Posts Tagged ‘Press Gang’


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.


February 29, 2020

ON THURSDAY, 20 February 2020 the Jewish Chronicle published an apology to the Liverpool Labour activist Audrey White.

The paper acknowledged that four articles published in February and March 2019 contained allegations that were untrue.

It agreed to pay damages and legal costs.

These payments add to the financial problems at the loss-making paper.

The settlement follows an intervention by Press Gang.

Audrey White asked us to review her case.

We prepared a report and sent it to the London law firm Bindmans, specialists in defamation law.

Bindmans wrote a pre-action letter to the Jewish Chronicle asking for damages, legal costs, an apology and an undertaking not to repeat the defamatory statements.

The Jewish Chronicle instructed solicitors and a settlement was reached.

Press Gang has been asked not to reveal the sums involved.

Audrey White said:

“I’m very grateful Press Gang took up my case.”

“In libel actions, the dice is loaded against ordinary people whose names have been blackened by powerful newspapers.”

“Organisations like Press Gang and Hacked Off really help to level the playing field.”

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

The offending articles were part of the Jewish Chronicle coverage of allegations made by supporters of the then Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, Louise Ellman.

They claimed she was being bullied by left-wing members. 

The Jewish Chronicle claimed White was part of a left wing plot to “oust” Ellman.  

Similar allegations were repeated in the Panorama programme Is Labour Anti-Semitic? broadcast in July last year.

White was not named in the broadcast. 

But her settlement with the Jewish Chronicle casts doubt on some of the claims made in the programme.

The paper’s settlement follows a damning ruling on the White case by the press watchdog, Ipso.

Ipso was blunt:

… the publication’s conduct during Ipso’s investigation was unacceptable.


THE MOST serious allegation against Audrey White was that she had lied in order to join the Labour Party in 2015.

Jewish Chronicle Political Editor Lee Harpin claimed she’d been expelled in the 1980s as part of Neil Kinnock’s purge of Militant Tendency members.

When she joined the party in 2015, after Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader, Harpin said she’d given a false date of birth.

In fact, the Labour Party could find no record of anyone called Audrey White ever being expelled.

And when she joined the party in 2015 she had given her date of birth correctly.

It was only when she renewed her membership in August 2016 that she mistakenly entered an incorrect date.

However, this was ignored by Labour’s administration and her membership continued to record the correct date of birth.


AUDREY WHITE is a celebrated trades union and women’s rights campaigner. Her campaign against sexual harassment at a Liverpool fashion store in the 1980s led to a change in employment law. The story was made into a film, Business As Usual, starring Glenda Jackson. 

“What’s important to note here,” White told Press Gang, “is that elements in the Labour Party machine had access to the mistake I made with my date of birth in 2016 — and made it available to the Jewish Chronicle in order to smear me.”

A second allegation was that she was among “a group of militants who repeatedly interrupted” the MP Louise Ellman during a constituency meeting.

In fact, a partial recording of this constituency meeting — which took place on 22 February 2019 — shows this to be untrue.

Ipso noted:

… it was apparent … that the MP had spoken in a consistent and conversational tone; the crowd had not been ‘rowdy’ as alleged.

This allegation — that constituency meetings were disrupted —  also featured in the Panorama programme Is Labour Anti-Semitic?

Panorama reporter John Ware stated that “in the wake of Mr Corbyn’s election there was an influx of new members. Some wanted [Louise Ellman] out. Party meetings descended into chaos”.

“This is nonsense,” says White.

She added:

What actually happened is that there was a power struggle between Louise Ellman’s old guard, who were now in a minority, and the new members who wanted to change political direction.

Some members of the old guard mounted a campaign — making allegations of bullying and anti-Semitism — in order to try and keep control of the constituency party.

There were complaints of anti-Semitism at constituency meetings but not one of them resulted in any kind of disciplinary action. 

There were complaints of bullying at constituency meetings but, again, not one of them resulted in any kind of disciplinary action.

Lee Harpin also claimed Audrey White had “received a number of formal warnings … over allegations of bullying against” other Labour members.

In fact, there was just one — concerning a case which did not involve either Louise  Ellman or anti-Semitism.

Harpin said White had falsely claimed a councillor was under investigation by police for her treatment of a disabled pensioner suffering from cancer.

Ipso found that the councillor had, in fact, been investigated by police — confirming White’s claim.

However, Labour’s NEC issued a formal warning to White about this incident.

It said she had made a number of comments “regarding a separate resolved complaint within which you were not originally involved.”

It added that her comments “… have caused offence and may have damaged the Party’s reputation …”

Ipso said the Jewish Chronicle was unable to provide any evidence to back up its allegation that there had been other warnings.

All four of the Jewish Chronicle articles were written by the paper’s Political Editor, Lee Harpin. 


THE FULL Jewish Chronicle apology states reads:
In February and March 2019, we published articles which made allegations about Mrs Audrey White, some of which were untrue.
We have already published the IPSO adjudication in relation to these articles and have agreed to pay a sum in damages to Mrs White and her legal costs.
We apologise for the distress caused.

Before joining the paper, he was a senior editorial figure at the Daily Mirror group.

Between 2006 and 2012 he was head of news at the People.

He was arrested in 2015 by detectives investigating phone hacking.

The CPS decided there was “insufficient evidence” to prosecute.

In the early 2000as he also worked for the News of the World when both Rebekah Wade and Andy Coulson were editors. 

Ipso found that Harpin’s Jewish Chronicle articles about Audrey White breached its Editorial Code. 

Ipso’s Complaints Committee ordered the paper to publish a summary of its ruling in the White v Jewish Chronicle case.

It added:

The committee expressed significant concerns about the newspaper’s handling of this complaint.

The newspaper had failed, on a number of occasions, to answer questions put to it by Ipso and it was regrettable the newspaper’s responses had been delayed.”

The Committee considered that the publication’s conduct during Ipso’s investigation was unacceptable.

The Committee’s concerns have been drawn to the attention of Ipso’s Standards department.

Following the ruling, the Jewish Chronicle removed all four articles from its online database.


THE SETTLEMENT comes at a difficult time for the Jewish Chronicle and its editor Stephen Pollard.

The White payment follows a £50,000 payment to the charity Interpal last year.

The Jewish Chronicle had falsely accused it of having links to terrorist activity.

These payouts are doing little to help the paper’s precarious financial position.

Circulation and advertising revenue are falling.

The weeklypaper no longer gives details of circulation but the last audited figures in 2018 showed just over 20,000 copies a week.


JEWISH CHRONICLE editor Stephen Pollard, 55, is no stranger to libel actions, many of them involving the portrayal of Muslims and Muslim organisations.
In 2008 he wrote a Spectator article attacking a conference on Islam, branding the organisers “fascist” and claiming the conference had “a racist and genocidal programme”. The magazine later apologised and paid libel damages.
Pollard’s stint as Jewish Chronicle editor has also seen some notable libel setbacks.
In 2012 the Chronicle paid substantial damages to the trustees of the Muslim charity Human Appeal International after it suggested the USA believed it was a terrorist organisation. It also falsely accused the charity of diverting donations to terrorist groups.
In 2019 the paper had to pay £50,000 in damages after falsely suggesting the Muslim charity Interpal had links to terrorist activity.
Photo: Jewish Chronicle 

More than 7,000 of these were free copies.

After posting a £91,000 profit in 2015, the Chronicle lost £460,000 in 2016, £1.1m in 2017 and £1.5m in 2018.

It also had a £2.6m black hole in its pension fund.

In June 2018 the paper was rescued by a consortium of unnamed donors.

Stephen Pollard wrote that “… the future of the paper has been secured …”

The paper’s auditors were less optimistic.

In the accounts for the year ended June 2018, they noted that the rescue package only allowed:

… the debts to the pension fund to be cleared and to fund the group’s activities until these become profitable.

They added:

These matters … indicate that a material uncertainly exists that may cast doubt on the group’s ability to continue as a going concern.

In February 2020 the paper announced it was merging with the weekly free-sheet, the Jewish News.

The Jewish News also has its financial problems.

In 2018 its balance sheet showed a negative worth of minus £1.5m.

Like the Jewish Chronicle, it’s also had to pay libel damages.

In February 2018 it lost an action brought by Baroness Warsi over a claim that she excused Islamic State terrorists.

The paper paid £20,000 in damages.

In August 2018 the paper’s foreign editor, Stephen Oryszczuk criticised the paper’s coverage of Jeremy Corbyn.

Oryszczuk told The Canary website:

Some of the phraseology I take a giant step back from, vicious personal phrases like ‘Corbynite contempt for Jews’ which is one step away from calling him a Jew hater.

It’s repulsive. This is a dedicated anti-racist we’re trashing.


The IPSO ruling, White v Jewish Chronicle is here.
This is the fifth instalment of the Press Gang series Is The BBC Anti-Labour?
The previous four articles are
— an introductory article: it can be found
— the second, BBC v Ofcom, is here
— article three, Indictment, is here
— the fourth, Scriptease, is here
In addition, an interim report has been published. It’s available

Published: 29 February 2020
© Press Gang


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

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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.
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.

BBC v Ofcom

November 2, 2019

Pride of Britain Awards - London

THE BBC have officially rejected all complaints against the Panorama programme Is Labour Anti-Semitic?

A spokeswomen told Press Gang yesterday: 

… the BBC Executive Complaints unit have now concluded their findings and have not upheld any complaints against the programme.

The Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) considered 49 cases, including one from the Labour Party.

In our last article Enter Ofcom that figure stood at 46.

On Friday, the BBC published its fortnightly bulletin which revealed that a further three cases had been rejected.

One of these is the Labour Party complaint. 


THIS IS the cover of the planned Press Gang report on the BBC’s rogue journalism. It’s similar to the one written by Press Gang editor Paddy French and Professor Brian Cathcart (a co-founder of Hacked Off) and published in June — Unmasked: Andrew Norfolk, The Times Newspaper And Anti-Muslim Reporting: A Case To Answer. Is The BBC Anti-Labour? will be published by Unmasked Books, price £10, at the end of November. Supporters are being asked to buy a copy in advance so it can appear before election day on December 12 — here’s the crowdfunder link. The plan is to have a demonstration outside the BBC and enough spare copies of the report to hand out to staff as they arrive for work.

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

It was “an overtly one-sided intervention in political controversy by the BBC,” the party said.

The BBC does not publish its findings but has previously said it “stands by its journalism and we completely reject any accusations of bias or dishonesty.”

A Press Gang investigation has found the programme biased and dishonest.

It was rogue journalism.

So serious a piece of rogue journalism that Press Gang is planning a crowdfunded report (see panel, left).

For nearly a century the BBC was the sole arbiter of whether it lived up to its lofty ideals.

But in April 2017 this self-regulation came to an end when the statutory broadcasting regulator Ofcom took over the role.

In our last article we revealed that 17 complainants have now taken their case to Ofcom.

They will be joined by the Labour Party. 

It’s Ofcom — one of the UK’s most powerful watchdogs — that will ultimately decide whether the Panorama programme lived up to the BBC’s high standards.

Ofcom also has its own Broadcasting Code  — a code based on the provisions of the 2003 Communications Act.

Ofcom will be a more rigorous judge than the BBC.


THE BBC prides itself on its commitment to editorial integrity and accuracy.

In June 2019 — just one month before the Panorama programme — it published a new set of Editorial Guidelines.

This was the 7th edition of the key document that shapes the BBC’s approach to its journalism.

Chairman Sir David Clementi, a former banker, was emphatic:

… nothing is more important than the BBC’s reputation for independence, impartiality and editorial integrity … 

Director General Tony Hall was even more forthright:

It’s just a few short years since the term “fake news” entered our lexicon.

It’s now a weapon of choice used worldwide.

In a world of misinformation, our values have never been more important.

That’s why accuracy, impartiality and fairness are given such prominence in these Guidelines.

So, how was it that the BBC produced one of the most biased programmes in its entire history just a few weeks later?


THE BBC’S Editorial Guidelines are crystal clear about the need for impartiality.

The introduction says the BBC is “committed to achieving due impartiality in all its output.”

The term ‘due’ means that the impartiality must be adequate and appropriate to the output, taking account of the subject and nature of the content, the likely audience expectation and any signposting that may influence that expectation.

It adds:

Due impartiality usually involves more than a simple matter of ‘balance’ between opposing viewpoints.

We must be inclusive, considering the broad perspective and ensuring that the existence of a range of views is appropriately reflected.

The Panorama programme’s view of the Jewish membership of the Labour Party on the issue of anti-Semitism came from one perspective.

This was the position of the Labour-affiliated Jewish Labour Movement (JLM).

At least 9 of the 22 people interviewed in the Panorama programme are, or have been, senior figures in the Jewish Labour Movement.

There may be more — Press Gang is attempting to establish the actual figure.

Reporter John Ware failed to tell viewers that these nine interviewees were JLM members.


THE AWARD-WINNING reporter has made no secret of his opposition to Jeremy Corbyn. He wrote in the magazine Standpoint in 2017 that the Labour leader’s “entire political career has been stimulated by disdain for the West, appeasement of extremism, and who would barely understand what fighting for the revival of British values is really all about.” He has strong connections with Britain’s Jewish community and his children were brought up in the Jewish faith. In 2015 he was awarded a Commitment to Media Award by the Women’s International Zionist Organisation for “being sympathetic to Jewish concerns.” 
Photo: BBC 

The Jewish Labour Movement believes anti-Semitism is a serious problem in the Labour Party.

In November 2018 it asked the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to investigate the Labour Party’s “institutional anti-Semitism”.

In April 2019 the group passed a motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn over his alleged failure to deal with the crisis.

In the same month, JLM’s chairman Mike Katz made it clear the group would be selective in supporting candidates at the next general election.

“If you’re backing the leadership over the way they have handled anti-Semitism — then you’re absolutely not going to get our support,” he said.

Panorama failed to say that the JLM narrative is not the only one.

In fact, Labour’s Jewish membership is split over the issue of the scale of anti-Semitism in the party.

A different picture is provided by the pressure group Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL).

In a statement, JVL said:

… antisemitism regrettably exists in all areas of society, and needs to be guarded against. But the facts show that there is no more within Labour than outside, probably less.

And, despite the image fostered in the media, no party has been more rigorous than Labour in chasing it down.

The issue has been utilised by pro-Israel advocates, Jewish and otherwise, within the Labour Party and outside, in alliance with those in the media and political establishment who oppose Jeremy Corbyn’s left-wing leadership.

Despite representing several hundred Jewish Labour Party members, no representative of JVL, or any of the other groups which hold similar views, was heard in the Panorama programme.

The Editorial Guidelines go on to state:

Where our content highlights issues on which others campaign, we must take care not to endorse those campaigns, or allow ourselves to be used to campaign to change public policy.

By not revealing the influence of the Jewish Labour Movement in its programme, Panorama was effectively, if secretly, endorsing its campaign.

The Guidelines on impartiality also emphasise that there are particular requirements for what are described as “controversial subjects”.

A “controversial subject” may be a matter of public policy or political or industrial controversy.

The Guidelines advise that:

When dealing with “controversial subjects” we must ensure that a wide range of significant views and perspectives are given due weight and prominence, particularly when the controversy is active.

And the Guidelines go even further — introducing the concept of a “controversial subject” which is also a “major matter”.

The Guidelines say:

“Major matters” are usually matters of public policy … that are of national or international importance …

And they add:

When dealing with ‘major matters’, or when the issues involved are highly controversial and/or a decisive moment in the controversy is expected, it will normally be necessary to ensure that an appropriately wide range of significant views are reflected …

Allegations of widespread anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is clearly both a “controversial subject” and a “major matter”.

Panorama failed to “ensure that an appropriately wide range of significant views” were included in the programme.

In all these circumstances, it seems highly unlikely that the Panorama programme was not referred to senior management.

The fact that permission was given to extend the programme also suggests that senior managers — perhaps even Director General Tony Hall — were involved.

In other words, the Panorama programme was endorsed by the BBC at the highest level.


The BBC Editorial Guidelines also insist on the need for “due accuracy.”

This commitment is fundamental to our reputation and the trust of audiences.

The term ‘due’ means that the accuracy must be adequate and appropriate to the output, taking account of the subject and nature of the content, the likely audience expectation …

The Guidelines require:

… all BBC output, as appropriate to its subject and nature, must be well sourced, based on sound evidence, and corroborated.

The BBC must not knowingly and materially mislead its audiences. We should not distort known facts, present invented material as fact or otherwise undermine our audiences’ trust in our content.

Did Panorama live up to those high ideals?

Take the allegation that Labour Party disputes investigator Ben Westerman personally encountered anti-Semitism in his inquiry into problems at the Liverpool Riverside constituency party.

Liverpool Riverside’s MP is Louise Ellman.

Panorama makes it clear that she is Jewish.


DAME LOUISE Ellman resigned from the Labour Party last month citing worries about anti-Semitism and opposition to Jeremy Corbyn as Leader. In 2019 the Jerusalem Post ranked her the world’s 23rd most influential Jew and the Times of Israel called her an “unabashed friend of Israel.” 
Photo: BBC

After Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader new members joined the party and there was inevitable friction between the old guard and the new members.

One of the newcomers was pensioner Helen Marks who is Jewish.

At the April 2016 constituency meeting there was a discussion about anti-Semitism.

Louise Ellman had said it was on the rise.

Marks suggested that any increase might be due in part to the actions of Israel over the Palestinian issue.

In making this remark, she had in mind a survey by the Community Security Trust which recorded a 500 per cent spike in anti-Semitism incidents following Israel’s actions in Gaza in 2014.

A few days later, an ally of Louise Ellman’s complained that this remark was anti-Semitic.

Labour held an investigation into what was happening in the constituency — and sent Ben Westerman from HQ’s disputes team to investigate.

In November 2016 Westerman interviewed Helen Marks who was accompanied by another elderly Jewish member known only as “R”.

“R” was present as a “silent friend” of Helen Marks.

(Press Gang knows the identity of “R” but has accepted her request to remain anonymous.)

In the Panorama programme reporter John Ware says of Westerman:

While interviewing one member he was confronted with the very anti-Semitism he’d been investigating.

Immediately after Ware’s comment, Ben Westerman told viewers:


THE LABOUR Party investigator sent to Liverpool to find out what was happening in Louise Ellman’s Riverside constituency. Although he claimed in the Panorama programme to have been the victim of anti-Semitism, his official Labour Party report did not mention the incident. Press Gang has attempted to contact Westerman — but he seems to have disappeared … 
Photo: BBC

We finished the interview, the person got up to leave the room and then turned back to me and said where are you from?

And I said what do you mean, where am I from ?

And she said I asked you where are you from?

And I said I’m not prepared to discuss this.

They said are you from Israel? 

What can you say to that?

You’re assumed to be in cahoots with the Israeli government, it’s this obsession with that that just spills over all the time into anti-Semitism.

Leaving aside the obvious question — how does asking if someone comes from Israel possibly be anti-Semitic? — there’s a more fundamental question.

Did this exchange actually happen?

A transcript of Ben Westerman’s interview with Helen Marks and “R” has since emerged.

There’s a section which is remarkably similar to the version Westerman gave Panorama — but with two important differences. 

One is that the exchange takes place during the interview.

And the other is that Israel is not mentioned. 

This is the exchange from the transcript.

Helen Marks to “R” : Ok. R, do you want to…?

R: No, I’m just curious cos I haven’t been in the Labour Party for very long and I certainly haven’t been to anything like this informal interview before, erm, so I’m just curious, just, like what branch are you in?

Ben Westerman (BW): I don’t think that’s relevant.

R: Oh, ok.

BW: I hope that’s ok — I’m sorry I just don’t think, I don’t think where I’m from is at all relevant to the investigation…

R: Yeah, I just, I just misunderstood, I thought the investigation bit about me not being a silent witness was…

BW: No, no it is, you’re more than welcome to ask questions, but I reserve the right to not answer them and I feel that’s a, that’s a question about my personal situation which I don’t think is relevant to the situation in Liverpool Riverside.

R: Oh. No, it might not be. Just but, it might be interesting.

BW: I’m, I’m not prepared to discuss my, my address, basically.

R: Mmm.

Despite the Editorial Guidelines requiring that reporting should be “well sourced, based on sound evidence, and corroborated,” John Ware accepted Westerman’s evidence at face value.

He doesn’t seem to have felt the need to check the story.

Helen Marks told Press Gang yesterday that no-one from Panorama contacted her to ask for her side of the story.

Ben Westerman was unavailable for comment. 

Yesterday, we asked John Ware, Panorama and the BBC to comment.

A spokeswoman told us: 

We will not be responding further than our statement which we have previously given you:

The BBC stands by its journalism and we completely reject any accusations of bias or dishonesty.

The Panorama programme explored a topic of undoubted public interest, broadcasting powerful and disturbing testimonies from party members who’d suffered anti-Semitic abuse.”


FURTHER ARTICLES are in preparation. 

Support this campaign by clicking on the crowdfunded link here


1 Paddy French declares an interest in this issue. A life-long Labour voter, he joined the party after Jeremy Corbyn was elected Leader.
2 Much of this article is based on the work of others including The Canary, Electronic Intifada, Vox Political and Jewish Voice for Labour.
3  This article was amended on 8 December 2019 to include a statement from Jewish Voice for Labour. 

Published: 2 November 2019
© Press Gang

PRESS GANG has asked Ofcom for permission to submit a complaint about the Panorama programme. No reply has yet been received. But in this article we lay out the skeleton argument for why we believe this edition of Panorama breached Ofcom’s broadcasting code over and over again.
(This was published on 8 December 2019, read it here.)


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

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


August 30, 2018


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

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

The paper boasted:

The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

But storm clouds were brewing.


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

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

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


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

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

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

Andrew Norfolk

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

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

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

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

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

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

These were to prove disastrous miscalculations.

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


AUGUST 29 could not have started better for Norfolk.

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

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

Norfolk was able to report the next day:

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

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

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

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

Judge rules child must leave Muslim foster home

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

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

But it was the sub-head that mattered:

The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Norfolk didn’t report these sensational revelations.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The paper added that the court later:

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

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

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

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

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

The next day a dramatic eight page statement was released.

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

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

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

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

The order stated:

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

The order stated bluntly:

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

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

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

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

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

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

They did not reply.


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

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

It stated:

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

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


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

The Case Management Order continued:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It recorded that the grandmother:

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

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

The statement added that the grandmother:

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

The child told the grandmother that she:

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


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

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

But another problem was brewing.

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

IPSO brushed all of these aside — except for one.

Tower Hamlets complained about The Times headline

The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

And IPSO finally ruled that this claim was inaccurate.

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

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



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

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



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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.



30 August 2017


Andrew Norfolk, Chief Investigative Reporter


Judge rules child must leave Muslim foster home


The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




February 11, 2017


BY THE late 1990s Scotland Yard had made no progress in catching the men who butchered private detective Daniel Morgan in 1987.

Then in 1998 anti-corruption detectives — worried that bent policemen were selling sensitive information to the detective agency Southern Investigations  — installed a bug in the firm’s offices.

Southern’s owners — murder suspect Jonathan Rees and retired police sergeant Sid Fillery — had no idea they were under surveillance.


PRIVATE EYE Jonathan Rees (left) should have been a prime suspect in the murder of his partner Daniel Morgan in 1987 — the two men were love rivals and were arguing about a botched security operation arranged by Rees. But Scotland Yard detective sergeant Sid Fillery (right) kept that crucial information from the murder squad for four days. For the events leading up to the murder, the early contaminated murder inquiry, the sensational inquest which saw Rees’s book-keeper accuse him of planning the murder, see Part One — An Axe To Grind. The second part of The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency — Rogue Journalists & Bent Coppers — reveals how Rees and his new partner Fillery became key players in the unlawful sale of confidential police information to Rupert Murdoch’s empire, especially the News of the World. Attempts by anti-corruption detectives to end this corrosive trade came to nothing.
Photos: PA

Detectives listened as Rees hatched a conspiracy with serving Scotland Yard detectives to plant drugs on an innocent woman.

The plotters were caught red-handed and Rees was gaoled for 7 years.

But the bug picked up no clues about the murder.

Pressure from Daniel Morgan’s family finally forced the Met to open a new murder inquiry in 2002.

It started with a dramatic BBC Crimewatch reconstruction.

Instantly Rees — from prison — and Fillery started a campaign to subvert this new inquiry.

They targeted the family of the detective in charge — hacked his personal records and had him followed.

Scotland Yard hit back — they raided Southern Investigations and found extreme child pornography on Sid Fillery’s computer.

He was convicted and ordered to sign the Sex Offender’s Register.


THIS ARTICLE is the third instalment of an investigation that started more than a decade ago.
For 30 years the Daniel Morgan murder was largely ignored by the UK newspapers and broadcasters.
In part, this was because the News of the World was in a commercial relationship with Southern Investigations.
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With Rees in prison and Fillery disgraced, Southern Investigations finally came to an  end.

But the Morgan family’s battle to bring Daniel’s killers to justice ploughed on …


IN 1999 detectives listening to the bug planted in the offices of Southern Investigations began to hear a plot unfold. 

A London businessman, Simon Jones, came to see if the agency could help him win a custody battle with his wife.

James asked Jonathan Rees to see if there was any evidence that his wife was involved in drugs.

It would help him get sole custody of the couple’s little boy.

Rees could find no evidence that his wife Kim was dealing in drugs.

In a bugged conversation, he hinted that he might be able to do something:

Rees  “I just wondered…  We can do things.”

James  “I’m not being funny. I’d rather you talk to me straight.”

Rees  “I just wondered if it might be worthwhile, going in and planting some gear. Now, having said that it’s done, it’s available, but it costs.”

James  “I’m not averse to doing anything.”

Rees  “What we are doing is fraught … Me and you could end up doing porridge as well, if we get caught out.”


A POLICE surveillance photograph taken while the self-employed jeweller was plotting to gain custody of his son by planting drugs on the mother. Jonathan Rees was prepared to send an innocent woman to prison to satisfy his client …
Photo: Press Association.

James  “Yeah, I mean, you’re professionals. That’s why I have come here…”

Rees  “All right, I’ll have a chat to our people today.”

Three days later, James returned to the office with £7,500 — some of which was used to buy cocaine.

As the plot to frame the innocent woman got underway, anti-corruption officers were watching every move.

They were about to catch the plotters red-handed.

A man called Jimmy Cook, who worked for Southern Investigations, broke into Kim James’ car and planted bags of cocaine.

Undercover officers were waiting and, as soon as Cook was out of the way, removed the cocaine and replaced it with packets of harmless powder.

Another contact, a corrupt detective constable called Austin Warnes, tipped off the police that Kim James was dealing in drugs.

She was raided and a suspicious package found in her car.

She was arrested.

The police pounced on the conspirators.

They arrested Rees, Simon James and Austin Warnes.

Austin Warnes was gaoled for five years for his part in the plot.

Rees got seven years — as did the businessman Simon James.

One of those acquitted in the case was Jimmy Cook, the Southern Investigations employee who would later be charged with being the getaway driver in the Daniel Morgan murder.


CORRUPT DETECTIVE Austin Warnes. He pretended he had intelligence that Simon James’ wife was dealing in drugs …
Photo: Press Association


IN 2002 detective chief superintendent Dave Cook of Scotland Yard’s murder squad was approached by anti-corruption detectives.

They wanted him to do them a favour.

They had decided to try and break the stalemate in the Daniel Morgan murder investigation.

They wanted the BBC Crimewatch programme to highlight the murder with the Metropolitan Police offering a £50,000 reward for information.

Their problem was that they didn’t want Rees and Fillery to know that it was the anti-corruption team who were in charge.

Would Cook appear on the programme to give the impression that he was heading up the inquiry?

Cook was an ideal candidate because his wife, policewoman Jacqui Hames, acted as a presenter on the porgramme.

Cook agreed.

On 26 June 2002 he appeared on the programme to appeal for witnesses to the murder.

The next day, Cook was told by anti-corruption officers that Sid Fillery had been in touch with reporter Alex Marunchak at the News of the World asking him to “sort out” the detective.

(At the time, Rees was still in prison for the Simon James conspiracy, although he was still in touch with both Fillery and Marunchak).

Shortly afterwards Cook spotted a white van outside his house.

The next day there were two.

When Cook took his young son to nursery, the vans followed.

Cook later arranged for police to stop one of the vans on the grounds that a rear light was defective.

The driver turned out to be a photojournalist working for the News of the World.

Both vans were leased by the newspaper.

Cook’s wife, Jacqui Hames, told witness protection officers that she had been photographed outside the couple’s home.

The couple were later told that the Met’s media boss Dick Fedorcio contacted the News of the World.

Fedorcio was told that the paper had been tipped off that Cook was having an affair with the Crimewatch presenter.


THE EXPERIENCED murder squad detective was disturbed when he and his wife were placed under surveillance by the News of the World as soon as he appeared on the BBC Crimewatch programme. Murder suspect Jonathan Rees had asked his friends on the paper to target the chief superintendant … 
Photo: Press Association. 

This was an incredible answer.

Cook and Hames were married, had two children and had been featured as a couple in Hello! magazine.

The surveillance ceased.

A few days later Cook was told by Surrey Police, where he worked from 1996 to 2001, that someone had rung asking for his address.

The caller said they were working for the Inland Revenue and wanted it to send Cook a tax refund.

Surrey Police refused to give it.

Later in 2002, anti-corruption officers raided the offices of Southern Investigations.

At this point, Jonathan Rees was still in prison.

On Sid Fillery’s computer officers found indecent images of young children.

In October 2003 Bow Street Magistrates gave him a three year community rehabilitation order.

District Judge Caroline Tibbs said she’d taken into account his guilty plea and what his defence claimed was his previous good behaviour.

The court was told nothing about his role in the Daniel Morgan murder case.

After the conviction, the detective agency collapsed.

Fillery went to live on the Norfolk Broads, running a pub called the Lion at Thurne.

It later became clear that Glen Mulcaire — the private eye gaoled in 2007 with News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman for hacking into royal mobiles — obtained Cook’s address, his internal Met payroll number and the amount he and his wife were paying on their mortgage.

Phone hacking claims

THE EDITOR of the News of the World when the paper mounted a surveillance operation against Dave Cook, Rebekah Brooks was untroubled that the paper was allowing itself to be used to pervert the course of justice …
Photo: PA 

Mulcaire also obtained the mobile number for Cook’s wife as well as the password she used.

Mulcaire was apparently acting on the instructions of Greg Miskiw, the News of the World assistant editor at the time.

On 9 January 2003 Rebekah Brooks was at Scotland Yard on a social visit when she was asked to have a word with Dave Cook “to clear the air”.

Present at the meeting was the Yard’s media boss Dick Fedorcio.

By that time, Cook was in charge of the latest Daniel Morgan murder investigation.

At first Brooks claimed to know nothing about the surveillance of Cook and his wife.

When Cook took her through the events, she insisted Marunchak was a fine reporter.

She promised to look into the matter.

We asked Dave Cook [in September 2011] to be interviewed for this article.

He declined.

The Met Commissioner at the time of Cook’s meeting with Brooks was Sir John Stevens.

He’s known to have dined regularly with Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson.

After he left the Met he was commissioned by Coulson to write a column for the News of the World — called “The Chief”.


EVER SINCE the phone hacking scandal destroyed the reputation of the News of the World, Alastair Morgan has been thinking about the surveillance operation the paper mounted against detective superintendent Dave Cook and his then wife in 2002.

He believes it was an attempt to intimidate the detective.

Morgan believes that a similar operation was mounted against him and his family in May 1998.

The family were campaigning for a public inquiry into the events surrounding Daniel’s death.


HIS MOTHER Isobel, sister Jane and brother Alastair have been relentless in their campaign to bring Daniel’s killers to justice.
Photo: PA

“I was living in Glasgow,” Alastair Morgan explains, “and one night I noticed two men standing openly on the corner of the street where my flat was located.”

“The next day they were there again. I was sure they were watching me — they made absolutely no attempt to conceal themselves.”

“I rang my mother Isobel who lives in Wales and told her.”

“She then told me that she’d also had a strange encounter — she was just going into her house when a woman photographer walked up behind her and took a couple of photographs.”

“She didn’t say anything — just got into a car which drove off.”

“And when I told my sister Jane, who lives in Germany, she said that she’d seen a white van parked outside her home in the countryside.”

“A man was lying in a ditch with a telephoto lens pointed at her home.”

“All of these incidents were reported to the police — in Scotland, Wales and Germany. We were all worried.”

Alastair Morgan told us:

“I have written to James Murdoch at News International to ask him to tell us if it was the News of the World who were watching us. And, if they were, what exactly was the justification for the intrusion.”

He had not received a reply by the time this article went to press.

We asked News International for a response but the press office told us:

“NI declines to comment”.


THE FINAL instalment of The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency — Getting Away With Murder — will cover the events that followed Jonathan Rees’ release from prison in 2004.

His criminal record was no barrier to his continued working for the News of the World.

But police were closing in.

In 2008 he — and four others — were arrested and charged with involvement in the murder.

By 2011 the prosecution decided to offer no evidence.

The evidence of three supergrasses — “assisting offenders” is the official term — was discredited.

And police failed to disclose some of the 750,ooo pages of documents to the defence.

But the judge, David Maddison, made it clear police “had ample grounds to justify the arrest and prosecution of the defendants.”

That has not stopped four of them bringing a civil action for malicious prosecution and malfeasance in public office.

This is on-going.

At the same time a review of the scandal headed by Baroness Nuala O’Loan is preparing its report.

Set up in 2013 by then Home Secretary Theresa May, its hearings were held in secret.

Re-published: 11 February 2017
© Press Gang

This article is part of a series first published on the Rebecca Television website in September 2011.
Rees and Fillery were sent letters outlining the article and asking for their comments. 
Fillery never replied but Rees’ solicitor said:
“Mr Rees has not the spare time to reply to the many questions that have been raised, often on the basis of ill-informed or malicious allegations.”
“Defamation claims are being pursued … in respect of some past publications; and the police have been asked to investigate any use by journalists or others of confidential or forged material improperly released by police officers or others.” 
No legal action was taken against Rebecca Television.
There are four parts to The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency: Click on the title to read.
An Axe To Grind
Rogue Journalists & Bent Coppers
Getting Away With Murder.
The series draws on material provided by the Morgan family as well as published material by other journalists, notably Nick Davies of the Guardian. Former BBC reporter Graeme McLagan devoted a detailed chapter on the murder as early as 2003 in his book Bent Coppers: The Inside Story of Scotland Yard’s Battle Againats Police Corruption (Orion). It also featured in Laurie Flynn & Michael Gillard’s Untouchables: Dirty Cops, Bent Justice and Racism In Scotland Yard (Cutting Edge, 2004). Several books on the phone hacking scandal have highlighted the key role the murder plays in the saga: Nick Davies’ Hack Attack (Chatto & Windus, 2014) , Tom Watson MP & Martin Hickman’s Dial M For Murdoch (Allen Lane, 2012) and Peter Jukes’ The Fall Of The House Of Murdoch (Unbound, 2012). Peter Jukes has also produced a podcast series — listened to by more than 4 million people — Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder 
Press Gang editor Paddy French made several programmes on the murder while a current affairs producer at ITV Wales. 


THIS YEAR will see a major battle for control of Britain’s airwaves — Rupert Murdoch’s bid to take overall control of Sky TV. The mogul scuttled an earlier attempt in 2012 because of the public outcry over the phone hacking scandal. The battle for Sky will be a key battleground in 21st century British media because of the decline in newspapers. If Murdoch gets Sky, he will move to smash the powerful broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom, and convert Sky News into a British version of his US Fox News. This is part of a plan to replace the fading populist power of the Sun with a new right-wing  TV version. All the signs are Theresa May’s government will give Rupert Murdoch what he wants. But all is not lost — the Murdochs are vulnerable to a charge that, despite claims to have cleaned up their criminal stable since the closure of the News of the World in 2012, some areas of their empire remain as corrupt as ever …


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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.


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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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January 19, 2016


LAST WEEK there were two major announcements about Rupert Murdoch.

On Tuesday the Times revealed he was engaged to fellow American citizen Jerry Hall.
They’re planning a marriage.
On the same day Press Gang asked Ofcom to hold an inquiry into the media mogul’s fitness to hold the Sky TV licence.
We’re planning a divorce.
If Ofcom declares Murdoch “unfit”, his forthcoming bid to take overall control of the broadcaster will fail.
He tried before — an attempt in 2011 was wrecked by the phone hacking scandal. 
If he’s found “unfit”, Murdoch will also be forced to sell his remaining 39 per cent stake in the broadcaster.
It will be the end of his TV empire in the UK.
Ofcom has acknowledged receipt of our request but has not formally responded.
This article spells out why this could be an important battlefield …


IN JANUARY 1999 the Sun ran a World Exclusive.

The paper had discovered Jerry Hall had decided to end her marriage with Mick Jagger.

“Jagger divorce” was the front page headline on January 15.

The paper reported:

“The Texan model finally buckled yesterday as she ordered lawyers to start proceedings at the High Court in London.”

It was a famous scoop.

But how did the Sun get it?

The finger points to a young reporter who joined the paper in the late 1990s.

He’d discovered a new way of obtaining stories: hacking phones.

Andy Coulson — associate editor at the Sun at the time — was impressed.

It was later claimed he said of the reporter:

“He’s a one trick pony. But what a trick!”

It’s alleged the journalist was listening in to the voicemail messages of Jagger’s PR man Bernard Doherty. 

RUPERT MURDOCH Rupert Murdoch announced his engagement to Jerry Hall last week. The media have missed the allegation that personal information about Jerry Hall’s divorce from Mick Jagger was illegally obtained by the Sun. The story is told in Nick Davies’ book Hack Attack. Davies claimed a Sun reporter listened to the voicemail messages of one of Jagger’s team. This would given the paper the phone numbers of Jagger — and Jerry Hall … Photo: PA

THE BILLIONAIRE announced his engagement to Jerry Hall last week. The media have missed the allegation that personal information about Jerry Hall’s “divorce” from Mick Jagger was illegally obtained by the Sun. The story is told in Nick Davies’ book Hack Attack. Davies claimed a Sun reporter — he gave him the codename “Sand” — listened to the voicemail messages of one of Jagger’s team. This would have given the paper the phone numbers of Jagger — and Jerry Hall …
Photo: PA

Coulson and the paper had been following the Jagger-Hall “marriage” — it was later ruled invalid — closely.

In November 1998, for example, the Sun discovered a lawyer acting for Jerry Hall was secretly meeting Jagger’s mistress in New York.

The lawyer was hoping the woman would provide ammunition in the event of divorce proceedings.

A Sun reporter was waiting for the couple when they left a restaurant.

The reaction of Jagger’s girlfriend was: “Oh my God, how did you find me?”

The lawyer asked the reporter: “How DID you know we were here?”

(The emphasis is in the original Sun article.)

Articles like these helped to build Coulson’s reputation.

In 2000 he joined News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks as her deputy.

He was already her lover.

Coulson was married, she was in the middle of a long relationship with EastEnders actor Ross Kemp.

In 2003, when Brooks was promoted to Sun editor, he took the reins of the News of the World.

In 2007 the paper’s royal editor Clive Goodman was gaoled for hacking phones — and Coulson resigned.

He later lied to a House of Commons select committee:

“… if a rogue reporter decides to behave in that fashion I am not sure that there is an awful lot more I could have done.”

The Goodman case would have been the end of most people’s career — but not Coulson’s.

Just four months later Opposition Leader David Cameron made him the Tories’ Director of Communications.

One of his champions was shadow Chancellor George Osborne.

Osborne owed Coulson.

Coulson had been kind to the shadow Chancellor. 

In October 2005 the Sunday Mirror published a photograph suggesting Osborne had been a cocaine user.

Taken when he was 22, the snap showed him with his arm around a dominatrix known as Madam Pain.

She was the partner of a friend.

In the background was a line of white powder Madam Pain claimed was cocaine.

The paper’s headline: “Vice Girl: I Snorted Cocaine With Top Tory Boy”.

A CRIMINAL AT NO 10 ANDY COULSON was David Cameron’s communications boss from 2007 until 2011. Critics warned Cameron’s team there were indications Coulson might be involved in the phone hacking scandal. Cameron, who denied ever hearing the warninss, described Coulson as a “friend”. Photo: PA

ANDY COULSON was David Cameron’s communications chief from 2007 to 2011. Critics told Cameron’s team there were indications Coulson might be involved in the phone hacking scandal. Cameron, who denied ever hearing the warnings, described Coulson as a “friend”.
Photo: PA

Coulson also published the picture but the News of the World was unusually sympathetic.

“It was a stark lesson,” Osborne said, “of the destruction which drugs bring to so many people’s lives.”

He denied using cocaine.

When David Cameron became Prime Minister, Coulson joined him at No 10.

When the phone hacking scandal broke in 2011, Coulson resigned.

The rest is history: in July 2014 he was gaoled for 18 months for phone hacking.

There’s nothing new in the rise and fall of Andy Coulson — but it underlines the seriousness of the wrong-doing at Murdoch’s newspapers.

It forms part of our case that, by allowing Coulson to run a criminal enterprise at the News of the World, Rupert Murdoch is “unfit” to run Sky … 


INCREDIBLY MURDOCH is now poised to make a new bid for Sky.

Like the film Back To The Future  — where a time traveller changes the past — it’s as if the criminal enterprise that thrived at the Sun and News of the World had never happened.

In 2011 David Cameron wouldn’t touch Murdoch with a barge pole.

Now they’re best friends again.

The once disgraced Rebekah Brooks is back as chief executive of Murdoch’s British newspapers. 

The scene is set for Murdoch to make another bid for the 61 per cent of the company his 21st Century Fox business doesn’t already own.

He’s been quietly preparing the ground — the company recently changed its name from BSkyB to Sky plc.

And it also bought Murdoch’s German and Italian satellite interests. 

AND THE BAND PLAYED ON DAVID CAMERON has performed a complete U-turn in his dealings with Rupert Murdoch. In 2011, agreeing that politicians had become too close to media tycoons, he promised: “It’s on my watch that the music has stopped.” Just before Christmas, he and his wife attended a party at Rupert Murdoch’s central London apartment. Photo: PA.

DAVID CAMERON has performed a complete U-turn in his dealings with Rupert Murdoch. In 2011, agreeing that politicians had become too close to media tycoons, he promised: “It’s on my watch that the music has stopped.” In December he and his wife attended a party at Rupert Murdoch’s central London apartment …
Photo: PA.

There are concerns the move will increase Murdoch’s share of the British market — bringing him closer to the stranglehold Silvio Berlusconi wields in Italy. 

When he tried to buy Sky in 2011, he was also opposed by an unlikely alliance of newspaper groups and other broadcasters.

The BBC and BT joined the Guardian, Telegraph, Mirror and Daily Mail groups in calling for the bid to be blocked.

But the real anxiety is over Sky News.

There are fears Murdoch will try and turn it into a version of his Fox News in the USA.

Fox has earned a reputation as an extreme right wing channel: its journalism the TV equivalent of the Sun.

This isn’t a problem for the Tories — but it is for those for oppose Murdoch.

Commercial broadcasting is tightly regulated in the UK, demnding high editorial standards and political impartiality.

Murdoch plans to deal with these concerns by hiving Sky News into a separate company, guaranteeing its editorial independence in the articles of association.

This solution satisfied Ofcom at the time of the 2011 bid.

Some critics are reassured: the watchdog is a formidable regulator, thwarting Sky’s ambitions on several occasions.

In 2006 Sky had bought an 18 per cent stake in ITV to prevent it merging with another company and creating a competitor to Sky.

An Ofcom inquiry decided the stake gave Sky too much influence in the UK and, eventually, Sky was forced to sell the stake at a loss.

Ofcom has also ordered Sky to reduce the price it charged rivals for the use of its material.

In 2009 Murdoch’s son, James, attacked the watchdog for imposing “astonishing” burdens on broadcasters. 

His solution was brutal:

“There is an inescapable conclusion that we must reach if we are to have a better society.”

“The only reliable, durable and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit.”  

The danger here is that David Cameron and George Osborne also have Ofcom in their sights. 

In July 2009 David Cameron said that he wanted to restrict Ofcom to its “narrow technical and enforcement roles” rather than issues of public policy.

“Ofcom, as we know it, will cease to exist,” he said.

The Tories were unable to carry out the pledge because they were in coalition with the Liberal Democrats until 2015.

Critics fear the Tories will now move to cripple Ofcom — and then quietly relax the restrictions on Sky News … 


THE PRESS GANG campaign The People v. Murdochis designed to force Murdoch’s withdrawal from the UK TV scene.

A week has passed since we asked Ofcom to launch an inquiry into the “fitness” of Rupert Murdoch and his family to be involved in British television.

Under the 1996 Broadcasting Act Ofcom is charged with making sure licence holders are “fit and proper” persons to hold the licence.

Ofcom has already held an inquiry, in 2012.

Although it criticised James Murdoch for his handling of the phone hacking crisis, it decided there wasn’t enough evidence to take the licence away from the Murdochs.

But since then a vast amount of damaging material has emerged — see the previous article, Fightback, for more details. 

Alongside the campaign is a petition on the 38degrees website, here.

And a small crowd-funding project has been launched to pay the initial expenses of the campaign, here.

You can also follow the campaign on Twitter — @pguk10


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January 12, 2016


AT THE beginning of 2016 Rupert Murdoch once again dominates British media.

David Cameron is back on side.

Juries have refused to convict Sun journalists of bribing corrupt police officers.

The threat of a tough new media regulator has all but vanished.

In September Murdoch felt strong enough to rehabilitate his beloved Rebekah Brooks.

In December the most dangerous threat — the possibility of corporate charges — was lifted.

Today, the billionaire is more powerful than ever.

But all is not lost.

There are millions of people on three continents who oppose him.

Today Press Gang launches a new campaign — The People versus Murdoch.

We’ve found an important chink in the media mogul’s armour …


THIS MORNING Press Gang sent a four page letter to the broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

We asked chief executive Sharon White to launch an inquiry into whether Rupert Murdoch and his family are “fit and proper” people to be involved in the satellite television company BSkyB.

Ofcom has this duty under the Broadcasting Acts of 1990 and 1996.

The watchdog looked at the issue back in September 2012 when the phone hacking scandal was at its height.

(Its report can be read here.)

Ofcom criticised Murdoch’s son James, who was in charge of the News of the World, for his handling of the crisis.

It found his actions:

” … fell short of the exercise of responsibility to be expected of the chief executive officer …”

But there wasn’t enough evidence to declare him unfit.

PRIME CONCERNS FOUR DAYS before Christmas the Prime Minister and several Cabinet members attended a private party at the London home of Rupert Murdoch. In 2011, at the height of the hacking scandal, Cameron told Parliament: "The truth is, we have all been in this together. The press, the politicians and the leaders of all parties — and, yes, that includes me ... Throughout all this, all the warnings, all the concern, the government at the time did nothing." The party — reported only by the Guardian — shows Cameron and Murdoch are now comfortably back in harness, "in this together"... Photo: PA

FOUR DAYS before Christmas the Prime Minister and several Cabinet members attended a private party at the London home of Rupert Murdoch. In 2011, at the height of the hacking scandal, Cameron told Parliament: “The truth is, we have all been in this together. The press, the politicians and the leaders of all parties — and, yes, that includes me … Throughout all this, all the warnings, all the concern, the government at the time did nothing.” The party — reported only by the Guardian — shows Cameron and Murdoch are now comfortably back in harness, “in this together”…
Photo: PA

Of Rupert Murdoch it said there was no evidence he’d behaved inappropriately.

But Ofcom also made it clear that it was working “on the evidence available to date”.

It added:

“As Ofcom’s duty to be satisfied that licensees remain fit and proper is ongoing, should further material evidence become available, Ofcom would need to consider that evidence in light of its duty.”

Since that statement an enormous amount of new material has come into the public domain.

Ofcom has confirmed it has not considered this evidence.

Press Gang has now asked it to do so …


FOUR MONTHS after Ofcom published its findings, Lord Justice Leveson produced his report.

He was much more critical of the Murdoch family than Ofcom.

On the response of senior management to the phone hacking scandal, he noted:

” … the evidence … points to a serious failure of governance within the NoTW [News of the World], NI [News International] and News Corporation.”

The key point here is that Lord Leveson’s criticisms extended all the way to the top of the empire.

Leveson said:

“If News Corporation management, and in particular Rupert Murdoch, were aware of the allegations, it is obvious that action should have been taken to investigate them.”

“If News Corporation were not aware of the allegations which, as Rupert Murdoch has said, have cost the corporation many hundreds of millions of pounds, then there would appear to have been a significant failure in corporate governance …”

A SERIOUS FAILURE OF GOVERNANCE LORD JUSTICE LEVESON took a long, hard look at the Murdoch empire — and wasn't impressed by what he saw. But his report is just half of the exercise — when David Cameron announced the inquiry back in July 2011 he said it would take place in two parts. The second part, to be held after all the criminal trials are over, "will examine the extent of unlawful or improper conduct at the News of the World and other newspapers, and the way in which management failures may have allowed it to happen." Although almost all cases have now been heard, Cameron is using the fact that a few are still in the pipeline to delay making an announcement. Rupert Murdoch is desperate to make sure it does not happen ... Photo: PA

LORD JUSTICE LEVESON took a long, hard look at the Murdoch empire — and didn’t like what he saw. But his report is just half of the exercise — when David Cameron announced the inquiry back in July 2011 he said it would take place in two parts. The second part, to be held after all the criminal trials are over, “will examine the extent of unlawful or improper conduct at the News of the World and other newspapers, and the way in which management failures may have allowed it to happen.” Although almost all cases have now been heard, Cameron is using the fact that a few are still in the pipeline to delay making an announcement. Rupert Murdoch is desperate to make sure it does not happen …
Photo: PA

Leveson examined one of the key issues of the phone hacking saga.

This was the meeting in June 2008 where James Murdoch met with News International’s legal manager Tom Crone to discuss legal action taken by hacking victim Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association.

Taylor’s lawyers had obtained a devastating document — the celebrated “for Neville” email — which contained transcripts of 35 voicemail messages.

Tom Crone took this email to the meeting — and told James Murdoch it shattered the company’s public insistence that phone hacking was restricted to just one “rogue reporter”.

James Murdoch denied Crone told him this.

Murdoch agreed to settle the case for the colossal sum of £425,000 providing Taylor agreed to keep it confidential.

When Ofcom examined this issue, it concluded Crone’s evidence was not:

” … sufficient to demonstrate that James Murdoch was made fully aware of the implications of the evidence disclosed in the Taylor litigation at the time he authorised the payment.”

Lord Justice Leveson took a different view.

On the conflict between James Murdoch and Tom Crone he said:

“I … conclude that Mr Crone’s version of events as to what occurred on 10 June 2008 should be preferred to that of James Murdoch.”

This is just one dramatic part of the Leveson Inquiry that Ofcom should consider.


WHEN OFCOM examined the fitness of Rupert Murdoch and his family back in 2012, its emphasis was on the phone hacking saga at the News of the World.

It wasn’t able to examine the corruption scandal which erupted in 2011 when News International handed over emails implicating scores of Sun journalists.

The result was Operation Elveden — the Metropolitan Police investigation into the bribing of public officials.

Many Sun journalists had been arrested but the sub judice rules prevented Ofcom from considering the issue in 2012.

In the years that followed, Elveden saw many public employees — including police officers and prison warders — convicted.

Almost all of the Sun journalists were cleared by juries.

SCARLET WOMAN AFTER FOUR years in the wilderness, Rebekah Brooks is back in charge of Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers. Back in 2011 — a week after it was revealed the News of the World had hacked the phone of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler — Rupert Murdoch was asked what his priority was. "This one", he said, pointing to Brooks. She was later arrested and charged but was cleared by a jury at the Old Bailey in 2014. During the trial, it was revealed that during her marriage to the actor Ross Kemp, she'd had a secret affair with Andy Coulson ... Photo: PA

AFTER FOUR years in the wilderness, Rebekah Brooks is back in charge of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers. Back in 2011 — a week after it was revealed the News of the World had hacked the phone of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler — Rupert Murdoch was asked what his priority was. “This one”, he said, pointing to Brooks. She was later arrested and charged but was cleared by a jury at the Old Bailey in 2014. During the trial, it was revealed that during her marriage to the actor Ross Kemp, she’d had a secret affair with Andy Coulson …
Photo: PA

Operation Elveden points to the Murdoch family tolerating a culture of paying corrupt public officials at both the News of the World and the Sun.

This culture was long-standing.

The practice was extensive — four public employees alone were paid a total of £146,000.

In 2004, press reports show the Sun paid sources £362,000 — an unspecified but clearly significant amount going to corrupt public employees.

Rebekah Brooks, Sun editor from 2003 to 2009, admitted at a Culture Media and Sport select committee hearing in 2003 that she had paid police officers for information.

Sitting at her side, News of the World editor Andy Coulson broke in to say they only did so “within the law”.

Chris Bryant MP told them paying police was unlawful.

Despite this clear warning, the Sun went on paying corrupt police officers for another eight years.

One of these was Surrey police detective Simon Quinn.

He’d been on the paper’s books since 2000 — and had supplied confidential information about the Milly Dowler case in 2002.

Quinn was later gaoled for 18 months after admitting taking £7,000 from the paper over a ten year period.

Press Gang has asked Ofcom to examine the implications of this scandal.


IN ITS 2012 report, Ofcom considered Rupert Murdoch’s role in the “dark arts” saga.

“We do not consider that the evidence currently available to Ofcom provides a reasonable basis on which to conclude that Rupert Murdoch acted in a way that was inappropriate in relation to phone hacking, concealment or corruption by employees of … News International.”

Again, new evidence has since emerged which undermines that conclusion.

Two days after the hacking scandal erupted, in July 2011, Rupert Murdoch made a statement:

“Recent allegations of phone hacking and making payments to police with respect to the News of the World are deplorable and unacceptable.”

This was his public, penitent face.

DEPLORABLE AND UNACCEPTABLE THOSE WERE the words Rupert Murdoch used when the news hacking scandal broke in 2011. But the media mogul has a habit of saying one thing in public — and another in private. In 2013 he was recorded telling a private meeting of Sun journalists that, well, after all, paying cops was part of the general culture of Fleet Street ... Photo: PA

THOSE WERE the words Rupert Murdoch used when the news hacking scandal broke in 2011. But the media mogul has a habit of saying one thing in public — and another in private. In 2013 he was recorded telling a private meeting of Sun journalists that, well, after all, paying police was just part of the general culture of Fleet Street …
Photo: PA

But he also knew News Corporation — worried about corporate charges that might destroy the business — had just handed over a huge cache of emails incriminating Sun journalists.

There was no mention of this in his statement.

In March 2013 he agreed to meet Sun journalists.

Morale at the paper was at rock bottom: many journalists felt colleagues had been thrown to the wolves.

The meeting was recorded by one of the reporters.

In a discussion about the possibility of Sun journalists being charged for paying public officials, Murdoch said:

” … I don’t know of anybody, or anything, that did anything that wasn’t being done across Fleet Street and wasn’t the culture.”

Another journalist said:

“You referred to, you used the phrase, things were done at the Sun for over 40 years. I personally have been here for less than ten. But I’m pretty confident that the working practices I’ve seen here were ones that I’ve inherited, rather than instigated.”

He asked:

“Would you recognise that all this pre-dates many of our involvement here?”

Murdoch’s reply couldn’t have been clearer:

“We’re talking about payments for news tips from cops: that’s been going on a hundred years.”

“You didn’t instigate it.”

Rupert Murdoch not only knew police officers were being paid by his journalists.

He approved of it.


IF OFCOM launches an inquiry, it will be a major blow to Rupert Murdoch’s plans.

Any investigation will take months, if not years.

It will be impossible for Murdoch to launch a bid to buy the remaining 61 per cent of Sky he does not own while it’s taking place.

How can David Cameron’s government agree to his complete takeover if Ofcom is considering whether Murdoch is a “fit and proper” person to be involved in the broadcaster at all?

Press Gang has promised to submit a full statement to Ofcom.

This will include all of the material which has emerged since Ofcom’s report in 2012.

It will also seek to widen the scope of any Ofcom investigation to the Sunday Times where there have also been allegations of illegal news-gathering.

It will also include new criticisms of Murdoch’s own internal watchdog — the Management and Standards Committee (MSC).

In 2012 Press Gang warned the committee that serious problems still existed in the company.

The MSC ignored the warning.


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NEXT The People v Murdoch examines the possibility of a private prosecution against Rupert Murdoch.


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

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