Posts Tagged ‘BBC’


February 24, 2021

THE CASE of Ware v French continues.

John Ware is suing Press Gang editor Paddy French over an article which criticised the 2019 Panorama programme “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” 

The article appeared in the online Canadian magazine ColdType and was reprinted in the Press Gang pamphlet “Is The BBC Anti-Labour?” published in December 2019.

The libel trial is likely to take place next year. 

At a preliminary hearing on Thursday, February 18, Mr Justice Saini heard arguments from both sides about what an ordinary reader would have understood the article to mean. 

Representing Ware, William Bennett QC claimed the article branded his client 

… a rogue journalist who had engaged in dirty tricks by deliberately setting out to sabotage the Labour Party’s chances of winning the General Election by producing an edition of Panorama in which he dishonestly presented a biased and false portrayal of the case against the Labour Party for antisemitism.

Hugh Tomlinson QC, for French, argued the “natural and ordinary meaning” of the piece was that

… the Claimant [John Ware] produced a television programme which was one-sided and strongly advocated the position that the Labour Party was anti-semitic … as a result, the Claimant had engaged in rogue journalism

Mr Justice Saini’s version of the meaning was that John Ware

… is a rogue journalist who had engaged in dirty tricks by deliberately setting out to sabotage the Labour Party’s chances of winning the General Election by producing an edition of Panorama in which he dishonestly presented a biased and false portrayal of the case against the Labour Party for anti-Semitism.

The Judge also decided that the meaning was factual and not opinion.

The judgment can be read here.

Costs are yet to be determined.

In a statement, French stated:

I am disappointed by the decision.

However, I remain resolutely committed to defending this action.

My legal team believe I have a strong defence and the formal documents will be served within the next few months .

The overall cost of the full libel trial could rise as high as £1,000,000.

The Press Gang fighting fund, which has already raised nearly £25,000 from a thousand supporters, can be found here.


September 2, 2020

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. 


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

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:


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.


July 6, 2020


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.



The fighting fund has reached £26,000 from more than 900 supporters.

The target is £100,000.

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


The preliminary hearing will take place on 18 February 2021.

This will be a half day session after which the judge will decide if the case should go to full trial.


April 15, 2020


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.


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.


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

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.


February 21, 2020


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.


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.


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.



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


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.


 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

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.


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.
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


  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.


Wednesday, 10 July 2019
59 mins


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.

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:
However, it will be removed from iPlayer in July.

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. 

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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. 

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


00.00 – 2.05

00.00 – 00.02
[from black screen, an unnamed young woman fades up, looking directly at the camera, sombre music]
[BBC logo appears]
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]
[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.”
[FTB — fade to black]
“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.”
[V/O] [Ella Rose looking at the camera]
“Whilst leafleting at a party conference someone came up and screamed abuse in my face.”
[V/O] [close up of Ella Rose looking at the camera]
“I wouldn’t say to a friend …”
“… go to a Labour …”
“… Party meeting if you are Jewish. I couldn’t do that to someone I cared about.”
[nodding, looking upset]

00.46 – 00.58
[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?”

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

Formerly Jewish Labour Movement’s Political Education Officer]

Currently a National Vice Chair, Jewish Labour Movement]
Screenshot 2020-02-03 at 22.35.28

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

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
“Since 2015 it’s been soul-destroying being a member of the Labour Party and Jewish.”
“Jewish members across the Labour Party have, don’t know what to do. No one knows what to do …”

[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.”

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

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

[later captioned as Investigator, Disputes Team 2016-2017]

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

[later captioned as Officer, Disputes Team 2017-2018]

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

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

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

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

[over a shot of Mike Creighton, camera slowly zooming in]
“Do you think Mr Corbyn …”
“… is anti-Semitic?”

“It’s still a question I struggle with.”

[Aerials of Parliament, music with drumbeats]



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

[over more shots of the demo]
“Many British Jews once saw the Labour Party as their natural political home. No longer.”

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

[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.”

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

[Aerials of Parliament, sombre music]

“Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis burst into the open in April 2016 with a row in Westminster.”

[John Mann, MP  “doorstepping” Ken Livingstone.]

[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.”
“Check your history.”
“You’re a Nazi apologist. You’re a disgusting Nazi apologist, Livingstone.”

“The former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has a history of false claims that Jews were in cahoots with Nazis in establishing Israel.”

[blurred traffic]
[Captioned: Ken Livingstone, BBC Radio London, 28 April 2016]
“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.”
[cut to different interview, captioned 30 March 2017]
“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.”

[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.”

[External views of Southside, Labour HQ, London]

“Inside Labour’s London headquarters — called Southside — were the Disputes Team who police the party’s rulebook.”
[shot change to Mike Creighton, side angle camera]
“Mike Creighton was in overall charge.”

[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.”
[SYNC] [shot over Mike Creighton’s shoulder to John Ware]
“What do you mean, a repeat offender? What do you mean by that?”
[SYNC] [different camera angle]
“Well, it’s not the first time that he’s been called out.”

[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.”

[shot of Ware listening]
“I had prepared a suspension letter and …”
[Captioned: Kat Buckingham, Chief Investigator, Disputes Team 2015-2017]
“… 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.”

[blurred shots of pedestrians]

“In Mr Corbyn’s office, we’ve been told, …”
[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.”

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

[Captioned: 28 April 2016]
“You know nothing about it, you know nothing about what Hitler did in …”
[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.”
[John Mann confronting Ken Livingstone.]
“You’ve lost it mate! You need help!”

[shots of Southside at night, sombre music]
“Mr Livingstone was invited to attend a formal interview with the Disputes Team at party HQ.” 

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

[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.”

[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.”

“Ken Livingstone was given a two years suspension by the NCC.”
[V/O] [cut to Matthews listening]
“Did you think that was a fitting …”
“… penalty for what he’d said?
“No, not at all …”
[Captioned: Sam Matthews, Chief Investigator, Disputes Team 2017-2018]
“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 …”
[cut to John Ware listening]
“… zero tolerance. These views …”
“…  have absolutely no place in the Labour Party, whoever says them.”

[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.”

“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?”

“Well I think it’s important that somebody from the Labour Party …”
[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 …”
“… 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.

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

[V/O] [woman, looking directly at the camera]
IZZY LENGA“I’m Izzy Lenga. I joined the Labour Party in 2015.”
[V/O] [Izzy Lenga nodding ]
“The anti-Semitic abuse I received was what I was subjected to every single day.”
“Telling me Hitler was right, telling me Hitler did not go far enough.”
[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.”
“It absolutely breaks my heart to say but I do not think the Labour Party is a safe space for Jewish people any more.”

[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.”

[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.”

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

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

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

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

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

Captioned: Official Jeremy Corbyn Channel, 9 October 2016]
“We want a world where …”
“… there is unity and peace not racism, xenophobia, poverty and division. Thank you very much.”

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

[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.”

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

[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.”


[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 …”
“… that existed in the 1930s …”
[cut to different camera angle]
“… Jews using their money, Jews controlling governments.”
[cut to Free Palestine demo]
“Instead you started to see the same ideas being directed towards Israel – these kind of ideas …”
“… are much more acceptable on the left and in pro-Palestinian …
[cut to Free Palestine demo shots]
“… campaigning circles because they talk about Israel, they don’t talk about Jews — but actually underneath the surface it’s the same ideas.”

[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.”

[V/O] [John Ware listening to Johnson]
“It’s completely possible to criticise Israel within the Labour Party and … ”
[Captioned: Professor Alan Johnson, Author: Contemporary Left Anti-Semitism]
“… 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.”

[grainy shots of Jeremy Corbyn at a Free Palestine demo, captioned 10th May 2008]
“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.”

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

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

[grainy close-up of Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally]

“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.”

[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.”

[blurred shots of traffic, ominous music]

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.”
“I’ve been a member of the Labour Party since I was 17 so that’s nine years at this point.”
“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.”
“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.”
[V/O] [Baker looking at the camera]
“Quite frankly my Jewish friends don’t feel safe or welcome in the Labour Party.”

[Labour Party conference, upbeat music]

“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.” 

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

[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.”

“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.”
“Were you all Blairites?”
[Captioned: Kat Buckingham, Chief Investigator, Disputes Team, 2015-2017]
“No, absolutely not.”
[V/O] [John Ware listening]
“It would make no difference — we had standards …”
“… we had clear rules that we had to try and uphold.”

[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.”

[V/O] [more conference shots]
“The environment was extremely hostile — we had …”
“… 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 …”
“… was just unbelievable: it was, a mushroom cloud of abuse and it wasn’t pleasant for anyone.”

[Labour Party conference]
“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.”

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

[Dark, moody shots, sombre music]

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

[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.”

[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.”

“He said ‘I want to talk to you about anti-Semitism, how we deal with it’ …”
[cut to John Ware listening]
“… and I gave him my advice which as I recall …”
[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]
“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.”
“And when you made this suggestion to Mr Milne, what was his response?”
“He laughed at me.”
[V/O] [Mike Creighton looking at John Ware]
“He laughed at you?”
“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.”

[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. “

[aerial shots of Liverpool]
“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.”
[cut to Ben Westerman looking at interviewer]
“Ben Westerman was dispatched to investigate.”
[cut to side angle]

[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 …”
“…  all featured anti-Semitism …”
[Captioned: Ben Westerman, Investigator, Disputes Team, 2016-2017]
” … 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.”

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

“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.”

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

[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”

“These attacks offended Jewish members because Zionism is the movement that established Israel as a secure Jewish homeland after centuries of persecution.”

[V/O] [more shots of same building in Liverpool]
“The left always thinks of itself as anti-racist …”
[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.”

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

“Well, I came wanting to talk about health …”
[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.”
[V/O] [cut to Ware listening]
“It became extremely…”
“… unpleasant — people would leave the meeting in tears.”

[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.”

[V/O] [shots of the Mersey]
“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?’ ”
[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]
“It’s this obsession with that …”
“… that just spills over all the time into anti-Semitism.”

[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.”

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

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

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.”
“I may only be four years older now but I definitely feel like I know an awful lot more.”
[V/O] [cut to Joshua Garfield looking directly at the camera]
“I’ve been active in the party pretty much all my entire life.”
“I’ve noticed it descend into a really, really very unpleasant and, at times, hostile environment.”
[CTB – cut to black]
“And they might not call me a dirty Jew but they will call me a dirty Zionist — with pride.”

[shots of Southside, Labour HQ London, neutral music] 
“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?”
[V/O] [John Ware listening]
“I did in 2015, quite happily.”
[SYNC] [John Ware listening]
“And, when I started working for the party in London …”
“… I think that kind of sense of him coming in and him being this …”
[Captioned: Martha Robinson, Administrator, Disputes Team 2018-219]
“… great progressive leader who is going to change British politics — I think that had kind of worn off a bit.”

[V/O] [grainy shots of Jeremy Corbyn]
“As had some of the sheen from Mr Corbyn’s reputation as a lifelong anti-racist campaigner.”
[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.”

[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.”

“The mural is a conspiracy theory through … ”
[V/O] [John Ware listening]
“… art.”
“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.”

[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.”

[V/O] [shots of the mural]
“If it was a member of the public …”
“… 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.”

[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.”

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


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

[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]
“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.”

[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.”

[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?”
[Captioned: Sam Matthews, Chief Investigator, Disputes Team 2017-2018]
“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.”
“But it’s framed as a suggestion?”
[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…”
“… 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.”

[over night-time shots]
“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.”

[night-time shots Labour HQ]

“At Labour HQ the atmosphere was becoming distinctly chilly for the Disputes Team.”
[Captioned: Dan Hogan, Investigator, Disputes Team 2016-2018]
Screenshot 2020-02-02 at 11.41.50
“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] 
“Like his colleagues, Dan Hogan was having to adjust to the arrival of a new boss.”

“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.”

[still of Jennie Formby laughing with Jeremy Corbyn]
“Jennie Formby — their new boss — was a long time Corbyn ally, now appointed General Secretary of the Labour Party. “

[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’?”
“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.”

[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.”

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

[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.”

[blurred shots of email and pic of Thomas Gardiner] 

[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.” 

“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]
“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] 
“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.”

[V/O] [over more shots of the image]
“This was an image of an alien creature clamped onto the Statue of Liberty …”
“… 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.”

[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.”

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

[V/O] [still of Thomas Gardiner]
“You know, a lot of the time he would bring up Israel …”
“… 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’.”

[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’.”
[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.”

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

[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’.”

[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.”

[V/O] [continuation of grainy shot of Thomas Gardiner]
“It was often just …
“… spending day after day reading anti-Semitic comments …”
[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 …”
“… 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 …”
[V/O] [John Ware listening]
“… but there should’ve been more suspensions.”
“It just became so demoralising.”

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

“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.”

[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.”

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

Currently Director of Public Affairs, Board of Deputies, ex-Labour councillor, Camden]
[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.”
“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.”
“Labour isn’t now an anti-racist party and that’s the sad truth of it.”
[FTB] [sombre music] 

[grainy shots of Jeremy Corbyn, captioned 2 April 2018]
“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.”

[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.”

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

[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.”
[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.”
[cut to Louise Withers Green]
“The disputes team asked Louise Withers Green to interview Ms Walker.”

“What was the charge that the disputes team was bringing against Jackie Walker?”

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

[blurred traffic shots, sombre music]

[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.”

[V/O] [McNicol looking at Ware]
Lord McNichol used to be the Labour Party’s General Secretary.”
[Captioned: Lord McNicol, Labour General Secretary, 2011-2018]
[V/O] [John Ware listening to Lord McNicol]
“The NCC has been …”
“… 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.”
“And that’s why the independence of the NCC is critical?
“Critical. Yes and that’s why it’s stood the test of time.”

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

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

[night sky with moon, sombre music, then shot taken through bars of night traffic]
“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.”

[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 …”
[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’.”

[V/O] [Lord McNicol looking at Ware]
“So if you when you were General Secretary …”
“… 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?”
“I wouldn’t.”
“You wouldn’t?”
“I wouldn’t, no.”

“Under any circumstances?”
“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.”
[V/O] [cut to John Ware listening]
“The emails that you’ve shown me are really important; the issues that are raised within them  …”
“… should ring alarm bells across the party. ”
[V/O] [cut to John Ware listening to Lord McNicol]
“To try to interfere …”
[cut to John Ware listening to Lord McNicol]
“… politically within the NCC is just wrong.”

[grainy shots of Jeremy Corbyn speaking at meeting]
“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.”

[over blurred night traffic shots]
“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”

[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 …”
[cut to shot of Jennie Formby]
“… does suggest is that she knew that what was being contemplated was dubious.”

[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.”

[shots of Jennie Formby at conference]

“The Labour Party told us that Jennie Formby temporarily stopped using her party email because of concerns a political opponent had access to it.” 

[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 …”
“… for assessment by his aides — flatly contradicting once again Mr Corbyn’s insistence that the complaints process is wholly independent of his office.”

[blurred night traffic shots]
“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.”

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

[JOE GOLDBERG Currently a National Vice Chair of Jewish labour Movement]
[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.”
“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.”
“Zero tolerance just don’t apply for hatred towards Jewish people.”
“I think that sends a very clear signal to Jewish members of the party you’re not really welcome here, please leave.”

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

“We’ve been told that by last spring …”
“… 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.”

“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 …”
[V/O] [cut to John Ware listening”
“… and frustration because …”
“… it was just horrifying to hear that all, you know, all the work that I’d tried to do had essentially been for nothing.”

[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.”
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?”
“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 …”
“… going through a disciplinary processes when you are faced with possible expulsion actually …”
“I know.”
“… leave the party before …”
“Is 15 evidence of a party which says it is serious about dealing with anti-Semitism?”
“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.”

[blurred shots traffic through bars, sombre piano music]

[Captioned: Official Jeremy Corbyn Channel August 2018, grainy shots of Jeremy Corbyn, sombre music]
“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.”

[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.”
[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 …”
[blurred shots of Shami Chakrabarti walking]
“… recommendations to make the procedures fairer, swifter and more robust. The disputes team saw it differently.”

It was so poorly researched.”
[cut to John Ware listening]
“She missed the opportunity to properly engage with the community.”
“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]
“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.”

[V/O] [more shots of Jeremy Corbyn leaving home]
“Shami’s report was written in such a way …”
“… that she had drawn specific red lines …”
[V/O] [john Ware nodding]
… of past history.”
“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.”

[daytime blurred traffic shots, sombre music]
“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.”

[captioned “Reshet TV”, grainy pictures of Raed Salah, with the words ‘Allah is the greatest’ highlighted]
“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.”

[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.”

“At the time people were pointing out to him …”
“… 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.”

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

“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’.”

“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.”

[blurred daytime elections of pedestrians]
“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.”

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

“Modern-day anti-Semitism has its origins in centuries-old conspiracy theories.”

[V/O] [blurred traffic shots though bars, sombre music]
“The core demonology is that …”
“… 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.”
“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.”

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

[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.”

 “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.”

[over blurred traffic shots]
“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.”

“If Jeremy Corbyn kept the company today he kept before he became Leader …”
[cut to Dan Hogan listening]
“… associated with the kind of extremists …”
“… that he did before he became Leader —
[cut to Dan Hogan listening]
“… would he survive a disciplinary enquiry?”
“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.

[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.

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

[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.”
“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.”
[V/O] [Stephane Savary looking at camera]
“Once this woman told me I was a pig, a Jewish pig. “
“You feel they single you out just because of being Jewish.”

[V/O] [grainy close-up shots of Jeremy Corbyn]
“Last August Mr Corbyn acknowledged that Labour could have handled its anti-Semitism crisis better.”
[Captioned: 5 Aug 2018, Official Jeremy Corbyn Channel]
“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.”

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

“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.”
[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]
“… look, let’s give him space.”
“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 …”
[cut to John Ware listening]
“… there wasn’t any intervention by his own office.”
“I remain to be convinced that he’s really grasped the nettle of anti-Semitism in the party.”

[day shots Southside, Labour HQ, sombre music]

[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.”
[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.”

[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.”
“Did you?”
“Yeah. I had … I quit the party with nowhere to go. Yeah, I had a breakdown.
[cut to different camera angle]
“It was too much pain from too many people.”
“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.”

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

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.”
[V/O] [Ware listening]
“And now suddenly our boss …”
“… 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.”

“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.”

“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.”
“In what …? ”
“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.”

[daytime shots Southside, sombre music]

[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.” 

“It was really tight.”
“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]
“But I won’t be able to live with myself …'”
[cut to blurred dusk shots of traffic, sombre music]
“… unless I speak up about the horrendous things that I know have been happening.” 

[blurred traffic, sombre music]

[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.”

[V/O] [John Ware listening]
I sat at my desk …”
“… 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.”
[pause, shakes his head]
“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.”

[shots of Southside, day, sombre music]

“Our next prime minister Jeremy Corbyn.”
“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.”

“Do you think Mr Corbyn is …”
“… anti-semitic?”
“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.”

“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.” 

[Jeremy Corbyn speaking at conference, 26 September 2018]
“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.”

[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?

End credits


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.


October 27, 2019

Pride of Britain Awards - London

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.


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. 


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?


This article lays out the Press Gang charge sheet against Panorama.


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.”


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. 


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

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.


September 7, 2016



ONE OF the most common criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn is that he’s unelectable.

Critics point to the poll ratings, with Labour currently trailing the Tories.

But little attention has been paid to challenger Owen Smith’s electoral record.

In the past decade he and his wife have stood in four elections — all in traditional Labour strongholds.

They’ve lost two of them.

Even when Owen Smith wins, he does so with a reduced majority.

Some voters are not impressed with his style: he was nicknamed “Oily” in one election and arrogant in another.

Is there something toxic about “brand Smith”?


THREE YEARS ago Owen Smith was the driving force behind a political manifesto.

He co-edited a series of essays called One Nation: power, hope, community.

The Guardian said:

” … a group of the party’s rising stars call for it to end the lockout of local communities from power and to bury top-down statist solutions that have failed in the past.”

It was a time when Labour was searching for a way to appeal to the middle ground of British politics.

Labour Leader Ed Miliband summed it up in the preface:

“… a One Nation Labour Party is a party of the national interest, not one part of the country or any sectional interest.”

In the opening chapter Owen Smith was candid about the problems he faced in his own constituency, Pontypridd in south Wales.

“Membership and majorities are counted carefully now, when once they were weighed. Belief in our mission is dwindling.”

He was also clear about the solution:

“I believe the answer comes in two parts: we need both bottom-up participation and leadership from the top; to simultaneously cultivate our roots and command the heights.”

But he admits his attempt to regenerate Labour grass-roots in Pontypridd isn’t working:

“ … in the three years since I was elected the means to galvanise that engagement has proved elusive and frustrating.”

“This is undoubtedly partly a result of the many previous false dawns that have promised progress but failed to deliver: it’s hard to feel progressive when there seems so little sign of progress for you and yours.”

But he was still confident things could be turned around.

“Slowly but surely, Labour is re-engaging with dialogue in our communities, and developing new common objectives and solutions that will prove the real foundations for our rebuilding.”

Part of the strategy was a move to bring greater democracy to the party:

“Iain McNicol [Labour’s General Secretary] has been leading reforms in the party aimed at building a more open and inclusive movement.”

Labour leadership challenge
THREE YEARS ago Owen Smith was praising Labour for “… leading reforms in the party aimed at building a more open and inclusive movement.” But it was not until Jeremy Corbyn stood for leader that membership began to rocket — from under 300,000 to more than 500,000. Ironically, the party’s National Executive Committee have now barred some 130,000 recently joined members — most of them believed to be Corbyn supporters — from voting in the leadership election.
Photo: Ben Birchall / PA

In Pontypridd Smith thought he’d found a way to galvanise the community:

“Pontypridd Citizens, which will bring together churches and parties, unions and residents, in order to determine local needs and empower local leaders, is launching this year, taking its cue and its form from similar schemes that are energising communities across Britain.”

“It will mark a new beginning in the politics of Pontypridd, and Labour will be at its heart.”

The organisation should be three years old by now.

But Press Gang could find no evidence of Pontypridd Citizens — and when we asked people in the constituency, no-one had never heard of it.

We asked Owen Smith for an explanation.

He didn’t reply.


WHEN OWEN SMITH was chosen to be the Labour candidate for the 2006 Blaenau Gwent election, he had no experience of grass-roots politics. 

The seat had a troubled past but the party was expecting it to revert to being a Labour stronghold.

Owen Smith probably thought he had a safe seat for the rest of his political career.

In 2005 popular local politician Peter Law stood as an independent.

A former Labour member of the Welsh Assembly, he’d been barred from standing as a candidate for the general election because the party had imposed an all-woman short-list.

Labour nominated trade union leader Maggie Jones.

Many Labour voters deserted the official candidate and chose the independent.

But Law — already diagnosed with brain cancer — died the following year.

His agent, Dai Davies, decided to stand in the by-election that followed.

Labour strategists felt Law’s death had taken the sting out of the rebellion — and that the faithful would return to the fold.

In the early days of the campaign a poll gave Owen a massive 12 per cent lead.

Labour mounted a huge campaign to retake the seat — spending £56,000 to Davies’ £7,000.

But Smith’s organisation was cack-handed.

Telephone canvassers angered voters when they began calling within days of Law’s death.

Activists were bussed in from all over Britain but they knew nothing about Blaenau Gwent.

Smith himself acquired the nickname “Oily”.

Dai Davies was a well-known political figure who outgunned Smith on many fronts.

One of them was Nye Bevan, the political midwife of the NHS, whose old Tredegar constituency was now part of Blaenau Gwent

Smith claimed Nye Bevan as his hero.

But Dai Davies could trump that.

He was a trustee of the Bevan Foundation, a left-wing think tank formed in his memory.

Smith did not become a trustee of the Foundation until after the by-election.

The result was Dai Davies won a narrow victory — by just 2,488 just votes.

It was a bruising experience for Smith and he decided not to seek the nomination again.

Labour regained the seat in 2010.


THE LIKELIHOOD is that plans were already afoot to shoehorn Owen Smith into the Pontypridd constituency.

Just before Christmas 2009 the sitting MP, Kim Howells, announced he was standing down as the MP.

Soon after, there were press reports that Owen Smith was ringing members of the constituency Labour Party to make his pitch to replace Howells.

Howells is, of course, an old friend of Owen Smith’s father, Dai Smith but Owen Smith denies that the Howells played any part in his selection.

Smith gained the nomination.

OWEN SMITH’S home in his Pontypridd constituency has an intriguing past. Shortly after he was elected in 2010, the MP paid £285,000 for the north wing of the listed building in Llantrisant. It was previously owned by the sister of former BBC boss Menna Richards who bought the property shortly after she formed an independent production company. She won millions of pounds worth of contracts from the Corporation. It was under Menna Richards that Owen Smith made his breakthrough into television — as producer of the politics series Dragon’s Eye in 2000.
Photo: Press Gang

In Pontypridd Labour was united — but there were other problems.

The Lib Dems, led by Nick Clegg, were riding high in the polls — and they had a well-known local candidate in Mike Powell.

When Labour councillor Glynne Holmes had his picture taken with Powell as part of a campaign to save the Post Office in Llantrisant, he found himself the subject of a disciplinary hearing.

He was cleared but it was a sign of how anxious Labour officials were.

In the end, Smith won by just 2,791 votes.

The Western Mail noted:

“There were relieved faces as Labour held on to the Pontypridd seat.”

Smith polled 14,200 votes — a drop of more than 6,000 on Howells’ figure in 2005.

In the 2015 election, when Lib Dem support collapsed, Smith was able to clawback less than 1,400 of the lost votes.

In the ten years from 2005 to 2015, Labour has lost a quarter of its support in Pontypridd.


EARLY THIS year Owen Smith’s wife, primary school teacher Liz, decided to stand for election to the Llantrisant town council.

There was a vacancy in the Llantrisant ward where she and Owen Smith had lived for five years.

The Labour Party ticket plus the fact that her husband was the MP were expected to secure her election.

But there was another candidate who was far more active in the town.

Louisa Mills, an independent, had started a local charity and was campaigning for a community garden.

She beat Liz Smith by 320 votes to 273.

Owen Smith may not have been as asset in the poll.

Some residents find him arrogant.

One said:

“He’s risen quickly … due to his PR skills and actually believes his own hype.”

“In my view he cares more about power than he does about using that power to help people.

All of this means Owen Smith and his wife have now contested four elections between them.

They’ve lost two.

In the two elections Owen Smith has won, he has presided over a decline in the Labour vote.

What will happen when the right-wing press goes to work on him?

Published: 7 September 2016
© Press Gang

The statistics for Owen Smith’s Pontypridd constituency make disturbing reading for Labour. These are are the number of votes cast for Owen Smith’s predecessor Kim Howells and the share of the poll:
1989   20,500   53%
1992   29,700   61%
1997   29,290   64%
2001   23,000   60%
2005   20,900   53%
From a peak of 64% of the vote in 1997 — the landslide year when Tony Blair became Prime Minister — it was down to 53% by 2005.
Owen Smith hasn’t arrested the decline. The result for the two elections he’s fought are:
2010   14,200   39%
2015   15,600   41%
In the face of a Lib Dem resurgence in 2010 he was lucky to hold on to the seat. And even with the collapse of the Lib Dems in 2015 he was able to retrieve only a small proportion of the Labour vote he’d lost in 2010.
This the fourth instalment of this investigation. The other articles are:
Owen Smith: Forged By Patronage and Nepotism?
Owen Smith: A Man For All Seasons
BBC Forced To Correct Owen Smith Profile.
Click on a title to read it.
Press Gang editor Paddy French declares personal interests in this story:
— in the 1980s he was the editor of Rebecca magazine which was in competition for a substantial Welsh Arts Council grant. One of the competitors was Arcade magazine and Dai Smith, Owen Smith’s father, was one of its supporters. The council’s literature committee chose Rebecca but the full council overturned the decision — and gave the grant to Arcade
— French is one of the thousands of traditional Labour voters who have joined the party following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Leader. He will be voting for Corbyn in the Leadership election.
The Rebecca investigation into nepotism and patronage at BBC Wales is explored in the articles:
The Son Of The Man From Uncle
In The Name Of The Father?
The cover block pic is by Gareth Fuller / PA.


Investigative stories like this one are expensive and time-consuming to produce. You can help by making a contribution to the coffers. Just click on the logo …

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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.





August 8, 2016


THE BATTLE for the Labour leadership is in full swing.

But so far the personal integrity of Owen Smith has not been an issue in the campaign.

The mainstream media have accepted his own sanitized version of his career.

The result is that it has largely been left to Press Gang to ask the searching questions about Owen Smith.

He still declines to provide the detailed CV we’ve asked for.

But, after some delay, he’s finally started to answer some of our questions.

He denies that nepotism and patronage in South Wales played any part in his rise to become a possible future Prime Minister.

But some of his answers are unconvincing.

And more questions are emerging …


SEVEN HOURS after Press Gang published the article “Owen Smith: Forged by Patronage and Nepotism?” the Labour leadership candidate finally answered some of our questions.

His press team told us on Wednesday:

“The suggestion that Owen received any of his roles through patronage are (sic) completely false.”

A spokesperson said Owen Smith had forwarded our questions to Nick Evans, the senior BBC Wales radio producer who first hired him.

Nick Evans then sent us two emails.

Labour leadership challenge
JEREMY CORBYN and Owen Smith at the first public hustings of the leadership campaign in Cardiff on Thursday night. The British media have concentrated most of its forensic firepower on Jeremy Corbyn and have largely taken the challenger at face value. Press Gang is one of the few investigative outlets examining Owen Smith’s career in detail.
Photo: PA

In the first, Evans said it was Owen Smith who first approached him for work.

In his second, he gave a different version: Owen Smith had come into BBC Wales with his father and it was Evans who offered him work.

We asked Owen Smith about this contradiction.

His press team replied:

“Owen’s appointment followed casual work he had gained at BBC Wales, after contacting Nick directly, … without any input from his father.”

The press team also forwarded our questions to the man who was BBC Wales’ head of human relations at the time, Keith Rawlings, adding:

” … he would be able to confirm all of your allegations are completely false.”

“Keith sat on the interview panel alongside Nick [Evans] when Owen was originally interviewed.”

Press Gang rang Keith Rawlings.

He told us he wasn’t on the interview panel when Owen Smith was originally appointed.

He said the first he knew of Owen Smith was much later, after Dai Smith had been appointed Editor, Radio Wales.

In other words, Rawlings knew nothing about how Owen Smith was first introduced to Radio Wales …


HAVE THE BBC been complicit in Owen Smith’s attempts to avoid questions about nepotism and patronage?

Two days after Owen Smith became the sole challenger to Jeremy Corbyn, the BBC political reporter Brian Wheeler posted a profile of the candidate headed “The Owen Smith story”.

This article set the tone for much of the general media treatment of Owen Smith’s early BBC career.

It contained this paragraph:

“After studying history and French at the University of Sussex, he joined BBC Wales as a radio producer. His father, Dai, was appointed editor of BBC Wales and head of programmes in the same year.”

By focusing on the actual appointments of Owen Smith to a post on Radio Wales and Dai Smith as Editor of Radio Wales, it gave the impression that Owen was already at the BBC when his father was picked to be the next Editor of Radio Wales.

It failed to say that Dai Smith had already introduced Owen before either appointment took place.

OWEN SMITH’S father has been an important figure in Welsh public life for decades. He was the second most powerful man at BBC in the late 1990s and close to the clique that controlled broadcasting at that time. As one of the main historians of the south Wales miners, he’s also close to some of the key political figures in Welsh Labour. Owen Smith insists his father played no part in his career …
Photo: Parthian Books 

Given that the information in this article could only have come from one of two places — the BBC itself or Owen Smith — it raises the question of bias.

On Thursday Press Gang editor Paddy French wrote to BBC Director General Lord (Tony) Hall.

The email said there were several errors in the paragraph’s second sentence:

“His father, Dai, was appointed editor of BBC Wales and head of programmes in the same year.”

French noted:

” — there has never been an Editor of BBC Wales. The post being referred to here is Editor, Radio Wales.”

” — there is an issue about the date of [Dai’s] appointment: former BBC Wales contacts tell me this was actually 1993, not 1992.”

” — Dai Smith was not appointed head of programmes in the same year: that actually happened, as I understand it, in 1994.”

The Press Gang editor added:

“I am also concerned at the possibility that this paragraph was a deliberate red herring, designed to deflect attention away from the question about how Owen Smith was introduced to BBC Wales in the first place.”

“Given the sensitivity that surrounds the Corbyn-Smith contest for the Labour leadership, this article also raises questions about BBC impartiality.”

A spokeswoman for Tony Hall acknowledged receipt of the email but, at the time this article went to press, there was no reply.


OTHER SERIOUS challenges to Owen Smith’s reputation for honesty are beginning to emerge.

In 2002 he left BBC Wales and took a post as special adviser to Labour Cabinet Minister Paul Murphy, the MP for the Welsh constituency of Torfaen.

Owen Smith insists his family connections played no part in this appointment.

His press team told us:

“With regards to Owen’s appointment with Paul Murphy — again Dai [Smith] had absolutely no involvement.”

“Dai did not even know Paul Murphy at all, until after Owen began working for him.”

Paul Murphy also denied that Dai was involved in the appointment but wouldn’t explain how Owen Smith came to be selected.

Murphy told us:

“He came from BBC Wales, although I knew his father through Welsh Labour history circles.”

In 2005 Owen Smith joined the controversial US pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

His exact role is not clear — one press report said he was Head of Policy and Government Relations.

We asked Pfizer for more information.

The company told us:

“We are unable to discuss the details of individuals’ roles; however, we can confirm that Owen Smith was employed by Pfizer UK in our Corporate Affairs Department between January 2005 and September 2008.”

The job involved a substantial increase in salary.

Owen Smith moved his family from London down to a £489,000 house in the Surrey village of Westcott near Dorking.

In 2006 Pfizer allowed him time off work to contest the Blaenau Gwent by-election.

Owen Smith said the company had been “extremely supportive” of his aspirations to public office.

But the fact that Labour had selected a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical giant was not popular in a seat which included Nye Bevan’s old powerbase.

Labour party annual conference 2015
WHEN OWEN SMITH was selected as the candidate for the by-election in Blaenau Gwent in 2006, there was concern that he was a lobbyist for a pharmaceutical company — Labour MP Paul Flynn called him a “drug pusher”.  In the general election of 2005 local politician Peter Law had left the party in protest at the imposition of an all-woman shortlist and captured the seat as an independent. He died of a brain tumour a year later and Labour, dropping its all-woman shortlist, selected Owen Smith. The party confidently expected to regain the seat and spent more than £56,000 on the campaign, including holiday accommodation outside the constituency for party activists drawn in from all over Britain. Dai Davies, Law’s agent, spent less than £7,000 on his campaign but still managed to beat Smith with a majority of 2,484 votes.
Photo: PA 

Newport Labour MP Paul Flynn said:

“I wasn’t too pleased that we had a drug pusher as a candidate.

He added:

“The lobbyists are a curse, a cancer in the system. It’s insidious. One of my main interests in politics is areas in which lobbyists used their wicked wiles to get access to government. One example is the pharmaceutical industry, who are the most greedy and deceitful organisations we have to deal with.”


OWEN SMITH’S time as a lobbyist with Pfizer haunts his political career.

In June 2014, when Owen Smith was shadow Welsh Secretary, there was a major controversy involving Pfizer.

The American company made a £69 billion bid for AstraZeneca, the Anglo-Swedish company, which would have made Pfizer the world’s largest drug business.

It was opposed by then Labour Leader Ed Miliband who didn’t want a flagship UK company falling into US hands.

The fact that Labour were attacking a company when one of its own shadow Cabinet members had worked for the company as a lobbyist attracted media attention.

Owen Smith told the Sunday Telegraph:

“… obviously having worked there I’m probably a little more understanding than some of those other members …”

The paper added:

“Mr Smith said he was paid £80,000 a year to lobby for Pfizer.”

Pfizer eventually dropped the bid.

There have been suspicions that Owen Smith was paid far more than £80,000, so Press Gang did some digging.

Back in 2006, when he was working for Pfizer and contesting the 2006 Blaenau Gwent by-election, The Times sent two reporters to the constituency.

Their report contained the following statement:

“The Labour Party’s candidate for Westminster, Owen Smith, a … £200,000-a-year lobbyist for Pfizer ….””

We asked Owen Smith which was true: the £80,000 a year he told the Sunday Telegraph or The Times which said it was £200,000?

At the time we went to press, he had not replied.


OWEN SMITH left Pfizer in 2008 and went to work in a similar role for the pharmaceutical company Amgen.

In 2010 he was selected as the Labour candidate for the safe Pontypridd constituency.

Again, he insists that his family and friends played no part in his selection.

One of these friends is Kim Howells, the MP who held the seat for Labour and had decided to step down at the 2010 election.

Howells is an old friend of Dai Smith and knows his son well.

Kim Howells MP
THE LABOUR politician held the safe Labour seat of Pontypridd for 21 years. Although he’s a friend of Dai Smith, and knows his son well, Owen Smith insists Howells played no part in his selection for one of the safest Labour seats in the UK.
Photo: PA

Owen Smith’s press team told us:

“The suggestion Kim helped Owen in his selection as the candidate for Pontypridd is also entirely false.”

“Whilst it is correct that Kim knew Dai, at no stage did Kim support or endorse Owen’s candidature.”

Once again Press Gang went back to the newspaper cuttings.

In a Western Mail report on Owen Smith’s selection in March 2010, the paper reported that he’d been selected after a second round of voting, winning by 104 votes to 74.

The article then states:

“Mr Smith … was supported by Kim Howells …”

Press Gang asked Owen Smith to clear up the contradiction.

There had been no reply by the time this article was published.

When Owen Smith was elected Labour MP for Pontypridd, he sold his Surrey home for £745,000.


THE PROBLEM with Owen Smith is no-one knows what he really stands for.

In 2006 The Independent called him a “dyed-in-the-wool” New Labourite.

Now he’s the man to carry out the old Labour policies Jeremy Corbyn has revived.

Which of these two Owen Smiths is the real one?

Or is he just a political chameleon?

The manner in which he and his team have dealt with his past career is disturbing.

Take his political commitment.

“I grew up in South Wales during the miners’ strike, he says, “That’s when I came alive politically.”

He adds that he then joined the Labour Party in 1986.

Yet between 1986 and his selection as Labour candidate in the 2006 Blaenau Gwent by-election — two entire decades — there’s no evidence at all of any involvement in labour Party politics.

He doesn’t seem to have served a political apprenticeship at all.

Jeremy Corbyn, in contrast, was active in politics while at school, became a trade union official at 21 and a London councillor at 24.

In fact, Owen Smith’s career is much closer to David Cameron’s — a spell as a special adviser and years working in the corporate affairs of a major company.

When Smith says —

“I want to be a force for good in the world. Therefore, you need to achieve power. Nye Bevan, my great hero, said it’s all about achieving and exercising power. I’ve devoted my life to that.”

 — it’s the last sentence that rings false.

He’s been an active politician for just six years.

His attempt to push back from suggestions that his father helped his career is unconvincing.

He seems to believe any hint of nepotism and patronage is toxic to his reputation.

He doesn’t seem to understand that it’s not so much the fact that his father helped him — it’s the fact that he seeks to deny it.

He doesn’t seem to understand that it’s not so much what his salary was at Pfizer —  a huge salary is inevitable when working for a global combine — it’s the fact that he seeks to minimise it.

It’s a question of personal integrity.

If he can’t be trusted to give a true account of his own career, how can he be trusted to be the custodian of the values which Jeremy Corbyn has brought back into mainstream politics?


Published: 8 August 2016
© Press Gang

1. The first part of this investigation was published on August 3 — Owen Smith: Forged By Patronage and Nepotism? Click on the title to read it.
2. Press Gang editor Paddy French declares personal interests in this story.
— in the 1980s he was the editor of Rebecca magazine which was in competition for a substantial Welsh Arts Council grant. One of the competitors was Arcade magazine and Dai Smith was one of its supporters. The council’s literature committee chose Rebecca but the full council overturned the decision — and gave the grant to Arcade.
French is one of the thousands of traditional Labour voters who have joined the party following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Leader. He will be voting for Corbyn in the Leadership election.
3. The Rebecca investigation into nepotism and patronage at BBC Wales is explored in the articles The Son Of The Man From Uncle and In The Name Of The Father?
4. The cover block pic is by Gareth Fuller / PA.


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April 27, 2015


THE DAILY MIRROR broke the law on an industrial scale throughout Piers Morgan’s editorship.

And police have had the evidence for more than a decade.

Already —in Whodunnit?Press Gang has shown the paper used a private eye to carry out illegal news-gathering in the early 2000s.

This included evidence that former Daily Mirror reporter Tom Newton Dunn — now political editor of the Sun — allegedly ordered a criminal record check on a sitting MP.

Piers Morgan claims he was ignorant of all of this.

He told the Leveson Inquiry he “had no specific recollection of any stories which depended on the work of private investigators …”

He insisted he was “not aware” of any private investigators “having been found to have engaged in any criminal activity … or of any Daily Mirror employee having any involvement in such law-breaking.” 

Press Gang presents new evidence that further undermines this testimony.

The Daily Mirror was routinely using a controversial private eye in the late 1990s to illegally access confidential information about the rich and powerful.

One of the most dramatic examples — the paper’s decision to break into the bank and building society accounts of a powerful Bank of England committee … 


IT’S A WEDNESDAY morning at the Daily Mirror offices in Canary Wharf.

On the 22nd floor of the big skyscraper — One Canada Square —  the morning conference is under way.

The meeting is taking place in editor Piers Morgan’s corner office.

The next day’s paper — Thursday, 8 October 1998 — is being planned.

One of the items on the agenda: how the paper will cover tomorrow’s lunchtime announcement from the Bank of England on interest rates.

It’s important because a fall in the rate — currently 7.5 per cent — is widely expected.

It will be the first for many years.

The decision — to be made by the nine members of the Bank’s monetary policy committee — could affect the pockets of many Daily Mirror readers.

TARGETS THE NINE members of the Bank of England's monetary committee in 1998. All were the subject of an illegal

MEMBERS OF the Bank of England’s monetary committee in 1998. Many of them were the subject of an illegal “dark arts” operation organised by Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror. Although the attack has been mentioned by other journalists — including Nick Davies (Guardian) and Robert Peston (BBC) — this is the first time the full story has ever been told.
Photo: PA

For Thursday’s paper, it’s already been decided the Mirror will find out about the mortgages of the nine committee members.

But there’s an elephant in the room.

Few in the conference will acknowledge it.

But some know collecting the information will involve breaking the law.

None of the members of the monetary committee will volunteer information about their mortgages. 

So the paper will have to resort to illegal techniques to obtain them.

These methods — later they’ll include phone hacking — are known as the “dark arts”. 

The task’s been handed to the paper’s resident “dark arts” master — senior news reporter Gary Jones. 

He served his apprenticeship on the News of the World.

He was the paper’s crime reporter when Piers Morgan was News of the World editor in 1994 and 1995. 

Jones followed Morgan to the Daily Mirror in 1996. 

Jones knows exactly who to contact to find out about the mortgages of the Bank of England committee members.

This is the private eye Jonathan Rees. 

Rees is a partner in Southern Investigations, a London firm specialising in acquiring illegal information. 

BENT PRIVATE EYE IN JONATHAN REES, the Daily Mirror is choosing a controversial character to do its dirty work. He's a long-standing suspect in the 1987 murder of his business partner Daniel Morgan. In 2009 he will stand trial for the murder only for the case to collapse in 2011. By then he will have served a seven year prison sentence for conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent woman. See The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency for more details. Photo: PA

IN JONATHAN REES, the Daily Mirror is choosing a controversial character to do its dirty work. He’s a long-standing suspect in the 1987 murder of his business partner Daniel Morgan. In 2009 he will stand trial for the murder only for the case to collapse in 2011. By then he will have served a seven year prison sentence for conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent woman. See The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency for more details.
Photo: PA

By lunchtime on Wednesday, 7 October Rees has come up with the goods. 

Gary Jones and reporter Oonagh Blackman get together to write the story …


THE NEXT day’s Daily Mirror carries an exclusive investigation.

Under the by-lines of Oonagh Blackman and Gary Jones, the story states:

“As millions sweat on a home loans cut, we reveal it’s
Homeowners will have their mortgage rate fixed today by financiers so wealthy that they won’t be affected if it rises or falls.”

The piece reveals five members have no mortgage at all.

UNLAWFUL THE MIRROR'S exclusive report by Gary Jones and Oonagh Blackman is based on information obtained by

THE MIRROR’S exclusive report by Gary Jones and Oonagh Blackman is based on information obtained by “blagging” — ringing banks and building societies and pretending to represent committee members. Blagging is a criminal offence under the Data Protection Act.

Some of this information could have come from legitimate sources — such as the government-owned Land Registry. 

But details of mortgages held by three members could only have been obtained unlawfully.

The piece says deputy Governor Mervyn King — who will later become Governor — has a £48,000 mortgage.

His apartment in Notting Hill costs him £400 a month in interest payments.

The Cobham, Surrey home of ex-CIA analyst and businesswoman DeAnne Julius costs £2,500 a month. 

She has a £200,000 mortgage. 

Dutch economist Professor Willem Buiter is paying £685 a month. 

He has an £80,000 mortgage on his cottage in the Bedfordshire village of Great Gransden. 

The paper goes to extraordinary lengths to find out about properties owned by the nine. 

There is some doubt about the extent of committee member Ian Plenderleith’s property near Petworth in West Sussex.

So Jonathan Rees sends an “agent” down to Petworth to make a sketch plan of the grounds.

Shortly after the article appears, the committee cut the interest rate from 7.5 per cent to 7.25 per cent.

SILENCE THERE'S NO mention of the illegal assault on the Bank of England in Piers Morgan's 2005 book, The Insider. His diary entry for 7 October 1998 — the day the attack was being prepared — concentrates on a refusal by the columnist Victor Lewis-Smith to come to lunch ... Photo: PA

THERE’S NO mention of the illegal assault on the Bank of England in Piers Morgan’s 2005 book, The Insider. His diary entry for 7 October 1998 — the day the attack was being prepared — concentrates on a refusal by the columnist Victor Lewis-Smith to come to lunch …
Photo: PA


FOUR DAYS after the exclusive, Jonathan Rees sends three invoices to the Daily Mirror accounts department.

The total is £1,936.

There is little detail — all relate to “undertaking confidential enquiries”.

But a separate statement is sent to Gary Jones personally.

It’s marked


This is more revealing.

It shows £361 of the bill is for legitimate purposes.

But it also makes clear that much of the remaining £1,575 is unlawful.

This amount is for nine separate searches of the committee members:

” … identifying their mortgage details as directed.”

The invoice even shows that Rees gave the paper a discount.

Instead of the normal rate of £275 a search, Rees had reduced the price to £175! 

Rees deliberately sends vague invoices to the Mirror accounts department because he knows he’s breaking the law.

So does Gary Jones.

In the Mirror newsroom is a copy of the reporters’ legal bible — McNae’s Essential Law For Journalists.

DARK ARTS MASTER GARY JONES is one of the key figures in the Daily Mirror's involvement with illegal news-gathering. In the first part of

GARY JONES is one of the key figures in the Daily Mirror’s involvement with illegal news-gathering. In the first part of A Pretty Despicable Man, Press Gang outlined his extensive use of the private eye Steve Whittamore in the early 2000s. Jones — now executive editor of the Sunday Mirror — has never replied to any of our questions …

It includes a chapter on the Data Protection Act (DPA).

The DPA had been amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 to create three new criminal offences:

“— procuring the disclosure of data covered by the … Act

— knowing or believing this to contravene the Act

— or offering to sell the data or information extracted from it.”

The Mirror has already published two separate articles about police officers charged with offences under the Data Protection Act.

A year before the assault on the Bank of England, the paper carries the conviction of a masonic police constable from Wiltshire.

He’d checked the Police National Computer to find out the identity of a fellow mason’s lover.

More evidence that Rees and Jones knew they were breaking the law was to emerge in 1999.

Scotland Yard detectives secretly bugged Rees’ office in south London.

Police listened as Rees and Jones argued about the amount of detail going into invoices to the paper.

The Mirror accounts department want more information.

Rees is adamant he isn’t going to give it:

” … because what we are doing is illegal, innit?”

“I don’t want people coming in and nicking us for criminal offences …”

All of the information in this account comes from documents held by Scotland Yard.

There’s no evidence detectives ever considered prosecuting Jonathan Rees and Gary Jones.


TWO MONTHS after the operation against the bank of England, the Daily Mirror has another bank in its sights.

This time it’s Coutts & Co — bankers to the Royal Family.

The target is the Queen’s cousin, Prince Michael of Kent.

His commercial activities are handled by a private company — Cantium Ltd — which banks at Coutts HQ in the Strand.

Once again, the private eye involved is Jonathan Rees.

And his contact at the paper is Gary Jones.

Rees has already written to Jones giving numbers of three of the company’s Coutts accounts.

ROYAL BANKERS THE HEADQUARTERS of Coutts & Co in the Strand, London. The Daily Mirror's blagger had no trouble getting the details of three accounts belonging to the Queen's cousin, Prince Michael of Kent. Photo: Rebecca Television

THE HEADQUARTERS of Coutts & Co in the Strand, London. The Daily Mirror blagger had no trouble getting the details of three accounts belonging to Prince Michael of Kent, the Queen’s cousin.
Photo: Rebecca Television

Now Rees asks John Gunning — of his team of “blaggers” — to ring the bank pretending to represent Prince Michael.

(Gunning will later be caught trying to blag confidential information out of BT.

In 2006 he’ll be convicted and fined £600.)

The next day — 26 January 1999 —  Prince Michael of Kent is on the front page of the paper with the headline:


The story says the company’s bank accounts are overdrawn to the tune of £220,000. 

It claims the overdraft is unauthorised — and that Coutts has frozen the accounts.

The operation against the Prince costs the Mirror £546.37.

In April 1999 the Scotland Yard bug in Jonathan Rees’ office picks up a phone call about this story.

The police note says Rees has been told Prince Michael is suing the Daily Mirror.

“The legal people wanted [Rees] to verify the information and state how he obtained it.”

Rees refuses.

In June 1999 — unable to prove its allegations without revealing the information is illegally obtained — the Mirror is forced to climb down.

The paper says

“… none of the accounts of Prince Michael … have been frozen or suspended and there have never been any unauthorised overdraft balances on any of those accounts.”

The Mirror adds:

“We accept that our original allegations were untrue …”

On this occasion, Scotland Yard did consider the case to see if any criminal offences had been committed.

A report seen by Press Gang states:

“The relevant evidence shows that Rees obtained personal data — the account numbers of Cantium — and then sold that information to Gary Jones.”

“The relevant offence … is covered by Section 55 [4] Data Protection Act … — Selling Personal Data.”

“This offence may be capable of proof.”

No further action is ever taken by the Metropolitan Police.


IN JANUARY 1999 Prince Michael of Kent isn’t the only Royal in the Mirror’s frame.

Earlier the same month, it’s the Queen’s third son — Prince Edward.

He’s just become engaged to Sophie Rhys-Jones.

The Mirror orders “financial / company information on” the Prince and his new fiancée.

The Prince’s television production company —  Ardent Productions — has its accounts at Coutts. 

On January 5 Rees sends Gary Jones a bill for £339.57 for obtaining Ardent Productions’ “bankers details”. 

On January 12 Jones gets another bill — for £446.49.

This is for providing “financial / company information” on “R-JH PR, Ardent Productions”.

On this occasion, the blagger is John Gunning.

He targets Coutts and Lloyds Bank.   

At the time, Sophie Rhys-Jones is running a PR firm with the publicist Murray Harkin.

The business banks with Lloyds in the City of London. 

BLAGGED SOPHIE RHYS-JONES and Murray Harkin were partners in the public relations business RJH PR. Harkin remembers getting a call from Lloyds Bank during this period.

SOPHIE RHYS-JONES and Murray Harkin were partners in the public relations business RJH PR. Harkin confirmed getting a call from Lloyds Bank during this period. “I was told they knew someone had successfully — after many attempts, perhaps as many as 26 — guessed my password and obtained confidential information.”
Photo: PA

John Gunning invoices Jonathan Rees.

His bill contains details of Lloyds Bank account number 121131 — the account of RJH PR — and its credit balance: £9,761.34.

Gunning even manages to obtain details of a personal account of Sophie Rhys-Jones’ at the same branch.

This account has a zero balance.  

None of this information ever appears in the Mirror.

It’s a fishing expedition.

But the Scotland Yard assessment of the case — seen by Press Gang — is clear criminal offences have been committed:  

” … the detail of Rhys-Jones’ bank account — both business and personal — prove evidence of procuring the disclosure to another of personal data.”

Rees “… also commits the offence of selling the information …”

There is no mention of Gary Jones — the man who commissions the criminal activity.

The report concludes:

“It is obvious that additional enquiries would have to be made to confirm details but the basic points to prove are present.”

Scotland Yard takes no further action. 

A spokeswoman for Prince Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex declined to comment. 

Murray Harkin told Press Gang he will be instructing solicitors to ask the Metropolitan Police to release the documents it holds.

He added:

“if a criminal offence has been undertaken then I believe that the people responsible should be accountable.”

The Daily Mirror’s long-standing comment on the use of Jonathan Rees is that “many years ago some of our journalists used Southern Investigations.”

“They were last used in 1999.”

“Trinity Mirror’s position is clear. Our journalists work within the criminal law and the PCC code of conduct.”

SCOTLAND YARD THE DOCUMENTS on which this article is based come from the Met's Operation Two Bridges which targeted Jonathan Rees in 1998-1999. They were first leaked in 2002 by senior figures in the Met to the former BBC reporter Graeme McLagan after Rees was gaoled for conspiring to plant drugs on an innocent woman. Since then many reporters have also obtained copies of the material. Photo: Rebecca Television

THE MET have been sitting on the documents used in this article ever since 1999.  They come from Operation Two Bridges which targeted Jonathan Rees in 1998-1999. Some of them were first given by senior figures in the Met to the then BBC Home Affairs correspondent Graeme McLagan in 2002 after Rees was gaoled for conspiring to plant drugs on an innocent woman. 
Photo: Rebecca Television


THE MIRROR’S relationship with Jonathan Rees was shattered on 29 September 1999.

On that day, detectives arrested Rees in connection with a conspiracy to deprive an innocent woman of her child.

Police had bugged Rees’ office in Thornton Heath, south London and heard the plot unfold.

A client of Rees was involved in a custody battle with his estranged wife.

Rees suggested arranging with a corrupt police detective to plant cocaine in her car.

Police were watching as the drugs were planted and the woman arrested.

Then they pounced.

In raids across London, detectives gathered the evidence on which this article is based.

Rees was gaoled for six years for his part in the cocaine conspiracy.

When he appealed against the length of his sentence, it was increased it to seven.

Scotland Yard also wanted to charge Sunday Mirror reporter Doug Kempster for paying a police officer for confidential information.

Piers Morgan had no connection with the Sunday Mirror.

The CPS decided not to prosecute.

Despite this scare, the Daily Mirror’s addiction to the “dark arts” continued.

PIERS MORGAN THE FORMER Daily Mirror editor in happier times with his old friends Andy Coulson (gaoled) and Rebekah Brooks (acquitted). Six days ago — on April 21 — Morgan was interviewed by Scotland Yard detectives from Operation Golding about phone hacking while he was Mirror editor. This followed an earlier interview at the end of 2013. He was not arrested on either occasion. As well as his ITV programme Life Stories, Morgan is also US

THE FORMER Daily Mirror editor in happier times with his old friends Andy Coulson (ex-editor News of the World: gaoled) and Rebekah Brooks (ex-editor The Sun: acquitted). Six days ago — on April 21 — Morgan was interviewed under caution by Scotland Yard detectives from Operation Golding investigating phone hacking while he was Mirror editor. This followed an earlier interview at the end of 2013. He was not arrested on either occasion. As well as his ITV programme Life Stories, Morgan is currently US “editor-at-large” for the Daily Mail online website. He does not comment on Press Gang articles …
Photo: Richard Young / Rex

The paper simply turned to another private eye — Steve Whittamore.

Illegal news-gathering continued for a further three years until Whittamore was arrested in 2003.

For more on this, see the Press Gang article Whodunnit? 


Published: 27 April 2015
© Press Gang 


A FORENSIC examination of Piers Morgan’s celebrated appearance on Desert Island Discs in 2009. He told presenter Kirsty Young phone hacking was one of the “down in the gutter” tactics used on the Daily Mirror.

What he didn’t tell her was that she, too, had been a target of the paper’s “gutter” tactics. In 1998 the paper mounted a surveillance operation to prove she was having an affair with a married man.
The story is also pregnant with the possibility it was based on phone hacking …


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

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.


December 22, 2014
 THE GOVERNMENT has declined to answer questions about a legal bid to stop the BBC Panorama exposé of Sun reporter Mazher Mahmood.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright tried to persuade the Corporation not to broadcast the investigation.

Wright is a political appointee and attends Cabinet.

No. 10 said it didn’t “comment on legal advice provided by law officers.” 

The BBC ignored the pressure and transmitted the “Fake Sheik: Exposed” programme on November 12.

Another public body, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is refusing to answer an allegation that it gave out false information about the case.

Sources claim CPS officials said at the end of October that a charging decision on Mahmood was due within two weeks.

Today, two months later, no decision has been announced … 

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police have been treating Mahmood himself with kid gloves. 

Press Gang has learnt detectives from Operation Silverhawk — the investigation into Mahmood’s false testimony in the Tulisa Contostavlos trial last July — decided not to arrest him.

Instead, officers arranged an appointment with him and his lawyer.

He was interviewed under caution. 

No warrant was sought to search his home in West London.

Mahmood’s “kid glove” treatment is in stark contrast to the “iron fist” used for Contostavlos.

She was arrested just two days after he published an article accusing her of conspiracy to supply drugs.

Her arrest — based solely on Mahmood’s evidence — took place by appointment at a police station.

Police also obtained a warrant and searched her home.


THE FULL story behind the twice-delayed Panorama programme “Fake Sheik: Exposed” has not been told. 

By the time the piece was finally shown, on Wednesday, November 12, the BBC had beaten off a determined bid to have it stopped or at least watered down.

MAZHER MAHMOOD Lawyers acting for the "fake sheik" tried to persuade the court not to allow the BBC to show this recent picture of Mahmood. The judge rejected the argument that it would put him and his family at risk of potential violence from victims he'd exposed in the past. In fact, no-one bent on harming Mahmood would have any difficulty tracking him down — it took Press Gang fifteen minutes to do so. He and his wife Sadaf own two flats in a 1930s mansion block in the Kensington area of London: he lives in one while she occupies the other along with their young son. Photo: BBC

LAWYERS ACTING for the “fake sheik” tried to persuade the court to ban the BBC from showing this recent picture of Mahmood. The judge rejected the argument that it would put him and his family at risk of potential violence from victims he’d exposed in the past. In fact, anyone seriously bent on harming Mahmood would have little difficulty tracking him down — it took Press Gang fifteen minutes to do so. He and his wife Sadaf own two flats in a 1930s mansion block in the London borough of Kensington & Chelsea: he lives in one while she occupies the other with their young son.
Photo: BBC

The campaign started on October 31, Halloween.

The BBC had just written to Mahmood telling him the thrust of the Panorama investigation and inviting him to respond.

Lawyers from Kingsley Napley, acting for Mahmood, quickly swung into action.

Their strategy was to attack on the programme on several fronts.

The first was an approach to the Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, a barrister and Tory MP who attends Cabinet.

Their argument was that because Mahmood was under investigation and might be charged the programme not in the public interest. 

That approach led to the Attorney General writing to the BBC warning that the programme: 

“may have the potential to prejudice any trial, should Mr Mahmood be charged.”

In a later email Wright added:

” … IF the Contempt of Court Act does come into play — by Mr Mahmood being arrested or charged — the position would be different.”

JEREMY WRIGHT QC, MP THE COALITION'S senior law official tried to per Photo: Attorney General's Office

THE COALITION’S senior law official tried to persuade Panorama not to show the exposé of the “fake sheilk”. Last week his press office denied that Wright had discussed the issue with David Cameron: “He did not consult the Prime Minister.” 
Photo: Attorney General’s Office

Some observers believe this was a coded reference to signals coming from another government department — the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

At the end of October CPS officials were informally telling journalists a decision on whether or not to charge Mahmood was likely to be made within a couple of weeks.

This was obviously untrue — today, nearly two months later, Operation Silverhawk is still active and no charges have been brought.

The CPS press office would not answer questions:

“we are a very small team, and have simply not had the time to deal with your query properly yet“.

Some BBC staff felt the combination of the false CPS briefing and the warnings from the Attorney General were part of a concerted attempt by pro-Murdoch forces to “spook” Director General Tony Hall and chairwoman Rona Fairchild into axing the programme.

Last week the Attorney General’s office told Press Gang:

“In matters of contempt, the Attorney General acts in his role as guardian of the public interest, independent of government.”

“He did not consult the Prime Minister.”

A spokeswoman for No. 10 told us:

“We don’t comment on legal advice provided by law officers.”


WHILE THE government’s legal wing was trying to prevent the programme altogether, Mahmood’s lawyers were in court trying to water it down.

They applied for an injunction preventing the BBC from showing up-to-date footage of the “fake sheik”.

The hearing, before Sir David Eady, took place at an all-day session at the Royal Courts of Justice on Halloween, October 31.

Mahmood was represented by a barrister instructed by Kingsley Napley.

Press Gang asked News UK if it was paying Mahmood’s legal bills.

The company didn’t answer the question. 

SILVERHAWK CONTINUES LAST WEEK the Met told Press Gang that a file on the Mahmood case has now been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service. The file presents the evidence against Mahmood and asks  advice about whether the reporter can be charged with perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice in the Tulisa Contostavlos case.  Photo: Rebecca Television

LAST WEEK the Met told Press Gang that a file on the Mahmood case has now been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service. The file presents the evidence against Mahmood and asks advice about whether the reporter can be charged with perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice. The Met also confirmed that the investigation is on-going …
Photo: Rebecca Television

In court, Mahmood’s team argued the programme should not show new images of him because he and his family would be at risk.

During the presentation, they revealed that police had interviewed Mahmood and pointed out that the programme might prejudice any trial.

They also claimed Panorama’s investigation was flawed because it relied on the testimony of former members of Mahmood’s “sting gang” who were motivated by revenge.

The injunction was not granted.

But Mahmood’s team were given leave to appeal and the hearing was listed for Monday, November 3.

That was the day the programme was scheduled to go out.

The BBC decided to postpone it.

On Monday, November 3 the appeal was refused.

The postponed programme was then re-scheduled for the following Monday, November 10.

But hours before this transmission lawyers acting for Mahmood submitted a tape which, they claimed, undermined the credibility of one of Panorama’s key witnesses.

The BBC decided to hold back the programme to assess the new material.

By Wednesday, November 12 they’d done so — and decided the programme would go ahead.

Normally, it would have gone out in the next available Panorama slot — Monday, November 17.

Now, however the Corporation faced a dilemma.

If the Crown Prosecution Service rumours were correct — and a decision on charging Mahmood was imminent — then he might be charged before the Monday.

A decision was taken to amend that day’s schedules.

The programme finally aired at 7.30 that night, November 12.

There were two reasons why the BBC was determined to show the Panorama investigation into Mahmood.

The first was that it was determined to demonstrate  its investigative credibility.

RUPERT MURDOCH WHY DOES one of the world's most powerful men continue to support the discredited Mahmood — a man accused by a judge of lying in the witness box?     Photo: PA

WHY DOES one of the world’s most powerful men continue to support the discredited Mahmood — a man accused by a judge of lying in the witness-box?
Photo: PA

This had been damaged by the Newsnight child abuse scandals.

The Corporation was severely criticised for censoring a Newsnight item in 2011 alleging that Jimmy Savile was a child abuser.

Newsnight then falsely accused Lord McAlpine of child abuse in November 2012.

The second was that the Corporation’s new Director of News & Current Affairs, James Harding, is a former editor of Rupert Murdoch’s Times newspaper.

Harding had endured a fractious relationship with the tycoon in his last few years as editor and was determined to demonstrate his independence.


THE ROLE of the Metropolitan Police has raised questions about its impartiality. 

Critics say the force has bent over backwards to try to shield the “fake sheik”.

The decision by Operation Silverhawk not to arrest him is a key criticism.

Another is the length of time it’s taken detectives to send a file to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision on charging.

The case against Mahmood is a relatively simple affair.

There is no denying Mahmood lied when he gave evidence at the trial.

The only issues are:

— did the lie amount to perjury ?

— and was it designed to pervert the course of justice?

Normally, a police investigation would have been completed within a matter of weeks.

The second charge against the Met is that it has decided not to widen the investigation to other cases where Mahmood was the principal witness.

As early as November 2012 — long before the Tulisa Contostavlos case — Press Gang asked the Met to investigate Mahmood for “serial perjury”.

In a letter to then Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, we pointed out that Mahmood had lied under oath at the Leveson Inquiry about the number of criminal convictions he had to his name.

He claimed more than 250 — our investigation found only 70.

Our investigation prompted lawyers acting for Rupert Murdoch to carry out their own investigation.

Their report — which has never been released — found just 94.

The Press Gang letter to Akers pointed out that, in the course of our investigation, we found indications that Mahmood might also have lied on oath about his convictions in some of the criminal cases he gave evidence in.

The letter detailed one case — the gaoling of the TV actor John Alford for nine months in 1999 after a Mahmood sting.

That sting was remarkably similar to the operation mounted against Tulisa Contostavlos. 

At Alford’s unsuccessful appeal, the court noted Mahmood’s claim that he had 89 successful criminal prosecutions to his name.

That statement — which added credibility to Mahmood’s evidence — cannot be true.

By 1999, our analysis of Mahmood’s convictions showed only 28. 

Our letter asked the Met “to examine Mr Mahmood’s testimony in all the court cases he gave evidence in to see if he has potentially committed perjury …”  

JOHN ALFORD THE ACTOR'S acting carreer was destroyed after he was gaoled in 1999 for drugs offences following a "fake sheik" sting. Press Gang told the Met more than two years ago that there was evidence Mahmood also lied in this trial ... Photo: PA

THE ACTOR’S acting career was destroyed after he was gaoled in 1999 for drugs offences following a “fake sheik” sting. Press Gang told the Met more than two years ago that there was evidence Mahmood lied in Alford’s trial …
Photo: PA

The Met acknowledged the letter and promised a reply from a senior officer.

It never came.

Last week we raised this issue with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), the police watchdog.

We asked them to explore the reasons behind the Met’s failure to answer the letter we sent to Sue Akers.

And we requested an examination of the failure to investigate the allegation of perjury in the Alford  case.

An IPCC spokesman said the complaint was being considered.


ONE REASON why Rupert Murdoch’s News UK may have fought so hard to stop the Panorama programme is the fear of civil actions.

In the phone hacking scandal, much of the damage done to the News of the World came from revelations generated by individuals suing the newspaper.

There are signs that this is beginning to happen in the Mahmood scandal.

The CPS has now written to 25 of Mahmood’s victims warning them that they may have grounds to challenge their criminal convictions.

One of these is John Alford.

His solicitor Siobhain Egan has also been contacted by three other individuals with convictions as a result of Mahmood’s stings.

Another 18 people affected by Mahmood’s undercover operations have contacted the lawyer Mark Lewis.

Lewis played a key role in the civil litigation that helped unravel the industrial scale of phone-hacking at the Murdoch tabloids.

The Press Gang investigation into Mazher Mahmood continues … 

Published: 22 December 2014
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