panel for the Jackie Walker case’.”

38.28
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [Lord McNicol looking at Ware]
“So if you when you were General Secretary …”
[SYNC]
“… had been asked to talk to the NCC chair and say ‘you know what, we’ve got this anti-Semitism case coming up … I don’t want those panelists, I want these panellists’.”
[V/O] [cut to Lord McNicol listening]
“What would you say?”
38.44
LORD McNICOL
[SYNC]
“I wouldn’t.”
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
“You wouldn’t?”
LORD McNICOL
[SYNC]
“I wouldn’t, no.”

REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“Under any circumstances?”
38.52
LORD McNICHOL
[SYNC]
“That’s not the role of the … no, that’s not the way that the rulebook was created either the spirit or the letter of it.”
39.01
[V/O] [cut to John Ware listening]
“The emails that you’ve shown me are really important; the issues that are raised within them  …”
39.06
[SYNC]
“… should ring alarm bells across the party. ”
[V/O] [cut to John Ware listening to Lord McNicol]
“To try to interfere …”
39.13
[cut to John Ware listening to Lord McNicol]
“… politically within the NCC is just wrong.”

39.16
[grainy shots of Jeremy Corbyn speaking at meeting]
39.18
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“That’s something that as Leader Mr Corbyn should have known and acted on because this entire email chain was copied to his private email address.”

39.29
[over blurred night traffic shots]
39.31
[Captioned: LABOUR PARTY RESPONSE]
“The emails … are simply about ensuring the NCC is held accountable for the length of time they take to hear cases and about protecting the party against any successful legal challenge on the basis of perceived bias if the same panel is used in high profile cases”

39.48
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC] [at his desk]
“It’s not clear what came of these discussions. When Jackie Walker’s case eventually came before the NCC earlier this year they did expel her. What Ms Formby’s email …”
[V/O]
[cut to shot of Jennie Formby]
“… does suggest is that she knew that what was being contemplated was dubious.”

40.10
[shot of Jennie Formby, the email and the words ‘I’ve permanently deleted all trace of the email.’ & ‘Too many eyes still on on my Labour address’ highlighted]
[V/O] [voiced by female narrator, not the same person who narrates Labour Party responses]
“I’ve permanently deleted all trace of the email. Too many eyes still on on my Labour address.”

40.16
[shots of Jennie Formby at conference]

40.18
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“The Labour Party told us that Jennie Formby temporarily stopped using her party email because of concerns a political opponent had access to it.” 

40.29
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC] [outside Labour HQ]
“But Mr Corbyn’s office have been directly involved in investigating individual anti-Semitism complaints. I’ve been told that last summer there was a secret instruction from the Leader’s office to transfer batches of anti-Semitism complaints files by hand from party headquarters here …”
[V/O] [Southside shots]
“… to the Leader’s office, half a mile down the road in Parliament …”
40.55
[SYNC]
“… for assessment by his aides — flatly contradicting once again Mr Corbyn’s insistence that the complaints process is wholly independent of his office.”

41.08
[blurred night traffic shots]
[Captioned: LABOUR PARTY RESPONSE]
“It has always been the case that the Labour party, like any organisation, occasionally seconds staff to do alternative work where there are capacity issues. This in no way contradicts … the party’s position that the complaints process operates independently of the Leader’s office.”

41.27
[night shots of Victorian-style lights, sombre piano music]

41.33
ANONYMOUS
[JOE GOLDBERG Currently a National Vice Chair of Jewish labour Movement]
JOE GOLDBERG
[V/O] [Joe Goldberg looking at camera]
“People were posting Nazi and openly anti-Semitic material from conspiracy websites on the constituency party Facebook’s Page.”
41.44
[FTB]
41.47
[SYNC]
“We are very frightened of what Corbyn might do. Because we have seen these behaviours before, we know what happens when people don’t speak up against things that are patently wrong.”
41.56
[FTB]
41.58
[SYNC]
“Zero tolerance just don’t apply for hatred towards Jewish people.”
42.03
[FTB]
43.05
[SYNC]
“I think that sends a very clear signal to Jewish members of the party you’re not really welcome here, please leave.”
42.12
[FTB]

42.17 
[from black screen, pans left to daytime pavement pictures]

42.19
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“We’ve been told that by last spring …”
42.21
[SYNC]
“… there was still several hundred anti-Semitism cases waiting to be resolved. Now the Labour Party won’t give us precise figures although they do acknowledge the numbers have increased but they also say they’re getting through them four times faster. However, we understand that by spring — three years into this crisis – the actual number of members who’d been expelled stood at only around 15.”

42.48
MARTHA ROBINSON
[SYNC]
“That was a figure that really shocked and upset me when I read it. I think I was I think I actually was brought to tears by / with anger …”
42.57
[V/O] [cut to John Ware listening”
“… and frustration because …”
[SYNC]
“… it was just horrifying to hear that all, you know, all the work that I’d tried to do had essentially been for nothing.”

43.09
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [blurred traffic, daytime]
“We put the numbers of those expelled  …”
[cut to shot of Andrew Gwynne being interviewed]
“… to Andrew Gwynne, the shadow communities secretary.”
43.16
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC]
Do you regard 15 expulsions of anti-Semites in a crisis that’s been running over three years as evidence of having dealt with this crisis?”
43.25
ANDREW GWYNNE
[SYNC]
“Well, of course there are lots of cases that are on-going as well … ”
[V/O] [cut to John Ware listening to Andrew Gwynne]
“… and, of course, there are many members who …”
43.31
[SYNC]
“… going through a disciplinary processes when you are faced with possible expulsion actually …”
[V/O]
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
“I know.”
ANDREW GWYNNE
“… leave the party before …”
43.39
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC]
“Is 15 evidence of a party which says it is serious about dealing with anti-Semitism?”
43.47
ANDREW GWYNNE
[SYNC]
“Well, 15 fewer racists and people who hold obnoxious views I think is important …”
[cut to different camera angle]
“… but the point is, we are serious about getting shot of this problem.”

44.03
[blurred shots traffic through bars, sombre piano music]

44.07
ACTUALITY
[Captioned: Official Jeremy Corbyn Channel August 2018, grainy shots of Jeremy Corbyn, sombre music]
JEREMY CORBYN
“It’s my responsibility to root out anti-semitism in the Labour Party. I want to make it clear that any government I lead will take what ever measures are necessary to support and guarantee the security of all Jewish communities and their culture.”

44.25
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [grainy shots of Jeremy Corbyn entering a building]
“Jeremy Corbyn has had multiple opportunities to deliver on that firm pledge over the last three years.”
44.34
[cut to blurred shots of Shami Chakrabarti with Jeremy Corbyn]
“In June 2016 the Labour party published a report from the human rights lawyer Shami Chakrabarti. Labour says it was a thorough investigation which produced …”
44.45
[blurred shots of Shami Chakrabarti walking]
“… recommendations to make the procedures fairer, swifter and more robust. The disputes team saw it differently.”

44.55
KAT BUCKINGHAM
[SYNC]
It was so poorly researched.”
[cut to John Ware listening]
[V/O]
“She missed the opportunity to properly engage with the community.”
[SYNC]
“She didn’t make any decent recommendations on dealing with anti-Semitism. Pitiful is the right word — I really found it impossibly disappointing.”

[Grainy shots of Jeremy Corbyn leaving home]
45.15
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“One recommendation Miss Chakrabarti did make was to emphasise that people shouldn’t necessarily be judged by the company they keep. Just as well for Mr Corbyn.”

45.28
MIKE CREIGHTON
[V/O] [more shots of Jeremy Corbyn leaving home]
“Shami’s report was written in such a way …”
[SYNC]
“… that she had drawn specific red lines …”
[V/O] [john Ware nodding]
… of past history.”
45.36
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC]
“And platform-sharing which is, of course, a very major feature of Mr Corbyn’s past, was one of those areas …”
[V/O] [Creighton listening]
“… that she avoided.”
46.33
[SYNC]
MIKE CREIGHTON
“Yes.”

[daytime blurred traffic shots, sombre music]
45.45
DAVE RICH
[SYNC]
“For someone who insists he’s such a principled anti-racist and he always opposes anti-Semitism, it is extraordinary the number of times he finds himself …”
[cut to a different camera angle]
“… alongside people who have a record of expressing views or doing things that are completely the opposite of the anti-racism he claims.”

46.06
ACTUALITY
[captioned “Reshet TV”, grainy pictures of Raed Salah, with the words ‘Allah is the greatest’ highlighted]
46.11
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“In 2012 Mr Corbyn campaigned to allow a notoriously anti-Semitic preacher activist into Britain. Raed Salah had called Jews ‘the germs of all time’ and blamed them for 9/11.”

46.26
ACTUALITY
JEREMY CORBYN
[captioned April 2012, grainy shots of Jeremy Corbyn]
“And I hereby renew my invitation to Sheikh Salah to come to Parliament, meet with me, meet with my colleagues — and you will be assured of a very warm welcome. And I look forward to giving you tea on the terrace because you deserve it.”

46.41
ALAN JOHNSON
[V/O]
“At the time people were pointing out to him …”
[SYNC]
“… all the anti-Semitic speeches and sermons that Salah gave. You know what his response was? He didn’t say anything like that to me.”
[cut to different camera angle]
“Now hold on, can we possibly imagine a Leader of the Labour Party inviting an anti-black racist to have tea on the terrace of the House of Commons and then other party members saying ‘but hold on Jeremy, look at the terrible racist statements he’s made’, and the Leader doesn’t really look but says, right, he didn’t say anything like that to me.”

47.10
ACTUALITY
[grainy Jeremy Corbyn gets out of a car, sombre music]

47.14
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“More recently Mr Corbyn has apologised for what he says are occasional appearances on platforms with — and I quote — ‘people whose views I completely reject’.”

47.26
DAVE RICH
[SYNC]
“Either he’s just the unluckiest anti-racist in history that he always by accident ends up on these platforms with these people or he’s there because he shares their political world, he shares their views, they’re on a platform together because they have some kind of political connection.”

47.47
[blurred daytime elections of pedestrians]
[Captioned: LABOUR PARTY RESPONSE]
“Jeremy Corbyn’s record on opposing anti-Semitism goes back decades. He has pro-actively addressed anti-Semitism within the party in direct communications to the party membership, in articles, speeches, videos and interviews.”

48.06
[shots of London traffic at dusk, not blurred, but then blurred traffic through bars, sombre music] 

48.12
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“Modern-day anti-Semitism has its origins in centuries-old conspiracy theories.”

48.20
ALAN JOHNSON
[V/O] [blurred traffic shots though bars, sombre music]
“The core demonology is that …”
[SYNC]
“… Jews are essentially different from non-Jews and the difference is that they’re malign, powerful and tricksy …”
[cut to John Ware listening]
” … always tricksy, behind-the-scenes, pulling the strings — their power is always shrouded and hidden.”
48.34
[SYNC]
“The new left tended to have its own form of this anti-Semitism which was that the Jews were the arch-imperialist power and this is what is filtered through into the present-day Labour Party.”

48.47
[grainy shots Jeremy Corbyn leaving home, sombre piano music] 
48.50
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [shots of Egyptian atrocity]
“Jeremy Corbyn has himself engaged in a conspiracy theory about Israel.”
ACTUALITY
[shots of ambulances, sombre music]
48.56
“In 2012 sixteen Egyptian border guards were murdered. As the BBC reported at the time, the Egyptian government was clear jihadists were to blame.”
49.10
ACTUALITY
BBC REPORTER
[pictures of soldiers]
“In the past year there’s been growing concern that Islamist militants have gained a foothold in this restive region.”

49.20
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [grainy shots of Jeremy Corbyn on Iranian TV, captioned “Press TV”]
“Despite all this a week later on Iranian State TV Mr Corbyn turned up with his own highly conspiratorial interpretation of the facts.”

49.32
ACTUALITY
JEREMY CORBYN
 “You have to look at the big picture —  in whose interests is it to destabilise the new government in Egypt, in whose interest is it to kill Egyptians other than Israel?”
[cut to grainy close-up of Jeremy Corbyn following by an especially grainy close-up of his eyes]
“I suspect the hand of Israel in this whole process of destabilisation.”

49.53
[over blurred traffic shots]
[Captioned: LABOUR PARTY RESPONSE]
“Jeremy Corbyn’s speculation about the perpetrators of attacks on Egyptian border guards was based on previous well documented incidents of killings of Egyptian forces by the Israeli military.”

50.09
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC]
“If Jeremy Corbyn kept the company today he kept before he became Leader …”
[cut to Dan Hogan listening]
[V/O]
“… associated with the kind of extremists …”
[SYNC]
“… that he did before he became Leader —
[cut to Dan Hogan listening]
“… would he survive a disciplinary enquiry?”
50.25
DAN HOGAN
[SYNC]
“If he was an ordinary member of the Labour Party, no.”
[cut to different camera angle]
“I don’t think he would survive a disciplinary hearing. I think he would be expelled.
50.32
[FTB]

50.34
[Captioned: LABOUR PARTY RESPONSE]
[over blurred night traffic shots]
“This is offensive nonsense… Jeremy Corbyn was subject to the same rules as everyone else. He has not done or said anything that constitutes a breach of the party’s rulebook.

50.47
[night shots of a dark railing post and blurred traffic: sombre music] 

50.53
ANONYMOUS
[STEPHANE SAVARY Currently a National Vice Chair of Jewish Labour Movement]
Screenshot 2020-02-03 at 22.35.28
[V/O] [over shots of Stephane Savary looking at the camera]
“We feel like we don’t belong here — and we have to do far more than anybody else to be accepted.”
51.03
[FTB]
51.05
[SYNC]
“A year ago a member of the Labour Party decided to do a video — just about me, a 45 minutes video — where he started, excuse my French, saying that I was a fucking Jew.”
51.17
[FTB]
51.20
[V/O] [Stephane Savary looking at camera]
“Once this woman told me I was a pig, a Jewish pig. “
51.24
[FTB]
51.26
[SYNC]
“You feel they single you out just because of being Jewish.”
51.32
[FTB]

51.35
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [grainy close-up shots of Jeremy Corbyn]
“Last August Mr Corbyn acknowledged that Labour could have handled its anti-Semitism crisis better.”
52.42
ACTUALITY
[Captioned: 5 Aug 2018, Official Jeremy Corbyn Channel]
JEREMY CORBYN
“We have been too slow in processing disciplinary cases. People who use anti-Semitic poison need to understand you do not do it in my name, or the name of my party. You are not our supporters.”

51.56
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [more shots of Jeremy Corbyn]
“The rhetoric is impassioned but many members are no longer convinced.”

52.03
ALAN JOHNSON
[SYNC]
“I’m still a member but I don’t think I’ll be a member if the party doesn’t get a grip on anti-Semitism.”
52.07
[cut to different camera angle]
“See, I’m someone who for two and a half years or more has been saying to other people …”
[cut to John Ware listening]
[V/O]
“… look, let’s give him space.”
52.15
[SYNC]
“And I just don’t any more. I just don’t think there’s been enough action.”
[cut to different camera angle]
“I think there’s been lying that’s gone on about the integrity of the processes, I think there’s been intervention by his own office, and he said …”
52.26
[cut to John Ware listening]
[V/O]
“… there wasn’t any intervention by his own office.”
[SYNC]
“I remain to be convinced that he’s really grasped the nettle of anti-Semitism in the party.”
52.33
[FTB]

52.35
[day shots Southside, Labour HQ, sombre music]

52.38
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [day shots Southside, Labour HQ, sombre music]
“We’ve spoken to more than 20 Labour Party officials including many of those at party headquarters employed to deal with anti-Semitism.”
52.46
[cut to Kat Buckingham listening to John Ware]
“One by one they left with Kat Buckingham the first of the Disputes Team to go in December 2016.”

52.57
KAT BUCKINGHAM
[V/O] [Ware listening]
“I was stuck between an angry and…”
[SYNC] [wide shot of Kat Buckingham]
… obstructive Leader’s office and an arcane disciplinary system and I really I couldn’t stop the problem, I couldn’t hold the tide.  And I felt so powerless, and I felt guilty. I felt like I’d failed, yeah, I had a breakdown.”
53.16
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“Did you?”
KAT BUCKINGHAM
[SYNC]
“Yeah. I had … I quit the party with nowhere to go. Yeah, I had a breakdown.
[cut to different camera angle]
53.26
“It was too much pain from too many people.”
53.31
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[SYNC]
“Right.”
KAT BUCKINGHAM
[SYNC]
“Not just personal, I felt keenly that there was a huge community impact …”
[change to different camera angle]
“… people felt it was okay to make people feel unwelcome in their community. And it’s not okay.”

53.45
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [Sam Matthews listening]
“For Kat Buckingham’s successor things got even worse as Corbyn loyalists tightened their grip on the party.”

53.54
SAM MATTHEWS
[SYNC]
There were elements among certainly in the Leader’s office that regarded us and our team as Blairites who are working to undermine the Leader of the Labour party.”
54.04
[V/O] [Ware listening]
“And now suddenly our boss …”
[SYNC]
“… is someone who has openly accused members of my team of being politically motivated. Of not investigating complaints against Blairites but investigating against supporters of Jeremy.  And …”
[change of camera angle]
“… this all created an environment and a culture that meant that the mental health of me and my team went through the floor.”

54.28
BEN WESTERMAN
[SYNC]
“I resigned the membership around the middle of 2017 — not because of any particular case — just because I was sick of reading about it. I felt that I had tried as hard as I possibly could to do my bit to fight this sickness. And to me it’s getting worse.”

54.52
LOUISE WITHERS GREEN
[SYNC]
“I knew the atmosphere was bad and I knew it was bad — it just kept just building up and up.”
[change of camera angle]
“It was, I felt a bit complicit, actually.”
55.00
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“In what …? ”
LOUISE WITHERS GREEN
[SYNC]
“In the Labour Party not dealing with anti-Semitism properly.”
[change of camera angle]
“I was signed off with depression and anxiety by my doctor because I just couldn’t, couldn’t, literally couldn’t go in there any more.”

55.20
[daytime shots Southside, sombre music]

55.26
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [daytime shots Southside]
“In return for not having to work her notice period, Louise Withers …”
[cut to Louise Withers Green listening to John Ware]
“… Green — like some others in the disputes team — was told she’d
[cut to daytime shots of Labour HQ]
“… have to sign a non-disclosure agreement.” 

55.39
LOUISE WITHERS GREEN
[V/O]
“It was really tight.”
[SYNC]
“When I first read it I wondered how on earth I’d be able to apply for jobs because it was so prescriptive in not speaking about anything that I had heard of, or happened in the Labour party.”
[cut to John Ware listening]
[V/O]
“But I won’t be able to live with myself …'”
[cut to blurred dusk shots of traffic, sombre music]
[V/O]
“… unless I speak up about the horrendous things that I know have been happening.” 

55.58
[blurred traffic, sombre music]

56.02
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [photo of Jennie Formby, sombre music]
Two months after Jennie Formby arrived as General Secretary, Sam Matthews
[cut to Sam Matthews listening]
“… was signed off sick.”

56.09
SAM MATTHEWS
[V/O] [John Ware listening]
I sat at my desk …”
[SYNC]
“… thinking I can’t do this any more. I’m being asked to do things I’m fundamentally not comfortable with. The General Secretary doesn’t listen to me …
[cut to different camera angle]
“… and the thought crosses my mind as to whether I send her my resignation and then do something that nobody should ever consider.”
56.32
[pause, shakes his head]
56.34
“I actively considered considered committing suicide, walking off her roof — she has a balcony outside her office — as some way to not feel trapped any more.”

56.49
[shots of Southside, day, sombre music]


56.55
ACTUALITY
“Our next prime minister Jeremy Corbyn.”
57.02
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“The party which under Jeremy Corbyn boasts of being anti-racist to its core is now the subject of a statutory inquiry by the Equalities Commission into whether it has become institutionally racist.”

57.18
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O]
“Do you think Mr Corbyn is …”
[SYNC]
“… anti-semitic?”
[Pause]
57.24
MIKE CREIGHTON
[SYNC]
“I’ve been asked that a number of times and you can tell from my pause that it’s still a question I struggle with.”

57.32
ANDREW GWYNNE
[SYNC]
“I don’t believe that Jeremy Corbyn is anti-Semitic.”
[cut to different camera angle]
“I know Jeremy, I’ve known him for 14 years and he is a passionate believer in equality, in ensuring that hatred and intolerance in wherever it manifests itself is tackled …”
[cut to different camera angle]
“… and challenged. And so, no, I don’t believe that Jeremy is anti-Semitic.” 

57.59
ACTUALITY
[Jeremy Corbyn speaking at conference, 26 September 2018]
JEREMY CORBYN
“The row over anti-Semitism has caused immense hurt and anxiety in the Jewish community and great dismay in the Labour Party.’
[cut to audience member]
“But I hope and believe we can work together to draw a line under it.”
[cut to Jeremy Corbyn speaking]
“And with your help, I will fight for that with every breath that I possess.”
[applause]

58.21
REPORTER: JOHN WARE
[V/O] [conference applauding Jeremy Corbyn]
“Notions about Jews, their supposed power, their hidden influence and malign intent have surfaced within Labour as never before. If not Mr Corbyn, who in the party has the leadership to bury them?
58.38

End credits

[selected] 

Reporter: John Ware

Production Team: Jordan Downer, Ahmed Ellal, Mark Weiss

Researcher: Callum McCulloch

Assistant Producer: Adrian Polglase

Executive Producer: Neil Grant

Deputy Editor: Karen Wightman

Producer & Director: Leo Telling

Editor: Rachel Jupp.

THE SHAME OF ANDREW NORFOLK — PART THREE: RETRIBUTION

September 8, 2018

 

Norfolk_series_head_03
WHEN THE TIMES and its chief investigative reporter Andrew Norfolk decided to intervene in a sensitive family care case last August, they did not realise the judiciary would not allow them to peddle a false narrative.

In August 2017 Norfolk wrote a sensational front page story carrying the headline “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care”. 

It soon became clear the story was a complete fabrication.

Norfolk purged his narrative of the central fact that the mother of the child is the daughter of practising Turkish Muslims.

In February this year the court ruled the mother was unfit to look after her daughter and gave the grandmother permanent custody of the little girl.

Both are now in Turkey.

The judgment in the case — finally obtained by Press Gang early yesterday — destroys any lingering credibility in Andrew Norfolk’s story.

The judgment justifies the first two parts of our series The Shame of Andrew Norfolk: Crusade and  Hallelujah!

Press Gang was unable to write the story up yesterday.

We passed the judgment to Brian Cathcart, a founder of Hacked Off, who published a summary yesterday: ‘Muslim Fostering’ Times Journalism Utterly Discredited.

Now Press Gang examines some of the key points of the judgment.

♦♦♦

THE DECISION  to place the little girl with her grandmother was made on February 16 this year.

Judge Khatun Sapnara made the order in the East London Family Court following a 10 day hearing involving 15 witnesses. 

Andrew Norfolk, despite his intimate knowledge of the case, was absent throughout.

We emailed Norfolk this afternoon and asked him why he did not attend.

We asked if the reason he wasn’t in court was because he knew the hearing would destroy his story.

He had not replied by the time this article went to press.

No other journalist was in court — it was not until this week that the court finally released its judgment.

The court ordered that the little girl, who is now six, should live with her grandmother in her country of origin.

image

INVASION OF PRIVACY
THE JUDGMENT is damning about the fact that the press were present when the little girl left her second Muslim foster carer in August 2017. The judge noted “very sadly, this had to be undertaken with police presence and assistance, because of the numbers of press in attendance at the foster carer’s address. The child did not have the opportunity to have a proper goodbye with her carers. It would have been entirely in her best interests to do so.” Press Gang understands that the only journalist who knew the address of the foster carer was Andrew Norfolk. Today we asked Andrew Norfolk if he and a Times photographer were present. We also asked for a comment about the judge’s criticism. There was no reply by the time this article went to press.  

Press Gang has previously revealed the grandmother is Turkish — the judgment merely says she is from a mainly Muslim country.

Both the little girl and her mother have dual British and Turkish passports. 

The court added that the mother’s physical contact with her daughter should be restricted to four times a year.

She is not allowed to stay overnight.

The father, a Russian national, is forbidden to have any face to face contact with the child.

He is allowed to talk to her on Skype. 

The judgment is silent about what happened to the mother’s older child who has also been the subject of family court proceedings.

♦♦♦

THE PICTURE of the mother that emerges from the judgment is bleak and disturbing.

Judge Sapnara “had no doubt that the mother had taken the course she had in these proceedings, driven by the natural desire to be reunited with her daughter.”

“On a subjective analysis she genuinely believes that the child will be better off in her care.”

“Sadly, in the court’s judgement that motivation was also tinged with a degree of wounded pride.”

The judge revealed that the 2017 incident that led to the child being taken into care was not the first incident where concerns had been raised.

In September 2012 the Foreign Office was contacted by the duty manager of a hotel in Bulgaria who was concerned about the mother and the little girl.

The judgment notes that “he suspected that the mother may be on drugs or alcohol and that the hotel room was not particularly fit for a young child.”

The mother has two convictions for drinking driving which “indicates that she makes poor decisions when she consumes alcohol.”

Tests revealed that the mother often drinks the equivalent of a bottle of wine a day.

Tests also revealed she was taking cocaine. 

The judge was stark: 

“The mother’s chronic and problematic use of alcohol coupled with her minimisation of such concerns gives rise to a risk of emotional harm by reason of the child being exposed to the mother’s alcohol use.”

“It also gives rise to risks of domestic violence which seem to be linked to the mother’s drinking.”

♦♦♦

THE JUDGMENT also makes it clear that an unnamed Russian national played a significant part in this story.

The Russian is said to be the father of the child.

His name is not on the child’s birth certificate and he did not take part in the proceedings.

He appears to have remained in Russia throughout the ten day hearing. 

The mother claimed:

“she had not had any contact with the … father since 2013 and she said that she had been unable to provide any contact details for him.”

But the judgement later adds

“The mother and the … father appeared to remain in an enmeshed relationship which appears to include a degree of financial control of the mother by [the] father.” 

The mother was legally aided throughout the care proceedings. 

The relationship between the mother and the father was turbulent.

The judge noted that it “had been characterised by incidents of domestic violence (some very serious) over a number of years …”

The decision to place the child was partly motivated because she might be present when the mother and father were together.

In these circumstances, the judge added:

” … there would be a real risk that the child may get caught up in the domestic violence and might be at risk of suffering physical and emotional harm which might be significant in its nature.”

It’s also clear she didn’t believe the mother’s claim not to have had any contact with the father since 2013:

” … the court was satisfied that it was quite apparent that he was aware of the proceedings and that he had been a significant presence on the periphery of the case.”

The judge added
 
“ …  he was concerned about the child with regard to her religious needs when she was in foster care.”

Press Gang today asked if this Russian had been one of Andrew Norfolk’s sources.  

There was no response by the time we went to press.  

♦♦♦

THIS SCANDAL is far from over.

Press Gang has asked IPSO, the press watchdog partly funded by The Times, to reopen our complaint against Andrew Norfolk.

This complaint is the only one out of more than 150 which claims that all of Norfolk’s articles on this issue were inaccurate.

Our complaint was rejected — even though part of it is identical to the complaint made by Tower Hamlets and upheld by IPSO.

We believe that the judgment released yesterday now places new information in the public domain that IPSO must consider.

There remain other issues which have yet to be resolved: 

— although the judgment makes it clear that the mother was unfit to look after her daughter, it is silent about the care provided by the two Muslim foster carers at the heart of the story.

It seems clear that the foster carers — despite the claims published by The Times — provided exemplary and loving care. 

The grandmother, who the court found to be an impressive witness, thanked them for the quality of their care.

— the judgment is also silent about Press Gang allegations that Andrew Norfolk doctored his account of an earlier court hearing which took place on 29 August 2017.

Norfolk claimed that the reason he and The Times did not disclose the Muslim background of the grandmother was due to their wish to protect the identity of the child. 

Norfolk claims he told the court he was not going to disclose the grandmother’s religious background.

We’re trying to get to the bottom of this.

Press Gang has also asked Norfolk if he distorted the judge’s words in this earlier hearing.

She made it clear that the court’s decision to place the child in the temporary care of her grandmother was based on the application of the law and “not as a result of any influence arising out of media reports.” 

Norfolk, in his article, says she used the phrase “as a result of undue media involvement.” 

We’ve already put these points to Norfolk.

He did not reply.

♦♦♦

NOTES

1
The original title of this series — The Fall Of Andrew Norfolk — was changed on 24 September 2018.

2.
The full summary of Judge Sapnara’s judgment can be found below.

♦♦♦

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RIGHT OF REPLY  
If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

♦♦♦

APPENDIX

Summary of the Judgment of Her Honour Judge Sapnara on 16th February 2018.

Background

The court gave judgment on 16th February 2018 following a 10 day final hearing in care proceedings instituted by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (‘the local authority’) pursuant to s.31 of the Children Act 1989 and in respect of the subject child AB (‘the child’) who was aged 6 at the time of the final hearing. The Court read extensive bundles of written material/evidence and also heard the oral evidence of fifteen live witnesses which included expert, professional (social workers and police) and lay witnesses. The child’s mother is CD (‘the mother’). She had the benefit of leading and junior counsel representation at this hearing. The child’s putative father is believed to be GH (‘the putative father’). He was not named on the child’s birth certificate and he had never been married to the mother. Therefore he did not have parental responsibility for the child. 

The child spent time in the care of two different foster carers before moving to live with her maternal grandmother (‘the maternal grandmother’), with the support of her maternal aunt (‘the maternal aunt’), towards the end of the summer of 2017. The child remained there at the time of the final hearing under an interim care order. Therefore, the local authority continued to share parental responsibility with the mother. The grandmother, the child and the maternal aunt lived together in the mother’s flat in London which the mother vacated to enable them all to live there. This had been the child’s home prior to removal and it was obviously therefore an environment with which the child was familiar. There was no dispute in this case that the child had a very warm and loving relationship with the maternal grandmother and the maternal aunt and that she was very familiar with them.

The putative father is a Russian national. He did not play any part in the proceedings. The mother in her oral evidence, towards the end of the hearing, maintained that she had not had any contact with the putative father since 2013 and she said that she had been unable to provide any contact details for him. Therefore, he was not formally served with notice of the proceedings. He did not attend any hearing and was not represented. He did not seek to make any application to be joined to the proceedings or to be assessed as a carer for the child, nor to have any contact with the child. He filed no evidence. He remained in Russia as far as the court could ascertain. Whilst he had played no formal role the court was satisfied that it was quite apparent that he was aware of the proceedings and that he had been a significant presence on the periphery of the case. 

The local authority’s care plan recommended the placement of the child with the maternal grandmother under a legal framework which is the nearest equivalent to a special guardianship order as exists in the maternal grandmother’s country of origin which is a Muslim majority country. The local authority proposed in its care plan that there  should be direct contact between the mother and the child four times a year, following the recommendations of the court appointed Children’s Guardian. It also proposed that there be Skype contact between the child and the father.

The local authority’s position was supported by the court appointed Children’s Guardian. The maternal grandmother was not represented in the proceedings but her position was advanced by the local authority with whom she was ad idem.

The local authority invited the court to find that the threshold for the making of final orders was crossed as at the relevant date of 2nd March 2017. The local authority  asserted that as at that date the child had suffered, and was likely to suffer, significant harm and that such harm was attributable to the care given to the child, or likely to be given to her, if an order were not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect her parents to give her. The broad areas of the local authority’s concerns were the mother’s excessive consumption of alcohol, neglect of the child’s needs and the child suffering emotional harm due to her mother’s drug use and excessive use of alcohol. 

The mother opposed the local authority’s applications. She did not accept that the threshold criteria had been crossed on the facts of the case and disputed all the findings sought by the local authority. She sought the immediate return of the child to her care. Initially her position had been that she wanted the maternal grandmother and the maternal aunt to support her caring for the child in the UK. The maternal grandmother and the maternal aunt did not wish to do that and sought to return to their country of origin with the child as quickly as possible. By the time the mother came to give her oral evidence, she clarified that she was not opposed to a placement with the maternal grandmother in her country of origin in principle but only in the event that the child was not returned to her care. The mother was born and brought up in that country. Both the mother and the child have previously resided there and they each hold dual nationality passports for that country and also for the UK. 

The mother contended that the child had not suffered, nor was she at risk of suffering, significant harm owing to the care she had received from the mother. She stated that she had addressed her alcohol and drug misuse and believed that the child’s welfare would be best met by a return to the mother’s care and that the mother would be marginalised in her child’s life to the child’s detriment if the child went to live with the maternal grandmother in her country of origin. Therefore, the mother sought the immediate return of the child to her care. 

The mother’s case was that her relationship with her daughter was good whilst the child was in foster care and that in fact there was only a negative change when the child went to live with maternal grandmother. It formed no part of the mother’s case that the child would not be loved and well cared for by the maternal grandmother, nor that the child’s needs would not be met by the maternal grandmother. 

The maternal grandparents are Muslim. The maternal family members are educated and of a relatively affluent professional background.  The maternal grandmother chose to take an oath on the Qur’an before giving oral evidence. The grandparents say that they do not attend Mosque but they do pray at home. No issue has been raised about the grandmother’s ability to meet the child’s religious needs. The mother’s primary concern is that if the child were to live with the grandparents, her contact with the child would be at risk. The mother identifies as Christian. There is some evidence that the putative father is also of Christian belief and that he was concerned about the child with regard to her religious needs when she was in foster care.

The child was born in the UK but had also spent a lot of time with her maternal grandparents in their country of origin. Prior to coming to the UK in January 2017 the mother and child had been involved in extensive international travels and spent time in various countries. However the chronology of the movement of the mother and child across international borders and the reasons for doing so and the times that they did so was complicated and difficult for the court to establish. The local authority contends that between 2013 and 2017 the child spent significant periods of time travelling abroad with the mother and was cared for at other times by the maternal grandparents. The mother disputed some of the details in relation to this and maintained that at all times she was the child’s primary carer. 

In January 2017 the mother travelled to the UK with the child. On the morning of 2nd March 2017 the child was removed from the mother’s care under a police protection order following the mother’s arrest for being drunk in charge of a child in a bar in a hotel near the mother’s home. As a consequence, the local authority was required to find an emergency foster placement for the child. The child was made subject to an emergency protection order on 3rd March 2017. An interim care order was made on 10th March 2017 by a judge of the East London Family Court. 

Once removed from the mother’s care the child was place in a foster placement by the local authority. That decision, together with the second move of placement to another foster care placement, has been the subject of intense media coverage and there has been a significant media presence at various hearings of this matter. The nature of those placements and the child’s experiences and treatment within them together with the circumstances of the mother’s arrest have generated significant press interest in, and reporting of, the case. Both foster carers were Muslim. Some of the concerns about the foster carers and their ability to meet the child’s religious, cultural and linguistic needs, as reported in the press, had been either raised by the mother prior to the media reports or otherwise later adopted by her. The mother, her friends and a contact supervisor have been identified in the press as the source of the media reports. On the Guardian’s behalf, in particular, concern was expressed about the mother’s insight into the child’s needs in engaging in this conduct. There has been some evidence at this hearing that the concerns about those needs being met by the foster carers may have come from the father also. 

The court made a case management order at an earlier stage of the proceedings allowing the local authority to release an alternative narrative to the matters that had been reported in the press and to place those in the public domain by 1st November 2017. There had been an internal inquiry by the local authority on the issues raised in the press and it was the local authority’s conclusion that much of that reporting particularly as to the issues arising from the child’s foster placements, had been inaccurate, distorted and unfair. 

At the hearing on 2nd October 2017, as at previous hearings, journalists from a number of news outlets were present; their presence was not opposed by any party. The Times Newspaper Ltd was present and represented by counsel. At that hearing, and each subsequent hearing, the court’s case management orders recorded as follows:

AND UPON the Court reaffirming the importance of the press reporting in accordance with the established guidance and to do so with skill and proper judgment so as not to undermine the welfare of the child, either through direct identification or jigsaw identification.

No accredited member of the press attended at the final hearing. The court indicated that it had been informed by the Child’s Guardian that when the child was moved from her second foster placement to be placed in the care of the maternal grandmother at the end of August 2017 that, very sadly, this had to be undertaken with police presence and assistance, because of the numbers of press in attendance at the foster carer’s address. The child did not have the opportunity to have a proper goodbye with her carers. It would have been entirely in her best interests to do so. If all that is correct, and the court had no reason to conclude otherwise, the court could not see how such circumstances could be regarded as being in the child’s best interests. As observed by the Child’s Guardian, most unfortunately and through no fault or choice of her own, details of the child’s private life are in the public domain and will continue to exist online well into the future. 

In August 2013 the mother pleaded guilty to an earlier offence of battery against a security officer at a London casino after she had been drinking. 

In July 2017, the mother was convicted at a Magistrates’ Court of being drunk in charge of a child on 2nd March 2017. However, in October 2017 the mother’s appeal against such conviction was allowed at the Crown Court. 

♦♦♦

The court’s threshold findings

The court found that at the relevant date of 2nd March 2017 (being the day the child was removed by the police using their protection powers), pursuant to s.31(2) of the children Act 1989, the child had suffered and was likely to suffer significant harm and that the harm suffered or likely to be suffered is attributable to the care given her or likely to be given to her if an order was not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect her parents to give to her.

The court made the following specific findings as sought by the local authority: 

1

On 2.03.2017 the child was at risk of suffering the neglect of her basic care needs and emotional harm due to her mother’s excessive consumption of alcohol for the following reasons:

2

On the morning of 02.03.2017 the mother had been drinking with a male friend throughout the night since 01.03.2017 in the bar of a hotel whilst the child was in the mother’s care. Furthermore, the court found that the mother had knowingly presented misleading evidence, including the evidence of an expert toxicologist, in support of her appeal in the Crown Court. This expert reported without knowledge of the results of the mother’s hair strand tests which showed positive for cocaine and chronic and excessive use of alcohol by the mother for the highly relevant period of September 2016- May 2017

3

The hotel staff called the police because they were concerned about the mother’s behaviour.

4

The police attended the hotel bar and observed that the mother and her friend were both highly intoxicated.

5

The mother’s friend was so intoxicated that, when he was asked to stand up by the police, he fell over.

6

The child was removed by the police using their powers of protection.

7

The mother was arrested and released the following day on 03.03.2017.

8

On 03.03.2017 the mother attended the local authority’s offices to meet with members of the social work team and smelt strongly of alcohol.

9

The mother’s intoxicated state impaired her ability to safeguard and meet the child’s care needs, placing the child at risk of neglect and physical harm. 

10

It would also have been emotionally troubling for the child to witness this intoxicated behaviour of her mother and the mother’s friend.

11

The child was at risk of suffering the further neglect of her basic care needs and emotional harm due to her mother’s drug use and excessive consumption of alcohol for the following reasons:

— the incident on 02.03.2017 is the second time such an incident has been reported. On 24.09.2012 the Foreign Office received a referral from the duty manager of a hotel in Bulgaria expressing concerns about the mother’s wellbeing. The duty manager reported that he suspected that the mother may be on drugs or alcohol and that the hotel room was not particularly fit for a young child.

— the mother has pleaded guilty to the charge of driving a motor vehicle with excessive alcohol on 2 separate occasions; 16.03.08 and 24.04.09. This indicates that she makes poor decisions when she consumes alcohol.

— the mother tested positive for cocaethylene, a cocaine metabolite that was detected during the period from September 2016 to March 2017. The presence of the metabolite indicates the combined use of cocaine with alcohol. 

— hair strand test results dated 07.04.2017 shows the mother engaged in the excessive chronic consumption of alcohol equivalent to a bottle of wine per day.

— liver Function and CDT Blood Tests carried out in respect of the mother on 13.04.2017 indicated a “recent excessive alcohol intake”.

— a SCRAM bracelet detected the consumption of alcohol between the 13.05.2017 to14.05.2017, within 3 days of the bracelet being fitted.

12

The mother’s chronic and problematic use of alcohol coupled with her minimisation of such concerns gives rise to a risk of emotional harm by reason of the child being exposed to the mother’s alcohol use. It also gives rise to risks of domestic violence which seem to be linked to the mother’s drinking.

13

The mother’s use of alcohol amounted to a sustained pattern of problematic drinking rather than a one off incident of such problematic drinking on 1st – 2nd March 2017.

14

The mother and the putative father appeared to remain in an enmeshed relationship which appears to include a degree of financial control of the mother by putative father. 

15

The relationship between the mother and putative father had been characterised by incidents of domestic violence (some very serious) over a number of years such that if she and the putative father were together and the child were to be present there would be a real risk that the child may get caught up in the domestic violence and might be at risk of suffering physical and emotional harm which might be significant in its nature. 

16

That in the period between April 2012 and December 2016, while the child was primarily cared for by the maternal grandmother, she also spent significant periods of time with her mother and that during those periods of time the child and the mother visited the father on a number of occasions and the child was otherwise exposed to disruption arising out of the mother’s lifestyle which included changes of carers, different partners with whom the mother formed intense  relationships very quickly and other changes in her life. Were the child to be returned to the care of the mother there would be a risk that such pattern would continue.

♦♦♦

The court’s welfare findings.

The court had no doubt that the mother had taken the course she had in these proceedings, driven by the natural desire to be reunited with her daughter. On a subjective analysis she genuinely believes that the child will be better off in her care. Sadly, in the court’s judgement that motivation was also tinged with a degree of wounded pride. The mother’s position was not borne out on an objective assessment of the evidence and in light of the court’s threshold findings. 

The court concluded that the grandmother loves her daughter and is committed to her. It is likely that the maternal family have felt frustrated, disappointed and saddened by the mother’s conduct at times in the past, but the court was struck by what it perceived to be a depth of love for the mother and the child and a commitment to them by the grandmother and maternal family over the years despite the cost to them at times. 

The child had experienced the grandmother as primary carer on many occasions and for lengthy periods. It is clear that the grandmother understands the importance of the mother to the child and the court was satisfied that the grandmother was not seeking to supplant the mother as the child calls her own mother ‘mummy’. The court could see no basis for concluding that the grandmother would deny contact or excise the mother or the putative father from the child’s life. The court was further satisfied that the maternal aunt would protect the child’s interests. 

A placement away from the mother would significantly reduce the current levels of contact between the child and her mother. The child may well suffer emotional harm as a result, but the court was satisfied that this was likely to be in the short term and would be ameliorated by the quality of the care she would receive form the grandmother and the ongoing contact she would have with the mother. 

Addressing the welfare checklist in s.1 of the Children Act 1989 the court concluded that the mother’s capacity to provide adequate and appropriate care for the child long term is severely compromised and the child would be placed at risk of significant harm if returned to her care. The child’s welfare requires that the court override the fact that the mother did not consent to the orders proposed by the local authority. The court further concluded that there was no level of realistic support which could be put in place continuously to manage the risks identified by the court. 

The court was satisfied that the child’s global needs would be met by the maternal grandparents. The child loved her grandmother and was well attached to her. The child would be returning to a familiar carer and a familiar environment. 

Orders. 

The court approved the placement of the child with the maternal grandparents pursuant to a Special Guardianship Order made in the UK on 16th February 2018. The court directed that the maternal family should obtain from the family court in their country of origin, orders mirroring the orders of the UK courts.

The court further directed that:

— neither the mother nor the putative father (who the mother has stated is the father of the child) should remove the child from the care and control of the maternal grandparents.

— the putative father shall not have any face to face contact with child (save through Skype calls involving his own mother which are to be supervised by the maternal grandmother).

— the mother’s contact to the child shall be supervised by the maternal grandmother or the maternal grandfather, shall take place only at the home of the maternal grandparents 4 times per year (for 2 or 3 consecutive days on each occasion of contact) and shall not include the mother staying overnight with the child.

THE SHAME OF ANDREW NORFOLK: JUDGMENT

September 7, 2018
Andrew Norfolk

JUDGED
ANDREW NORFOLK, chief investigative reporter for The Times, published a story so one-sided Press Gang condemns it as rogue journalism. His narrative is comprehensively destroyed in the court ruling released today. 
Photo: Graham Turner fro The Guardian

EARLIER TODAY Press Gang obtained the final judgment in the case involving the little girl at the centre of Andrew Norfolk’s article in The Times headed “Christian child forced to live with Muslim foster carers”.

Judge Khatun Sapnara delivered an explosive judgment which fatally undermines the narrative advanced by Norfolk, the paper’s chief investigative reporter, and approved by editor John Witherow.

The judgment justifies the first two parts of our series The Shame of Andrew Norfolk: Crusade and  Hallelujah!

The summary deserves to be read in full and Press Gang makes it available here in full. 

♦♦♦

Summary of the Judgment of Her Honour Judge Sapnara on 16th February 2018.

Background

The court gave judgment on 16th February 2018 following a 10 day final hearing in care proceedings instituted by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (‘the local authority’) pursuant to s.31 of the Children Act 1989 and in respect of the subject child AB (‘the child’) who was aged 6 at the time of the final hearing. The Court read extensive bundles of written material/evidence and also heard the oral evidence of fifteen live witnesses which included expert, professional (social workers and police) and lay witnesses. The child’s mother is CD (‘the mother’). She had the benefit of leading and junior counsel representation at this hearing. The child’s putative father is believed to be GH (‘the putative father’). He was not named on the child’s birth certificate and he had never been married to the mother. Therefore he did not have parental responsibility for the child. 

5fc99c58-8ce9-11e7-a5d5-0066a735a5c3

JUDGE KHATUN SAPNARA
THE EAST LONDON Family Court judge has made sure that the false narrative spun by Andrew Norfolk and The Times was challenged. 

The child spent time in the care of two different foster carers before moving to live with her maternal grandmother (‘the maternal grandmother’), with the support of her maternal aunt (‘the maternal aunt’), towards the end of the summer of 2017. The child remained there at the time of the final hearing under an interim care order. Therefore, the local authority continued to share parental responsibility with the mother. The grandmother, the child and the maternal aunt lived together in the mother’s flat in London which the mother vacated to enable them all to live there. This had been the child’s home prior to removal and it was obviously therefore an environment with which the child was familiar. There was no dispute in this case that the child had a very warm and loving relationship with the maternal grandmother and the maternal aunt and that she was very familiar with them.

The putative father is a Russian national. He did not play any part in the proceedings. The mother in her oral evidence, towards the end of the hearing, maintained that she had not had any contact with the putative father since 2013 and she said that she had been unable to provide any contact details for him. Therefore, he was not formally served with notice of the proceedings. He did not attend any hearing and was not represented. He did not seek to make any application to be joined to the proceedings or to be assessed as a carer for the child, nor to have any contact with the child. He filed no evidence. He remained in Russia as far as the court could ascertain. Whilst he had played no formal role the court was satisfied that it was quite apparent that he was aware of the proceedings and that he had been a significant presence on the periphery of the case. 

The local authority’s care plan recommended the placement of the child with the maternal grandmother under a legal framework which is the nearest equivalent to a special guardianship order as exists in the maternal grandmother’s country of origin which is a Muslim majority country. The local authority proposed in its care plan that there  should be direct contact between the mother and the child four times a year, following the recommendations of the court appointed Children’s Guardian. It also proposed that there be Skype contact between the child and the father.

The local authority’s position was supported by the court appointed Children’s Guardian. The maternal grandmother was not represented in the proceedings but her position was advanced by the local authority with whom she was ad idem.

The local authority invited the court to find that the threshold for the making of final orders was crossed as at the relevant date of 2nd March 2017. The local authority  asserted that as at that date the child had suffered, and was likely to suffer, significant harm and that such harm was attributable to the care given to the child, or likely to be given to her, if an order were not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect her parents to give her. The broad areas of the local authority’s concerns were the mother’s excessive consumption of alcohol, neglect of the child’s needs and the child suffering emotional harm due to her mother’s drug use and excessive use of alcohol. 

The mother opposed the local authority’s applications. She did not accept that the threshold criteria had been crossed on the facts of the case and disputed all the findings sought by the local authority. She sought the immediate return of the child to her care. Initially her position had been that she wanted the maternal grandmother and the maternal aunt to support her caring for the child in the UK. The maternal grandmother and the maternal aunt did not wish to do that and sought to return to their country of origin with the child as quickly as possible. By the time the mother came to give her oral evidence, she clarified that she was not opposed to a placement with the maternal grandmother in her country of origin in principle but only in the event that the child was not returned to her care. The mother was born and brought up in that country. Both the mother and the child have previously resided there and they each hold dual nationality passports for that country and also for the UK. 

The mother contended that the child had not suffered, nor was she at risk of suffering, significant harm owing to the care she had received from the mother. She stated that she had addressed her alcohol and drug misuse and believed that the child’s welfare would be best met by a return to the mother’s care and that the mother would be marginalised in her child’s life to the child’s detriment if the child went to live with the maternal grandmother in her country of origin. Therefore, the mother sought the immediate return of the child to her care. 

The mother’s case was that her relationship with her daughter was good whilst the child was in foster care and that in fact there was only a negative change when the child went to live with maternal grandmother. It formed no part of the mother’s case that the child would not be loved and well cared for by the maternal grandmother, nor that the child’s needs would not be met by the maternal grandmother. 

The maternal grandparents are Muslim. The maternal family members are educated and of a relatively affluent professional background.  The maternal grandmother chose to take an oath on the Qur’an before giving oral evidence. The grandparents say that they do not attend Mosque but they do pray at home. No issue has been raised about the grandmother’s ability to meet the child’s religious needs. The mother’s primary concern is that if the child were to live with the grandparents, her contact with the child would be at risk. The mother identifies as Christian. There is some evidence that the putative father is also of Christian belief and that he was concerned about the child with regard to her religious needs when she was in foster care.

The child was born in the UK but had also spent a lot of time with her maternal grandparents in their country of origin. Prior to coming to the UK in January 2017 the mother and child had been involved in extensive international travels and spent time in various countries. However the chronology of the movement of the mother and child across international borders and the reasons for doing so and the times that they did so was complicated and difficult for the court to establish. The local authority contends that between 2013 and 2017 the child spent significant periods of time travelling abroad with the mother and was cared for at other times by the maternal grandparents. The mother disputed some of the details in relation to this and maintained that at all times she was the child’s primary carer. 

In January 2017 the mother travelled to the UK with the child. On the morning of 2nd March 2017 the child was removed from the mother’s care under a police protection order following the mother’s arrest for being drunk in charge of a child in a bar in a hotel near the mother’s home. As a consequence, the local authority was required to find an emergency foster placement for the child. The child was made subject to an emergency protection order on 3rd March 2017. An interim care order was made on 10th March 2017 by a judge of the East London Family Court. 

Once removed from the mother’s care the child was place in a foster placement by the local authority. That decision, together with the second move of placement to another foster care placement, has been the subject of intense media coverage and there has been a significant media presence at various hearings of this matter. The nature of those placements and the child’s experiences and treatment within them together with the circumstances of the mother’s arrest have generated significant press interest in, and reporting of, the case. Both foster carers were Muslim. Some of the concerns about the foster carers and their ability to meet the child’s religious, cultural and linguistic needs, as reported in the press, had been either raised by the mother prior to the media reports or otherwise later adopted by her. The mother, her friends and a contact supervisor have been identified in the press as the source of the media reports. On the Guardian’s behalf, in particular, concern was expressed about the mother’s insight into the child’s needs in engaging in this conduct. There has been some evidence at this hearing that the concerns about those needs being met by the foster carers may have come from the father also. 

The court made a case management order at an earlier stage of the proceedings allowing the local authority to release an alternative narrative to the matters that had been reported in the press and to place those in the public domain by 1st November 2017. There had been an internal inquiry by the local authority on the issues raised in the press and it was the local authority’s conclusion that much of that reporting particularly as to the issues arising from the child’s foster placements, had been inaccurate, distorted and unfair. 

At the hearing on 2nd October 2017, as at previous hearings, journalists from a number of news outlets were present; their presence was not opposed by any party. The Times Newspaper Ltd was present and represented by counsel. At that hearing, and each subsequent hearing, the court’s case management orders recorded as follows:

AND UPON the Court reaffirming the importance of the press reporting in accordance with the established guidance and to do so with skill and proper judgment so as not to undermine the welfare of the child, either through direct identification or jigsaw identification.

No accredited member of the press attended at the final hearing. The court indicated that it had been informed by the Child’s Guardian that when the child was moved from her second foster placement to be placed in the care of the maternal grandmother at the end of August 2017 that, very sadly, this had to be undertaken with police presence and assistance, because of the numbers of press in attendance at the foster carer’s address. The child did not have the opportunity to have a proper goodbye with her carers. It would have been entirely in her best interests to do so. If all that is correct, and the court had no reason to conclude otherwise, the court could not see how such circumstances could be regarded as being in the child’s best interests. As observed by the Child’s Guardian, most unfortunately and through no fault or choice of her own, details of the child’s private life are in the public domain and will continue to exist online well into the future. 

In August 2013 the mother pleaded guilty to an earlier offence of battery against a security officer at a London casino after she had been drinking. 

In July 2017, the mother was convicted at a Magistrates’ Court of being drunk in charge of a child on 2nd March 2017. However, in October 2017 the mother’s appeal against such conviction was allowed at the Crown Court. 

♦♦♦

The court’s threshold findings

The court found that at the relevant date of 2nd March 2017 (being the day the child was removed by the police using their protection powers), pursuant to s.31(2) of the children Act 1989, the child had suffered and was likely to suffer significant harm and that the harm suffered or likely to be suffered is attributable to the care given her or likely to be given to her if an order was not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect her parents to give to her.

The court made the following specific findings as sought by the local authority: 

1

On 2.03.2017 the child was at risk of suffering the neglect of her basic care needs and emotional harm due to her mother’s excessive consumption of alcohol for the following reasons:

2

On the morning of 02.03.2017 the mother had been drinking with a male friend throughout the night since 01.03.2017 in the bar of a hotel whilst the child was in the mother’s care. Furthermore, the court found that the mother had knowingly presented misleading evidence, including the evidence of an expert toxicologist, in support of her appeal in the Crown Court. This expert reported without knowledge of the results of the mother’s hair strand tests which showed positive for cocaine and chronic and excessive use of alcohol by the mother for the highly relevant period of September 2016- May 2017

3

The hotel staff called the police because they were concerned about the mother’s behaviour.

4

The police attended the hotel bar and observed that the mother and her friend were both highly intoxicated.

5

The mother’s friend was so intoxicated that, when he was asked to stand up by the police, he fell over.

6

The child was removed by the police using their powers of protection.

7

The mother was arrested and released the following day on 03.03.2017.

8

On 03.03.2017 the mother attended the local authority’s offices to meet with members of the social work team and smelt strongly of alcohol.

9

The mother’s intoxicated state impaired her ability to safeguard and meet the child’s care needs, placing the child at risk of neglect and physical harm.

10

It would also have been emotionally troubling for the child to witness this intoxicated behaviour of her mother and the mother’s friend.

11

The child was at risk of suffering the further neglect of her basic care needs and emotional harm due to her mother’s drug use and excessive consumption of alcohol for the following reasons:

— the incident on 02.03.2017 is the second time such an incident has been reported. On 24.09.2012 the Foreign Office received a referral from the duty manager of a hotel in Bulgaria expressing concerns about the mother’s wellbeing. The duty manager reported that he suspected that the mother may be on drugs or alcohol and that the hotel room was not particularly fit for a young child.

— the mother has pleaded guilty to the charge of driving a motor vehicle with excessive alcohol on 2 separate occasions; 16.03.08 and 24.04.09. This indicates that she makes poor decisions when she consumes alcohol.

— the mother tested positive for cocaethylene, a cocaine metabolite that was detected during the period from September 2016 to March 2017. The presence of the metabolite indicates the combined use of cocaine with alcohol. 

— hair strand test results dated 07.04.2017 shows the mother engaged in the excessive chronic consumption of alcohol equivalent to a bottle of wine per day.

— liver Function and CDT Blood Tests carried out in respect of the mother on 13.04.2017 indicated a “recent excessive alcohol intake”.

— a SCRAM bracelet detected the consumption of alcohol between the 13.05.2017 to14.05.2017, within 3 days of the bracelet being fitted.

12

The mother’s chronic and problematic use of alcohol coupled with her minimisation of such concerns gives rise to a risk of emotional harm by reason of the child being exposed to the mother’s alcohol use. It also gives rise to risks of domestic violence which seem to be linked to the mother’s drinking.

13

The mother’s use of alcohol amounted to a sustained pattern of problematic drinking rather than a one off incident of such problematic drinking on 1st – 2nd March 2017.

14

The mother and the putative father appeared to remain in an enmeshed relationship which appears to include a degree of financial control of the mother by putative father.

15

The relationship between the mother and putative father had been characterised by incidents of domestic violence (some very serious) over a number of years such that if she and the putative father were together and the child were to be present there would be a real risk that the child may get caught up in the domestic violence and might be at risk of suffering physical and emotional harm which might be significant in its nature.

16

That in the period between April 2012 and December 2016, while the child was primarily cared for by the maternal grandmother, she also spent significant periods of time with her mother and that during those periods of time the child and the mother visited the father on a number of occasions and the child was otherwise exposed to disruption arising out of the mother’s lifestyle which included changes of carers, different partners with whom the mother formed intense  relationships very quickly and other changes in her life. Were the child to be returned to the care of the mother there would be a risk that such pattern would continue.

♦♦♦

The court’s welfare findings.

The court had no doubt that the mother had taken the course she had in these proceedings, driven by the natural desire to be reunited with her daughter. On a subjective analysis she genuinely believes that the child will be better off in her care. Sadly, in the court’s judgement that motivation was also tinged with a degree of wounded pride. The mother’s position was not borne out on an objective assessment of the evidence and in light of the court’s threshold findings. 

The court concluded that the grandmother loves her daughter and is committed to her. It is likely that the maternal family have felt frustrated, disappointed and saddened by the mother’s conduct at times in the past, but the court was struck by what it perceived to be a depth of love for the mother and the child and a commitment to them by the grandmother and maternal family over the years despite the cost to them at times. 

The child had experienced the grandmother as primary carer on many occasions and for lengthy periods. It is clear that the grandmother understands the importance of the mother to the child and the court was satisfied that the grandmother was not seeking to supplant the mother as the child calls her own mother ‘mummy’. The court could see no basis for concluding that the grandmother would deny contact or excise the mother or the putative father from the child’s life. The court was further satisfied that the maternal aunt would protect the child’s interests. 

A placement away from the mother would significantly reduce the current levels of contact between the child and her mother. The child may well suffer emotional harm as a result, but the court was satisfied that this was likely to be in the short term and would be ameliorated by the quality of the care she would receive form the grandmother and the ongoing contact she would have with the mother. 

Addressing the welfare checklist in s.1 of the Children Act 1989 the court concluded that the mother’s capacity to provide adequate and appropriate care for the child long term is severely compromised and the child would be placed at risk of significant harm if returned to her care. The child’s welfare requires that the court override the fact that the mother did not consent to the orders proposed by the local authority. The court further concluded that there was no level of realistic support which could be put in place continuously to manage the risks identified by the court. 

The court was satisfied that the child’s global needs would be met by the maternal grandparents. The child loved her grandmother and was well attached to her. The child would be returning to a familiar carer and a familiar environment. 

Orders. 

The court approved the placement of the child with the maternal grandparents pursuant to a Special Guardianship Order made in the UK on 16th February 2018. The court directed that the maternal family should obtain from the family court in their country of origin, orders mirroring the orders of the UK courts.

The court further directed that:

— neither the mother nor the putative father (who the mother has stated is the father of the child) should remove the child from the care and control of the maternal grandparents.

— the putative father shall not have any face to face contact with child (save through Skype calls involving his own mother which are to be supervised by the maternal grandmother).

— the mother’s contact to the child shall be supervised by the maternal grandmother or the maternal grandfather, shall take place only at the home of the maternal grandparents 4 times per year (for 2 or 3 consecutive days on each occasion of contact) and shall not include the mother staying overnight with the child.

♦♦♦

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THE SHAME OF ANDREW NORFOLK — PART TWO: HALLELUJAH!

August 30, 2018

 

Norfolk_series_head_02
A YEAR ago today The Times declared victory in its battle to save a Christian child from Muslim foster carers.

It triumphantly reported the decision of the family court to return the child to her grandmother.

The paper boasted:

The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

But storm clouds were brewing.

image

EXCLUSIVE
CHILD GOES TO TURKISH GRANDMOTHER
Press Gang can today reveal that the child at the centre of The Times crusade has gone to live with her Muslim grandmother in Turkey on a permanent basis. The grandmother’s Muslim background failed to make its way into any of reporter Andrew Norfolk’s articles. The decision of the East London Family Court to grant long-term custody is believed to be against the wishes of the mother. This means the mother’s attempt to use Andrew Norfolk and The Times to force the court to give her child back to her has failed.

The court was about to publish its own version of events.

In a devastating statement, the court demolished Andrew Norfolk’s story — and showed his narrative to be little more than a crude anti-Muslim smear.

♦♦♦

WHEN THE TIMES published its dramatic “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care” story on 28 August 2017, its chief investigative reporter Andrew Norfolk knew he was on dangerous ground.

The only way he could justify the piece was to present a grossly distorted version of events.

His story left out the fact that there would be a court hearing the next day — and that the Muslim foster care would come to an end.

Andrew Norfolk

ANDREW NORFOLK 
THE CHIEF investigative reporter for The Times, Andrew Norfolk reported that a Tower Hamlets social services supervisor said the little girl “begged” not to be returned to her foster carer because “they don’t speak English”. Norfolk also reported allegations that foster carers had tried to subvert the child’s Christian faith. It wasn’t until the East London Family Court intervened that the real story emerged …
Photo: Graham Turner / The Guardian

He also left out the fact that the mother is the daughter of Muslim parents.

At this point he was banking on two factors to keep his narrative on track.

The first was that he was almost certain to be the only reporter present at the hearing on August 29.

This would allow him to publish a sanitised version of the proceedings — and allow The Times to claim his crusading reporting had saved the child. 

Secondly, he was expecting the court to order that the child should live with her grandmother — and say little more than that.

These were to prove disastrous miscalculations.

Norfolk didn’t realise the court had already decided to take on The Times … 

♦♦♦

AUGUST 29 could not have started better for Norfolk.

When he arrived at the East London Family Court security staff dramatically refused him entry.

It took the intervention of Judge Khatun Sapnara to allow him to enter the courtroom. 

Norfolk was able to report the next day:

Security staff at the court, where a case hearing took place yesterday morning, ordered a Times journalist to leave the building and threatened an escorted removal by security guards unless the reporter left voluntarily.

When Judge Sapnara was informed of the newspaper’s wish to attend the hearing, the reporter was readmitted.

Norfolk was the only reporter who filed a report on the proceedings. 

Norfolk’s article, published the next day (August 30), was headed:

Judge rules child must leave Muslim foster home

In fact, the foster care was due to end anyway.

All parties had already agreed that the child should go to live with her grandmother. 

But it was the sub-head that mattered:

The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

The Times wanted readers to be in no doubt that the verdict was a triumph for the crusading journalism of Andrew Norfolk. 

The first three paragraphs continued the narrative of the native English-speaking child forced to live with Muslim foster carers:

A girl at the centre of a care dispute was removed from her Muslim foster parents yesterday and reunited with her family as a judge urged councils to seek “culturally matched placements” for vulnerable children.

The five-year-old, a native English speaker from a Christian family, was taken to her grandmother’s home after a court ruled that she should not remain in the placement organised by the London borough of Tower Hamlets.

Judge Khatun Sapnara, a practising Muslim, said it was in the girl’s best interests to live with a family member who could keep her safe, promote her welfare and meet her needs “in terms of ethnicity, culture and religion”. The judge ordered the council to conduct an urgent investigation into issues reported by The Times, saying that the newspaper had acted responsibly in raising “very concerning” matters of “legitimate public interest”.

But once again, Andrew Norfolk was using the purge-and-deceive device he’d applied to his earlier articles.

During the proceedings, it was made clear that the grandmother, although non-practising, was from a Muslim background.

It was also clear that she was a foreign national and that her English was so poor that documents had to be translated into her mother tongue.

(Today, Press Gang also reveals the grandmother is actually from Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country.)

Norfolk didn’t report these sensational revelations.

He had to purge them or risk fatally undermining his narrative.

Remarkably, he and The Times later tried to explain away their decision not to mention the grandmother’s Muslim background.

In a submission to the press watchdog IPSO, The Times said that its approach to this article:

“was governed by its obligation not to publish any details which might identify the child.”

It claimed that Andrew Norfolk told the court that The Times:

“would not be publishing details of the grandmother’s religious and ethnic heritage, so as to avoid any risk of identification.”

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HYPOCRISY
ANDREW NORFOLK and The Times claimed that the reason the paper did not report the Muslim background of the grandmother was its concern not to publish anything which would reveal the child’s identity. Yet the paper had already published an actual picture of the little girl.

The submission said that “neither the judge nor [Tower Hamlets] demurred at that proposal”.

The paper added that the court later:

“put into the public domain some information about the family background which it had not expected to have been able to publish.”

Norfolk also deceived readers when he added the comment, buried deep in his article:

Judge Sapnara said her decision to order the child’s removal from foster care was not taken “as a result of undue media involvement”. “It is taken because of the evidence available to the court today, that the grandmother is an appropriate carer for the child,” she said.

What he didn’t know was that Judge Sapnara — perhaps expecting Norfolk to present a distorted version of the proceedings — had decided to make an unusual and decisive intervention.

If Norfolk and The Times would not tell readers the real background to the case, then the court would.

The next day a dramatic eight page statement was released.

It is highly unusual for a judge to order such a comprehensive statement to be published — and with such speed.

It meant that, as people were reading Andrew Norfolk’s distorted report of the hearing, they would be able to compare it to the court’s version of events. 

The statement — its full title is Case Management Order No 7 — noted:

“the court have given permission for an anonymised version of this order to be published”.

The order stated:

“Documents including the assessment of the maternal grandparents state that they are of a Muslim background but are non-practising.”

The order stated bluntly:

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Court makes it clear that the decision to approve the new care arrangements for the child to live with the grandmother under an interim care order is as a result of the application of the relevant law to the evidence now available to the court and not as a result of any influence arising out of media reports.”

Careful readers will notice there’s a significant difference between the court’s version of what happened and Andrew Norfolk’s

In his report, Norfolk added the word “undue”.

The addition of “undue” implies that his reporting had some influence when Judge Sapnara’s statement makes it clear there was none. 

Last night Press Gang asked Andrew Norfolk and The Times about this discrepancy.

We also asked them about the failure to mention the Muslim background of the grandmother. 

They did not reply.

♦♦♦

The intervention of the court was a disaster for Andrew Norfolk and The Times.

The Case Management Order, which confirmed that the child would go to live with her grandmother, hammered Norfolk’s narrative.

It stated:

— the child’s court appointed guardian had “no concerns as to the child’s welfare and she reports that the child is settled and well cared for by the foster carer”

—  Tower Hamlets proposed that the child “remains in the care of the grandmother long term. The mother opposes this.”

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JUDGE KHATUN SAPNARA
THE TIMES reported that the Bangladeshi-born judge had “praised” Andrew Norfolk for “exposing” Tower Hamlets’ “failure”. The press watchdog IPSO later ruled that this was “inaccurate”. The judge did no such thing … 

The Case Management Order continued:

— “the mother has confirmed that she did not disclose documents, confidential to this case, to the press”

— the mother must reveal “the documents from the private law proceedings relating to her older child … from Guildford Family Court”

— the mother’s solicitors are permitted to submit “segmented hair strand test results, to test for cocaine covering the last three months …”

—  the mother’s solicitors are also permitted to submit “segmented hair strand and liver function test results, in respect of alcohol, covering the last six months …”

The court also ordered Tower Hamlets to prepare a statement about the allegations made by the mother against the foster carers.

This statement, published two months later, was to inflict further damage on Andrew Norfolk’s narrative.

As Press Gang has already reported in The Shame Of Andrew Norfolk: Crusade, this document was agreed between the legal teams of Tower Hamlets and the mother.

It recorded that the grandmother:

 “… has been distressed and angered by the allegations against the foster carers which she has said were false and lies.”

These allegations were, of course, the ones made by her daughter and reported by Andrew Norfolk.

The statement added that the grandmother:

“has a good relationship with the carers and is grateful for the excellent care she says that they have provided to the child.”

The child told the grandmother that she:

“is missing the foster carer and has asked … if she can have contact with the family.”

♦♦♦

THE INTERVENTION by the court was highly damaging to the reputation of Andrew Norfolk.

Despite these developments, The Times continued to defend his reporting and did not apologise for its articles.

But another problem was brewing.

More than 150 complaints had been made about Andrew Norfolk’s reports to the press watchdog IPSO.

IPSO brushed all of these aside — except for one.

Tower Hamlets complained about The Times headline

The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

And IPSO finally ruled that this claim was inaccurate.

The watchdog forced The Times to publish a humiliating ruling — and flag it up on the front page.

The next instalment of The Shame Of Andrew Norfolk tells the inside story of the desperate attempts by The Times to ward off  this damning verdict. 

♦♦♦

NOTES

1
The original title of this series — The Fall Of Andrew Norfolk — was changed on 24 September 2018.

2
Andrew Norfolk’s third article is added as an Appendix because The Times operates a paywall. 

♦♦♦

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♦♦♦

APPENDIX

THE TIMES THIRD ARTICLE 
30 August 2017

BYLINE

Andrew Norfolk, Chief Investigative Reporter

HEADLINE

Judge rules child must leave Muslim foster home

SUB-HEAD

The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

PICTURE CAPTION
In England 84 per cent of foster carers are white, as are 77 per cent of fostered children

A girl at the centre of a care dispute was removed from her Muslim foster parents yesterday and reunited with her family as a judge urged councils to seek “culturally matched placements” for vulnerable children.

The five-year-old, a native English speaker from a Christian family, was taken to her grandmother’s home after a court ruled that she should not remain in the placement organised by the London borough of Tower Hamlets.

Judge Khatun Sapnara, a practising Muslim, said it was in the girl’s best interests to live with a family member who could keep her safe, promote her welfare and meet her needs “in terms of ethnicity, culture and religion”. The judge ordered the council to conduct an urgent investigation into issues reported by The Times, saying that the newspaper had acted responsibly in raising “very concerning” matters of “legitimate public interest”.

Friends of the child’s family said that they were hugely relieved by the decision to move her from foster placements where all was “foreign and un- familiar” into surroundings where she would feel “much more at home”.

When The Times told Tower Hamlets last week of its intention to reveal the council’s decision to place a white British child with a family whose culture, faith and primary language were alien, the local authority tried to block the story. It contacted the East London family court, where the girl’s case was the subject of care proceedings, and told Judge Sapnara that confidential court documents had been unlawfully leaked and publication of an article would be an offence.

Security staff at the court, where a case hearing took place yesterday morning, ordered a Times journalist to leave the building and threatened an escorted removal by security guards unless the reporter left voluntarily. When Judge Sapnara was informed of the newspaper’s wish to attend the hearing, the reporter was readmitted.

Earlier this week, the newspaper revealed that the child, who was taken into care in March, initially spent four months in a foster home where, she said, the family often did not speak English at home and encouraged her to learn Arabic.

Social services reports noted that she was tearful and distressed when she was returned to the home. For the past two months she has been in the care of a second Muslim couple, where she spoke of regularly eating meals on the floor. In both households, the primary foster carers veiled their face in public.

A council employee heard the child say that the first foster parent, to whose care she was due to have been returned this week, had taken away her necklace, which had a cross. The same family was said to have refused to allow her to eat a carbonara meal because it contained bacon. Any local authority making a foster placement is required by law to give due consideration to the child’s “religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background”. Addressing lawyers for Tower Hamlets yesterday, Judge Sapnara said that her “overriding concern [was] the welfare of the little girl”.

“You would presumably accept that the priority should be an appropriate, culturally matched placement that meets the needs of the child in terms of ethnicity, culture and religion?” she said. Kevin Gordon, counsel for the local authority, agreed but said that when the girl initially became the council’s responsibility, no white British foster carers were available.

The Fostering Network charity has estimated that 7,600 new foster families need to be recruited in the next year. It said there was a “particular need for foster carers to look after teenagers, disabled children, sibling groups and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children” but identified no shortfall in carers for babies and young children.

A national shortage of ethnic minority foster carers often leads to non-white children being placed with white British carers. In England, 84 per cent of foster carers are white, as are 77 per cent of fostered children.

The court was told yesterday that the family’s wish for the girl to be placed in the temporary care of her grandmother had been under consideration for a number of months. Judge Sapnara said her decision to order the child’s removal from foster care was not taken “as a result of undue media involvement”. “It is taken because of the evidence available to the court today, that the grandmother is an appropriate carer for the child,” she said. All parties, including Tower Hamlets, supported the decision.

Until the child’s future is resolved, at a date yet to be set, she will continue to have regular meetings with her mother, supervised by council staff. To protect the child, The Times is not disclosing the unusual circumstances that led to her being taken into care this year.

The judge said she had not seen reports of meetings in which a council employee observed the child’s distress and unhappiness and asked Tower Hamlets to provide her with copies.

Tower Hamlets council said it had the “welfare of children at the heart of what we do” and would like to give more details about the case to correct “inaccuracies”, but was legally restricted from doing so. “The decision to choose foster carers for a child is based on a number of factors including cultural background and proximity to contact with the child’s family . . . in order to give them as much stability as possible,” a spokesman said. “We have always been working towards the child being looked after by a family member and will continue to do so.”

ENDS

 

THE SHAME OF ANDREW NORFOLK — PART ONE: CRUSADE

August 28, 2018

 

Norfolk_series_head_01
A YEAR ago today award-winning reporter Andrew Norfolk published a piece of rogue journalism.

In a series of three articles in The Times he accused the London borough of Tower Hamlets of forcing a 5-year-old Christian child to live with Muslim foster carers.

It was a sensational exposé which made headlines around the world.

But the series was a cynical crusade against Tower Hamlets, its social workers and foster carers.

It’s part of a growing body of anti-Muslim articles in The Times.

A year-long Press Gang investigation shows Norfolk’s series was only made possible because he excluded key material.

He suppressed four important pieces of evidence:

— the mother of the child was born to Muslim parents

—  Tower Hamlets was always in favour of the child being cared for by her grandmother

— the mother has used a British-Pakistani barrister in court proceedings

— foster care experts warned Norfolk the mother’s version of events was likely to be faulty.

PRESS GANG LOGO

ANATOMY OF A SMEAR
YOU ARE reading the first part of the most comprehensive account of Andrew Norfolk’s rogue journalism. It has taken a year to produce and includes a broad-ranging complaint to the press watchdog IPSO.
Press Gang is an independent investigative website edited by the retired former ITV current affairs producer Paddy French. He is unpaid.
Press Gang played a part in the downfall of former News of the World reporter Mazher Mahmood and exposed the unscrupulous career of Piers Morgan.
However, the expense of running the site is significant — the Guardian, for example, charged us £60 for a licence to use the picture of Andrew Norfolk.
If you want to help Press Gang bring rogue journalists to book, you can make a donation, either a small one-off amount or a more useful monthly subscription. You’ll find the Donate button at the end of this article. 

One told him bluntly:

“You shouldn’t go near this story — it just doesn’t ring true.”

Norfolk’s investigation provoked a storm of protest.

The Muslim Council of Britain branded the articles “disgracefully dishonest”.

The press complaints watchdog IPSO, part-funded by The Times, declined to investigate more than 150 complaints.

It wasn’t until Tower Hamlets entered the fray that IPSO ruled Norfolk and The Times had been inaccurate.

IPSO found their coverage “gave the impression that the judge had found the placement was a ‘failure’ by the council …”

‘“This was a distortion.”

In a major humiliation for Norfolk, The Times was forced to publish a highly critical ruling — and flag it up on the front page.

Press Gang can now reveal that Tower Hamlets also made a complaint against The Sun which had followed up Norfolk’s coverage

Sun Editor Tony Gallagher — unlike Times editor John Witherow — surrendered immediately.

The paper wrote to Tower Hamlets, accepting “the article was not accurate”.

Andrew Norfolk, though, remains unrepentant.

“I think we did our job as a newspaper,” he told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 shortly after his series was published.

Until these articles Norfolk, the chief investigative reporter of The Times, was one of Britain’s most respected journalists.

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EXCLUSIVE
THE SUN RECANTS
SUN EDITOR Tony Gallagher (above) initially repeated many of the allegations made by The Times. But the tabloid threw in the towel as soon as Tower Hamlets complained. In December 2017 the paper wrote to the council accepting that these allegations were “inaccurate”. On newspaper databases which still make the article available, the paper added that “future reporting of claims made that the child was forced to speak Arabic, had a gold cross removed, was banned from eating carbonara because of the pork content and ate meals off the floor should not be reported as fact. A court appointed independent guardian visited the foster carer and interviewed the child alone and found there to be no issues with care and care to be of a good standard.”
Photo: News UK

His work in exposing the sexual grooming of  vulnerable young girls, starting in 2011, is widely regarded as a classic piece of investigative reporting.

It won Norfolk many awards.

But among many thoughtful journalists, concerned at the rising tide of Islamophobia in some British newspapers, Norfolk’s role in the “Christian child” saga is chilling.

They cannot understand how a dedicated and courageous reporter could lower his standards to produce a series so one-sided it qualifies as rogue journalism.

Press Gang investigates the shame of Andrew Norfolk.

♦♦♦

IN March last year, police were called to a building in East London.

Officers found a young woman and her 5-year-old daughter.

Because the law protects the identity of the child, Press Gang can only reveal part of what happened.

Police decided that the circumstances in which they found the child required them to exercise their “powers of protection”.

They removed the child from her mother.

Because the incident took place in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, it was the council’s social workers who took charge of the little girl.

Social services now had to find emergency foster care while the courts decided what should happen to the child.

The 5-year-old has an unusual background.

Her mother comes from a relatively humble Muslim background in a predominantly Muslim country.

The mother tongue of both the child’s mother and her grandmother is not English.

The child knows her grandmother well.

She has her own room in her grandparents’ home.

The child’s mother insists her upbringing was Christian.

She says her daughter is also Christian.

Andrew Norfolk

CRUSADER
ANDREW NORFOLK made his name with his 2011 series about mainly British-Pakistani men sexually grooming and sexually abusing young girls in Rotherham. It led to several awards including the Orwell Prize and Paul Foot Award for investigative journalism. He was named Journalist of the Year at the 2014 British Press Awards. When he first heard about the grooming allegations his immediate thought was “this is a dream story for the far right.”  
Photo: Graham Turner for The Guardian

The child’s biological father does not appear to play a significant role in her upbringing.

Social workers now had to decide where the child should go.

They chose a foster carer who was an English-speaking Muslim whose first language is Arabic.

Their own children speak English as their main language — and English is the language used in the home.

At a court hearing in March, the mother asked that her daughter be placed in the care of her grandmother.

Tower Hamlets was in favour if the grandmother passed the necessary assessment process.

The process was delayed partly because the grandmother’s main residence was in a foreign country and because official documents had to be translated into her mother tongue.

When the first foster carers went on an extended holiday in June, a second Muslim family took over.

In the summer of 2017 “friends” of the child’s mother contacted Andrew Norfolk and told him they were concerned about the foster carers.

They provided reports from a social services supervisor which stated:

— the child was sobbing and begging not to be returned to the foster home because “they don’t speak English”

— the child claimed that the carer removed her necklace which had a Christian cross and

— the child claimed the carer suggested she should learn Arabic.

Family “friends” also told Norfolk:

— the carer refused to allow the child to eat her favourite Italian food, carbonara, because it contained bacon

— the first foster carer wore a niqab while the second foster carer wore a burqa.

♦♦♦

ANDREW NORFOLK now began to examine the evidence.

He contacted experts in fostering.

One of these was Andy Elvin, chief executive of The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT).

Elvin said that, in emergency placements like this one, the number of available foster carers would be limited.

Social workers would take into account the nature of the foster carer’s home situation and their ability to give the little girl a stable home environment.

Norfolk told Elvin about the allegation that the foster carers didn’t speak English.

Elvin told him this was nonsense: all foster carers went through a lengthy assessment to make sure they were fluent in both spoken and written English.

Norfolk also asked about the removal of personal effects.

Elvin said there were likely to be sound reasons for taking this course of action.

He added:

“Norfolk also appeared to be totally unaware of basic family court proceedings.”

“This included the fact that the court appoints a guardian, independent of both the parent and the foster carer / local authority, to make sure the child is properly cared for.”

Norfolk said his sources included council reports and concerns raised by “friends” of the mother.

Elvin said he didn’t think this was good enough.

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IGNORED
ANDY ELVIN (above) is the chief executive of the UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity. He warned Andrew Norfolk that there were problems with the narrative he was exploring. The reporter ignored him …  
Photo: TACT

He told him:

“You shouldn’t go near this story —it just doesn’t ring true.”

At this point, Elvin says, Norfolk accused him of being “defensive”.

Norfolk also spoke to a journalist who is a foster carer.

This individual doesn’t want to be identified.

Norfolk gave him much more background information about the case.

The journalist told Press Gang:

“He knew that the child’s heritage was complex and that she was the daughter of migrants on both sides.”

“He had enough information to work out that some members of the family may also be Muslim”.

“He knew that the maternal grandmother had applied for custody and was being viewed favourably by social services.”

“As a foster carer, I challenged many of the claims made about the foster carers in Tower Hamlets.”

“I questioned the reasons why the crucifix might have been removed: we probably would have done the same, mainly for the child’s safety given her age.”

“I explained that birth families routinely — and understandably, perhaps — find fault in foster carers or make false allegations.”

“I also explained that family contact sessions are often difficult, and generally don’t reflect the quality of the placement.”

“I told him he should be very careful.”

These warnings should have been enough for Norfolk to dig deeper into the mother’s tale.

Was she telling the whole truth about her daughter’s placement?

Norfolk was also uniquely placed to investigate the mother’s background.

The Times’ news desk — like those of all national newspapers — was well aware of the circumstances in which the child came to be taken into care.

But Norfolk also had access to the mother — either directly (which he has never confirmed) or through “friends”.

He should have asked for documentary evidence of the mother’s Christianity and for the certificate showing where and when the little girl was baptised.

It would also have been easy for him (as it was for Press Gang) to establish that

— the mother has had relationships with men from several different countries

— this wasn’t the first time she’d been involved with the police

— she appeared to have issues with both alcohol and drugs

— she has an older child who has been the subject of proceedings in the family court.

If Andrew Norfolk made these inquiries, he decided not to share the results with readers of The Times.

Towards the end of August last year Norfolk and senior figures at the paper decided on the editorial line they were going to take.

The paper would publish the mother’s version of events.

The paper also decided that the story would feature on the front page on Monday, August 28.

The date was significant because there was a long-arranged hearing of the family scheduled for the next day.

And, a fortnight earlier, Tower Hamlets had informed the family court that the assessment of the grandmother had finally been completed.

It was positive.

This meant that the court was almost certain to end the foster care and place the child in the care of her grandmother.

Family court experts say that the mother’s legal team would have also have been informed of these developments.

Press Gang asked Andrew Norfolk and The Times if this was the reason why August 28 was chosen.

After that date, the child would no longer have been in the care of Muslim foster carers but have moved to be with her Muslim grandmother.

Neither Norfolk nor The Times answered the question.

♦♦♦

THE TIMES front page headline on August 28 could not have been starker:

Christian child forced into Muslim foster care

The sub-head read:

Concern for girl who ‘had cross removed and was encouraged to learn Arabic’

The first six paragraphs of the main story set out Andrew Norfolk’s thesis:

A white Christian child was taken from her family and forced to live with a niqab-wearing foster carer in a home where she was allegedly encouraged to learn Arabic.

The five-year-old girl, a native English speaker, has spent the past six months in the care of two Muslim households in London. The foster placements were made, against the wishes of the girl’s family, by the scandal-ridden borough of Tower Hamlets.

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In confidential local authority reports seen by The Times, a social services supervisor describes the child sobbing and begging not to be returned to the foster carer’s home because “they don’t speak English”.

The reports state that the supervisor heard the girl, who at times was “very distressed”, claiming that the foster carer removed her necklace, which had a Christian cross, and also suggested that she should learn Arabic.

It is understood that the child told her mother that when she was given her favourite Italian food to take home, the foster carer would not allow her to eat it because the carbonara meal contained bacon.

More recently, the girl is said to have told her mother that “Christmas and Easter are stupid” and that “European women are stupid and alcoholic”.

The article was illustrated by two photographs, taken from behind, which showed the second of the child’s foster carers wearing a burqa.

The child was shown wearing European clothing.

Her long hair was slightly pixellated.

The captions included the text:

“The five-year-old girl, whose identity The Times is protecting, with her present foster carer. Her mother is said to be horrified by the alien cult­ural, religious and linguistic environment in which her daughter has spent the past six months.”

The article added that Tower Hamlets was a “scandal-ridden” council, citing the removal of mayor Lutfer Rahman in 2015 for corrupt and illegal electoral practices.

It also noted an Ofsted report in April 2017 which found “widespread and serious failures in the services provided to children who need help and protection”.

Rating the children’s service as inadequate, Ofsted condemned an “entrenched culture of non-compliance with basic social work standards”.

The next day Norfolk published a second story with the headline:

Parents begged Tower Hamlets council to let child in Muslim care stay with grandmother

The article continued:

A council that forced a Christian child to live with conservative Muslim foster carers has blocked a number of attempts to move her to families where she would feel more at home.

Inquiries by The Times have established that the girl’s family has spent the past six months begging the London borough of Tower Hamlets to allow the five-year-old to be released into the care of close family friends or relatives.

The east London council has most recently opposed attempts to place the child into the temporary care of her grandmother.

♦♦♦

THE story was picked up by media in both Britain and abroad.

The credibility of The Times combined with Andrew Norfolk’s reputation persuaded many journalists and commentators to accept the paper’s narrative as fact.

Two examples show how toxic some of the coverage became.

Journalist Allison Pearson, writing in the Daily Telegraph a few days later, wrote:

It’s like something from a dark, dystopian drama.

She added

The authorities note that the child sobs and begs not to be sent back to the foster home “because they don’t speak English”. Her alarmed mother reports that her daughter says “Christmas and Easter are stupid” and that European women are “alcoholic”.

Incredibly, this is not science fiction.It’s happening right now, in Tower Hamlets, a scandal-ridden London borough, where the five-year-old has spent the past six months in the care of two different Muslim households.

The Sun published a column by Trevor Phillips, former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, which carried the headline:

The decision to put a five-year-old Christian girl into Muslim foster care is like child abuse and the council must pay.

Phillips took The Times narrative as gospel.

♦♦♦

ANDREW NORFOLK could only publish his story by purging it of inconvenient facts and deceiving his readers about key evidence.

NATIONALITY

Norfolk bent the narrative to leave readers with the impression that the little girl was English.

Norfolk purged anything that might suggest the girl’s parents were foreign-born migrants.

He also purged the fact that the grandmother was foreign-born.

He deceived readers by describing the little girl as being a “native English” speaker. 

WITHEROW

JOHN WITHEROW
EVER SINCE he took over the editor’s chair at The Times in 2013, John Witherow has been under fire for his coverage of issues involving Britain’s Muslim population. In 2015 the press watchdog IPSO ruled that a Times story headed “One in five British Muslims has sympathy for Isis” was inaccurate. The paper had twisted a survey in which respondents weren’t even asked about the terrorist group. In 2012, when he was editor of the Sunday Times, the paper published a front page article written by the now-disgraced Mazher Mahmood, gaoled in 2016 for conspiring to pervert the course of justice. The piece accused a Muslim dentist of being willing to perform female genital mutilation. The police investigation collapsed when it turned out that an undercover “associate” of Mahmood’s had probably prostituted herself to persuade the dentist to co-operate. For the full story, see Withering Heights.
Photo: PA

He deceived readers by publishing a photo in which the little girl looked just like any ordinary English child.

MUSLIM BACKGROUND

Norfolk twisted his story to suggest the little girl was an English Christian trapped in families from an alien religious background.

To do this he had to purge the fact that the mother was from a Muslim background.

A court-approved document later made it clear her parents are Muslim.

The same document record the mother’s insistence that they are Christian.

This fundamental conflict was of no interest to Andrew Norfolk.

Norfolk also purged his narrative of the comments made by the experts he talked to.

They told him there might be innocent explanations for the removal of a necklace carrying a cross such as concerns for the little girl’s safety.

These warnings did not suit Norfolk’s chosen narrative so he simply ignored them.

LANGUAGE

In order to emphasise the horror of an apparently English-speaking girl under pressure to speak Arabic, Norfolk purged the complex linguistic heritage of the child, the mother and the grandmother.

It’s clear the child speaks at least English and the foreign language spoken by her grandmother.

The mother is multi-lingual.

The grandmother speaks English poorly at best.

TOWER HAMLETS

For Andrew Norfolk, the villain of the piece was Tower Hamlets council.

To do this he had to purge the fact that social workers had always approved the grandmother as a carer provided an assessment was positive.

Norfolk deceived his readers by using emotive language like the mother “begging” the council to allow the child to go to her grandmother.

And by stating that the council “blocked” the mother’s wish for the child to go to her grandmother.

In his first article he purged the fact that the social services supervisor’s report — the only documentary evidence he had — concerned highly charged contact sessions with the mother.

He deceived readers by leaving out the fact that the child had a court-appointed guardian who was independent of both the mother and Tower Hamlets. 

He also purged his account of the critical Ofsted report of comments which praised parts of the fostering service:

“Most children in care live in good foster homes …”

“Children living with family members and foster carers are generally settled.”

“The fostering service is actively recruiting new carers, and it supports carers well. Care proceedings are effective for most children in progressing plans for permanence.”

♦♦♦

IT WAS after Andrew Norfolk had published his first two articles that the East London Family Court sat to decide the fate of the little girl.

Judge Khatun Sapnara heard the assessment of the grandmother was positive.

Both the mother and Tower Hamlets were in favour of the child going to live with her.

The judge agreed.

Andrew Norfolk and The Times reported the hearing in a front page story the next day which included the sub-head: 

The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

But the judiciary were already moving to place a completely different narrative into the public domain.

Judge Sapnara ordered a summary of the court proceedings to be published.

It was blunt:

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Court makes it clear that the decision to approve the new care arrangements for the child to live with the grandmother under an interim care order is as a result of the application of the relevant law to the evidence now available to the court and not as a result of any influence arising out of media reports.”

The summary noted that the child’s “biological father has not been located.”

It stated that the mother’s legal representation was paid for out of public funds.

It also stated that the child’s guardian — appointed through the court and independent of both the mother and Tower Hamlets — “has no concerns as to the child’s welfare and she reports that the child is settled and well cared for by the foster carer.”

The court also ordered that legal representatives for the mother and Tower Hamlets produce an agreed statement.

Both parties accepted that the first foster carer wore a hajib [the headscarf] and not the niqab Andrew Norfolk had stated as fact in the opening paragraph of his first article. 

This statement recorded the views of the grandmother.

She “… has been distressed and angered by the allegations against the foster carers which she has said were false and lies.”

These allegations were made by the mother and reported by Andrew Norfolk.

The grandmother “has a good relationship with the carers and is grateful for the excellent care she says that they have provided to the child.”

The child told the grandmother that she “is missing the foster carer and has asked … if she can have contact with the family.”

♦♦♦

NEXT
HALLELUJAH!

THE INSIDE story of the dramatic court hearing that began to unravel Andrew Norfolk’s narrative. The judge breaks with tradition and publishes a highly revealing summary of proceedings. Noting the disagreements between the mother and the foster carers, she orders a report to be prepared that both Tower Hamlets and the mother must agree. When it’s published, it does even more damage to Andrew Norfolk’s version of events.

♦♦♦

NOTES

1
The original title of this series — The Fall Of Andrew Norfolk — was changed on 24 September 2018.

2
The full text of Andrew Norfolk’s first two articles can be found at the end of this article. Press Gang is adding them because The Times operates a pay wall. 

3
Tower Hamlets’ statement of 1 November 2017 is included as Appendix 2. This was added on 26 February 2019. 

♦♦♦

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APPENDIX 1

FIRST TIMES ARTICLE
28 August 2017

BYLINE

Andrew Norfolk, Chief Investigative Reporter

HEAD

“Christian child forced into Muslim foster care”

SUB-HEAD

“Concern for girl who ‘had cross removed and was encouraged to learn Arabic”

PICTURE CAPTION 1 

The girl with one of the two Muslim carers appointed by Tower Hamlets

PICTURE CAPTION  2

The five-year-old girl, whose identity The Times is protecting, with her present foster carer. Her mother is said to be horrified by the alien cult­ural, religious and linguistic environment in which her daughter has spent the past six months

A white Christian child was taken from her family and forced to live with a niqab-wearing foster carer in a home where she was allegedly encouraged to learn Arabic.

The five-year-old girl, a native English speaker, has spent the past six months in the care of two Muslim households in London. The foster placements were made, against the wishes of the girl’s family, by the scandal-ridden borough of Tower Hamlets.

In confidential local authority reports seen by The Times, a social services supervisor describes the child sobbing and begging not to be returned to the foster carer’s home because “they don’t speak English”.

The reports state that the supervisor heard the girl, who at times was “very distressed”, claiming that the foster carer removed her necklace, which had a Christian cross, and also suggested that she should learn Arabic.

It is understood that the child told her mother that when she was given her favourite Italian food to take home, the foster carer would not allow her to eat it because the carbonara meal contained bacon.

More recently, the girl is said to have told her mother that “Christmas and Easter are stupid” and that “European women are stupid and alcoholic”.

In any decision regarding a foster placement, local authorities are required to give due consideration to the child’s “religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background”.

Tower Hamlets refused to respond to requests to explain why it had chosen to place a white, English-speaking Christian child with Muslim foster carers, including one household where she was unable to understand the language spoken by the family.

Her first carer, with whom the girl lived for four months, is believed to have worn a niqab outside the family home. The carer at her present foster placement wears a burka, fully concealing her face, when she accompanies the child in public.

The wearing of a niqab or burka generally indicates adherence to a conservative, Salafi-influenced interpretation of Islam that is often contemptuous of liberal western values.

To protect the child, The Times has chosen not to identify her or the unusual circumstances that led to her being taken into care earlier this year.

The girl’s mother is said by friends to have been horrified by the alien cultural, religious and linguistic environment in which her daughter has spent the past six months.

“This is a five-year-old white girl. She was born in this country, speaks English as her first language, loves football, holds a British passport and was christened in a church,” said a friend.

“She’s already suffered the huge trauma of being forcibly separated from her family. She needs surroundings in which she’ll feel secure and loved. Instead, she’s trapped in a world where everything feels foreign and unfamiliar. That’s really scary for a young child.”

In some areas of the country, a longstanding shortage of foster carers from ethnic-minority backgrounds frequently leads to non-white children being, of necessity, placed with white British foster parents. It is far less common for the reverse to take place.

Published fostering statistics for England show that of the 51,800 children who were in foster placements last year, 39,900 (77 per cent) were white, as were 52,500 (84 per cent) of the 62,400 approved foster carers.

The 2011 national census found that 80 per cent of England’s population was white British, falling to 45 per cent in London and 31 per cent in inner-city Tower Hamlets.

Across the capital last year, 39 per cent of fostered children and 42 per cent of foster carers were white. In Tower Hamlets, only 24 per cent of looked-after children were white.

No figures were published nationally or at local authority level to show how many children were placed with foster carers of a different ethnicity.

Tower Hamlets declined to reveal how many cross-cultural foster placements it was overseeing. The council also refused to say whether it had a shortage of white British foster carers. It cited confidentiality obligations and accused The Times of putting at risk the stability of a vulnerable child’s foster placement and schooling.

Ten years ago a council report warned of a need to “recruit foster carers from a range of backgrounds” in Tower Hamlets to enable it “to match carers and children, taking into account a number of factors including ethnicity, religion, language, culture and location”.

The under-represented communities that it sought to target in 2008 in adverts for new foster carers were “Caribbean, African, Vietnamese, Bangladeshi (for older children) and white”.

More recently the council has earned public notoriety. In 2015 it was stripped by the government of many of its powers after its former mayor, Lutfur Rahman, was found guilty of corrupt and illegal electoral practices.

In April this year an Ofsted inspection of the council found “widespread and serious failures in the services provided to children who need help and protection”.

Rating the children’s service as inadequate, it condemned an “entrenched culture of non-compliance with basic social work standards”.

The Department for Education said it was unable to comment on cases but a spokesman stressed that “when placing a child in a foster home, the local authority must ensure that the placement is the most appropriate way to safeguard the child and support their welfare. A child’s background is an important consideration in this decision.”


SECOND TIMES ARTICLE
29 August 2017

BYLINE

Andrew Norfolk, Chief Investigative Reporter

HEAD

“Parents begged Tower Hamlets council to let child in Muslim care stay with grandmother”

PICTURE CAPTION Tower Hamlets has placed a young Christian girl into foster care with two Muslim families in turn. For the past two months, the child’s care has been entrusted by the council to a foster carer who wears a burka
A council that forced a Christian child to live with conservative Muslim foster carers has blocked a number of attempts to move her to families where she would feel more at home.

Inquiries by The Times have established that the girl’s family has spent the past six months begging the London borough of Tower Hamlets to allow the five-year-old to be released into the care of close family friends or relatives.

The east London council has most recently opposed attempts to place the child into the temporary care of her grandmother.

Instead, she initially spent four months with a carer whose family often spoke Arabic when she was with them, leading the girl to complain that she was unable to understand what they were saying.

A Tower Hamlets employee who supervised regular meetings between the child and her family recorded the child’s distress, at the conclusion of each meeting, when she was handed over to the carer.

In a written report of one meeting, the contact supervisor described the girl as “very emotional and tearful”.

“She said they don’t speak English at the home, she doesn’t understand the Arabic words where she is. [The girl] said she wants to go back home to her [mother].”

The social services employee heard the child whispering Arabic words to her mother that she was allegedly told must be said aloud to ensure that “when you die you go to heaven”.

Her reports also describe the child’s account of her necklace, which carried a Christian cross, having been removed, and not returned, by the first foster carer.

After another supervised meeting, the council worker heard the child explaining to her mother that the foster carer “said she needs to ask [her social worker] if she can learn Arabic”.

At the end of the meeting, the girl “started crying and saying that she doesn’t want to go back”.

For the past two months, the child’s care has been entrusted by the council to a second foster carer. Both women concealed their faces when they were with the girl in public, the first by wearing a niqab and the second with a burka.

It is understood that the five-year-old has also spoken of the first foster carer having refused to let her eat a meal of carbonara because it had bacon in it.

Friends of the family said she had also told her mother that “Christmas and Easter are stupid”.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says that any state agency considering a foster placement must pay due regard to “the desirability of continuity in a child’s upbringing and to the child’s ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background”.

Tower Hamlets has refused to respond to requests from The Times to explain why it has twice chosen to place the girl in an environment that is wholly alien to her heritage and upbringing.

A council spokesman said yesterday that its fostering service “provides a loving, stable home for hundreds of children every year”. All its foster carers received training and support to ensure they were “fully qualified to meet the needs of the children in their care”.

“In every case, we give absolute consideration to our children’s background and their cultural identity.”

A national shortage of foster carers from minority ethnic backgrounds, particularly in rural areas, often leads to a non-white child being placed with white British foster carers. It is far more unusual for a white child to be placed in a non-white foster home.

According to published fostering statistics for England in 2016, 84 per cent of approved foster carers were white, as were 77 per cent of fostered children.

APPENDIX 2

Tower Hamlets, 1 November 2017
Foster carer story statement

The outcome of the investigation below relates to the fostering case that was covered heavily in the media from late August, 2017. See our statement at the time.

  1. This information is from an investigation undertaken by a senior social worker from Tower Hamlets council. It forms part of the evidence filed on behalf of the local authority in two sworn statements before the Court in the public law care proceedings. This document is agreed between all parties and approved by the Court.

  2. The mother raised concern about the cultural appropriateness of the placement directly with the social work team and formally via solicitors and in a statement dated 20 March 2017 in court proceedings. The only allegation referred to in that statement was that the child’s cross had been removed from her. It was explained to her by the social workers that, as the child was placed in an emergency situation following concerns she was at risk, this was the urgent placement available. 

  3. Following earlier hearings, the case was listed before HHJ Sapnara for the first time on 31 March 2017. There was no application on behalf of any party for an order which would involve a change of foster carer. Nor was there such an application at a further hearing on 9 May 2017.

  4. At a hearing on 19 April 2017 Directions were given by the court to commence an assessment of the maternal grandmother. This assessment was delayed as a result of complexities relating to legal procedures, and international protocols required to be followed, as the grandmother was living in her country of origin at the time.

  5. In June 2017, the original foster carer was going on an extended holiday overseas so a planned move to a respite placement was required.  The mother applied to Court to on 23 June 2017 to have the child moved to her maternal grandmother (MGM) to avoid another foster placement and one which was not a cultural match.  At a hearing on 27 June 2017, that application was dismissed because the outcome of the MGM’s full assessment was not – at that time – known.   In those circumstances mother did not pursue a case (for a discharge of the interim care order) so that the foster care placement could be changed and instead awaited the completion of the assessment of her mother as a carer for the child. However, the position statement filed on behalf of the mother at the hearing on 27 June 2017 raised further allegations – in addition to the issue about the cross – as to whether the placement was culturally appropriate. These allegations related to the foster carer wearing burka; rejection of food cooked by the mother for the child and the child suggesting to her mother that she wants to be Muslim.

  6. Throughout the child’s stay in foster care she had frequent direct and indirect contact with her mother, MGM and maternal aunt as well as professionals. All contact has been formally supervised. The child was visited in both placements by the independent Children’s Guardian who raised no concerns as to the care being provided to the child. The child was visited in the second placement after two days due to reports at contact that she was distressed and the social worker saw her happily playing and settled.

  7. In response to the mother’s application in June 2017 and ongoing concerns raised by her, on 27 June 2017 the court directed the local authority to file a statement dealing with these issues raised by the mother as to the cultural appropriateness of the foster placements and the steps taken to address those concerns.  An initial enquiry took place in July 2017, which consisted of an interview with the mother and a discussion with the first social worker. Following further allegations published in the media August 2017, the mother adopted those concerns at the hearing on 29 August 2017. The Court directed a further statement to address those concerns. A further enquiry took place in which both foster carers and MGM were interviewed across August and September 2017.

  8. Age appropriate conversations were had with the child as part of the Local Authority’s statutory duties. The child also wrote a letter to the Judge in August being supported by the Children’s Guardian to do so, wherein she expressed always being happy in the placement.

  9. The child’s original foster carer is Muslim and wears a hijab not a niqab or a burka. The child’s respite foster carer is also Muslim and wears a burqa in public but not in her home.  The respite foster carer’s husband is White British Muslim.

  10. The Mother initially raised concerns about the child’s crucifix going missing. the child is recorded  to have stated on 2 occasions that the foster carer has removed the crucifix. The July investigation found that  the child had not gone to the first placement with that crucifix. This investigation found that the child had most likely lost her crucifix before she was placed. 

  11. Tower Hamlets subsequent investigation found in accordance with MGM’s report, that the child has two crucifixes. The MGM states that she had one of the child’s crucifixes in the child’s bedroom in the MGM’s country of origin and that this had been given to her by the child’s mother in March 2017. The other is a large gold piece of jewellery that belonged to the child’s great grandmother, and was given to the child by her mother during proceedings but considered by the second foster carer to be inappropriate in size and value for a small child as it might be lost or broken. It is now in the possession of the MGM, who is in the UK; which confirms the second foster carer’s account about what she did with the second crucifix. The gold second crucifix has been seen by the social worker in the MGM’s home.

  12. With regard to the allegation that the child was unable to eat pork / ham, Tower Hamlets found that there had been no rejection of food brought for the child by the mother for religious reasons. The foster carer stated that on one occasion the food was not put into a secure container so it spilled onto the buggy.

  13. The allegation that the child was distressed as the foster carer spoke only in Arabic was found by Tower Hamlets not to be correct.  It is recorded that the child stated during a contact session that the foster carers don’t speak English in the home and she was distressed prior to her return there.  The foster carer’s first language is Arabic but her husband is White British born in the UK.  The foster carer’s children’s first language is English and that is the language of the home. The child had greeted the carer with a traditional greeting which she may have heard the carer say on the telephone to her relatives as a normal greeting. When spoken to by the social worker during Tower Hamlet’s enquiry, the child said they only spoke English at home and outside the home.

  14. The allegation that the foster carer had made derogatory statements about European women to the child was not substantiated. Conversations between the social worker the child found that the child does not know what Europe is.  The MGM is clear that this is not something this child could or would have said.

  15. In respect of the allegation that the child said “Christmas and Easter are stupid”; the social worker has talked to the child about the festivals and she expressed excitement and described having an Easter egg hunt at the foster carer’s home and receiving an Easter egg from the carer. She brought an Easter egg to contact to share with her mother. She expressed no negative views about Christmas, Easter or any religious festival to the social worker. The mother proposed that the child be taken to a Christian church but this was too far from the placement.

  16. The allegations that the child was made to sit on the floor and eat has been explained; the child said she sometimes ate apples on the floor whilst sitting with the foster carer’s child. She also sometimes ate on the sofa and at the table. There was no question that this was not a matter of choice or that this was a cultural imperative.

  17. The MGM has been distressed and angered by the allegations against the foster carers which she has said were false and lies. She has a good relationship with the carers and is grateful for the excellent care she says that they have provided to the child. The child has told the MGM that she is missing the foster carer and has asked the MGM if she can have contact with the family.

  18. Although the mother disputes the findings, the Local Authority is satisfied that at all times the foster carers provided warm and appropriate care to the child. The Local Authority has been impressed with the care and commitment shown by the carers to the child.  This is reflected in the child’s description and reaction to the carers and the MGM’s positive relationship with them.

  19. The Local Authority remains concerned that the mother and contact workers were questioning the child repeatedly during contact about her foster carers. Enquiries into this are taking place.

  20. The Local Authority does not accept the allegations as made in the National press for the reasons set out above.
Posted on Wednesday 1st November 2017
ENDS

LABOUR’S LOST OFCOM COMPLAINT

September 2, 2020

BBC_series_head_8
THE BROADCASTING watchdog Ofcom is “assessing” a new complaint about the July 2019 Panorama programme “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” 

This admission — prompted by a Press Gang investigation — comes more than a year after the programme was broadcast.

And long after Ofcom’s deadline for making a complaint. 

The Press Gang investigation also confirms, for the first time, that the Labour Party submitted a detailed complaint about the programme to Ofcom in February this year.

This was an appeal against the BBC’s rejection of Labour’s complaint in August 2019.

Ofcom rejected the appeal in May this year.

Ofcom declined to say if the complaint currently being assessed has anything to do with the rejected Labour appeal.

The BBC told Press Gang it is unaware of any new complaint about the Panorama programme.

Labour declined to comment.

♦♦♦

AFTER THE Panorama broadcast in July 2019, Labour prepared a detailed complaint about the programme.

This 16 page document — a copy of which Press Gang has seen — was submitted to the BBC’s Head of Editorial Complaints in August.

The BBC’s response was a 35 page letter written by a BBC News Editorial Adviser and dated 2 September 2019. 

Press Gang has also seen this letter.

The BBC rejected all of Labour’s complaints: “Panorama’s research was robust and extensive”.

Labour had 20 working days to complain against the decision to Ofcom, the BBC’s ultimate regulator. 

Screen Shot 2019-10-06 at 13.40.34

This required Labour to submit its complaint to Ofcom by the end of October 2019.

The Press Gang investigation has learnt that the party did not do so.

At the time, the party’s priority was the imminent general election.

After December’s general election defeat, the party prepared its complaint.

Press Gang understands it was submitted in February this year —  and rejected by Ofcom in May.

Press Gang asked Ofcom to confirm it had received and rejected Labour’s complaint.

Ofcom declined to answer the question but then answered a question we had not asked — telling us it was “assessing” a new complaint against the Panorama programme.

The watchdog declined to say who had made the complaint — or if it was connected to Labour’s rejected complaint. 

Labour’s complaint was the most comprehensive Ofcom received about the Panorama broadcast.

In January the watchdog announced that it had rejected 27 complaints from viewers.

A spokesperson said:

We assessed complaints from viewers who felt that this programme was factually inaccurate and biased.

In our view, the programme was duly impartial.

As well as highly critical personal testimonies, it included the Labour Party’s response throughout, including an interview with the Shadow Communities Secretary.

All of these complaints were considered before the leaking of Labour’s dramatic report into how officials at party HQ in London handled anti-Semitism complaints.

This report was called “The Work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to anti-Semitism, 2014 – 2019”.

On April 10 — six days after Keir Starmer was elected Labour Leader — the result of this inquiry was leaked to Sky News.

The 851 page report blamed party officials for failing to deal with the anti-Semitism issue.

Some of these officials included some of those interviewed in the Panorama “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” programme.

In the wake of the leak, Labour’s National Executive Committee set up a panel to examine the report’s allegations and how it came to be leaked.

Headed by the QC Martin Forde, it also includes three Labour peers: Baroness Wilcox, Lord Whitty and Baroness Lister.

It is due to report by the end of the year.

♦♦♦

OFCOM IS reluctant to answer questions about the complaint it is now considering. 

Why is it assessing a complaint a year after the Panorama programme went out — and long after both the BBC and Ofcom deadlines had passed?

Ofcom told us:

We have a time limit for receiving BBC complaints based on when the complainant receives their final response from the ECU [the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit]. 

So if there was a delay in a complainant receiving their ECU response, as long as they referred the complaint to Ofcom within 20 working days of receiving it, we will consider the complaint, regardless of whether we have published the outcome of similar complaints and regardless of when the programme was broadcast.

This implies that the complaint currently being assessed has only recently been rejected by the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit.

However, a search of all BBC fortnightly complaints bulletins published this year lists no complaints rejected by the ECU.

Ofcom also declined to explain why it does not include Labour’s rejected complaint in its statistics.

Ofcom’s press office told us it had rejected 27 cases by January this year. 

With the case currently being assessed, the total comes to 28.

If Labour’s complaint was submitted in February and rejected in May, it cannot be included in Ofcom’s total of 28.

The mystery deepens when Ofcom’s own records are examined.

The watchdog’s fortnightly complaints bulletins show that a complaint against the Panorama anti-Semitism programme was rejected in May and another in July this year.

Neither of these rejections is included in Ofcom’s total number of complaints.

Ofcom declined to clear up the confusion.

The BBC’s Communications Manager, Philly Spur, told us: 

“The ECU [BBC Executive Complaints Unit] rejected all complaints and Ofcom didn’t find grounds to investigate.”

“We are not aware of anything further.”

Labour did not reply to our questions.

♦♦♦

ON JULY 22 Labour settled a libel action brought by John Ware, the reporter who presented the Panorama programme, and seven former Labour Party officials who appeared in the broadcast.

Labour had criticised Ware and the former staffers. 

The party agreed to pay undisclosed damages and costs. 

ware-3.png

JOHN WARE
The reporter who presented the controversial Panorama programme “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” is taking legal action against some of his critics — including Press Gang editor Paddy French.
Photo: BBC

Following the settlement, Jeremy Corbyn said:

The party’s decision to apologise today and make substantial payments to former staff who sued the party in relation to last year’s Panorama programme is a political decision, not a legal one.

Our legal advice was that the party had a strong defence …

The decision to settle these claims in this way is disappointing, and risks giving credibility to misleading and inaccurate allegations about action taken to tackle antisemitism in the Labour Party in recent years.

The same day Mark Lewis, the lawyer who represents John Ware, said his client had instructed him “to pursue claims”. 

At the time this article went to press, no writ had been issued against Jeremy Corbyn.                                                                                                                                                                                                

Jeremy Corbyn High Court ruling

JEREMY CORBYN
THE FORMER Labour Leader is facing a £100,000 libel action over allegedly “false and defamatory” remarks he made about the blogger and Jewish activist Richard Millett on the Andrew Marr Show in September 2018. Corbyn is defending the action which will now go to trial. There has been no crowdfunding for this case.
Photo: PA

A Labour Party member and Corbyn supporter called Carole Morgan then launched an appeal called “Jeremy’s Legal Fund” to raise funds to fight any action.

The appeal has to date raised more than £330,000 from more than 17,000 donors.

Carole Morgan is in the process of converting the appeal into a trust fund.

♦♦♦

LABOUR’S DECISION to settle with Ware means that the key legal action involving the Panorama programme is the one involving Press Gang editor Paddy French.

In December 2019 Press Gang published a 16 page pamphlet which criticised the Panorama programme.

The report — “Is The BBC Anti-Labour?” — was written by French.

In July this year Ware’s lawyer, Mark Lewis, issued a writ asking for £50,000 in damages.

Press Gang is contesting the action and has instructed the London libel specialists Bindmans to represent French.

A fighting fund has been launched to help pay legal costs — to date this has raised more than £20,000 from 800 supporters.

The target is £100,000.

The link is: 

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/fightingfund

Panorama_v_PG_04

A preliminary hearing is likely to take place in October or November.  

After Ware issued his writ against French, he also launched proceedings against the campaign group Jewish Voice for Labour. 

Ware is claiming a total of £80,000 in damages from the organisation and two of its officials.

♦♦♦
Published: 2 September 2020
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

BLACK AND WHITE

February 29, 2020

BBC_series_head_5b
ON THURSDAY, 20 February 2020 the Jewish Chronicle published an apology to the Liverpool Labour activist Audrey White.

The paper acknowledged that four articles published in February and March 2019 contained allegations that were untrue.

It agreed to pay damages and legal costs.

These payments add to the financial problems at the loss-making paper.

The settlement follows an intervention by Press Gang.

Audrey White asked us to review her case.

We prepared a report and sent it to the London law firm Bindmans, specialists in defamation law.

Bindmans wrote a pre-action letter to the Jewish Chronicle asking for damages, legal costs, an apology and an undertaking not to repeat the defamatory statements.

The Jewish Chronicle instructed solicitors and a settlement was reached.

Press Gang has been asked not to reveal the sums involved.

Audrey White said:

“I’m very grateful Press Gang took up my case.”

“In libel actions, the dice is loaded against ordinary people whose names have been blackened by powerful newspapers.”

“Organisations like Press Gang and Hacked Off really help to level the playing field.”

BBC_cover_08_b

BIAS
OUR INVESTIGATION into the Panorama programme was published on December 7 last year — five days before the general election.
It can be read here
Although it was an interim report, it found ten possible breaches of the BBC’s own Editorial Guidelines. 
We found Panorama guilty on nine counts and cleared it of one.
The programme broke the key BBC commitment to “achieving due impartiality”.
And failed to honour the BBC promise not to “knowingly and materially mislead its audiences.”
The BBC, of course, rejects these criticisms while Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog which polices the Corporation, declined to investigate.
The Press Gang investigation continues … 

The offending articles were part of the Jewish Chronicle coverage of allegations made by supporters of the then Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, Louise Ellman.

They claimed she was being bullied by left-wing members. 

The Jewish Chronicle claimed White was part of a left wing plot to “oust” Ellman.  

Similar allegations were repeated in the Panorama programme Is Labour Anti-Semitic? broadcast in July last year.

White was not named in the broadcast. 

But her settlement with the Jewish Chronicle casts doubt on some of the claims made in the programme.

The paper’s settlement follows a damning ruling on the White case by the press watchdog, Ipso.

Ipso was blunt:

… the publication’s conduct during Ipso’s investigation was unacceptable.

♦♦♦  

THE MOST serious allegation against Audrey White was that she had lied in order to join the Labour Party in 2015.

Jewish Chronicle Political Editor Lee Harpin claimed she’d been expelled in the 1980s as part of Neil Kinnock’s purge of Militant Tendency members.

When she joined the party in 2015, after Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader, Harpin said she’d given a false date of birth.

In fact, the Labour Party could find no record of anyone called Audrey White ever being expelled.

And when she joined the party in 2015 she had given her date of birth correctly.

It was only when she renewed her membership in August 2016 that she mistakenly entered an incorrect date.

However, this was ignored by Labour’s administration and her membership continued to record the correct date of birth.

cid:06BBF995-F204-415E-B236-24D6BE2780F4

AUDREY WHITE
AUDREY WHITE is a celebrated trades union and women’s rights campaigner. Her campaign against sexual harassment at a Liverpool fashion store in the 1980s led to a change in employment law. The story was made into a film, Business As Usual, starring Glenda Jackson. 

“What’s important to note here,” White told Press Gang, “is that elements in the Labour Party machine had access to the mistake I made with my date of birth in 2016 — and made it available to the Jewish Chronicle in order to smear me.”

A second allegation was that she was among “a group of militants who repeatedly interrupted” the MP Louise Ellman during a constituency meeting.

In fact, a partial recording of this constituency meeting — which took place on 22 February 2019 — shows this to be untrue.

Ipso noted:

… it was apparent … that the MP had spoken in a consistent and conversational tone; the crowd had not been ‘rowdy’ as alleged.

This allegation — that constituency meetings were disrupted —  also featured in the Panorama programme Is Labour Anti-Semitic?

Panorama reporter John Ware stated that “in the wake of Mr Corbyn’s election there was an influx of new members. Some wanted [Louise Ellman] out. Party meetings descended into chaos”.

“This is nonsense,” says White.

She added:

What actually happened is that there was a power struggle between Louise Ellman’s old guard, who were now in a minority, and the new members who wanted to change political direction.

Some members of the old guard mounted a campaign — making allegations of bullying and anti-Semitism — in order to try and keep control of the constituency party.

There were complaints of anti-Semitism at constituency meetings but not one of them resulted in any kind of disciplinary action. 

There were complaints of bullying at constituency meetings but, again, not one of them resulted in any kind of disciplinary action.

Lee Harpin also claimed Audrey White had “received a number of formal warnings … over allegations of bullying against” other Labour members.

In fact, there was just one — concerning a case which did not involve either Louise  Ellman or anti-Semitism.

Harpin said White had falsely claimed a councillor was under investigation by police for her treatment of a disabled pensioner suffering from cancer.

Ipso found that the councillor had, in fact, been investigated by police — confirming White’s claim.

However, Labour’s NEC issued a formal warning to White about this incident.

It said she had made a number of comments “regarding a separate resolved complaint within which you were not originally involved.”

It added that her comments “… have caused offence and may have damaged the Party’s reputation …”

Ipso said the Jewish Chronicle was unable to provide any evidence to back up its allegation that there had been other warnings.

All four of the Jewish Chronicle articles were written by the paper’s Political Editor, Lee Harpin. 

image

APOLOGY
THE FULL Jewish Chronicle apology states reads:
In February and March 2019, we published articles which made allegations about Mrs Audrey White, some of which were untrue.
We have already published the IPSO adjudication in relation to these articles and have agreed to pay a sum in damages to Mrs White and her legal costs.
We apologise for the distress caused.

Before joining the paper, he was a senior editorial figure at the Daily Mirror group.

Between 2006 and 2012 he was head of news at the People.

He was arrested in 2015 by detectives investigating phone hacking.

The CPS decided there was “insufficient evidence” to prosecute.

In the early 2000as he also worked for the News of the World when both Rebekah Wade and Andy Coulson were editors. 

Ipso found that Harpin’s Jewish Chronicle articles about Audrey White breached its Editorial Code. 

Ipso’s Complaints Committee ordered the paper to publish a summary of its ruling in the White v Jewish Chronicle case.

It added:

The committee expressed significant concerns about the newspaper’s handling of this complaint.

The newspaper had failed, on a number of occasions, to answer questions put to it by Ipso and it was regrettable the newspaper’s responses had been delayed.”

The Committee considered that the publication’s conduct during Ipso’s investigation was unacceptable.

The Committee’s concerns have been drawn to the attention of Ipso’s Standards department.

Following the ruling, the Jewish Chronicle removed all four articles from its online database.

♦♦♦  

THE SETTLEMENT comes at a difficult time for the Jewish Chronicle and its editor Stephen Pollard.

The White payment follows a £50,000 payment to the charity Interpal last year.

The Jewish Chronicle had falsely accused it of having links to terrorist activity.

These payouts are doing little to help the paper’s precarious financial position.

Circulation and advertising revenue are falling.

The weeklypaper no longer gives details of circulation but the last audited figures in 2018 showed just over 20,000 copies a week.

image

LIBEL PRONE
JEWISH CHRONICLE editor Stephen Pollard, 55, is no stranger to libel actions, many of them involving the portrayal of Muslims and Muslim organisations.
In 2008 he wrote a Spectator article attacking a conference on Islam, branding the organisers “fascist” and claiming the conference had “a racist and genocidal programme”. The magazine later apologised and paid libel damages.
Pollard’s stint as Jewish Chronicle editor has also seen some notable libel setbacks.
In 2012 the Chronicle paid substantial damages to the trustees of the Muslim charity Human Appeal International after it suggested the USA believed it was a terrorist organisation. It also falsely accused the charity of diverting donations to terrorist groups.
In 2019 the paper had to pay £50,000 in damages after falsely suggesting the Muslim charity Interpal had links to terrorist activity.
Photo: Jewish Chronicle 

More than 7,000 of these were free copies.

After posting a £91,000 profit in 2015, the Chronicle lost £460,000 in 2016, £1.1m in 2017 and £1.5m in 2018.

It also had a £2.6m black hole in its pension fund.

In June 2018 the paper was rescued by a consortium of unnamed donors.

Stephen Pollard wrote that “… the future of the paper has been secured …”

The paper’s auditors were less optimistic.

In the accounts for the year ended June 2018, they noted that the rescue package only allowed:

… the debts to the pension fund to be cleared and to fund the group’s activities until these become profitable.

They added:

These matters … indicate that a material uncertainly exists that may cast doubt on the group’s ability to continue as a going concern.

In February 2020 the paper announced it was merging with the weekly free-sheet, the Jewish News.

The Jewish News also has its financial problems.

In 2018 its balance sheet showed a negative worth of minus £1.5m.

Like the Jewish Chronicle, it’s also had to pay libel damages.

In February 2018 it lost an action brought by Baroness Warsi over a claim that she excused Islamic State terrorists.

The paper paid £20,000 in damages.

In August 2018 the paper’s foreign editor, Stephen Oryszczuk criticised the paper’s coverage of Jeremy Corbyn.

Oryszczuk told The Canary website:

Some of the phraseology I take a giant step back from, vicious personal phrases like ‘Corbynite contempt for Jews’ which is one step away from calling him a Jew hater.

It’s repulsive. This is a dedicated anti-racist we’re trashing.

♦♦♦  

Notes
1
The IPSO ruling, White v Jewish Chronicle is here.
2
This is the fifth instalment of the Press Gang series Is The BBC Anti-Labour?
The previous four articles are
— an introductory article: it can be found
here
— the second, BBC v Ofcom, is here
— article three, Indictment, is here
— the fourth, Scriptease, is here
In addition, an interim report has been published. It’s available
here.

♦♦♦
Published: 29 February 2020
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

DONATIONS

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♦♦♦

CORRECTIONS
  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

♦♦♦

 

 

INDICTMENT

December 3, 2019

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THE PRESS GANG report on the Panorama programme Is Labour Anti-Semitic? is published today.

We find the BBC was biased in its journalism, leaving the Corporation open to the charge that the broadcast was a deliberate attempt to interfere in the General Election. 

The interim report lists serious breaches of the BBC’s own Editorial Guidelines in the 59 minute programme first aired on July 10.

You can read the report here.

The Panorama programme is still available on iPlayer — the link is here.

The BBC’s Editorial Guidelines can be accessed here. 

Our 16 page report — rush-released to be available before the election — cites nine separate occasions when programme-makers were in breach of the Editorial Guidelines. 

On Friday, we delivered copies of the report to various media organisations in London.

A hundred went to senior managers and journalists at the BBC. 

Other copies went to the Channel 4 News, Sky News, LBC, the Guardian and the Times, the Sunday Times and the Sun on Sunday

Here’s the report’s dramatic cover. 

BBC_cover_08_b

Tomorrow (Sunday), at 2pm, a Press Gang team will leaflet BBC staff as they enter and leave Broadcasting House in central London. 

Our investigation into this rogue journalism continues.

This is important work and you can underwrite this project by supporting our crowdfunded site — here. 

♦♦♦

THE REPORT was published on Saturday, 7 December 2019. 

The next morning, the BBC Press Office got in touch and asked for the following statement to be included:

The BBC stands by its journalism and we completely reject any accusations of bias or dishonesty. Panorama explored a topic of undoubted public interest, broadcasting powerful and disturbing testimonies from party members who’d suffered anti-Semitic abuse. We also heard from former Labour officials, some of whom defied non-disclosure agreements to speak out about their experiences inside the Party and its anti-Semitism crisis. This shows the serious questions facing the party and its leadership on this issue. The programme adhered to the BBC’s editorial guidelines, including a full right of reply for the Labour Party. John Ware is a highly experienced and respected investigative journalist, whose track record includes critically-acclaimed and award-winning reports. We reject any claims Panorama took any of the evidence out of context. 

♦♦♦

NOTE
1 Paddy French declares an interest in this issue. A life-long Labour voter, he joined the party after Jeremy Corbyn was elected Leader.
2 Much of this article is based on the work of others including The Canary, Electronic Intifada, Vox Political and Jewish Voice for Labour.
3 On December 13 the article was amended to include the statement from the BBC.

4 There are two typos in the Press Gang pamphlet Is The BBC Anti-Labour? On page 8, the number of BBC complaints was 218,000 not 2018,000. In the note on page 15, the figure 763 should read 673 — this
 does not affect the other figures in the note which remain correct. 

♦♦♦
Published: 7 December 2019
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

NEXT
SCRIPTEASE
PRESS GANG has prepared a script of the Panorama programme — the BBC declined to make one available to us. This comes together with a detailed commentary. 

♦♦♦

CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

 

 

 

 

BBC v Ofcom

November 2, 2019

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THE BBC have officially rejected all complaints against the Panorama programme Is Labour Anti-Semitic?

A spokeswomen told Press Gang yesterday: 

… the BBC Executive Complaints unit have now concluded their findings and have not upheld any complaints against the programme.

The Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) considered 49 cases, including one from the Labour Party.

In our last article Enter Ofcom that figure stood at 46.

On Friday, the BBC published its fortnightly bulletin which revealed that a further three cases had been rejected.

One of these is the Labour Party complaint. 

BBC_cover_08_b

ROGUE JOURNALISM
THIS IS the cover of the planned Press Gang report on the BBC’s rogue journalism. It’s similar to the one written by Press Gang editor Paddy French and Professor Brian Cathcart (a co-founder of Hacked Off) and published in June — Unmasked: Andrew Norfolk, The Times Newspaper And Anti-Muslim Reporting: A Case To Answer. Is The BBC Anti-Labour? will be published by Unmasked Books, price £10, at the end of November. Supporters are being asked to buy a copy in advance so it can appear before election day on December 12 — here’s the crowdfunder link. The plan is to have a demonstration outside the BBC and enough spare copies of the report to hand out to staff as they arrive for work.

Labour had branded the programme an “authored polemic” by veteran reporter John Ware.

It was “an overtly one-sided intervention in political controversy by the BBC,” the party said.

The BBC does not publish its findings but has previously said it “stands by its journalism and we completely reject any accusations of bias or dishonesty.”

A Press Gang investigation has found the programme biased and dishonest.

It was rogue journalism.

So serious a piece of rogue journalism that Press Gang is planning a crowdfunded report (see panel, left).

For nearly a century the BBC was the sole arbiter of whether it lived up to its lofty ideals.

But in April 2017 this self-regulation came to an end when the statutory broadcasting regulator Ofcom took over the role.

In our last article we revealed that 17 complainants have now taken their case to Ofcom.

They will be joined by the Labour Party. 

It’s Ofcom — one of the UK’s most powerful watchdogs — that will ultimately decide whether the Panorama programme lived up to the BBC’s high standards.

Ofcom also has its own Broadcasting Code  — a code based on the provisions of the 2003 Communications Act.

Ofcom will be a more rigorous judge than the BBC.

♦♦♦

THE BBC prides itself on its commitment to editorial integrity and accuracy.

In June 2019 — just one month before the Panorama programme — it published a new set of Editorial Guidelines.

This was the 7th edition of the key document that shapes the BBC’s approach to its journalism.

Chairman Sir David Clementi, a former banker, was emphatic:

… nothing is more important than the BBC’s reputation for independence, impartiality and editorial integrity … 

Director General Tony Hall was even more forthright:

It’s just a few short years since the term “fake news” entered our lexicon.

It’s now a weapon of choice used worldwide.

In a world of misinformation, our values have never been more important.

That’s why accuracy, impartiality and fairness are given such prominence in these Guidelines.

So, how was it that the BBC produced one of the most biased programmes in its entire history just a few weeks later?

♦♦♦

THE BBC’S Editorial Guidelines are crystal clear about the need for impartiality.

The introduction says the BBC is “committed to achieving due impartiality in all its output.”

The term ‘due’ means that the impartiality must be adequate and appropriate to the output, taking account of the subject and nature of the content, the likely audience expectation and any signposting that may influence that expectation.

It adds:

Due impartiality usually involves more than a simple matter of ‘balance’ between opposing viewpoints.

We must be inclusive, considering the broad perspective and ensuring that the existence of a range of views is appropriately reflected.

The Panorama programme’s view of the Jewish membership of the Labour Party on the issue of anti-Semitism came from one perspective.

This was the position of the Labour-affiliated Jewish Labour Movement (JLM).

At least 9 of the 22 people interviewed in the Panorama programme are, or have been, senior figures in the Jewish Labour Movement.

There may be more — Press Gang is attempting to establish the actual figure.

Reporter John Ware failed to tell viewers that these nine interviewees were JLM members.

WARE SCREENSHOT

JOHN WARE
THE AWARD-WINNING reporter has made no secret of his opposition to Jeremy Corbyn. He wrote in the magazine Standpoint in 2017 that the Labour leader’s “entire political career has been stimulated by disdain for the West, appeasement of extremism, and who would barely understand what fighting for the revival of British values is really all about.” He has strong connections with Britain’s Jewish community and his children were brought up in the Jewish faith. In 2015 he was awarded a Commitment to Media Award by the Women’s International Zionist Organisation for “being sympathetic to Jewish concerns.” 
Photo: BBC 

The Jewish Labour Movement believes anti-Semitism is a serious problem in the Labour Party.

In November 2018 it asked the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to investigate the Labour Party’s “institutional anti-Semitism”.

In April 2019 the group passed a motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn over his alleged failure to deal with the crisis.

In the same month, JLM’s chairman Mike Katz made it clear the group would be selective in supporting candidates at the next general election.

“If you’re backing the leadership over the way they have handled anti-Semitism — then you’re absolutely not going to get our support,” he said.

Panorama failed to say that the JLM narrative is not the only one.

In fact, Labour’s Jewish membership is split over the issue of the scale of anti-Semitism in the party.

A different picture is provided by the pressure group Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL).

In a statement, JVL said:

… antisemitism regrettably exists in all areas of society, and needs to be guarded against. But the facts show that there is no more within Labour than outside, probably less.

And, despite the image fostered in the media, no party has been more rigorous than Labour in chasing it down.

The issue has been utilised by pro-Israel advocates, Jewish and otherwise, within the Labour Party and outside, in alliance with those in the media and political establishment who oppose Jeremy Corbyn’s left-wing leadership.

Despite representing several hundred Jewish Labour Party members, no representative of JVL, or any of the other groups which hold similar views, was heard in the Panorama programme.

The Editorial Guidelines go on to state:

Where our content highlights issues on which others campaign, we must take care not to endorse those campaigns, or allow ourselves to be used to campaign to change public policy.

By not revealing the influence of the Jewish Labour Movement in its programme, Panorama was effectively, if secretly, endorsing its campaign.

The Guidelines on impartiality also emphasise that there are particular requirements for what are described as “controversial subjects”.

A “controversial subject” may be a matter of public policy or political or industrial controversy.

The Guidelines advise that:

When dealing with “controversial subjects” we must ensure that a wide range of significant views and perspectives are given due weight and prominence, particularly when the controversy is active.

And the Guidelines go even further — introducing the concept of a “controversial subject” which is also a “major matter”.

The Guidelines say:

“Major matters” are usually matters of public policy … that are of national or international importance …

And they add:

When dealing with ‘major matters’, or when the issues involved are highly controversial and/or a decisive moment in the controversy is expected, it will normally be necessary to ensure that an appropriately wide range of significant views are reflected …

Allegations of widespread anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is clearly both a “controversial subject” and a “major matter”.

Panorama failed to “ensure that an appropriately wide range of significant views” were included in the programme.

In all these circumstances, it seems highly unlikely that the Panorama programme was not referred to senior management.

The fact that permission was given to extend the programme also suggests that senior managers — perhaps even Director General Tony Hall — were involved.

In other words, the Panorama programme was endorsed by the BBC at the highest level.

♦♦♦

The BBC Editorial Guidelines also insist on the need for “due accuracy.”

This commitment is fundamental to our reputation and the trust of audiences.

The term ‘due’ means that the accuracy must be adequate and appropriate to the output, taking account of the subject and nature of the content, the likely audience expectation …

The Guidelines require:

… all BBC output, as appropriate to its subject and nature, must be well sourced, based on sound evidence, and corroborated.

The BBC must not knowingly and materially mislead its audiences. We should not distort known facts, present invented material as fact or otherwise undermine our audiences’ trust in our content.

Did Panorama live up to those high ideals?

Take the allegation that Labour Party disputes investigator Ben Westerman personally encountered anti-Semitism in his inquiry into problems at the Liverpool Riverside constituency party.

Liverpool Riverside’s MP is Louise Ellman.

Panorama makes it clear that she is Jewish.

ELLMAN 3

LOUISE ELLMAN 
DAME LOUISE Ellman resigned from the Labour Party last month citing worries about anti-Semitism and opposition to Jeremy Corbyn as Leader. In 2019 the Jerusalem Post ranked her the world’s 23rd most influential Jew and the Times of Israel called her an “unabashed friend of Israel.” 
Photo: BBC

After Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader new members joined the party and there was inevitable friction between the old guard and the new members.

One of the newcomers was pensioner Helen Marks who is Jewish.

At the April 2016 constituency meeting there was a discussion about anti-Semitism.

Louise Ellman had said it was on the rise.

Marks suggested that any increase might be due in part to the actions of Israel over the Palestinian issue.

In making this remark, she had in mind a survey by the Community Security Trust which recorded a 500 per cent spike in anti-Semitism incidents following Israel’s actions in Gaza in 2014.

A few days later, an ally of Louise Ellman’s complained that this remark was anti-Semitic.

Labour held an investigation into what was happening in the constituency — and sent Ben Westerman from HQ’s disputes team to investigate.

In November 2016 Westerman interviewed Helen Marks who was accompanied by another elderly Jewish member known only as “R”.

“R” was present as a “silent friend” of Helen Marks.

(Press Gang knows the identity of “R” but has accepted her request to remain anonymous.)

In the Panorama programme reporter John Ware says of Westerman:

While interviewing one member he was confronted with the very anti-Semitism he’d been investigating.

Immediately after Ware’s comment, Ben Westerman told viewers:

WESTERMAN SCREENSHOT

BEN WESTERMAN 
THE LABOUR Party investigator sent to Liverpool to find out what was happening in Louise Ellman’s Riverside constituency. Although he claimed in the Panorama programme to have been the victim of anti-Semitism, his official Labour Party report did not mention the incident. Press Gang has attempted to contact Westerman — but he seems to have disappeared … 
Photo: BBC

We finished the interview, the person got up to leave the room and then turned back to me and said where are you from?

And I said what do you mean, where am I from ?

And she said I asked you where are you from?

And I said I’m not prepared to discuss this.

They said are you from Israel? 

What can you say to that?

You’re assumed to be in cahoots with the Israeli government, it’s this obsession with that that just spills over all the time into anti-Semitism.

Leaving aside the obvious question — how does asking if someone comes from Israel possibly be anti-Semitic? — there’s a more fundamental question.

Did this exchange actually happen?

A transcript of Ben Westerman’s interview with Helen Marks and “R” has since emerged.

There’s a section which is remarkably similar to the version Westerman gave Panorama — but with two important differences. 

One is that the exchange takes place during the interview.

And the other is that Israel is not mentioned. 

This is the exchange from the transcript.

Helen Marks to “R” : Ok. R, do you want to…?

R: No, I’m just curious cos I haven’t been in the Labour Party for very long and I certainly haven’t been to anything like this informal interview before, erm, so I’m just curious, just, like what branch are you in?

Ben Westerman (BW): I don’t think that’s relevant.

R: Oh, ok.

BW: I hope that’s ok — I’m sorry I just don’t think, I don’t think where I’m from is at all relevant to the investigation…

R: Yeah, I just, I just misunderstood, I thought the investigation bit about me not being a silent witness was…

BW: No, no it is, you’re more than welcome to ask questions, but I reserve the right to not answer them and I feel that’s a, that’s a question about my personal situation which I don’t think is relevant to the situation in Liverpool Riverside.

R: Oh. No, it might not be. Just but, it might be interesting.

BW: I’m, I’m not prepared to discuss my, my address, basically.

R: Mmm.

Despite the Editorial Guidelines requiring that reporting should be “well sourced, based on sound evidence, and corroborated,” John Ware accepted Westerman’s evidence at face value.

He doesn’t seem to have felt the need to check the story.

Helen Marks told Press Gang yesterday that no-one from Panorama contacted her to ask for her side of the story.

Ben Westerman was unavailable for comment. 

Yesterday, we asked John Ware, Panorama and the BBC to comment.

A spokeswoman told us: 

We will not be responding further than our statement which we have previously given you:

The BBC stands by its journalism and we completely reject any accusations of bias or dishonesty.

The Panorama programme explored a topic of undoubted public interest, broadcasting powerful and disturbing testimonies from party members who’d suffered anti-Semitic abuse.”

♦♦♦

FURTHER ARTICLES are in preparation. 

Support this campaign by clicking on the crowdfunded link here

♦♦♦

NOTE
1 Paddy French declares an interest in this issue. A life-long Labour voter, he joined the party after Jeremy Corbyn was elected Leader.
2 Much of this article is based on the work of others including The Canary, Electronic Intifada, Vox Political and Jewish Voice for Labour.
3  This article was amended on 8 December 2019 to include a statement from Jewish Voice for Labour. 

♦♦♦
Published: 2 November 2019
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

NEXT
INDICTMENT
PRESS GANG has asked Ofcom for permission to submit a complaint about the Panorama programme. No reply has yet been received. But in this article we lay out the skeleton argument for why we believe this edition of Panorama breached Ofcom’s broadcasting code over and over again.
(This was published on 8 December 2019, read it here.)

♦♦♦

CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

IS THE BBC ANTI-LABOUR?

October 27, 2019

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THE BROADCASTING regulator Ofcom has begun an investigation into the BBC Panorama programme Is Labour Anti-Semitic?

It’s received 17 complaints claiming the broadcast was biased against the Labour Party.

These are all that remain of the 1,593 complaints made in the days after the programme was shown on July 10.

The Corporation dismissed them all:

The BBC stands by its journalism and we completely reject any accusations of bias or dishonesty. 

Press Gang has asked Ofcom for permission to submit a complaint without going through the BBC complaints regime. 

Our analysis finds the programme was rogue journalism:

— it broke the BBC’s editorial guidelines

— it broke Ofcom’s broadcasting code which is based on the 2003 Communications Act

— it was, therefore, unlawful.

Today Press Gang also starts a long series of articles exposing the deliberate and premeditated “bias and dishonesty” at the heart of this broadcast.

And work has begun to gather this material into a major report entitled Is The BBC AntiLabour?

Here’s the cover.

BBC_cover_08_b

We’ve launched a crowdfunder appeal to help pay for the report.

The link is here.

(The site asks for a donation to other causes: put in £0 if you don’t want to do this.)

There has been considerable criticism of this programme.

Labour said the broadcast was an “authored polemic” by Panorama reporter John Ware.

It was “an overtly one-sided intervention in political controversy by the BBC”.

John Ware told the Jewish Chronicle: “If Labour wants a fight, bring it on.” 

♦♦♦

IN THE eleven days after the Panorama broadcast on Wednesday, July 10 the BBC’s complaints service received 1,593 complaints.

These are recorded in the Corporation’s fortnightly complaints bulletin covering the period 8 – 21 July.

This states that the “main issue” viewers had with the programme was “bias against the Labour Party.”

It adds that the 1,593 complaints were received “after an invitation to complain was posted online.”

Press Gang asked if there had been any additional complaints.

The Corporation declined to answer.

However, the broadcasting regulator Ofcom told Press Gang on Friday it had received a further 38 complaints directly.

Ofcom told these complainants they had to go through the BBC system first.

The initial batch of 1,593 complaints were dealt with by the BBC’s Audiences Services department.

This is stage 1 of the BBC complaints system.

All were rejected.

The BBC does not publish the reasons why — and declined to give Press Gang any further details.

A spokeswoman told us: “we are not commenting on this.”

However, the rejection is likely to be similar to a statement issued a few days after the broadcast:

The BBC stands by its journalism and we completely reject any accusations of bias or dishonesty.

Wednesday’s Panorama programme explored a topic of undoubted public interest, broadcasting powerful and disturbing testimonies from party members who’d suffered anti-Semitic abuse.

This response did not satisfy some complainants.

Screen Shot 2019-10-06 at 13.40.34

At least 46 appealed the initial decision to the second stage of the system, the Executive Complaints Unit.

All were rejected — 34 in September and a further 12 in October.

Again, the Corporation declined to give details of its rulings.

Seventeen of these 46 viewers have now taken their complaint to Ofcom.

On its main complaints page the BBC lists “recent public responses to issues of wide audience concern.”

It includes, for example, a complaint about BBC Two’s Politics Live programme on September 27.

Complaints were made that the right wing commentator Brendan O’Neill had been allowed to say that he was “amazed that there haven’t been riots yet” over Brexit.

The Executive Complaints Unit rejected the complaints saying programme makers could not know in advance what O’Neill was going to say.

Nevertheless, the Corporation decided this was an issue of “wide audience concern”.

Is Labour Anti-Semitic? was broadcast after the Politics Live programme yet there’s no mention of it.

It seems the BBC does not consider alleged bias against the Labour Party to be an issue of “wide audience concern.”

♦♦♦

The Press Gang complaint about the Panorama programme is a comprehensive one.

It’s rare that complainants, no matter how well prepared, make a detailed submission.

In this case, Press Gang also brings an extra dimension.

In the Press Gang letter to Ofcom, editor Paddy French explains that he’d been a television current affairs producer for many years.

He cites one example where Panorama used filming and editing techniques to dramatically enhance the contribution from a woman called Ella Rose.

Viewers were given the impression that she was an ordinary Jewish member of the Labour Party.

In fact, she’s an important figure in Jewish Labour politics. 

She was the Director of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) at the time it reported the Labour Party to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission claiming it was “institutionally anti-Semitic.”

Before that Rose was a Public Affairs Officer at the Israeli Embassy in London.  

Panorama reporter John Ware did not share this information with viewers.

This is what French told Ofcom: 

In the Panorama programme Ella Rose addresses the audience directly, looking into the camera, for 42 seconds.

There is no sense of a reporter being present. 

ELLA ROSE

ELLA ROSE
THE JEWISH Labour activist was a provocative choice for Panorama reporter John Ware to choose as the opening witness of his programme. Viewers were led to believe she was an ordinary Jewish Labour member, suffering from anti-Semitism in the party. But she’s also highly controversial — a leading figure in the Jewish Labour Movement, seen by critics as a pro-Israeli pressure group opposed to Jeremy Corbyn. She also featured in the dramatic Aljazeera programme The Lobby in 2017 which examined clandestine attempts by the Israeli Embassy in London to influence Labour Party policy. Undercover footage caught Rose threatening to take out a fellow Labour activist using martial arts techniques developed by the Israeli army. Ofcom rejected her complaint against the Aljazeera programme.
Photo: BBC

The essence of her testimony is that she wouldn’t advise any Jewish friend to go to a Labour Party meeting: “I couldn’t do that to someone I cared about.”

Her testimony is broken into discrete elements — and after each segment, Panorama deploys the editing technique of fading to black.

This is a traditional device used by broadcasters as a dramatic way to underline the significance of what has just been said: it introduces a visual pause allowing the viewer to reflect on the significance of what they’ve just heard.

Normally it is used sparingly. In Ella Rose’s case it is used three times and, combined with her addressing the audience directly, makes for dramatic television.

Panorama used Rose to open the programme.

Her testimony set the tone for the rest of the programme — she was one of ten apparently ordinary Jewish Labour members who had suffered anti-Semitism.

All were filmed in the same way, giving their evidence direct to the viewer.

None of them were captioned on screen.

John Ware also concealed the fact that all of them are substantial figures in Labour’s Jewish community.

And that eight of them are, or have been, officers of the Jewish Labour Movement.

John Ware, Panorama and the BBC have been made aware of this article.

Ella Rose was also informed and given the opportunity to respond.

She chose not to do so.  

♦♦♦

OVER THE next couple of days and weeks Press Gang will publish a series of articles about the Panorama programme.

BBC v Ofcom

This examines the forthcoming battle between the BBC and Ofcom.

Ofcom’s investigation poses a serious threat to the Corporation.

If the regulator finds the BBC did breach its code, then the BBC’s reputation will suffer a major setback.

The jobs of Director General Tony Hall and chairman Sir David Clementi may be at risk.

There will be enormous political pressure on Ofcom to find a way to protect the BBC.

Will it hold firm?

Indictment

This article lays out the Press Gang charge sheet against Panorama.

BAN NEWS FOR LABOUR - COVER

PREJUDICE
THE PANORAMA programme encouraged the widespread conviction that anti-Semitism in Labour is worse than it actually is. The authors of Bad News For Labour, published by Pluto Press, commissioned a survey by the polling company Survation in March 2019. It found that, of those who knew anything about the subject, most believed anti-Semitism complaints had been made against a third of Labour Party members. In fact, actual complaints involve less than one per cent of the membership. The BBC declined to tell Press Gang how many people watched the Panorama programme: “we are not obliged to provide you with the programme viewing figures,” a spokeswoman told us. 
Photo: Pluto Press

We find that reporter John Ware’s journalism fell far short of the standards the BBC claims to stand for.

The programme asked the question — is Labour anti-Semitic? 

Having posed the question, Ware, Panorama and the BBC were duty-bound to present an impartial and accurate assessment of both sides of the controversy.

Only one side was presented — and viewers were given little alternative but to conclude that Labour was “institutionally anti-Semitic.”

Script

The BBC does not make scripts available.

As a service to readers, Press Gang has prepared its own, annotated script of the full 59 minute programme.

Panorama’s Case 

This article sets out the Panorama defence to the charge of bias and dishonesty.

♦♦♦

Further articles are in preparation. 

♦♦♦

NOTE
Paddy French declares an interest in this issue. A life-long Labour voter, he joined the party after Jeremy Corbyn was elected Leader.

♦♦♦
Published: 27 October 2019
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

NEXT
BBC v OFCOM
THE BBC has failed to realise it now operates in a radically different regulatory environment. For nearly a century it policed itself — essentially acting as judge and jury in its own case. But in April 2017 it came under the jurisdiction of Ofcom, one of Britain’s most powerful statutory regulators. Already — in the Naga Munchetty complaint over President’s Trump’s racism — Ofcom has signalled its disapproval over the lack of transparency in the BBC complaints system. Now published — read it here.

♦♦♦

CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

THE SHAME OF ANDREW NORFOLK — PART 4: THE IPSO FACTOR

June 25, 2019

Norfolk_series_head_04

THIS ARTICLE examines the way IPSO — the self-styled Independent Press Standards Organisation — has handled articles involving Andrew Norfolk.

The piece is currently in production but has been delayed to take account of its role in the Just Yorkshire affair which has just been published.

Just Yorkshire was a small human rights charity which was destroyed by a series of article written by Andrew Norfolk.

For the full story, see A Champion of Fake News.

THE SHAME OF ANDREW NORFOLK — PART 5: A CHAMPION OF FAKE NEWS

May 30, 2019

Norfolk_series_head_5c

IN JULY last year the chief investigative reporter of the Times published another of his sensational exposés from the “dark side” of Britain’s Muslim community.

Andrew Norfolk’s target was a small Rotherham-based racial justice charity, Just Yorkshire, some of whose trustees are Muslims.

The award-winning Norfolk told readers how one of the charity’s reports led to death threats against Rotherham’s Labour MP Sarah Champion.

It wasn’t true.

Three months later, and after Press Gang intervened on behalf of the charity, the Times dramatically withdrew Norfolk’s allegation.

In a letter from one of its lawyers, the paper admitted “no death threats … were attributable to the report”. 

It was fake news — published on the front page of a paper that once claimed to be “Britain’s Most Trusted National Newspaper”.

Before Norfolk and the Times got to work on its reputation, Just Yorkshire had never received abuse on its website.

Now there was a steady stream, including death threats. 

One of these read:

“Filthy inbred Muslim cunts. We’re going to kill you all. Britain first.”  

The charity was forced to close. 

This new scandal follows Norfolk’s now notorious “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care” investigation of 2017. 

Norfolk was exposed as a rogue reporter after the judiciary confronted his false narrative.

The court released documents which revealed that the so-called Christian girl at the centre of the story was the daughter of a woman whose parents are practising Muslims. 

For much of her life, the little girl was brought up by her grandparents — in a Turkish household of practising Muslims.

(This story has been told in the first three parts of The Shame Of Andrew Norfolk: see, for example, Retribution.)

Now comes the fake “death threats” story … 

♦♦♦

On 25 July 2018 the Times launched a campaign claiming the racial justice charity Just Yorkshire had put the life of the MP Sarah Champion in danger.

Over a four day period the paper published seven articles criticising the charity.

It was a typical Andrew Norfolk investigation — the initial front page article was buttressed by two further articles.

An editorial made it clear the Times backed its chief investigative reporter to the hilt. 

The issue was kept alive the next day with another front page article and a comment piece by columnist David Aaronovitch.

image

A “SLIP”, AN “ERROR”, A “MISTAKE” …
THE DRAMATIC front page article written by Andrew Norfolk in July 2018 which claimed the Just Yorkshire report led to death threats against the MP Sarah Champion. On Christmas Eve 2018 the Times buried a 69-word paragraph on page 24 admitting there was no truth in the allegation. Lawyers for the paper privately described the allegation as a “slip”, an “error”, a “mistake”.

The campaign came to an end with a front page story on July 29. 

By then the 16-year-old charity’s reputation was in tatters — its funders were backing away and its only employee would soon be made redundant.  

Norfolk’s first article was headed:

Terror police boost MP’s security for MP over criticism of Asian sex gangs

It continued on page 7 under the headline:

Security stepped up after scathing report led to death threats

The first two paragraphs stated:

An MP who received death threats after condemning the sexual abuse of girls by groups of British Pakistani men has been given increased security amid fears that hard-left and Muslim opponents are trying to force her from office.

Sarah Champion was accused by activists in her Rotherham constituency of “industrial-scale racism” for highlighting the “common ethnic heritage” of most of those implicated in the town’s sex-grooming scandal.

There were, in fact, two strands to Norfolk’s “Terror police” story.

The first was the allegation made against Just Yorkshire.

The second was an exposé of an alleged plot by Muslim Labour Party members in Rotherham to unseat Sarah Champion.

This second strand is discussed later in this piece.  

Norfolk attempted to create a link between these two separate elements but was unable to find any evidence.

Instead, he lumped the alleged plotters with Just Yorkshire branding both as critics of the MP. 

In his article, Andrew Norfolk claimed that Just Yorkshire was a major opponent of the MP:

The strongest public attacks on Ms Champion, who campaigns for the victims of child sexual exploitation, have been made by a Rotherham-based racial justice charity, Just Yorkshire.

The charity’s leader has accused the MP of “industrial scale racism” and “inciting and inviting hatred against minorities”. 

Norfolk added that a report co-authored by Nadeem Murtuja, interim director of Just Yorkshire:

… said that British Pakistanis felt “scapegoated, dehumanised and potentially criminalised” by their MP, who had “crossed a point of no return”.

The Just Yorkshire report had examined the impact of a controversial Sun article by Sarah Champion in August 2017 on the town’s 7,600-strong Asian community.

Champion’s article was headed “British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls … and it’s time we faced up to it”.

The MP, who was Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities at the time, wrote:

There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?

Champion was heavily criticised for the piece and later admitted it “should not have gone out in my name and I apologise that it did.” 

She resigned from the shadow cabinet a few days later.

Just Yorkshire’s report on the local impact of her article was published seven months later, in March 2018.

SARAH CHAMPION

SARAH CHAMPION
THE LABOUR MP for Rotherham plays a key role in Andrew Norfolk’s articles on Just Yorkshire. When Norfolk revealed that police increased her security in July 2018 after she received death threats, she declined to comment. But after the Times admitted there were no death threats and Just Yorkshire complained to the press watchdog IPSO, she sent the Times an email confirming that her security had been increased as a result of the charity’s report. She has not responded to requests by Press Gang to provide the evidence for this.

Norfolk wrote:

Its foreword accused her of “fanning the flames of racial hatred” and acting like a “neo-fascist murderer”.

He noted that “Ms Champion apologised to the Rotherham Pakistani community ‘for any hurt or adverse reaction I inadvertently caused’, but said that Just Yorkshire’s findings were ‘based on an extremely limited survey, distributed through networks not made in any way clear in the report’.”

Norfolk added:

The Times understands that the report led to death threats against Ms Champion. Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism unit increased her security risk level and she was advised to accept extra protection. The MP declined to comment.

Readers of the Times will have thought this was a charity run by Muslims whose extreme views had endangered the life of the town’s MP.

Three months later the Times, after the intervention of Press Gang and facing the threat of legal action, backed down.

The paper’s legal department admitted: 

 … the death threats made against Ms Champion since the report was published have not been directly linked to the report …

♦♦♦

FOR INTERIM director Nadeem Murtuja and the trustees of Just Yorkshire, the onslaught from Andrew Norfolk and the Times came as a complete shock.

A week before his first article, Norfolk had rung Murtuja and told him about the alleged plot to unseat Sarah Champion.

“He’d also been told that one of these plotters, a local Labour councillor, had been at the launch of our report,” said Murtuja, a former senior council official in Doncaster.

“I told him this wasn’t true: whoever told him that was mistaken. It’s clear Norfolk was trying to make a connection between the councillor and Just Yorkshire’s report.”

“But Norfolk didn’t mention anything about our report leading to death threats against Sarah Champion — that came as a bolt out of the blue.” 

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NADEEM MURTUJA
THE FORMER council official took over the running of Just Yorkshire in 2017. Andrew Norfolk rang him and asked if he was a practising Muslim (he is) but never told him he was going to write an article claiming the charity’s report had led to death threats against Sarah Champion. 

For several weeks the charity, formed in the wake of the Bradford riots of 2001, watched as its reputation crumbled.

Formally known as Just West Yorkshire, the charity had been set up with the support of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust in 2003.

Funders distanced themselves and abuse began appearing on its website.

One said: 

“Soon will come a crusade and all Muslims will be butchered. Britain First”

And another:

“Filthy inbred Muslim cunts. We’re going to kill you all. Britain first.”  

On the day the Times campaign against Just Yorkshire drew to a close — 29 July 2018 — Press Gang released the first part of its damning analysis of Norfolk’s Muslim fostering care articles.

This was the first anniversary of Norfolk’s notorious Muslim foster care article .

Norfolk had accused the London borough of Tower Hamlets of forcing a Christian child to live with Muslim foster carers. 

In fact, the mother of the child was the daughter of practising Muslims from Turkey  — and the grandparents had also looked after the little girl for much of her life. 

Press Gang concluded that Andrew Norfolk was a journalist who did not let the facts stand in the way of a sensational story.

The chief investigative reporter of the Times, we noted, had won many awards: 

But among many thoughtful journalists, concerned at the rising tide of Islamophobia in some British newspapers, Norfolk’s role in the “Christian child” saga is chilling.

They cannot understand how a dedicated and courageous reporter could lower his standards to produce a series so one-sided it qualifies as rogue journalism.

When the Times published Norfolk’s sensational “Terror police boost security for MP Sarah Champion over criticism of Asian sex gangs” article, Press Gang was not willing to accept it at face value.

We spoke to Nadeem Murtuja.

He told us Norfolk had twisted the facts to fit what Just Yorkshire considered to be an anti-Muslim narrative. 

He said that when the “Temperature Report” was published on 15 March 2018, it attracted no national publicity and only BBC local radio and the magazine Big Issue North reported its findings.

Press Gang persuaded Nadeem Murtuja and the trustees of Just Yorkshire to join forces with the website.

An alliance was in the interests of both parties.

For Just Yorkshire, Press Gang had expertise: a year-long investigation into the Muslim foster care case meant we had an insight into how Norfolk operated.

We had drafted the only comprehensive complaint to the press watchdog IPSO against the paper’s Muslim foster care coverage.

We also had access to legal advice from leading libel lawyers. 

For Press Gang, Just Yorkshire was an important case study.

Unlike Tower Hamlets, which had been reluctant to take on the Times, Just Yorkshire had nothing to lose. 

Unlike Tower Hamlets, which reluctantly submitted a weak complaint to IPSO, Just Yorkshire were determined to make a full complaint.

Unlike Tower Hamlets, which was extremely nervous about briefing journalists, Just Yorkshire was willing to share everything.

Throughout September and the early part of October, Just Yorkshire and Press Gang carried out a detailed examination of the seven articles which Andrew Norfolk and the Times had published. 

The analysis showed Andrew Norfolk resorted to his tried and tested technique of purgeanddeceive in order to create his sensational campaign … 

♦♦♦

NORFOLK STARTED by leaving out the title of the Just Yorkshire report from his first article on July 25.

It’s called “A Temperature Check Report: understanding and assessing the impact of Rotherham MP, Sarah Champion ‘s comments in the Sun newspaper on 10 August 2017″.

The reason why Norfolk left out the title was because, although the report was critical of Champion, it did so with restraint. 

Norfolk purged the title in order to justify the headline “Security stepped up after scathing report led to death threats” and deceive readers about the measured nature of the report. 

Throughout the entire four days’ coverage of the issue, the Times did not once mention the title of the report. 

Next, Norfolk completely purged his account of a section in the introduction to the report which cautioned readers about the limits of the report.

Just Yorkshire agreed to produce the report “subject to the following provisos”:

A  That this report is nothing more than a temperature check report that is only focusing on one segment of the local community.

B  That the atmosphere that exists in Rotherham cannot be directly attributed to Ms Sarah Champion’s comments; and

C  In that context, it is very difficult to assess if the impact of Ms Sarah Champion’s comments has directly resulted in an increase in racism, Islamophobia or community tensions etc. This can only be determined by South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council through their community tensions monitoring processes;

D  Therefore, this report is a temperature check report at best – providing the local Pakistani community a platform to respond directly to Ms. Sarah Champion’s comments and have their voice heard. 

E  To acknowledge that Ms Sarah Champion should be commended for the invaluable support she has provided to some victims of the CSE [Child Sexual Exploitation] scandal.

Norfolk left out these qualifications in order to deceive his readers who might have wondered how a report prepared on this basis could possibly lead to death threats and increased security for Sarah Champion. 

Norfolk used the same techniques when it came to the major charges he levelled against Just Yorkshire: that it accused Champion of “industrial-scale racism”, of “fanning the flames of racial hatred” and of acting like a “neo-fascist murderer”.

Take the charge that Just Yorkshire accused the MP of “industrial scale racism”.

This is what Norfolk wrote:

Sarah Champion was accused by activists in her Rotherham constituency of “industrial-scale racism” for highlighting the “common ethnic heritage” of most of those implicated in the town’s sex-grooming scandal.

Again, Norfolk deceives his readers by saying that Just Yorkshire was criticising Just Yorkshire for “highlighting the ‘common ethnic heritage’ of those involved in the grooming cases”. 

Andrew Norfolk

PURGE AND DECEIVE
ANDREW NORFOLK is one of Britain’s most decorated journalists: his work on Asian sex gangs won him both the Paul Foot Award and a share of the Orwell Prize. But his recent investigations into issues involving Britain’s Muslim community have drawn criticism from many quarters. Press Gang has condemned his purge-and-deceive strategy: purging important facts and twisting others to deceive his readers. Even the press-controlled watchdog, IPSO, has found some of his articles breached the editors’ code of journalistic practice. 
Photo: Graham Turner for the Guardian

This is what the charity actually said:  

To attempt to define the issue of child sexual abuse / grooming along ethnic lines, and to see the Pakistani community through the prism of paedophilia and criminality is frankly racist — or even claiming there is something inherent in their heritage is bordering on industrial scale racism.

The charity wasn’t criticising Champion for pointing out that most of those convicted of child sexual exploitation were of Pakistani-heritage — it was criticising her for saying that all men of a Pakistani background were potential abusers. 

Norfolk then deceives his readers by selecting “industrial scale racism” from the larger quotation and leaving out the words, “bordering on”, in order to make it look more extreme. 

There was an even more serious deception: readers had no way of knowing that the “industrial scale racism” quote doesn’t even appear in the “Temperature Check” report of March 2018. 

It actually comes from the press release Just Yorkshire released on the day after Sarah Champion’s Sun article was published back in August 2017. 

But, while he was selecting what he considered to be a damaging quote, Norfolk purged his account of a highly significant statement in this press release. 

Just Yorkshire said:

“We condemn any form of threat made towards Sarah Champion for speaking out — and we urge local enforcement agencies to provide the maximum protection.”  

And when Norfolk says the charity accuses Sarah Champion of “fanning the flames of racial hatred” he purges his article of the fact that Champion had condemned her own article of doing exactly that.

In the days after her Sun article appeared Champion claimed the paper made “the headline and opening sentences highly inflammatory and they could be taken to vilify an entire community on the basis of race, religion or country of origin”.

The MP said she did not write the headline or opening sentences, which were “stripped of any nuance about the complex issue of grooming gangs, which have exploited thousands in my constituency”.

The Sun hit back, saying “Sarah Champion’s column, as it appeared on Friday, was approved by her team and her adviser twice contacted us thereafter to say she was ‘thrilled’ with the piece and ‘it looked great’.’

A spokesperson added:

Indeed, her only objection after the article appeared was her belief that her picture byline looked unflattering. Her office submitted five new photos.

Champion admitted: “The article should not have gone out in my name and I apologise that it did”.

She resigned as shadow equalities minister.

Norfolk also stated that the foreword of the “Temperature Check” report accused Sarah Champion of “acting like a ‘neo-fascist murderer’.”

But once again, he deceives his readers by stripping this provocative quote of its context.  

The preface — not foreword as Norfolk says — was written by the respected West Indian academic Professor Gus John. 

TEMPERATURE CHECK 2

TEMPERATURE CHECK
THE FRONT cover of Just Yorkshire’s report. Andrew Norfolk did not share with his readers the title for fear it might alert them to the care with which it was prepared.  Although Andrew Norfolk’s articles suggested Just Yorkshire is a Muslim charity, it was in fact run for nearly ten years by a Buddhist: the Singapore-born civil rights activist Ratna Lachman. She died of cancer in 2017 and was replaced as interim director by Nadeem Murtuja. The charity has three trustees, all of them women. Zaiban Alam is a barrister. Zlakha Ahmed, MBE is the chief executive of the organisation Apna Haq which helps domestic violence victims, including those from ethnic communities. Both Alam and Ahmed are practising Muslims. The third trustee, Leila Taleb, a human rights consultant, is an atheist. 
Photo: Just Yorkshire

He wrote that one of the reasons why Sarah Champion’s article was so offensive to Rotherham’s Muslims was that it was published on the second anniversary of a tragedy that shook the town.

In September 2015 two white thugs attacked an 81-year-old Yemeni man Muhsin Ahmed on his way to a local mosque for morning prayers.  

As they set about him, they asked if he was a “groomer” — that is, one of the men who had abused young girls in the town. 

Ahmed was so badly beaten that he later died of his injuries. The two attackers were subsequently gaoled.  

Gus John noted:

Here was a Member of Parliament, a Labour MP, whom the Ahmed family and the Pakistani community had a right to expect to conduct herself differently, effectively doing exactly what the neo-fascist murderers of their loved ones [sic] had done, motivated as they were by hatred of Muslim / Pakistani men, as a collective, for sexual exploitation of white girls.

Andrew Norfolk states that John was accusing Champion of “acting like a ‘neo-fascist murderer’,” when John was actually saying was that she was doing what the two murderers had done — assuming that all Pakistani-heritage men were potential groomers.

And, once again, Norfolk deceived his readers by tampering with the quotation.

He changed the meaning of the words “neo-fascist murderers” by reducing the plural “murderers” to the singular “murderer”.

If he had left the quote as it really was, readers might have wondered how Sarah Champion could possibly act as two murderers at the same time.

Norfolk’s opening report of 25 July 2018 was a classic example of his purge and deceive method of working.

♦♦♦

NORFOLK’S DRAMATIC front page article of July 25 was backed up by two other pieces on the same day.

Norfolk wrote a piece supporting Sarah Champion’s stand on the issue.

It was headlined “MP faced fury for stand on sex gangs”.

Norfolk  wrote:

Sarah Champion incurred the wrath of many on the political left when she told readers of the Sun that the country “has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls”.

He did not mention the fact that Champion had condemned her own article.

He also deceived readers when he claimed:

Nowhere in the [Just Yorkshire] report was it acknowledged that the MP stressed in her [Sun] article that in highlighting the ethnicity factor she was referring to a specific model of child abuse, the grooming and exploitation of “mainly white pubescent girls” by organised groups of men.

This is false. 

On page 11 of the “Temperature Check” report it states that in her Sun article Champion “described the perpetrators of the abuse as predators, working in gangs, and said that their common denominator was their ethnic heritage, namely British Pakistani. She identified their victims as ‘mainly white pubescent girls who were being sexually abused’.”

Another piece criticised the Joseph Rowntree charitable trust for supporting Just Yorkshire for much of its sixteen years existence. 

On August 25, the day that Andrew Norfolk makes the “death threats” accusation, the Times devoted one of its leading articles to the case.

It was headed “True Champion”.

It stated that “Rotherham’s MP deserves support for speaking out on sexual abuse”.  

It began with the role of the Rowntree trust. It acknowledged that it had done good work in social policy and housing but noted: 

That makes it all the more disappointing that it should be implicated in the saga in which the Labour MP for Rotherham, Sarah Champion, has received death threats for condemning the sexual abuse of girls by Pakistani men.

It said that Sarah Champion’s protection “has had to be increased”, adding: 

With the murder of the MP JO Cox still fresh in the memory, it is appalling that a local representative should need police protection.

It ended by saying that:

When Ms Champion told the Sun that Britain “has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls” she was doing no more than stating a truth. And unless the truth is confronted, the danger is that abuse will be repeated. She is, as her name suggests, a champion of her constituents.

The campaign against Just Yorkshire continued the next day with another front page article by Norfolk.

This time it concerned a private, undated letter Tory Home Secretary Sajid Javid had written to Champion and which she published on her website.

The headline was “Javid orders research into ethnic origin of sex grooming gangs”. 

In fact, the letter outlined research that was already on-going.

Buried deep in the article was the statement that if “there is a need for further research, we will take it forward.”

It was another example of Andrew Norfolk’s purge and deceive technique.

He was trying to give readers the impression that Javid had ordered research, perhaps as a result of his articles. 

The columnist David Aaronovitch also joined the fray with a piece headed “Criticising Muslims doesn’t make you a racist: activists who have denounced Rotherham’s MP are trying to shut down debate about real problems in their community.”  

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 10.08.34

RAMPED
TIMES COLUMNIST David Aaronovitch joined in the attack on Just Yorkshire. On 26 July 2018 he wrote that “accusations of racism against Ms Champion and consequent threats to her on social media had been ramped up” by Just Yorkshire’s report. Press Gang wrote to Aaronovitch and asked him for the social media evidence that backed up this claim. He did not reply …

Aaronovitch wrote:

Yesterday we revealed that accusations of racism against Ms Champion and consequent threats to her on social media had been ramped up by a report published by a so-called racial justice charity [Just Yorkshire].

Two days later the campaign came to an end when Just Yorkshire was mentioned in a front page article by Norfolk. 

This was another attack on the Joseph Rowntree charitable trust for funding peace groups in Northern Ireland which allegedly had links to terrorists.

There were two paragraphs about the charity’s funding of Just Yorkshire.

The Times reported this week that the trust, a Quaker organisation, had given £550,000 to a group that accused a Labour MP of “industrial-scale racism” for highlighting the sexual abuse of girls by gangs of British Pakistani men.

Norfolk did not tell his readers that this sum had been spread over many years. 

Michelle Russell, the Charity Commission’s director of investigations and enforcement, said yesterday that it had opened an investigation into Just Yorkshire for its attack on Sarah Champion, the MP for Rotherham. “We are examining the administration of the charity and scrutinising some of its activities,” she said.

This was misleading.

The Charity Commission told Press Gang it had received complaints about Just Yorkshire — including one about the “Temperature Check” report — but that these had been received before Norfolk’s articles were published.

The Charity Commission also confirmed that it had not used the word “attack” in its press statement.

The Commission added that it had asked Just Yorkshire for its comments on the Times coverage.

A spokesman told Press Gang it was still considering the issue.

The result of the campaign by Andrew Norfolk and the Times against Just Yorkshire was devastating.

Funders pulled back and income dried up. 

The charity made its only employee, the interim director Nadeem Murtuja, redundant in January this year and told the Charities Commission it has decided to close.

♦♦♦

BY MID-OCTOBER last year, Just Yorkshire and Press Gang were ready to hit back at Andrew Norfolk and the Times

A nine page letter was sent to the editor of the Times, John Witherow, to say that the  articles about the charity were defamatory.

The letter, dated 16 October 2018, challenged the paper to provide the evidence that proved the “Temperature Check” report had led to death threats against Sarah Champion.

WITHEROW

JOHN WITHEROW
THIS ISN’T the first time Times editor John Witherow has been investigated by Press Gang over his attitude to Muslim issues. In 2012, when he was editor of the Sunday Times, the paper published a front page article written by the now-disgraced News of the World investigations editor Mazher Mahmood and reporter Eleanor Mills. The piece accused a Muslim dentist of being willing to perform female genital mutilation (FGM). The police investigation collapsed when it turned out that an undercover associate of Mahmood’s may have “prostituted” herself in order to persuade the dentist to carry out the procedure. Police founded no evidence the dentist was involved in FGM. See Withering Heights for the full, sordid story. 
Photo: PA

The response from the Times could not have been more dramatic. 

On November 5, Kirsty Howarth, a senior editorial lawyer at Times Newspapers Ltd which owns the Times, wrote to say:

 … the death threats made against Ms Champion since the report was published have not been directly linked to the report …

The Times was admitting that the allegation about death threats — the single most important element of Andrew Norfolk’s front page of July 25 — was false.

This was a major retreat.

The lawyer did not, however, admit that this was a mistake, nor did she offer an apology.

Indeed, she tried to argue that Norfolk’s first article was not misleading.

“What we in fact understand to be the case is that the publication of the report increased counter-terrorism police’s already significant concerns about Ms Champion’s security ie to a level beyond that which had existed when her life was previously threatened. 

“In light of the severity of those concerns … we do not consider that the article is misleading, but as the Times is a newspaper of record which aims for complete accuracy at all times, it has amended the article online and intends to publish following wording in its Corrections and clarifications column both in the paper and online subject to any reasonable comments you may have …” 

Kirsty Howarth did not provide the evidence which showed Champion’s security was increased as a result of the Just Yorkshire report.

The paragraph the Times was proposing to publish was as follows

Our article about Sarah Champion MP’s security protection being increased (News, 25 July) suggested that a report by the charity Just Yorkshire had led to death threats against Ms Champion. In fact, as was made clear elsewhere in our coverage, whilst the report led police to increase her security protection, no death threats made at that time were attributable to the report. We are happy to make that clear.

Just Yorkshire replied to this letter on November 13.

The charity said the proposed paragraph “is not acceptable, either in terms of content or prominence”.

The letter continued:

When you use the word “suggested” you know full well it is a weasel word.

The article stated bluntly: “The Times understands that the report led to death threats against Ms Champion.”

When this first article continued on page 7, the headline was even blunter: “Security stepped up after scathing report led to death threats”.

The letter noted that proposed paragraph now claimed Andrew Norfolk made it clear “elsewhere” in the article that no death threats were “attributable” to the report. 

Just Yorkshire said “we cannot find any such assertion”.  

The Times did not answer this letter — instead there was a series of phone calls and emails.

TIMES 5 NOV 2018

BOMBSHELL
THE DRAMATIC letter from Times lawyer Kirsty Howarth admitting that neither Andrew Norfolk nor the newspaper had any evidence to back up the sensational allegation that Just Yorkshire’s report had led to death threats against Sarah Champion.

On December 3 Kirsty Howarth emailed to ask:

Are you able to set out for me in concrete terms what the remedy package you consider appropriate would consist of in order that I may instructions?

On December 11, Just Yorkshire submitted two articles for publication — one a short front page apology and an inside news article setting out the charity’s criticism of Andrew Norfolk’s articles. 

The charity also asked for compensation and a letter from editor John Witherow to its principal funders explaining that there had been no death threats as a result of the report. 

On December 21 Howarth emailed to say this proposal had been rejected: 

… the Times editorial independence is sacrosanct and is never used as a bargaining chip in resolving complaints.

She then suggested Just Yorkshire might submit a letter for publication in the paper’s letters page: 

 … but I should warn you that the time that has passed since the articles were published is likely to be relevant here.

On Christmas Eve last year the Times published its 69 word paragraph on the bottom left hand corner of page 24 … 

♦♦♦

MEANWHILE LEGAL advice had been sought about whether Just Yorkshire could sue the Times for defamation.

A libel lawyer told Press Gang it would be risky to bring an action: 

The Times will argue that the article did not say that the report incited people to make threats against Sarah Champion, or that JY [Just Yorkshire] intended or was negligent as to that consequence. It simply says that there was a causal connection.  They will argue that there is no serious criticism of JY, certainly not one which would cause serious harm, in saying that the report led to people doing unintended things …

Since libel actions are expensive, Just Yorkshire decided to put the issue of litigation on hold.

Instead, the charity turned to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, IPSO.

Although it claims to be “independent”, IPSO is funded by Britain’s major newspaper publishers.

One of the most powerful of these groups is Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, owners of the Times, the Sun and the Sunday Times

On January 8 Nadeem Murtuja and the trustees of Just Yorkshire made an official complaint to the watchdog.

Just Yorkshire’s complaint was that the Times had breached the accuracy clause of the Editors’ Code which newspapers sign up to.

image

FAKE NEWS
“IN AN age when world leaders routinely dismiss unwelcome reports a as ‘fake news’, readers need a source they can trust for honest journalism that informs, entertains and analyses without bias. …”
Source: The Times annual IPSO statement, 2017

This states: 

The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.

A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator. 

A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.

Just Yorkshire also claimed that the paper’s coverage broke the discrimination clause which states:

The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

IPSO has few powers and the best Just Yorkshire could hope for was a adjudication that the Times had breached the Editors’ Code

There is no financial redress, the main “punishment” is that the paper might be forced to publish a judgment setting out the breaches. 

IPSO now asked the Times to respond to Just Yorkshire’s complaint. 

When the paper replied on January 25, it had changed its position.

Previously the paper argued that the first Andrew Norfolk article only “suggested” Just Yorkshire’s report led to death threats.

Now its position was that: 

The Times has openly accepted that it was not correct to say … the report ‘led’ to death threats. It regrets the error …

The letter added that the “error” was a “slip”.

However, the paper insisted that there were many other references to death threats in its coverage of Just Yorkshire, the two most important of which “clearly linked the death threats to Ms Champion’s own comments, not to the report”.

It added:

In the light of this, the Times considers it appropriate for the wording [of the paragraph published on 24 December 2018] to have said the article ‘suggested’ that the report led to the death threats and did not consider that the error, though unfortunate, was significant or that it required an apology, though clearly a correction was needed.” 

The paper also gave IPSO more information about its sources for the allegation that concerns about the “Temperature Check” report had contributed to counter-terrorism police providing extra security for Sarah Champion.

The paper: 

… is able to confirm that the information came from trusted and highly reliable and credible sources and it was accurate. The Times has since spoken to Ms Champion who has confirmed that these statements are correct. 

This was another change from the original article which had stated

 The MP declined to comment.

image

MYSTERY AT THE YARD 
METROPOLITAN POLICE Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu is in charge of counter-terrorism policing in England and Wales. His staff officer Nick Bonomini told Just Yorkshire that the Met’s Parliamentary Liaison & Investigation Team “… are not, nor have they, conducted a formal investigation into the report published by [Just Yorkshire].” Another officer later confirmed that the force knew of no death threats which were linked to the report. However, the Met also confirmed that “action had been to safeguard” the MP as a result of the report. Sarah Champion later claimed that the report had led police, who already had “significant concerns” for her safety, to increase her security. Press Gang has been unable to reconcile the contradiction between these two positions. Sarah Champion has declined to answer any of our questions.
Photo: MPS

Now the MP had come out into the open on behalf of Andrew Norfolk and the newspaper. 

The Times denied its coverage discriminated against Nadeem Murtuja and the trustees of Just Yorkshire.The charity’s response to the Times letter was withering.In a letter, dated February 8, it noted that the Times letter only discussed one occasion when the paper said the report “led” to death threats. The charity said: 

It seems to us that whoever wrote this letter is suffering from amnesia. 

The Times was ignoring the fact that when Norfolk’s front page article of July 25 continued to an inside page it carried the headline:

Security stepped up after scathing report led to death threats.

 

Nor was Just Yorkshire impressed with the Times sources who said its report had led to increased security for Sarah Champion:

The obvious riposte to this assertion is that, presumably, these were exactly the same “trusted and highly reliable and credible sources” that told Andrew Norfolk about the death threats. 

Just Yorkshire said these sources were “evidentially worthless”. 

The charity had also cited a previous IPSO ruling, called Solash v The Times, where a complaint against the paper was upheld because it wouldn’t reveal the documentary evidence to back up its source.

Just Yorkshire invited IPSO “to make a similar ruling in this case”.

The charity also welcomed the emergence of Sarah Champion, adding:

… Sarah Champion can now furnish the evidence of increased security that Andrew Norfolk and the Times have failed to provide so far.

Just Yorkshire asked for “tangible evidence (social media records, emails, anonymous letters)” and for details of the discussions with counter-terrorism police “which led to them advising, and her accepting, increased security”. 

The letter continued:

In the circumstances, we cannot see any reason why Sarah Champion should decline to provide the documentary evidence necessary to prove that our report contributed to her being given greater security.
On its own, we are not prepared to accept that Sarah Champion’s word alone is sufficient to prove the Times position that our report contributed to increased security.
We note that Andrew Norfolk and Sarah Champion have been fellow campaigners on the issue of Asian sex gangs for several years.
We further note that Andrew Norfolk has written many articles that feature the MP all of them, as far as we know, supportive of her stand on the Asian sex gangs issue. 


The Times responded to these points in a letter dated February 20.

On Just Yorkshire’s point that the paper had ignored the existence of the headline “Security stepped up after scathing report led to death threats”, the Times was  … completely silent.

The letter now made the highly revealing statement that none of Andrew Norfolk’s sources actually told him about the death threats:

We were not told that the report led to death threats …. That sentence in one of the seven articles was a mistake, as we have acknowledged from the very beginning …

Just Yorkshire responded to these revelations in a letter dated March 1.

The letter asked: 

… how on earth did Andrew Norfolk come to make the “mistake” that led him to declare that “the Times understands that the report led to death threats against Ms Champion”?

What the Times now seems to be suggesting is that he conjured the “mistake” out of thin air ..

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 17.14.50

MORE HYSTERIA, LESS ANALYSIS? 
THE TIMES is currently running TV ads extolling the virtues of its journalism. The ad shows hyenas dominating the benches of the House of Commons, suggesting that MPs are full of hot air — and in need of the calm, analytical approach of the Times

The letter invited IPSO 

… to come to the conclusion that the “death threats” allegation was a deliberate decision by both Andrew Norfolk (who wrote the sentence beginning “The Times understands …”) and the Times (whose sub-editor wrote the page 7 headline) in order to create a damning, malicious and sensational … article …

 

IPSO asked the Times to make any final comments before referring the Just Yorkshire complaint to its Complaints Committee.

When the Times replied, on March 7, it did not provide the evidence Just Yorkshire had asked for which proved that the “Temperature Check” report led to increased security for Sarah Champion.

The letter did, however, include an email from Sarah Champion to the Times.

The MP confirmed that her life had been threatened both before and after the “Temperature Check” report was published.

She added:

… the report’s publication (and its contents) increased counter-terrorism police’s already significant concerns about my security and led to their advice that I should increase my security protection, which duly happened.

I hereby confirm that everything that was stated by the newspaper … is true and entirely accurate.

The Times also added some further information about Andrew Norfolk’s two sources:

The Times journalist involved is an experienced, award-winning journalist. He had multiple conversations with two sources for the point regarding Ms Champion, the report, the threats she had received and her police security.

Both sources are known to the journalist as people of integrity and credibility. The newspaper only knows the identity of one of the sources who it can confirm is of some standing and who it knows to be reliable. 

The paper added:

We can say no more than that the source whose identity is known to the both the paper and journalist has direct knowledge of the security concerns raised by the police in light of the report and the measures implemented as a consequence.

Just Yorkshire also complained about the paragraph the Times had published on Christmas Eve last year.

This stated

Our article about Sarah Champion MP’s security protection being increased (News, 25 July) suggested that a report by the charity Just Yorkshire had led to death threats against Ms Champion. In fact, as was made clear elsewhere in our coverage, whilst the report led police to increase her security protection, no death threats made at that time were attributable to the report. We are happy to make that clear.

The charity argued that this paragraph was inaccurate on three grounds:

— the paper had not “suggested” its report had led to death threats. On two occasions it is stated it as a fact, first when the Times “understands” there were death threats and the second, the headline which stated the “scathing report” led to death threats

— the paper argued that it had made it clear elsewhere in its coverage that the report did not lead to death threats. Just Yorkshire said that the only source of any death threats cited by the paper was its report

—  although the paper acknowledged the “death threats” was a “mistake” and that it “regrets the error”, the paragraph did not apologise.

image

FOR ROTHERHAM … 
WHEN A right wing fascist murdered 50 Muslims at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March, he plastered his magazines with slogans. One of these was marked “For Rotherham”, a reference to the Asian sex gang stories. 

The Times maintained that its paragraph was accurate.

At this point, IPSO concluded its inquiries and complaints and arbitration officer Madelaine Palacz prepared a report which was submitted to IPSO’s Complaints Committee hearing on March 13.

♦♦♦

JUST YORKSHIRE’S complaint was considered by IPSO at a time when the organisation was under fire for not protecting minorities.

On February 28, the campaign group Hacked Off issued an open letter to IPSO calling on it to stop “condoning religious and race-based hate”. 

The letter stated: 

Racist and faith-based attacks against communities are so common in parts of the press that they have become a dangerous normality. It is clear that these attacks encourage the discrimination, harassment and violence suffered by members of minority communities every day.

Yet you have taken no action. In respect of each of the examples cited in this letter, you have not upheld a single complaint. In one entire year, of over 8,000 discrimination complaints, you upheld only one.

By allowing these abuses to go on without sanction you are turning a blind eye to the continuing incitement of hatred.

We write to express our deep dismay and to ask you to address this problem urgently and publicly. While the press must be free to do its job, your implicit condoning of religious and race-based hate must stop.

Among the signatories were the charity War on Want, and cross-party politicians including Baroness Warsi, Keith Vaz, Lord David Alton and Caroline Lucas.

More than 40 others added their names: Steve Coogan, the broadcaster James O’Brien, the barrister Helena Kennedy and the Bishop of St Albans. 

The chair of IPSO, Sir Alan Moses replied:

IPSO rejects the accusation that it condones religious and race-based hate or in any way approves of offensive attacks on groups on the grounds of their beliefs or identity.

Our decisions on discrimination and accuracy make it clear that a finding that there has been no breach of the Editors’ Code does not in any way imply that IPSO approves of what has been written.

The real issue, with which the letter fails to grapple, is how to strike a balance between the freedom of a journalist or newspaper to offend a group while protecting individuals.

As well as making its complaint, Just Yorkshire also wrote to Sir Alan Moses asking the IPSO board to carry out a broad-ranging inquiry into anti-Muslim journalism at the paper. 

This is called a “standards investigation” and IPSO can order one in cases where there is a “serious and systemic” problem.

image

IPSO
IN 2014 the Independent Press Standards Organisation — IPSO — replaced the disgraced Press Complaints Commission (PCC).  The PCC had been swept away by the public revulsion over the hacking of the mobile phone of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. It was the Times stablemate, the News of the World, which had been responsible — and the brand became so toxic that Rupert Murdoch closed it. But despite claims that it is a new and improved press regulator, IPSO remains firmly under the yoke of a mainstream press owned in large part by foreign-based billionaires like Murdoch. Its weakness is demonstrated by the fact that it has not been able to prevent Andrew Norfolk and the Times from publishing distorted articles about Britain’s 2.7 million Muslims.

If found guilty, the newspaper can be fined up to £1 million. 

There have been no standards investigations since IPSO started operations in 2014.

Just Yorkshire pointed out that there were broad similarities between the Muslim foster care case and false allegation that its report led to death threats against Sarah Champion.

Moses wrote back to say that the complaints investigation had not been completed but added:

“I have passed your letter to Charlotte Unwin, Head of Standards, so that the concerns you have raised can be flagged up for our ongoing standards monitoring.”

The Just Yorkshire complaint was considered at a meeting of IPSO’s complaints committee on February 13. 

Two members were unable to attend — former CPS official Nazit Afzal and the black barrister Helyn Mensah. 

As a result, there were no representatives of the Asian community — and no representative of any of the UK’s ethnic minorities. 

♦♦♦

WHEN IPSO sent Just Yorkshire its ruling on March 28, it was clear its complaints committee had bent over backwards to protect the Times.

There was little the committee could do to mitigate the impact of the headline which appeared on July 25:

Security stepped up after scathing report led to death threats

It found that this was a breach of the accuracy clause of the Editors’ Code:

The print headline to the first article on page 7, had made the categorical claim that the March 2018 report had “led” to the MP receiving death threats. This was a significant claim given its seriousness; it established a causal link between the actions of the complainant and the threats which the MP had received against her life. The newspaper had produced no evidence to support the claim made in the headline on page 7.

But it took a different view of Andrew Norfolk’s comment, again in the first article, that “the Times understands that the report led to death threats against Ms Champion.” 

The complaints committee’s argument was tortuous:

The MP had confirmed that her life had been threatened both before and after the publication of the March 2018 report. She had also confirmed that the report’s publication — and its contents — had increased counter-terrorism police’s already significant concerns about the potential risk to her security, and led to their advice that her security protection be increased, which subsequently happened.

The Committee considered the claim made in the first article, that the newspaper “understood” that the March 2018 report had led to death threats, in that context. Unlike the headline’s categorical claim, the article had made clear the basis for the newspaper’s belief that the report had led to death threats against MP, namely that police had increased the her security risk level and had advised that she accept extra protection. There was no further breach … 

In other words, IPSO found it was perfectly reasonable that Norfolk “understood” that increased security had led to death threats. 

What is astonishing about IPSO’s justification is that the Times, when it was discussing exactly the same remark, stated: 

The Times has openly accepted that it was not correct to say … the report ‘led’ to death threats. It regrets the error …

So IPSO actually found the paper was not inaccurate when the Times had not only admitted its comment was “not correct” but also “regrets the error”. 

In fact, the newspaper only argued that it was not a “significant inaccuracy”.

Norfolk_cover_with_spine_g.indd

NORFOLK UNMASKED 
PRESS GANG is not the only critic of Andrew Norfolk. Brian Cathcart, professor of journalism at Kingston University and a founder member of the pressure group Hacked Off, has been analysing Andrew Norfolk’s journalism for more than eighteen months. Earlier this year he and Press Gang editor Paddy French joined forces to produce a 72 page report exposing Andrew Norfolk. The report examined the Just Yorkshire affair and the notorious “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care” case. The report also analysed a third example of Norfolk’s distorted reporting — a November 2018 article that claimed Rotherham council had favoured a convicted rapist in family court proceedings concerning the child he’d fathered on one of its victims. Official sources later revealed that the council had merely obeyed the rules of the family court. Click here to read the report and see below for the extraordinary response of the Times.

The Times pleads guilty, IPSO finds it innocent … 

For the breach over the “Security stepped up after scathing report led to death threats’ headline, IPSO acknowledged that a correction was needed but concluded that the single paragraph the Times published on 24 December 2018 was adequate.

The Committee expressed some concern at the wording of the correction which was published, particularly the use of the word “suggested”; the headline of the first article had stated, as fact, that the March 2018 report had led to death threats. However it did make clear the correct position that no death threats made at that time were attributable to the March 2018 report.

Just Yorkshire had argued that a 69 word paragraph buried on the letters page did nothing to counter the impact of a front page article.

IPSO’s complaints committee did not agree:

The Committee considered that the publication of this wording in the newspaper’s established Corrections and Clarifications column as well as online, represented due prominence.

The committee found the Times analysis of the “Temperature Check” report was not inaccurate.

The committee also found there had been no discrimination against Nadeem Murtuja and the trustees of Just Yorkshire. 

Just Yorkshire appealed against the ruling.

The letter pointed out that News UK, the ultimate owners of the Times, makes considerable claims for the quality of its journalism:

All News UK titles strive for the highest standards of accuracy and all editorial staff are expected to follow standard journalistic best practice in verifying stories. When reporting events not witnessed at first hand all possible steps should be taken to establish the credibility and reliability of any sources, and to corroborate their accounts.

Just Yorskhire said the paper had fallen short of its own standards. 

The charity also reminded IPSO that it also set high standards for its own deliberations.

The advice given in the preamble to the guidance which accompanies the Editors’ Code emphasises that the code:

… goes beyond a narrow, legal interpretation of the rules, which could provide loopholes, and instead talks about the Code being honoured “not only to the letter but in the full spirit”. That means that instead of legalistic quibbling, the Code should be honoured in what we might perhaps all recognise as the spirit of “fair play” and “doing the right thing”.

Just Yorkshire said that IPSO’s complaints committee had failed its own test. 

It asked the Independent Complaints Reviewer to “reconsider the complaints committee’s verdict on this matter and apply the principles of ‘fair play’ ….”

 IPSO’s “independent complaints reviewer”, former local government chief executive Trish Haines, submitted her report on May 10.  

She stated:

” … the question for the Complaints Reviewer is whether there was a substantial flaw in the decision making process. In my view, there was not.”

This was the end of the regulatory road for Just Yorkshire.

Although IPSO had proved to be a toothless watchdog, its process had revealed important information about the failings at the Times.  

Nadeem Murtuja and the trustees of Just Yorskhire are now considering whether to proceed with an action for defamation … 

♦♦♦

SARAH CHAMPION is a key figure in this story.

She now makes it clear — mostly, it has to be said, through her silence — that she does not support Andrew Norfolk and the Times in their assertion that the Just Yorkshire report led to death threats against her.

However, it is also clear that she did nothing to correct the falsehood as Andrew Norfolk and the Times assault on Just Yorkshire continued over several days

She also did nothing to dissuade Andrew Norfolk from running the second strand of July 25 story — the alleged plot by “hard-left and Muslim opponents” to topple her as Rotherham’s MP.

She would only say she had no “comment” to make.

Press Gang has evidence that she knew about this element of the story before it was published.

Her silence on the matter suggests that she was prepared to see it published.

In fact, Andrew Norfolk’s evidence for the plot was painfully thin.

Only two politicians were actually named as potential plotters and one of these, former Labour deputy leader Jahangir Akhtar, was no longer on the council.

The only evidence against him was correspondence — Norfolk gave no date for it — in which he called Champion an “ogre” and “if Labour wants to keep her seat, they need to get rid of her pretty quick”. 

UNMASKED UPDATE COVER

THE TIMES HITS BACK
THE DAY after the Unmasked report was published, the Times hit back with an article defending Andrew Norfolk — and an angry editorial attacking the authors as “politically motivated campaigners”.  Read the update here.

The other alleged plotter was councillor Taiba Yasseen who had been dropped from the Labour-controlled cabinet.

Norfolk said that this was “for reasons the party has declined to reveal, but supporters of Ms Champion say that the decision was prompted by concerns that she was trying to discredit the MP.”

No evidence was advanced to support this assertion.

Nor did Norfolk gave any details of actual plotting. 

The evidence for his claim that “far-left activists” were involved appears to be that Yasseen is a membership of Momentum.

Norfolk noted that Yasseen, who has ambitions to become an MP, said the allegation was “categorically untrue”.

Yasseen is a supporter of Sarah Champion — and Sarah Champion has supported Yasseen’s bid to become a Labour candidate in other northern constituencies.

Any plot by Rotherham’s Muslim community to unseat the MP also runs up against some powerful demographics.

The town’s 7,600-strong Pakistani community makes up just over 3 per cent of the 257,000 population.

They elect three out of 61 councillors, all of them Labour.

In the 2012 by-election and the 2015 general election UKIP were the second largest party.

The town has a strong, right-wing element — in the 2012 by-election, the BNP came third to UKIP.

Press Gang asked Sarah Champion if her involvement in Andrew Norfolk’s anti-Muslim journalism is designed to keep right-wing Labour voters from switching to UKIP and the BNP.

She did not reply. 

Andrew Norfolk and Times editor John Witherow also declined to comment. 

♦♦♦

Published: 26 June 2019
© Press Gang 

♦♦♦ 

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