Posts Tagged ‘WPLongform’


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.


May 30, 2019


IN JULY last year the chief investigative reporter of the Times published another of his sensational exposés from the “dark side” of Britain’s Muslim community.

Andrew Norfolk’s target was a small Rotherham-based racial justice charity, Just Yorkshire, some of whose trustees are Muslims.

The award-winning Norfolk told readers how one of the charity’s reports led to death threats against Rotherham’s Labour MP Sarah Champion.

It wasn’t true.

Three months later, and after Press Gang intervened on behalf of the charity, the Times dramatically withdrew Norfolk’s allegation.

In a letter from one of its lawyers, the paper admitted “no death threats … were attributable to the report”. 

It was fake news — published on the front page of a paper that once claimed to be “Britain’s Most Trusted National Newspaper”.

Before Norfolk and the Times got to work on its reputation, Just Yorkshire had never received abuse on its website.

Now there was a steady stream, including death threats. 

One of these read:

“Filthy inbred Muslim cunts. We’re going to kill you all. Britain first.”  

The charity was forced to close. 

This new scandal follows Norfolk’s now notorious “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care” investigation of 2017. 

Norfolk was exposed as a rogue reporter after the judiciary confronted his false narrative.

The court released documents which revealed that the so-called Christian girl at the centre of the story was the daughter of a woman whose parents are practising Muslims. 

For much of her life, the little girl was brought up by her grandparents — in a Turkish household of practising Muslims.

(This story has been told in the first three parts of The Shame Of Andrew Norfolk: see, for example, Retribution.)

Now comes the fake “death threats” story … 


On 25 July 2018 the Times launched a campaign claiming the racial justice charity Just Yorkshire had put the life of the MP Sarah Champion in danger.

Over a four day period the paper published seven articles criticising the charity.

It was a typical Andrew Norfolk investigation — the initial front page article was buttressed by two further articles.

An editorial made it clear the Times backed its chief investigative reporter to the hilt. 

The issue was kept alive the next day with another front page article and a comment piece by columnist David Aaronovitch.


THE DRAMATIC front page article written by Andrew Norfolk in July 2018 which claimed the Just Yorkshire report led to death threats against the MP Sarah Champion. On Christmas Eve 2018 the Times buried a 69-word paragraph on page 24 admitting there was no truth in the allegation. Lawyers for the paper privately described the allegation as a “slip”, an “error”, a “mistake”.

The campaign came to an end with a front page story on July 29. 

By then the 16-year-old charity’s reputation was in tatters — its funders were backing away and its only employee would soon be made redundant.  

Norfolk’s first article was headed:

Terror police boost MP’s security for MP over criticism of Asian sex gangs

It continued on page 7 under the headline:

Security stepped up after scathing report led to death threats

The first two paragraphs stated:

An MP who received death threats after condemning the sexual abuse of girls by groups of British Pakistani men has been given increased security amid fears that hard-left and Muslim opponents are trying to force her from office.

Sarah Champion was accused by activists in her Rotherham constituency of “industrial-scale racism” for highlighting the “common ethnic heritage” of most of those implicated in the town’s sex-grooming scandal.

There were, in fact, two strands to Norfolk’s “Terror police” story.

The first was the allegation made against Just Yorkshire.

The second was an exposé of an alleged plot by Muslim Labour Party members in Rotherham to unseat Sarah Champion.

This second strand is discussed later in this piece.  

Norfolk attempted to create a link between these two separate elements but was unable to find any evidence.

Instead, he lumped the alleged plotters with Just Yorkshire branding both as critics of the MP. 

In his article, Andrew Norfolk claimed that Just Yorkshire was a major opponent of the MP:

The strongest public attacks on Ms Champion, who campaigns for the victims of child sexual exploitation, have been made by a Rotherham-based racial justice charity, Just Yorkshire.

The charity’s leader has accused the MP of “industrial scale racism” and “inciting and inviting hatred against minorities”. 

Norfolk added that a report co-authored by Nadeem Murtuja, interim director of Just Yorkshire:

… said that British Pakistanis felt “scapegoated, dehumanised and potentially criminalised” by their MP, who had “crossed a point of no return”.

The Just Yorkshire report had examined the impact of a controversial Sun article by Sarah Champion in August 2017 on the town’s 7,600-strong Asian community.

Champion’s article was headed “British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls … and it’s time we faced up to it”.

The MP, who was Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities at the time, wrote:

There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?

Champion was heavily criticised for the piece and later admitted it “should not have gone out in my name and I apologise that it did.” 

She resigned from the shadow cabinet a few days later.

Just Yorkshire’s report on the local impact of her article was published seven months later, in March 2018.


THE LABOUR MP for Rotherham plays a key role in Andrew Norfolk’s articles on Just Yorkshire. When Norfolk revealed that police increased her security in July 2018 after she received death threats, she declined to comment. But after the Times admitted there were no death threats and Just Yorkshire complained to the press watchdog IPSO, she sent the Times an email confirming that her security had been increased as a result of the charity’s report. She has not responded to requests by Press Gang to provide the evidence for this.

Norfolk wrote:

Its foreword accused her of “fanning the flames of racial hatred” and acting like a “neo-fascist murderer”.

He noted that “Ms Champion apologised to the Rotherham Pakistani community ‘for any hurt or adverse reaction I inadvertently caused’, but said that Just Yorkshire’s findings were ‘based on an extremely limited survey, distributed through networks not made in any way clear in the report’.”

Norfolk added:

The Times understands that the report led to death threats against Ms Champion. Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism unit increased her security risk level and she was advised to accept extra protection. The MP declined to comment.

Readers of the Times will have thought this was a charity run by Muslims whose extreme views had endangered the life of the town’s MP.

Three months later the Times, after the intervention of Press Gang and facing the threat of legal action, backed down.

The paper’s legal department admitted: 

 … the death threats made against Ms Champion since the report was published have not been directly linked to the report …


FOR INTERIM director Nadeem Murtuja and the trustees of Just Yorkshire, the onslaught from Andrew Norfolk and the Times came as a complete shock.

A week before his first article, Norfolk had rung Murtuja and told him about the alleged plot to unseat Sarah Champion.

“He’d also been told that one of these plotters, a local Labour councillor, had been at the launch of our report,” said Murtuja, a former senior council official in Doncaster.

“I told him this wasn’t true: whoever told him that was mistaken. It’s clear Norfolk was trying to make a connection between the councillor and Just Yorkshire’s report.”

“But Norfolk didn’t mention anything about our report leading to death threats against Sarah Champion — that came as a bolt out of the blue.” 


THE FORMER council official took over the running of Just Yorkshire in 2017. Andrew Norfolk rang him and asked if he was a practising Muslim (he is) but never told him he was going to write an article claiming the charity’s report had led to death threats against Sarah Champion. 

For several weeks the charity, formed in the wake of the Bradford riots of 2001, watched as its reputation crumbled.

Formally known as Just West Yorkshire, the charity had been set up with the support of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust in 2003.

Funders distanced themselves and abuse began appearing on its website.

One said: 

“Soon will come a crusade and all Muslims will be butchered. Britain First”

And another:

“Filthy inbred Muslim cunts. We’re going to kill you all. Britain first.”  

On the day the Times campaign against Just Yorkshire drew to a close — 29 July 2018 — Press Gang released the first part of its damning analysis of Norfolk’s Muslim fostering care articles.

This was the first anniversary of Norfolk’s notorious Muslim foster care article .

Norfolk had accused the London borough of Tower Hamlets of forcing a Christian child to live with Muslim foster carers. 

In fact, the mother of the child was the daughter of practising Muslims from Turkey  — and the grandparents had also looked after the little girl for much of her life. 

Press Gang concluded that Andrew Norfolk was a journalist who did not let the facts stand in the way of a sensational story.

The chief investigative reporter of the Times, we noted, had won many awards: 

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

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

When the Times published Norfolk’s sensational “Terror police boost security for MP Sarah Champion over criticism of Asian sex gangs” article, Press Gang was not willing to accept it at face value.

We spoke to Nadeem Murtuja.

He told us Norfolk had twisted the facts to fit what Just Yorkshire considered to be an anti-Muslim narrative. 

He said that when the “Temperature Report” was published on 15 March 2018, it attracted no national publicity and only BBC local radio and the magazine Big Issue North reported its findings.

Press Gang persuaded Nadeem Murtuja and the trustees of Just Yorkshire to join forces with the website.

An alliance was in the interests of both parties.

For Just Yorkshire, Press Gang had expertise: a year-long investigation into the Muslim foster care case meant we had an insight into how Norfolk operated.

We had drafted the only comprehensive complaint to the press watchdog IPSO against the paper’s Muslim foster care coverage.

We also had access to legal advice from leading libel lawyers. 

For Press Gang, Just Yorkshire was an important case study.

Unlike Tower Hamlets, which had been reluctant to take on the Times, Just Yorkshire had nothing to lose. 

Unlike Tower Hamlets, which reluctantly submitted a weak complaint to IPSO, Just Yorkshire were determined to make a full complaint.

Unlike Tower Hamlets, which was extremely nervous about briefing journalists, Just Yorkshire was willing to share everything.

Throughout September and the early part of October, Just Yorkshire and Press Gang carried out a detailed examination of the seven articles which Andrew Norfolk and the Times had published. 

The analysis showed Andrew Norfolk resorted to his tried and tested technique of purgeanddeceive in order to create his sensational campaign … 


NORFOLK STARTED by leaving out the title of the Just Yorkshire report from his first article on July 25.

It’s called “A Temperature Check Report: understanding and assessing the impact of Rotherham MP, Sarah Champion ‘s comments in the Sun newspaper on 10 August 2017″.

The reason why Norfolk left out the title was because, although the report was critical of Champion, it did so with restraint. 

Norfolk purged the title in order to justify the headline “Security stepped up after scathing report led to death threats” and deceive readers about the measured nature of the report. 

Throughout the entire four days’ coverage of the issue, the Times did not once mention the title of the report. 

Next, Norfolk completely purged his account of a section in the introduction to the report which cautioned readers about the limits of the report.

Just Yorkshire agreed to produce the report “subject to the following provisos”:

A  That this report is nothing more than a temperature check report that is only focusing on one segment of the local community.

B  That the atmosphere that exists in Rotherham cannot be directly attributed to Ms Sarah Champion’s comments; and

C  In that context, it is very difficult to assess if the impact of Ms Sarah Champion’s comments has directly resulted in an increase in racism, Islamophobia or community tensions etc. This can only be determined by South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham Council through their community tensions monitoring processes;

D  Therefore, this report is a temperature check report at best – providing the local Pakistani community a platform to respond directly to Ms. Sarah Champion’s comments and have their voice heard. 

E  To acknowledge that Ms Sarah Champion should be commended for the invaluable support she has provided to some victims of the CSE [Child Sexual Exploitation] scandal.

Norfolk left out these qualifications in order to deceive his readers who might have wondered how a report prepared on this basis could possibly lead to death threats and increased security for Sarah Champion. 

Norfolk used the same techniques when it came to the major charges he levelled against Just Yorkshire: that it accused Champion of “industrial-scale racism”, of “fanning the flames of racial hatred” and of acting like a “neo-fascist murderer”.

Take the charge that Just Yorkshire accused the MP of “industrial scale racism”.

This is what Norfolk wrote:

Sarah Champion was accused by activists in her Rotherham constituency of “industrial-scale racism” for highlighting the “common ethnic heritage” of most of those implicated in the town’s sex-grooming scandal.

Again, Norfolk deceives his readers by saying that Just Yorkshire was criticising Just Yorkshire for “highlighting the ‘common ethnic heritage’ of those involved in the grooming cases”. 

Andrew Norfolk

ANDREW NORFOLK is one of Britain’s most decorated journalists: his work on Asian sex gangs won him both the Paul Foot Award and a share of the Orwell Prize. But his recent investigations into issues involving Britain’s Muslim community have drawn criticism from many quarters. Press Gang has condemned his purge-and-deceive strategy: purging important facts and twisting others to deceive his readers. Even the press-controlled watchdog, IPSO, has found some of his articles breached the editors’ code of journalistic practice. 
Photo: Graham Turner for the Guardian

This is what the charity actually said:  

To attempt to define the issue of child sexual abuse / grooming along ethnic lines, and to see the Pakistani community through the prism of paedophilia and criminality is frankly racist — or even claiming there is something inherent in their heritage is bordering on industrial scale racism.

The charity wasn’t criticising Champion for pointing out that most of those convicted of child sexual exploitation were of Pakistani-heritage — it was criticising her for saying that all men of a Pakistani background were potential abusers. 

Norfolk then deceives his readers by selecting “industrial scale racism” from the larger quotation and leaving out the words, “bordering on”, in order to make it look more extreme. 

There was an even more serious deception: readers had no way of knowing that the “industrial scale racism” quote doesn’t even appear in the “Temperature Check” report of March 2018. 

It actually comes from the press release Just Yorkshire released on the day after Sarah Champion’s Sun article was published back in August 2017. 

But, while he was selecting what he considered to be a damaging quote, Norfolk purged his account of a highly significant statement in this press release. 

Just Yorkshire said:

“We condemn any form of threat made towards Sarah Champion for speaking out — and we urge local enforcement agencies to provide the maximum protection.”  

And when Norfolk says the charity accuses Sarah Champion of “fanning the flames of racial hatred” he purges his article of the fact that Champion had condemned her own article of doing exactly that.

In the days after her Sun article appeared Champion claimed the paper made “the headline and opening sentences highly inflammatory and they could be taken to vilify an entire community on the basis of race, religion or country of origin”.

The MP said she did not write the headline or opening sentences, which were “stripped of any nuance about the complex issue of grooming gangs, which have exploited thousands in my constituency”.

The Sun hit back, saying “Sarah Champion’s column, as it appeared on Friday, was approved by her team and her adviser twice contacted us thereafter to say she was ‘thrilled’ with the piece and ‘it looked great’.’

A spokesperson added:

Indeed, her only objection after the article appeared was her belief that her picture byline looked unflattering. Her office submitted five new photos.

Champion admitted: “The article should not have gone out in my name and I apologise that it did”.

She resigned as shadow equalities minister.

Norfolk also stated that the foreword of the “Temperature Check” report accused Sarah Champion of “acting like a ‘neo-fascist murderer’.”

But once again, he deceives his readers by stripping this provocative quote of its context.  

The preface — not foreword as Norfolk says — was written by the respected West Indian academic Professor Gus John. 


THE FRONT cover of Just Yorkshire’s report. Andrew Norfolk did not share with his readers the title for fear it might alert them to the care with which it was prepared.  Although Andrew Norfolk’s articles suggested Just Yorkshire is a Muslim charity, it was in fact run for nearly ten years by a Buddhist: the Singapore-born civil rights activist Ratna Lachman. She died of cancer in 2017 and was replaced as interim director by Nadeem Murtuja. The charity has three trustees, all of them women. Zaiban Alam is a barrister. Zlakha Ahmed, MBE is the chief executive of the organisation Apna Haq which helps domestic violence victims, including those from ethnic communities. Both Alam and Ahmed are practising Muslims. The third trustee, Leila Taleb, a human rights consultant, is an atheist. 
Photo: Just Yorkshire

He wrote that one of the reasons why Sarah Champion’s article was so offensive to Rotherham’s Muslims was that it was published on the second anniversary of a tragedy that shook the town.

In September 2015 two white thugs attacked an 81-year-old Yemeni man Muhsin Ahmed on his way to a local mosque for morning prayers.  

As they set about him, they asked if he was a “groomer” — that is, one of the men who had abused young girls in the town. 

Ahmed was so badly beaten that he later died of his injuries. The two attackers were subsequently gaoled.  

Gus John noted:

Here was a Member of Parliament, a Labour MP, whom the Ahmed family and the Pakistani community had a right to expect to conduct herself differently, effectively doing exactly what the neo-fascist murderers of their loved ones [sic] had done, motivated as they were by hatred of Muslim / Pakistani men, as a collective, for sexual exploitation of white girls.

Andrew Norfolk states that John was accusing Champion of “acting like a ‘neo-fascist murderer’,” when John was actually saying was that she was doing what the two murderers had done — assuming that all Pakistani-heritage men were potential groomers.

And, once again, Norfolk deceived his readers by tampering with the quotation.

He changed the meaning of the words “neo-fascist murderers” by reducing the plural “murderers” to the singular “murderer”.

If he had left the quote as it really was, readers might have wondered how Sarah Champion could possibly act as two murderers at the same time.

Norfolk’s opening report of 25 July 2018 was a classic example of his purge and deceive method of working.


NORFOLK’S DRAMATIC front page article of July 25 was backed up by two other pieces on the same day.

Norfolk wrote a piece supporting Sarah Champion’s stand on the issue.

It was headlined “MP faced fury for stand on sex gangs”.

Norfolk  wrote:

Sarah Champion incurred the wrath of many on the political left when she told readers of the Sun that the country “has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls”.

He did not mention the fact that Champion had condemned her own article.

He also deceived readers when he claimed:

Nowhere in the [Just Yorkshire] report was it acknowledged that the MP stressed in her [Sun] article that in highlighting the ethnicity factor she was referring to a specific model of child abuse, the grooming and exploitation of “mainly white pubescent girls” by organised groups of men.

This is false. 

On page 11 of the “Temperature Check” report it states that in her Sun article Champion “described the perpetrators of the abuse as predators, working in gangs, and said that their common denominator was their ethnic heritage, namely British Pakistani. She identified their victims as ‘mainly white pubescent girls who were being sexually abused’.”

Another piece criticised the Joseph Rowntree charitable trust for supporting Just Yorkshire for much of its sixteen years existence. 

On August 25, the day that Andrew Norfolk makes the “death threats” accusation, the Times devoted one of its leading articles to the case.

It was headed “True Champion”.

It stated that “Rotherham’s MP deserves support for speaking out on sexual abuse”.  

It began with the role of the Rowntree trust. It acknowledged that it had done good work in social policy and housing but noted: 

That makes it all the more disappointing that it should be implicated in the saga in which the Labour MP for Rotherham, Sarah Champion, has received death threats for condemning the sexual abuse of girls by Pakistani men.

It said that Sarah Champion’s protection “has had to be increased”, adding: 

With the murder of the MP JO Cox still fresh in the memory, it is appalling that a local representative should need police protection.

It ended by saying that:

When Ms Champion told the Sun that Britain “has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls” she was doing no more than stating a truth. And unless the truth is confronted, the danger is that abuse will be repeated. She is, as her name suggests, a champion of her constituents.

The campaign against Just Yorkshire continued the next day with another front page article by Norfolk.

This time it concerned a private, undated letter Tory Home Secretary Sajid Javid had written to Champion and which she published on her website.

The headline was “Javid orders research into ethnic origin of sex grooming gangs”. 

In fact, the letter outlined research that was already on-going.

Buried deep in the article was the statement that if “there is a need for further research, we will take it forward.”

It was another example of Andrew Norfolk’s purge and deceive technique.

He was trying to give readers the impression that Javid had ordered research, perhaps as a result of his articles. 

The columnist David Aaronovitch also joined the fray with a piece headed “Criticising Muslims doesn’t make you a racist: activists who have denounced Rotherham’s MP are trying to shut down debate about real problems in their community.”  

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 10.08.34

TIMES COLUMNIST David Aaronovitch joined in the attack on Just Yorkshire. On 26 July 2018 he wrote that “accusations of racism against Ms Champion and consequent threats to her on social media had been ramped up” by Just Yorkshire’s report. Press Gang wrote to Aaronovitch and asked him for the social media evidence that backed up this claim. He did not reply …

Aaronovitch wrote:

Yesterday we revealed that accusations of racism against Ms Champion and consequent threats to her on social media had been ramped up by a report published by a so-called racial justice charity [Just Yorkshire].

Two days later the campaign came to an end when Just Yorkshire was mentioned in a front page article by Norfolk. 

This was another attack on the Joseph Rowntree charitable trust for funding peace groups in Northern Ireland which allegedly had links to terrorists.

There were two paragraphs about the charity’s funding of Just Yorkshire.

The Times reported this week that the trust, a Quaker organisation, had given £550,000 to a group that accused a Labour MP of “industrial-scale racism” for highlighting the sexual abuse of girls by gangs of British Pakistani men.

Norfolk did not tell his readers that this sum had been spread over many years. 

Michelle Russell, the Charity Commission’s director of investigations and enforcement, said yesterday that it had opened an investigation into Just Yorkshire for its attack on Sarah Champion, the MP for Rotherham. “We are examining the administration of the charity and scrutinising some of its activities,” she said.

This was misleading.

The Charity Commission told Press Gang it had received complaints about Just Yorkshire — including one about the “Temperature Check” report — but that these had been received before Norfolk’s articles were published.

The Charity Commission also confirmed that it had not used the word “attack” in its press statement.

The Commission added that it had asked Just Yorkshire for its comments on the Times coverage.

A spokesman told Press Gang it was still considering the issue.

The result of the campaign by Andrew Norfolk and the Times against Just Yorkshire was devastating.

Funders pulled back and income dried up. 

The charity made its only employee, the interim director Nadeem Murtuja, redundant in January this year and told the Charities Commission it has decided to close.


BY MID-OCTOBER last year, Just Yorkshire and Press Gang were ready to hit back at Andrew Norfolk and the Times

A nine page letter was sent to the editor of the Times, John Witherow, to say that the  articles about the charity were defamatory.

The letter, dated 16 October 2018, challenged the paper to provide the evidence that proved the “Temperature Check” report had led to death threats against Sarah Champion.


THIS ISN’T the first time Times editor John Witherow has been investigated by Press Gang over his attitude to Muslim issues. In 2012, when he was editor of the Sunday Times, the paper published a front page article written by the now-disgraced News of the World investigations editor Mazher Mahmood and reporter Eleanor Mills. The piece accused a Muslim dentist of being willing to perform female genital mutilation (FGM). The police investigation collapsed when it turned out that an undercover associate of Mahmood’s may have “prostituted” herself in order to persuade the dentist to carry out the procedure. Police founded no evidence the dentist was involved in FGM. See Withering Heights for the full, sordid story. 
Photo: PA

The response from the Times could not have been more dramatic. 

On November 5, Kirsty Howarth, a senior editorial lawyer at Times Newspapers Ltd which owns the Times, wrote to say:

 … the death threats made against Ms Champion since the report was published have not been directly linked to the report …

The Times was admitting that the allegation about death threats — the single most important element of Andrew Norfolk’s front page of July 25 — was false.

This was a major retreat.

The lawyer did not, however, admit that this was a mistake, nor did she offer an apology.

Indeed, she tried to argue that Norfolk’s first article was not misleading.

“What we in fact understand to be the case is that the publication of the report increased counter-terrorism police’s already significant concerns about Ms Champion’s security ie to a level beyond that which had existed when her life was previously threatened. 

“In light of the severity of those concerns … we do not consider that the article is misleading, but as the Times is a newspaper of record which aims for complete accuracy at all times, it has amended the article online and intends to publish following wording in its Corrections and clarifications column both in the paper and online subject to any reasonable comments you may have …” 

Kirsty Howarth did not provide the evidence which showed Champion’s security was increased as a result of the Just Yorkshire report.

The paragraph the Times was proposing to publish was as follows

Our article about Sarah Champion MP’s security protection being increased (News, 25 July) suggested that a report by the charity Just Yorkshire had led to death threats against Ms Champion. In fact, as was made clear elsewhere in our coverage, whilst the report led police to increase her security protection, no death threats made at that time were attributable to the report. We are happy to make that clear.

Just Yorkshire replied to this letter on November 13.

The charity said the proposed paragraph “is not acceptable, either in terms of content or prominence”.

The letter continued:

When you use the word “suggested” you know full well it is a weasel word.

The article stated bluntly: “The Times understands that the report led to death threats against Ms Champion.”

When this first article continued on page 7, the headline was even blunter: “Security stepped up after scathing report led to death threats”.

The letter noted that proposed paragraph now claimed Andrew Norfolk made it clear “elsewhere” in the article that no death threats were “attributable” to the report. 

Just Yorkshire said “we cannot find any such assertion”.  

The Times did not answer this letter — instead there was a series of phone calls and emails.

TIMES 5 NOV 2018

THE DRAMATIC letter from Times lawyer Kirsty Howarth admitting that neither Andrew Norfolk nor the newspaper had any evidence to back up the sensational allegation that Just Yorkshire’s report had led to death threats against Sarah Champion.

On December 3 Kirsty Howarth emailed to ask:

Are you able to set out for me in concrete terms what the remedy package you consider appropriate would consist of in order that I may instructions?

On December 11, Just Yorkshire submitted two articles for publication — one a short front page apology and an inside news article setting out the charity’s criticism of Andrew Norfolk’s articles. 

The charity also asked for compensation and a letter from editor John Witherow to its principal funders explaining that there had been no death threats as a result of the report. 

On December 21 Howarth emailed to say this proposal had been rejected: 

… the Times editorial independence is sacrosanct and is never used as a bargaining chip in resolving complaints.

She then suggested Just Yorkshire might submit a letter for publication in the paper’s letters page: 

 … but I should warn you that the time that has passed since the articles were published is likely to be relevant here.

On Christmas Eve last year the Times published its 69 word paragraph on the bottom left hand corner of page 24 … 


MEANWHILE LEGAL advice had been sought about whether Just Yorkshire could sue the Times for defamation.

A libel lawyer told Press Gang it would be risky to bring an action: 

The Times will argue that the article did not say that the report incited people to make threats against Sarah Champion, or that JY [Just Yorkshire] intended or was negligent as to that consequence. It simply says that there was a causal connection.  They will argue that there is no serious criticism of JY, certainly not one which would cause serious harm, in saying that the report led to people doing unintended things …

Since libel actions are expensive, Just Yorkshire decided to put the issue of litigation on hold.

Instead, the charity turned to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, IPSO.

Although it claims to be “independent”, IPSO is funded by Britain’s major newspaper publishers.

One of the most powerful of these groups is Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, owners of the Times, the Sun and the Sunday Times

On January 8 Nadeem Murtuja and the trustees of Just Yorkshire made an official complaint to the watchdog.

Just Yorkshire’s complaint was that the Times had breached the accuracy clause of the Editors’ Code which newspapers sign up to.


“IN AN age when world leaders routinely dismiss unwelcome reports a as ‘fake news’, readers need a source they can trust for honest journalism that informs, entertains and analyses without bias. …”
Source: The Times annual IPSO statement, 2017

This states: 

The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.

A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator. 

A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.

Just Yorkshire also claimed that the paper’s coverage broke the discrimination clause which states:

The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

IPSO has few powers and the best Just Yorkshire could hope for was a adjudication that the Times had breached the Editors’ Code

There is no financial redress, the main “punishment” is that the paper might be forced to publish a judgment setting out the breaches. 

IPSO now asked the Times to respond to Just Yorkshire’s complaint. 

When the paper replied on January 25, it had changed its position.

Previously the paper argued that the first Andrew Norfolk article only “suggested” Just Yorkshire’s report led to death threats.

Now its position was that: 

The Times has openly accepted that it was not correct to say … the report ‘led’ to death threats. It regrets the error …

The letter added that the “error” was a “slip”.

However, the paper insisted that there were many other references to death threats in its coverage of Just Yorkshire, the two most important of which “clearly linked the death threats to Ms Champion’s own comments, not to the report”.

It added:

In the light of this, the Times considers it appropriate for the wording [of the paragraph published on 24 December 2018] to have said the article ‘suggested’ that the report led to the death threats and did not consider that the error, though unfortunate, was significant or that it required an apology, though clearly a correction was needed.” 

The paper also gave IPSO more information about its sources for the allegation that concerns about the “Temperature Check” report had contributed to counter-terrorism police providing extra security for Sarah Champion.

The paper: 

… is able to confirm that the information came from trusted and highly reliable and credible sources and it was accurate. The Times has since spoken to Ms Champion who has confirmed that these statements are correct. 

This was another change from the original article which had stated

 The MP declined to comment.


METROPOLITAN POLICE Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu is in charge of counter-terrorism policing in England and Wales. His staff officer Nick Bonomini told Just Yorkshire that the Met’s Parliamentary Liaison & Investigation Team “… are not, nor have they, conducted a formal investigation into the report published by [Just Yorkshire].” Another officer later confirmed that the force knew of no death threats which were linked to the report. However, the Met also confirmed that “action had been to safeguard” the MP as a result of the report. Sarah Champion later claimed that the report had led police, who already had “significant concerns” for her safety, to increase her security. Press Gang has been unable to reconcile the contradiction between these two positions. Sarah Champion has declined to answer any of our questions.
Photo: MPS

Now the MP had come out into the open on behalf of Andrew Norfolk and the newspaper. 

The Times denied its coverage discriminated against Nadeem Murtuja and the trustees of Just Yorkshire.The charity’s response to the Times letter was withering.In a letter, dated February 8, it noted that the Times letter only discussed one occasion when the paper said the report “led” to death threats. The charity said: 

It seems to us that whoever wrote this letter is suffering from amnesia. 

The Times was ignoring the fact that when Norfolk’s front page article of July 25 continued to an inside page it carried the headline:

Security stepped up after scathing report led to death threats.


Nor was Just Yorkshire impressed with the Times sources who said its report had led to increased security for Sarah Champion:

The obvious riposte to this assertion is that, presumably, these were exactly the same “trusted and highly reliable and credible sources” that told Andrew Norfolk about the death threats. 

Just Yorkshire said these sources were “evidentially worthless”. 

The charity had also cited a previous IPSO ruling, called Solash v The Times, where a complaint against the paper was upheld because it wouldn’t reveal the documentary evidence to back up its source.

Just Yorkshire invited IPSO “to make a similar ruling in this case”.

The charity also welcomed the emergence of Sarah Champion, adding:

… Sarah Champion can now furnish the evidence of increased security that Andrew Norfolk and the Times have failed to provide so far.

Just Yorkshire asked for “tangible evidence (social media records, emails, anonymous letters)” and for details of the discussions with counter-terrorism police “which led to them advising, and her accepting, increased security”. 

The letter continued:

In the circumstances, we cannot see any reason why Sarah Champion should decline to provide the documentary evidence necessary to prove that our report contributed to her being given greater security.
On its own, we are not prepared to accept that Sarah Champion’s word alone is sufficient to prove the Times position that our report contributed to increased security.
We note that Andrew Norfolk and Sarah Champion have been fellow campaigners on the issue of Asian sex gangs for several years.
We further note that Andrew Norfolk has written many articles that feature the MP all of them, as far as we know, supportive of her stand on the Asian sex gangs issue. 

The Times responded to these points in a letter dated February 20.

On Just Yorkshire’s point that the paper had ignored the existence of the headline “Security stepped up after scathing report led to death threats”, the Times was  … completely silent.

The letter now made the highly revealing statement that none of Andrew Norfolk’s sources actually told him about the death threats:

We were not told that the report led to death threats …. That sentence in one of the seven articles was a mistake, as we have acknowledged from the very beginning …

Just Yorkshire responded to these revelations in a letter dated March 1.

The letter asked: 

… how on earth did Andrew Norfolk come to make the “mistake” that led him to declare that “the Times understands that the report led to death threats against Ms Champion”?

What the Times now seems to be suggesting is that he conjured the “mistake” out of thin air ..


Screen Shot 2019-02-25 at 17.14.50

THE TIMES is currently running TV ads extolling the virtues of its journalism. The ad shows hyenas dominating the benches of the House of Commons, suggesting that MPs are full of hot air — and in need of the calm, analytical approach of the Times

The letter invited IPSO 

… to come to the conclusion that the “death threats” allegation was a deliberate decision by both Andrew Norfolk (who wrote the sentence beginning “The Times understands …”) and the Times (whose sub-editor wrote the page 7 headline) in order to create a damning, malicious and sensational … article …


IPSO asked the Times to make any final comments before referring the Just Yorkshire complaint to its Complaints Committee.

When the Times replied, on March 7, it did not provide the evidence Just Yorkshire had asked for which proved that the “Temperature Check” report led to increased security for Sarah Champion.

The letter did, however, include an email from Sarah Champion to the Times.

The MP confirmed that her life had been threatened both before and after the “Temperature Check” report was published.

She added:

… the report’s publication (and its contents) increased counter-terrorism police’s already significant concerns about my security and led to their advice that I should increase my security protection, which duly happened.

I hereby confirm that everything that was stated by the newspaper … is true and entirely accurate.

The Times also added some further information about Andrew Norfolk’s two sources:

The Times journalist involved is an experienced, award-winning journalist. He had multiple conversations with two sources for the point regarding Ms Champion, the report, the threats she had received and her police security.

Both sources are known to the journalist as people of integrity and credibility. The newspaper only knows the identity of one of the sources who it can confirm is of some standing and who it knows to be reliable. 

The paper added:

We can say no more than that the source whose identity is known to the both the paper and journalist has direct knowledge of the security concerns raised by the police in light of the report and the measures implemented as a consequence.

Just Yorkshire also complained about the paragraph the Times had published on Christmas Eve last year.

This stated

Our article about Sarah Champion MP’s security protection being increased (News, 25 July) suggested that a report by the charity Just Yorkshire had led to death threats against Ms Champion. In fact, as was made clear elsewhere in our coverage, whilst the report led police to increase her security protection, no death threats made at that time were attributable to the report. We are happy to make that clear.

The charity argued that this paragraph was inaccurate on three grounds:

— the paper had not “suggested” its report had led to death threats. On two occasions it is stated it as a fact, first when the Times “understands” there were death threats and the second, the headline which stated the “scathing report” led to death threats

— the paper argued that it had made it clear elsewhere in its coverage that the report did not lead to death threats. Just Yorkshire said that the only source of any death threats cited by the paper was its report

—  although the paper acknowledged the “death threats” was a “mistake” and that it “regrets the error”, the paragraph did not apologise.


WHEN A right wing fascist murdered 50 Muslims at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March, he plastered his magazines with slogans. One of these was marked “For Rotherham”, a reference to the Asian sex gang stories. 

The Times maintained that its paragraph was accurate.

At this point, IPSO concluded its inquiries and complaints and arbitration officer Madelaine Palacz prepared a report which was submitted to IPSO’s Complaints Committee hearing on March 13.


JUST YORKSHIRE’S complaint was considered by IPSO at a time when the organisation was under fire for not protecting minorities.

On February 28, the campaign group Hacked Off issued an open letter to IPSO calling on it to stop “condoning religious and race-based hate”. 

The letter stated: 

Racist and faith-based attacks against communities are so common in parts of the press that they have become a dangerous normality. It is clear that these attacks encourage the discrimination, harassment and violence suffered by members of minority communities every day.

Yet you have taken no action. In respect of each of the examples cited in this letter, you have not upheld a single complaint. In one entire year, of over 8,000 discrimination complaints, you upheld only one.

By allowing these abuses to go on without sanction you are turning a blind eye to the continuing incitement of hatred.

We write to express our deep dismay and to ask you to address this problem urgently and publicly. While the press must be free to do its job, your implicit condoning of religious and race-based hate must stop.

Among the signatories were the charity War on Want, and cross-party politicians including Baroness Warsi, Keith Vaz, Lord David Alton and Caroline Lucas.

More than 40 others added their names: Steve Coogan, the broadcaster James O’Brien, the barrister Helena Kennedy and the Bishop of St Albans. 

The chair of IPSO, Sir Alan Moses replied:

IPSO rejects the accusation that it condones religious and race-based hate or in any way approves of offensive attacks on groups on the grounds of their beliefs or identity.

Our decisions on discrimination and accuracy make it clear that a finding that there has been no breach of the Editors’ Code does not in any way imply that IPSO approves of what has been written.

The real issue, with which the letter fails to grapple, is how to strike a balance between the freedom of a journalist or newspaper to offend a group while protecting individuals.

As well as making its complaint, Just Yorkshire also wrote to Sir Alan Moses asking the IPSO board to carry out a broad-ranging inquiry into anti-Muslim journalism at the paper. 

This is called a “standards investigation” and IPSO can order one in cases where there is a “serious and systemic” problem.


IN 2014 the Independent Press Standards Organisation — IPSO — replaced the disgraced Press Complaints Commission (PCC).  The PCC had been swept away by the public revulsion over the hacking of the mobile phone of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. It was the Times stablemate, the News of the World, which had been responsible — and the brand became so toxic that Rupert Murdoch closed it. But despite claims that it is a new and improved press regulator, IPSO remains firmly under the yoke of a mainstream press owned in large part by foreign-based billionaires like Murdoch. Its weakness is demonstrated by the fact that it has not been able to prevent Andrew Norfolk and the Times from publishing distorted articles about Britain’s 2.7 million Muslims.

If found guilty, the newspaper can be fined up to £1 million. 

There have been no standards investigations since IPSO started operations in 2014.

Just Yorkshire pointed out that there were broad similarities between the Muslim foster care case and false allegation that its report led to death threats against Sarah Champion.

Moses wrote back to say that the complaints investigation had not been completed but added:

“I have passed your letter to Charlotte Unwin, Head of Standards, so that the concerns you have raised can be flagged up for our ongoing standards monitoring.”

The Just Yorkshire complaint was considered at a meeting of IPSO’s complaints committee on February 13. 

Two members were unable to attend — former CPS official Nazit Afzal and the black barrister Helyn Mensah. 

As a result, there were no representatives of the Asian community — and no representative of any of the UK’s ethnic minorities. 


WHEN IPSO sent Just Yorkshire its ruling on March 28, it was clear its complaints committee had bent over backwards to protect the Times.

There was little the committee could do to mitigate the impact of the headline which appeared on July 25:

Security stepped up after scathing report led to death threats

It found that this was a breach of the accuracy clause of the Editors’ Code:

The print headline to the first article on page 7, had made the categorical claim that the March 2018 report had “led” to the MP receiving death threats. This was a significant claim given its seriousness; it established a causal link between the actions of the complainant and the threats which the MP had received against her life. The newspaper had produced no evidence to support the claim made in the headline on page 7.

But it took a different view of Andrew Norfolk’s comment, again in the first article, that “the Times understands that the report led to death threats against Ms Champion.” 

The complaints committee’s argument was tortuous:

The MP had confirmed that her life had been threatened both before and after the publication of the March 2018 report. She had also confirmed that the report’s publication — and its contents — had increased counter-terrorism police’s already significant concerns about the potential risk to her security, and led to their advice that her security protection be increased, which subsequently happened.

The Committee considered the claim made in the first article, that the newspaper “understood” that the March 2018 report had led to death threats, in that context. Unlike the headline’s categorical claim, the article had made clear the basis for the newspaper’s belief that the report had led to death threats against MP, namely that police had increased the her security risk level and had advised that she accept extra protection. There was no further breach … 

In other words, IPSO found it was perfectly reasonable that Norfolk “understood” that increased security had led to death threats. 

What is astonishing about IPSO’s justification is that the Times, when it was discussing exactly the same remark, stated: 

The Times has openly accepted that it was not correct to say … the report ‘led’ to death threats. It regrets the error …

So IPSO actually found the paper was not inaccurate when the Times had not only admitted its comment was “not correct” but also “regrets the error”. 

In fact, the newspaper only argued that it was not a “significant inaccuracy”.


PRESS GANG is not the only critic of Andrew Norfolk. Brian Cathcart, professor of journalism at Kingston University and a founder member of the pressure group Hacked Off, has been analysing Andrew Norfolk’s journalism for more than eighteen months. Earlier this year he and Press Gang editor Paddy French joined forces to produce a 72 page report exposing Andrew Norfolk. The report examined the Just Yorkshire affair and the notorious “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care” case. The report also analysed a third example of Norfolk’s distorted reporting — a November 2018 article that claimed Rotherham council had favoured a convicted rapist in family court proceedings concerning the child he’d fathered on one of its victims. Official sources later revealed that the council had merely obeyed the rules of the family court. Click here to read the report and see below for the extraordinary response of the Times.

The Times pleads guilty, IPSO finds it innocent … 

For the breach over the “Security stepped up after scathing report led to death threats’ headline, IPSO acknowledged that a correction was needed but concluded that the single paragraph the Times published on 24 December 2018 was adequate.

The Committee expressed some concern at the wording of the correction which was published, particularly the use of the word “suggested”; the headline of the first article had stated, as fact, that the March 2018 report had led to death threats. However it did make clear the correct position that no death threats made at that time were attributable to the March 2018 report.

Just Yorkshire had argued that a 69 word paragraph buried on the letters page did nothing to counter the impact of a front page article.

IPSO’s complaints committee did not agree:

The Committee considered that the publication of this wording in the newspaper’s established Corrections and Clarifications column as well as online, represented due prominence.

The committee found the Times analysis of the “Temperature Check” report was not inaccurate.

The committee also found there had been no discrimination against Nadeem Murtuja and the trustees of Just Yorkshire. 

Just Yorkshire appealed against the ruling.

The letter pointed out that News UK, the ultimate owners of the Times, makes considerable claims for the quality of its journalism:

All News UK titles strive for the highest standards of accuracy and all editorial staff are expected to follow standard journalistic best practice in verifying stories. When reporting events not witnessed at first hand all possible steps should be taken to establish the credibility and reliability of any sources, and to corroborate their accounts.

Just Yorskhire said the paper had fallen short of its own standards. 

The charity also reminded IPSO that it also set high standards for its own deliberations.

The advice given in the preamble to the guidance which accompanies the Editors’ Code emphasises that the code:

… goes beyond a narrow, legal interpretation of the rules, which could provide loopholes, and instead talks about the Code being honoured “not only to the letter but in the full spirit”. That means that instead of legalistic quibbling, the Code should be honoured in what we might perhaps all recognise as the spirit of “fair play” and “doing the right thing”.

Just Yorkshire said that IPSO’s complaints committee had failed its own test. 

It asked the Independent Complaints Reviewer to “reconsider the complaints committee’s verdict on this matter and apply the principles of ‘fair play’ ….”

 IPSO’s “independent complaints reviewer”, former local government chief executive Trish Haines, submitted her report on May 10.  

She stated:

” … the question for the Complaints Reviewer is whether there was a substantial flaw in the decision making process. In my view, there was not.”

This was the end of the regulatory road for Just Yorkshire.

Although IPSO had proved to be a toothless watchdog, its process had revealed important information about the failings at the Times.  

Nadeem Murtuja and the trustees of Just Yorskhire are now considering whether to proceed with an action for defamation … 


SARAH CHAMPION is a key figure in this story.

She now makes it clear — mostly, it has to be said, through her silence — that she does not support Andrew Norfolk and the Times in their assertion that the Just Yorkshire report led to death threats against her.

However, it is also clear that she did nothing to correct the falsehood as Andrew Norfolk and the Times assault on Just Yorkshire continued over several days

She also did nothing to dissuade Andrew Norfolk from running the second strand of July 25 story — the alleged plot by “hard-left and Muslim opponents” to topple her as Rotherham’s MP.

She would only say she had no “comment” to make.

Press Gang has evidence that she knew about this element of the story before it was published.

Her silence on the matter suggests that she was prepared to see it published.

In fact, Andrew Norfolk’s evidence for the plot was painfully thin.

Only two politicians were actually named as potential plotters and one of these, former Labour deputy leader Jahangir Akhtar, was no longer on the council.

The only evidence against him was correspondence — Norfolk gave no date for it — in which he called Champion an “ogre” and “if Labour wants to keep her seat, they need to get rid of her pretty quick”. 


THE DAY after the Unmasked report was published, the Times hit back with an article defending Andrew Norfolk — and an angry editorial attacking the authors as “politically motivated campaigners”.  Read the update here.

The other alleged plotter was councillor Taiba Yasseen who had been dropped from the Labour-controlled cabinet.

Norfolk said that this was “for reasons the party has declined to reveal, but supporters of Ms Champion say that the decision was prompted by concerns that she was trying to discredit the MP.”

No evidence was advanced to support this assertion.

Nor did Norfolk gave any details of actual plotting. 

The evidence for his claim that “far-left activists” were involved appears to be that Yasseen is a membership of Momentum.

Norfolk noted that Yasseen, who has ambitions to become an MP, said the allegation was “categorically untrue”.

Yasseen is a supporter of Sarah Champion — and Sarah Champion has supported Yasseen’s bid to become a Labour candidate in other northern constituencies.

Any plot by Rotherham’s Muslim community to unseat the MP also runs up against some powerful demographics.

The town’s 7,600-strong Pakistani community makes up just over 3 per cent of the 257,000 population.

They elect three out of 61 councillors, all of them Labour.

In the 2012 by-election and the 2015 general election UKIP were the second largest party.

The town has a strong, right-wing element — in the 2012 by-election, the BNP came third to UKIP.

Press Gang asked Sarah Champion if her involvement in Andrew Norfolk’s anti-Muslim journalism is designed to keep right-wing Labour voters from switching to UKIP and the BNP.

She did not reply. 

Andrew Norfolk and Times editor John Witherow also declined to comment. 


Published: 26 June 2019
© Press Gang 



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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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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.”




April 3, 2017


FEBRUARY 2017 was a bad month for one of the prime suspects in the unsolved murder of private eye Daniel Morgan.

Jonathan Rees — boss of the No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency — lost his High Court action against the Metropolitan Police for malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office.

He brought the action after his criminal trial for the murder collapsed in 2011 — and after he’d spent 22 months in prison.

He’d been hoping to make a substantial killing in compensation.

Private Eye, which puts the total cost of the case at more than £1.5 million, says Rees will appeal.

If he fails, he faces a huge legal bill — on top of other mounting debts.

He may have to sell his £1 million house in Surrey …


THIS 5,000 word article is the fifth instalment of an investigation into Southern Investigations 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 one of the prime suspects in the case.
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WHEN MR Justice Mitting dismissed Rees’ action on February 21, it was a major blow to the murder suspect.

He’d funded the action by doing a deal with his solicitors, Freedman Alexander of Ewell in Kent.

If he won, their costs would be paid by the Metropolitan Police.

If he failed, their fees would be secured by a mortgage on Rees’ four-bedroomed property in Weybridge, Surrey.

This charge was registered in November last year.

The amount is not known.

The Weybridge property is worth a million pounds but it already has two other mortgages .

Rees and his partner Margaret Harrison — a former lover of the murdered Daniel Morgan — bought the detached house in March 2006 for £440,000.

This was shortly after Rees had finished serving a seven year prison sentence for conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent mother so she would lose custody of her child.

Rees and Harrison’s previous home in Thornton Heath, Croydon was sold for £290,000 in May 2005.

The couple took out a Bank of Scotland mortgage to pay for the new Weybridge property in 2006 and added a second — from Skye Loans Limited — shortly after.

Press Gang understands Rees was arrested in 2006 by  Scotland Yard’s Financial Crimes Unit in connection with a mortgage application on this house.

The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge him.

In addition to the three mortgages, there are also a series of court orders on the property.

In April 2008 the debt collection company Lowell Portfolio obtained judgment against Rees at Kingston County Court for an unspecified debt.

The same court granted Barclaycard a similar judgment against Rees in May 2008.

Again, the debt is not stated.

Another judgment was made against Rees at Cardiff County Court in favour of Link Financial Ltd for another debt.


PRIVATE EYE Jonathan Rees (left) should have been an immediate suspect in the murder of his business partner Daniel Morgan in 1987 — the two men were love rivals and were arguing about a botched security operation. But Scotland Yard detective sergeant Sid Fillery (right) kept that crucial information — as well as his close friendship with Rees and his own involvement in the ill-fated security operation — from the murder squad for several vital 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 in the Southern Investigations detective agency, Sid 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. Part three — Porridge — tells the story of how Jonathan Rees was gaoled for 7 years after he was caught conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent mother. When indecent child abuse photos were found on Sid Fillery’s computer — he was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register — the detective agency collapsed. In 2008 Rees and Fillery were finally charged in connection with Daniel Morgan’s death: Rees with murder and Fillery with attempting to pervert the course of justice. Part four — Getting Away With Murder — tells the story of how the case dramatically collapsed …
Photos: PA

Finally, the Manchester branch of the law firm Pannone obtained judgment at Kingston County Court in February 2014.

This was for the recovery of £12,247 in legal costs.

Pannone would not comment on the case.


REES’ ATTEMPT to make a financial killing from the Metropolitan Police reached its climax in the Royal Courts of Justice earlier this year.

The case opened on January 17.

The judge was the experienced Sir John Mitting.

Rees was joined by three other claimants.

Two of them — his former brothers-in-law Glenn and Garry Vian — had been also been accused of the murder of Daniel Morgan.

They were joined by former detective sergeant Sid Fillery, accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice.


AN ARTIST’S impression of the five men charged in connection with the Daniel Morgan murder in 2008 — from left to right, Jonathan Rees, Glenn Vian, Sid Fillery, Garry Vian and James “Jimmy” Cook. The prosecution case was that Jonathan Rees ordered the killing, Glenn Vian carried out the execution, his brother Garry was the look-out and Jimmy Cook was the getaway driver. Detective sergeant Fillery covered their tracks. The case finally collapsed in 2011 and all except Jimmy Cook sued the Metropolitan Police.
Illustration: Elizabeth Cook, PA

One of the five men originally charged in connection with the murder — James “Jimmy” Cook — did not take part in the civil action.

The remaining four claimed the prosecution against them was motivated by malice by Scotland Yard in general and in particular by the man who led the investigation — Detective Chief Superintendent (DCS) Dave Cook.

In addition, they claimed DCS Cook was guilty of misfeasance in a public office.

They sought compensation — in the case of Rees and the Vians, including the 22 months they spent on remand.

In the case of Sid Fillery, for the three months he spent in prison before he was released on bail.


REES, FILLERY and the Vians based their claim on the way police handled two witnesses.

One was a professional drug dealer called James Ward.

The claimants argued that Ward had been coached in his evidence by DCS Cook.

They also claimed police deliberately suppressed material about Ward which was favourable to the defence.

Ward had a history of informing on other criminals to get reduced prison sentences.

David Whitehouse QC, for Glenn Vian, said Ward:


THE EXPERIENCED murder detective was the senior investigating officer in the fourth and fifth attempts to bring Daniel Morgan’s murderers to book. When he left the Met in 2007 to join the Serious Organised Crime Agency he agreed to continue as the lead investigator in the Daniel Morgan case. He retired in 2013. 
Photo: PA

” … is a career criminal who has been able to remain active in crime by playing the informant — he has had relationships, including financial relationships, with police officers.”

He added he “has given information to the police, some of it true some of it not true.”

“The result is the police have been prepared to make representations to judges to seek lighter sentences when he is caught.”

In 1987 — the year Daniel Morgan was murdered — Ward was gaoled for two years instead of the expected seven because of the help he’d given police.

Ward knew Rees, Fillery and the Vians.

By the early 2000s he’d become a millionaire as part of a major drugs smuggling ring which also included Garry Vian.

In 2004 Ward and Garry Vian were caught during Scotland Yard’s Operation Bedingham and remanded in custody in August 2004.

At this point Ward decided to see if he could secure another reduced sentence by turning informant.

He chose the Daniel Morgan murder as his bargaining tool.

In February 2005 he met DCS Cook but made it clear he would not give evidence against Rees and the other suspects:

“That will resolve (sic) in someone’s death, my wife, son, grandchildren,” he said.

“Not worth it,” he concluded.

He was only prepared to give intelligence.

He told DCS Cook that the motive for the murder centred on a multi-million pound drug-dealing ring.

The following exchange took place:

Ward: “Where shall I start?”

DCS Cook:

“Tell me what you know. I’ll give you a head start. It was Glenn with the axe, Garry was there and Jimmy with the car.”

The claimants’ team argued this prompt meant Ward’s evidence had been “deliberately contaminated by [DCS] Cook”.

Judge Mitting rejected the claim.

At that stage, he noted:

“Cook was gathering intelligence not evidence.”

Ward later agreed to give evidence.

Once he was accepted as an “assisting offender” a “sterile corridor” was created between the detectives de-briefing him and the Daniel Morgan murder team.

This was to prevent murder squad detectives influencing witnesses.

The claimants team argued that DCS Cook also had the opportunity to prompt Ward by phone.

Again, Mitting was unimpressed:


THE HIGH COURT judge heard the civil action brought by Jonathan Rees and the other claimants against the Metropolitan Police.

” … it overlooks the fact that Ward was in prison and so the opportunity for unrestricted and unrecorded phone calls either did not exist or was so diminished as to make the possibility highly unlikely.”

Mitting accepted that the de-brief of Ward was a “textbook” exercise.


IN JULY 2005 Ward was given a 17 year sentence for the Bedingham offences — Garry Vian was sent down for 14 years.

But Ward’s willingness to give evidence in the Daniel Morgan case saw his sentence drastically reduced.

In March 2007 his 17 year sentence was reduced to five years as a direct consequence of his willingness to give evidence in the Daniel Morgan murder trial.

Part of his de-briefing included “cleansing” his reputation by admitting any criminal activity not known to the police.

He pleaded guilty to a further 13 drugs offences and asked for another nine to be taken into consideration.

For these crimes he was sentenced to a further three years in prison.

Investigators estimated that Ward had made £3.7 million from drugs smuggling.

A separate Proceeds of Crime investigation was also carried out.

Ward was eventually ordered to surrender £633,000.

There was also a money laundering investigation which involved Ward and his wife.

This investigation generated a substantial amount of information including 18 crates of documents which were made available to the murder investigation in 2007.

They were not examined by the murder team — and the prosecution did not disclose them to the defence.

These files included new and damaging evidence about Ward’s activities as an informant.

Then, in 2010, even more damaging documents turned up.

These showed Ward, who was supposed to have “cleansed” his reputation by revealing all his criminality, hadn’t told everything.


MORE THAN 750,000 pages of documents have been generated in the Daniel Morgan murder case. The failure to track down some of these papers proved to be a major liability in the trial of Jonathan Rees and the other suspects …

The documents included what appeared to be an admission that he ordered the murder of a drug dealer.

In the criminal case, the judge ruled that Ward could not give evidence.

In this year’s “malicious prosecution” action, the claimants’ legal team argued that police had deliberately suppressed this undisclosed material.

Judge Mitting accepted there were errors which displayed “a want of due diligence.”

But he added:

“I reject the suggestion that [detectives] deliberately suppressed material which they knew or believed might have undermined Ward’s evidence.”


THE SECOND witness was another criminal, Gary Eaton.

The claimants in the “malicious prosecution” action argued that his evidence was also contaminated.

Eaton was a volatile, unstable character with a long history of mental problems.

He had an alcohol problem, a history of lying and often resorted to violence, both against himself and others.

When he met murder investigators in July 2006, he claimed he was offered £50,000 by James “Jimmy” Cook to carry out the murder.

Daniel Morgan was killed because he’d found out about a drugs and money laundering operation.

Sid Fillery “set it up,” Eaton claimed, and Jonathan Rees knew about it.

At this meeting it was clear Eaton either didn’t know about the Vians’ alleged involvement — or wasn’t prepared to say.

In the High Court action, counsel for the claimants pointed to a question from DCS Cook which they said showed him prompting Eaton.

DCS Cook said:

“Give me the names of the brothers.”

Eaton couldn’t identify them.

When Eaton was accepted as an “assisting offender” he was passed to other officers, not connected with the murder investigation, to carry out the debriefing.

As with Ward, there was supposed to be a “sterile corridor” between the de-briefers and the murder team.

In fact, there was constant mobile phone contact between Eaton and DCS Cook.

In September 2006 Eaton dramatically changed his testimony.

He now said that he had been at the Golden Lion at the time of the murder — he was in the pub when he was asked to go outside.

He said he saw Daniel Morgan’s body on the ground.


THE PUB in Sydenham where the murder took place. Gary Eaton’s late admission that he had been there was not believed by the judge in the criminal case.
Photo: PA

He said Jimmy Cook was in a car which then drove away.

He also now remembered that Glenn Vian was involved — but still couldn’t remember the name of the other brother.

During this period, there were many phone calls between Eaton and DCS Cook  — in breach of the “sterile corridor”.

There were several reports from other officers expressing concern about these contacts.

In the pre-trial hearings in the criminal case, DCS Cook prepared a schedule of the phone calls as he could remember them.

The judge in that case, Sir David Maddison, stated:

“The telephone records now available … indicate direct communication between DCS Cook and Mr Eaton by text and / or phone call on 36 days during this period.”

“… the final version of DCS Cook’s schedule refers to only six days …”

The judge did not find Eaton’s version of events at the Golden Lion credible — and concluded he wasn’t there.

Judge Mitting, in the High Court action, was blunt:

“By prompting a potentially unreliable witness to implicate Glenn and Garry Vian in the Morgan murder and then to conceal the fact that he had done so from the CPS and prosecuting counsel, [DCS] Cook did an act which tended to pervert the course of justice.”


DCS Cook has always denied coaching Eaton — he says all the calls concerned his welfare and his often turbulent personal life.

Eaton, it was argued, was not a typical witness.

Usually, assisting offenders were in prison, seeking to give evidence against other criminals in return for a reduced sentence.

Eaton was a free man who not only volunteered information about the Daniel Morgan murder but also confessed to a large number of criminal offences.

He also surrendered £80,000 which he said was the proceeds of his criminal activities.


JONATHAN REES photographed in the late 1990s outside the offices of Southern Investigations in Thornton Heath. Rees did not realise the premises were bugged — detectives heard him planning to plant drugs on an innocent mother as part of a plot to prove she was an unfit mother. He was gaoled for seven years …
Photo: Metropolitan Police

(In April 2008 Eaton pleaded guilty to a raft of offences and was gaoled for three years.

The offences would normally have attracted a sentence of 28 years.)

Because he was not in prison, it was impossible to observe a sterile corridor — and it wasn’t just DCS Cook he was contacting.

Judge Mitting also noted, in another part of his judgment:

” … I am not persuaded that (DCS) Cook intended that Eaton should give false evidence.”

“I believe it to be inconceivable that Cook gave Eaton a detailed account of what he believed had happened knowing that Eaton had not witnessed it.”

“I strongly suspect that Eaton had said something to Cook which prompted him to believe that Eaton may have been there.”

“The danger in this was that it encouraged an unstable individual with severe personality and psychiatric problems to say what he thought Cook wanted him to say, whether or not it was true.”

Former DCS Cook, by now retired, did not give evidence in this year’s High Court case.

He declined to comment for this article.


JONATHAN REES was confident he would win the High Court case for “malicious prosecution.” 

But it wasn’t a foregone conclusion.

When the murder trial collapsed in 2011, Judge Maddison made it clear the case was properly brought.

There were, he said:

” … ample grounds to justify the arrest and prosecution of the defendants.”


DANIEL’S OLDER brother Alastair and his mother Isobel lay flowers on the spot where Daniel died. It was only the family’s dogged determination that forced Scotland Yard to make a determined effort to catch Daniel’s killers …
Photo: PA

Mitting said that in order to prove they’d been the victims of a “malicious prosecution” the complainants had to prove three things:

— first, that it was the police who were responsible for the prosecution.

In other words, if the Crown Prosecution Service had known DCS Cook had prompted Eaton, the four would not have been charged.

— second, even if it was the police who were the driving force, the claimants also had to show that there was no “reasonable and probable cause” to charge them.

— finally, they had to show that DCS Cook’s actions were motivated by malice.

Judge Mitting found that the claimants case for “malicious prosecution” fell at the first hurdle.

It was not the police who took the decision to prosecute — it was the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The only thing the CPS was not told about was the extent of the calls between DCS Cook and Gary Eaton.

But — even without Eaton — there was plenty of other grounds to prosecute.

Mitting pointed out that, as early as 2002, the opinion of a leading CPS barrister was clear.

The judge quoted a report, written by DCS Cook but accepted as accurate, which said the barrister:

” …  was satisfied that we now know the identity of those responsible for Daniel Morgan’s murder but that the evidence available did not meet the threshold to enable a prosecution to be commenced.”

Mitting ruled that the CPS brought the prosecution — and the “malicious prosecution” argument fell in the case of all four claimants.


JUDGE MITTING went further.

He added that, even if he had found that it was the police who were responsible for the prosecution, the claimants still had to prove there was no “reasonable and probable cause” to bring the case.

There was, he concluded, “reasonable and probable cause” to charge Rees and the Vians.

He examined the evidence against each:

Jonathan Rees

“The undisputed starting point for the case against Rees,” Mitting noted, was the fact he arranged the fatal rendezvous with Daniel Morgan.

In addition, “inconsistencies” in his accounts of his movements and telephone calls on the night of the murder were evidence Rees had something to conceal.

Kevin Lennon, Rees’ book-keeper, said Rees had told him on several occasions he planned to have Daniel Morgan murdered.

The “key evidence” was that of Andrew Docherty, the former partner of Glenn and Garry Vian’s mother, Patricia.

He worked occasionally for Rees and Fillery and, on one occasion, saw Rees give Glenn Vian £8,000 in cash which Glenn told Docherty was part-payment for the murder.

Glenn Vian

James Ward said that in 1993 or 1994 Glenn Vian told him he had killed Morgan and Jimmy Cook was the getaway driver.


GLENN VIAN was the man the prosecution claimed had murdered Daniel Morgan. His defence team argued that Scotland Yard had failed to follow up 40 other possible suspects …
Photo: PA

Glenn called it the “Golden Wonder murder” because Daniel was holding two packets of crisps when he was slaughtered.

Ward said that in 2001 or 2002 he was in Garry Vian’s kitchen when a violent incident took place.

Also pesent were Glenn and Garry Vian and Jonathan Rees.

There was an argument about Rees’ ex-wife who was the sister of the Vians.

Ward claimed that during the row Glenn Vian picked up a knife and cut Jonathan Rees across the face.

Ward said that Garry Vian then said to Glenn:

“That’s fucked that — I was going to ask him for some more money off the Morgan thing.”

There was supporting evidence in the form of a bugged conversation between Glenn Vian and his brother Garry in October 2002 about shooting someone.

Background noises suggested they had a shotgun in their possession.

Judge Mitting said:

“I have heard the relevant portion of the recording and do not accept that an innocent construction can be placed upon it.”

“This was admissible evidence of a propensity on the part of both to use lethal violence.”

Garry Vian

In addition to the evidence about the shotgun, another witness claimed Garry Vian told him he was present during the murder.

A man called Terry Jones, who knew the Vians, said Garry Vian had told him Daniel Morgan had been murdered because he was looking into the drug-dealing operation  — and knew too much.

Sid Fillery

Only in the case of the retired Scotland Yard detective did Judge Mitting conclude there was no “reasonable and probable cause” to charge him.


SID FILLERY (pictured) is one the major financial beneficiaries of the Daniel Morgan murder. When police realised the detective sergeant had contaminated the original inquiry in 1987, they should have prosecuted him. Even if a jury had declined to convict him, the force had considerable disciplinary powers to punish him. He could have been dismissed from the force and stripped of his fully-funded police pension. Instead, he was allowed to resign on medical grounds. Now he will be awarded a substantial compensation package for the failed fifth investigation of the Daniel Morgan murder. He has not escaped scot free, however: he spent three months in prison on remand and his career as a private detective — as well as his personal reputation — was destroyed in 2002 when his computer was found to contain extreme images of the sexual abuse of children …
Photo: PA

Eaton was the only witness against him, and although DCS Cook did not prompt Eaton in relation to Fillery, Eaton was a tainted witness.

Mitting also examined the issue of personal malice on the part of DCS Cook — the third of the three elements the claimants had to prove .

Mitting said:

“I am satisfied that, even if Cook’s methods are open to criticism, his motive was not: it was to bring those he believed to have been complicit in the Morgan murder and in covering it up to justice.”


JUDGE MITTING then moved to the claim that DCS Cook was guilty of “misfeasance in public office” in his dealings with Eaton.

He ruled that Rees and the Vians would have been charged even if Eaton had never come forward — so the misfeasance made no difference to the conduct of their case.

Only in the case of Fillery did he find “misfeasance in public office” had led to a prosecution, including a term of imprisonment on remand, which would not have happened without DCS Cook’s action.

He said:

“It follows that his claim for damages for misfeasance in public office succeeds in full.”

Filly will receive substantial damages.


AFTER THE collapse of his criminal trial for murder in 2011, Jonathan Rees issued a statement.

“I want a judicial inquiry,” he said, “ideally a public inquiry.”

“When Daniel Morgan was killed it was an awful shock to me and to our business.”

“Whatever anyone may say on 10th March 1987 I lost a friend and business partner.”

In 2011 his lawyer told us:

“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.”

For this article, we emailed the solicitor acting for Jonathan Rees, Sidney Fillery and Glenn Vian.

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

The lawyer acting for Garry Vian said:

“I am afraid that I cannot discuss the case with you.”


ONE OF the arguments put forward by the claimants in the High Court action was that scores of possible suspects were not investigated because of Scotland Yard’s obsession with Rees and his co-accused.

However, no credible alternative suspect has ever been named.

This is despite the fact that Jonathan Rees and Sidney Fillery were experienced detectives with extensive contacts in both the Metropolitan Police and Fleet Street.

There’s no evidence they ever mounted a serious campaign to catch the killer.

This is in stark contrast to Alastair Morgan, the dead man’s brother, whose dogged campaigning led to four police investigations following the contaminated first inquiry.

He also shamed the government into setting up the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, chaired by Baroness Nuala O’Loan, which is due to report later this year.


SO WHY was Daniel Morgan killed?

There have always been three main theories.

The first is the rivalry between the dead man and Jonathan Rees over Margaret Harrison — the woman who had an affair with Daniel Morgan before becoming Rees’ long-term partner.

The second is the friction between the two men over the Belmont Car Auction “robbery’.

Rees organised security for the company but, when he claimed he’d been mugged and £18,000 stolen, the firm didn’t believe him — and sued for recovery of the money.

For nearly two decades these two motives were favoured by murder detectives.


IN ALL probability no-one will ever be convicted of killing the 37-year-old father of two. Was he axed to death because he was planning to sell a story about a major drugs racket — also involving Scotland Yard detectives — to a national newspaper?
Photo: Morgan family

But there are problems with both.

Although Daniel Morgan had an affair with Margaret Harrison there’s no evidence he was seriously interested in her.

Witnesses never saw any public arguments between Jonathan Rees and Daniel Morgan over Harrison.

The problem with the Belmont Car Auction theory is the discrepancy between the amount at risk — the £18,000 “stolen” from Rees — and the cost of the killing, apparently somewhere between £20-£25,000.

Surely it would have been cheaper — and safer — to simply return the £18,000?

The mounting friction between Rees and Morgan could have been settled by dissolving their partnership.

There’s always been a third theory — that Daniel Morgan had stumbled on a story involving police corruption and was trying to sell it to national newspapers.

The initial murder investigation didn’t credit the story because Daniel Morgan claimed he was going to get £40,000 for it — a sum so large that the theory seemed absurd.

But during the fifth murder investigation, murder detectives began to change their minds.

The key witness was James Ward — the criminal drug dealer turned supergrass — who was in business with Garry Vian, one of the accused.

Ward was discredited as a witness in the criminal trial but there’s no doubt about the scale of the enterprise he was engaged in.

Ward was just one of the gang — yet investigators estimated he made a fortune of nearly £4 million.

If Ward is correct in his claim that Daniel Morgan had stumbled on the gang and was planning to expose it, then a powerful motive to get rid of him emerges.

A £20-25,000 murder contract would be small beer to an enterprise generating millions of pounds worth of profits.

A sentence for killing him wouldn’t be much higher than a 20-30 year sentence for being a member of a major UK drugs dealing operation.

And if corrupt police officers were also involved, there would be another powerful incentive to get rid of the troublesome private eye …

Published: 3 April 2017
© Press Gang

Until this year’s High Court action, Garry Vian’s first name has always been spelt as “Gary”.
The judgment in Rees v Commissioner can be read, in full, here.
This article is based on a series first published on the Rebecca Television website in September 2011. The site is no longer available.
Rees and Fillery were sent letters outlining the article and asking for their comments.
Fillery never replied but Rees’ solicitor said (as reported above):
“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 currently six parts to The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency:
An Axe To Grind
Rogue Journalists & Bent Coppers
Getting Away With Murder
The Business Of Murder [this article]
Private Eye — A Stab In The Back
See also the Daniel Morgan page.
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 Against 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. Since this article was published, Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes have published the book Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed. The Press Gang review can be read here.
Press Gang editor Paddy French made several programmes on the murder while a current affairs producer at ITV Wales.


Press Gang examines how Private Eye reported the events covered in The Business Of Murder. We have serious concerns that four articles published in the Eye’s investigative section “In The Back” are so misleading they amount to rogue journalism. Read this piece here.


DONATIONS Investigative stories are expensive and time-consuming to produce. You can help by making a contribution —either a one-off gift or a small regular monthly donation. Just click on the logo …

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October 5, 2016


TODAY A jury found Mazher Mahmood guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The verdict was unanimous.

The 53-year-old Mahmood and his former driver Alan Smith, 66, were convicted of plotting to doctor a statement in the Tulisa Contostavlos drugs trial in 2014.

[The two men were sentenced on October 21.

Mahmood was gaoled for  15 months — Smith received a 12 months suspended sentence.]

The verdict destroys Mazher Mahmood’s reputation.

Mahmood did not dare to give evidence because of the substantial body of evidence the prosecution would have marshalled against him.

Some of this comes from Press Gang:

— Mahmood lied to the Leveson Inquiry about the number of criminal convictions he as responsible for.

He claimed more than 250 but Press Gang could only find 70.

Mazher Mahmood court case

MAZHER MAHMOOD arrives at the Old Bailey still determined to preserve his anonymity. The jury were told that there were 11 emails between Mahmood and his driver Alan Smith. When police inspected their computers they found they’d all been deleted …
Photo: PA

Our investigation forced him to go back to Leveson and admit that Murdoch lawyers had come up with just 94.

— in 2012 Press Gang warned Murdoch’s ethics watchdog (the Management and Standards Committee) that Mahmood was a serial perjurer.


THE PICTURE taken by police after Mahmood was convicted  …

Over and over again, he’d gone into the dock and lied about his success in securing convictions.

These inflated claims made it more and more difficult for his victims to defend themselves.

Mazher Mahmood court case
THERE WERE four phone calls between Smith and Mahmood at this time. Police wanted to examine Smith’s mobile phone but he told them it had been destroyed either after it was run over by a motor car or after a jacked-up vehicle had been dropped on it. He was given a suspended 12 months prison sentence.
Photo: PA

The Management and Standards Committee didn’t reply.

— Press Gang revealed that two years before the Tulisa exposé, Mahmood used an associate to prostitute herself to persuade a dentist to agree to carry out female genital mutilation.

This was for a front page exposé for the Sunday Times in 2012.

The case against the dentist collapsed when the journalist / prostitute refused to sign a statement.

(The story is told in Withering Heights.)

John Kelsey Fry QC at Lewes Crown Court
DEFENCE BARRISTER John Kelsey-Fry QC said the case against Mahmood was “fundamentally flawed and illogical and defies common sense.” His client “repeatedly insists he did not discuss Smith’s evidence with him and he repeatedly insists he could not discuss Smith’s evidence.”
Photo: PA

The most detailed account of how Tulisa turned the tables on Mahmood is the following Press Gang article published in August 2014.

It’s a shocking story …



Originally published:
29 August 2014


THE FULL story behind the dramatic collapse of the trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos — and the unscrupulous role of Sun on Sunday reporter Mazher Mahmood — has not been told.

During the trial in July [2014] it became clear that one of Mahmood’s associates, a driver called Alan Smith, changed his witness statement after a discussion with the reporter.

Mahmood had claimed, at an earlier hearing, that he hadn’t spoken to him.

Press Gang can now reveal that Smith has a criminal record.

And it’s not the first time he’s played a devious role in one of the undercover reporter’s stories.

The judge in the Tulisa Contostavlos case concluded Mahmood deliberately lied to the court.

The case was dismissed.

Mahmood has now been suspended by The Sun and the Metropolitan Police are investigating the allegation that he committed perjury.

But the extraordinary sequence of events which led to the singer walking free has not been revealed — even though reporters were well aware of it.

The case also calls into question the willingness of Scotland Yard to base criminal cases on the work of a journalist with a long history of perjury allegations.

Long before Tulisa Contostavlos was charged, the editor of this website wrote to the Metropolitan Police asking them to investigate Mahmood for perjury.

We pointed out that Mahmood had not only lied to the Leveson Inquiry about the number of convictions he’d secured but may also have lied about the issue in several of the criminal prosecutions he generated.

The Met did not reply.

This article tells the inside story of how one of Rupert Murdoch’s favourite reporters fell from grace …

Tulisa Contostavlos court case
THE SINGER walked free after Sun on Sunday undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood was caught lying in the witness-box …
Photo: PA


ON MAY 10 last year a gang practiced in the arts of entrapment prepared for another session with one of their victims.

The group had rented a suite at the 5 star Metropolitan Hotel just off Park Lane in the centre of London.

The target was the singer Tulisa Contostavlos.

She’d enjoyed a successful career with the hip hop band N’Dubz and had been a judge in the TV series The X Factor for two years running.

The man after her scalp was Mazher Mahmood.

In a controversial career spanning more than three decades, Mahmood had chalked up a reputation as one of the most dangerous adversaries in Fleet Street.

As the “Fake Sheik” he’d humiliated the rich and the powerful — including Prince Edward’s wife, the former Sophie Rhys-Jones, and the Duchess of Kent.

But he’d also seen famous celebrities and sportsmen gaoled after his elaborate stings.

This time it was to be a battle between the experienced Mahmood and a young woman from a broken family in North London.

The odds were stacked against the singer.

Tulisa Contostavlos was just 25.

At 50, Mahmood was twice her age.

She was the only child of musician parents who broke up when she was young.

She lived with her mother who had a long history of mental health problems.

MAZHER MAHMOOD targeted the singer because she held out the promise of a “gold standard” sting — a huge story with criminal convictions at the end of it. Tulisa was young, beautiful and had taken her career in a successful hip hop band to a new level when she became an X Factor judge. But Mahmood also thought she was likely to be a cocaine user — one of the million or so British people who regularly use the drug with a heavy concentration in the entertainment business. By early 2013 she’d made it plain she wanted a career in Hollywood — and was therefore ripe for a classic Mahmood sting … In her autobiography Honest (2012) she revealed she’d self-harmed as a teenager.
Photo: BBC

She joined the hip hop band N’Dubz — named after the London district NW1 where she grew up — when she was 12.

The band had its first chart success in May 2007.

In November of that year — when she was 18 — she appeared in the Channel 4 programme Dubplate Drama.

She played a cocaine addict.

In 2011 and 2012 she was one of the judges on Simon Cowell’s The X Factor series.

In May 2012 her solo single “Young” went to No 1.

But a few months earlier her ex-boyfriend Justin Edwards posted online a sex video of the couple.

She took him to court and won damages against him.

By early 2013, she was disillusioned with the music business in Britain.

“I wanted to get out. I wanted to go into acting and piss off to America,” she said later.

She went to Los Angeles to audition for parts.

That’s where Mazher Mahmood and his gang targeted her.

He created a sting based on her public comment that she was a big fan of the actor Leonardo DiCaprio..

He pretended to be a Bollywood producer called Samir Khan and offered her a £3.5 million role in a movie starring alongside DiCaprio.

He flew her to Las Vegas in March 2013 and gave her and her entourage two suites at one of the city’s top hotels, the Venetian.

During her stay, she was given bodyguards and the best tables at nightclubs.

By the time the Las Vegas trip was over, she was convinced she was in line for a major movie that would transform her life.

“I was like a lost puppy,” she later recalled, “because I wanted it so badly to be true.”


WHEN TULISA and her team arrived at the Metropolitan on May 10, Mahmood and his gang were ready.

The reporter and his entourage were armed with hidden cameras and microphones.

But the singer proved a tough nut to crack.

Throughout the long, six-hour session — and the constant flow of alcohol — she kept a cool head.

She clearly didn’t take drugs.

Tulisa Contostavlos court case
ON THE journey home from a six-hour session where she was plied with drink by Mazher Mahmood’s gang, the singer made it clear she disapproved of drugs. It was a statement that was to save her from a criminal conviction — and dramatically turn the tables on her accuser. Mahmood is now being investigated for perjury … a far more serious offence than the one she was charged with.
Photo: PA

She was also discreet.

She was careful not to badmouth the famous people she knew — like Simon Cowell, the man behind X Factor.

Mahmood had brought up the subject of “celebrity prostitution”.

When it was suggested that she go to Mahmood’s bedroom, she refused.

She was going to land the part on the basis of her acting ability alone.

But Mahmood had a trick up his sleeve.

He didn’t believe in formal auditions, he said.

He preferred “social auditioning” and urged her to demonstrate that she could play the character of a young London druggie in order to get the part.

She played the part, pretending to be a member of a drug gang in her past.

Mahmood said he was coming back to London later that month and planning a night out for his friends at a strip club.

Could she help set up the evening?

Still in character, she said it would be no problem.

At the end of the evening, Mahmood’s driver took the singer and her team home.

The driver was a long-standing associate of Mahmood’s called Alan Smith.

During the journey Tulisa and her associates talked about the evening.

The singer said that a member of her family had a drug problem — and that she personally disapproved of them.

At this point she was revealing her real views on drugs …


ON MAY 21 Tulisa spoke to Mazher Mahmood on the phone about the proposed evening at the night club.

He challenged her to prove her street credentials by giving him the name of a cocaine dealer.

She didn’t know any — but thought that her rapper friend Michael Coombs might pretend to be one.

He’d acted alongside her in the Channel 4 programme “Dubplate Drama” back in 2007 — Coombs had played the dealer to her character.

She thought he’d be able to string the producer along.

On May 22 Mahmood rang Coombs who agreed to supply cocaine.

At a meeting at the Dorchester in the early hours of the next day, Coombs sold the reporter just under half an ounce — 13.9 grams — of cocaine for £820.

Tulisa Contostavlos court case
The 36-year-old rapper friend of Tulisa C, known as Mike GLC, pleaded guilty to selling Mazher Mahmood 13.9 grams of cocaine for £820. The case against him was also dropped when the judge realised that Mahmood had lied under oath.
Photo: PA

The exchange was filmed.

On June 2 [2013] the Sun on Sunday “World Exclusive” front page proclaimed “Tulisa’s Cocaine Deal Shame”.

She was arrested two days later.

By the time the trial began on July 14 this year, the omens were not good for the singer.

Mike Coombs pleaded guilty to supplying the drug — and was likely to face a prison sentence.

The singer pleaded not guilty to being involved in the supply of cocaine.

Her defence team had earlier failed to have the case struck out.

Her barrister said that the offer of a £3.5 million role in a film alongside DiCaprio was an “exceptional inducement”.

He also argued that the evidence Mahmood supplied was invalid because it broke the Police and Criminal Evidence Act — it was tainted by the amounts of alcohol the singer had consumed.

Judge Alistair McCreath rejected both applications.

He also refused to allow the defence to introduce details of other criminal cases involving Mahmood which had collapsed.

And he would not allow the defence to bring evidence of Mahmood’s bad character.

The defence team were still confident that they had a strong defence.

But Tulisa later said she was 100 per cent certain she was going to be convicted:

“I was preparing for prison.”


BUT A miracle was about to happen.

When Mahmood handed over the sting material to the police, there was nothing from the driver Alan Smith.

The defence had a hunch that his vehicle had been bugged on the night he took her home from the Metropolitan.

A few weeks before the trial, the defence insisted police take a statement from him.

On June 23 a detective constable rang Smith and took notes of the conversation.

Smith told the detective that the subject of drugs came up and Tulisa had been very negative about them.

The detective prepared a statement and rang Smith to check it.

He made sure that the driver understood his obligations as a potential witness.

Smith said he was happy with the statement and would sign it.

The detective emailed the statement.

The next day, Smith rang the detective.

He said he was no longer sure it was the singer who had made the comment — it might have been another woman in the car.

The statement was changed and Smith signed it.

The next day, June 25, both statements were provided to the defence.

Here, they thought, was a ray of hope.

Smith’s initial statement gave credibility to the singer’s story that she was only playing a part when she was talking to Mahmood.

On June 27 — three days after Smith signed his changed statement — Mazher Mahmood was giving evidence under oath at a pre-trial hearing.

He was questioned by Tulisa’s barrister Jeremy Dein, QC about Alan Smith’s comment.

First, he was asked if the conversation between Alan Smith and the singer had been recorded.

“No”, answered Mahmood.

“But did you subsequently ask or find out, discuss with Mr Smith anything that was said in the car?

The answer was again “No”.

“Because I just want to see whether you were aware of this.”

“Mr Smith made a statement to the police saying that in the car Ms Contostavlos was talking about drugs and saying that a member of her family had a drug problem and she disapproved of drugs.”

“All I want to know from you is whether you discussed that with Mr Smith at any stage?”

The answer from Mahmood was clear and emphatic:


Mahmood’s answers intrigued the defence team.

Lawyers from Hickman Rose, who represented the singer, began to make inquiries about Alan Smith.

They quickly discovered he’d been a long-term member of Mahmood’s team.

And he had a criminal record.

He’s also been involved in some of the reporter’s stories.

In May 1997, while he was Investigations Editor at the News of the World, Mahmood published an exposé of  a centre in Hayes where the courts sent prisoners to do community service.

One of the people he exposed was an unemployed chauffeur called Alan Graham who was photographed sleeping in the back of a Rolls Royce Silver Spirit.

The caption read “Snooze a Naughty Boy?”

What Mahmood did not tell News of the World readers was that Graham was actually one of his drivers, Alan Smith.

Mahmood calls him “Smithy” and describes him as a “bald-headed burly” and said he was a “wide boy”.

The Rolls Royce had been hired by the paper.

Smith had been sentenced to 100 hours community service by Uxbridge magistrates for fraud.

Mahmood later said that Smith had been included in the article under an alias to disguise the fact that he was the informant for the story …


THE WEEK before the trial opened, the defence asked the Crown Prosecution Service to bring Alan Smith to the court as a potential witness.

On July 16, the third day of the trial, Smith was interviewed by defence solicitors in the presence of a Metropolitan Police detective.

This took place while Mahmood was on the stand, giving evidence for the prosecution.

THE LAWYER headed the legal team representing Tulisa Contostavlos. Solicitors suspected there was something fishy about the evidence given by Mazher Mahmood’s driver.
Photo: Hickman Rose

Smith confirmed that the original version of his statement stated that the subject of drugs had come up.

The singer had been very negative about them.

But he’d become unhappy about the statement.

He told the defence he’d sent a copy of the initial statement to Mahmood and then spoke to him about what he should do.

He said that Mahmood told him that, if he was unhappy with his statement, he should ring the police and change it.

The defence team were stunned.

Mahmood had said, on oath on June 27, that he hadn’t discussed anything with Smith.

Now the driver was saying the exact opposite.

One of the two men was lying…


THE NEXT day, Thursday, was the fourth day of the trial.

It was to be a day of high drama.

Mazher Mahmood was back in the witness-box to be cross-examined by defence QC Jeremy Dein.

Overnight, Mahmood had learned what Smith had told the defence — and realised he now faced a serious dilemma.

Once again, Dein asked him if he’d discussed with Smith what was said in the car.

Mahmood now changed his story.

He admitted he had talked to the driver two weeks earlier.

He said that Smith had rung him and said he wasn’t happy with his statement.

Mahmood told the court Smith had emailed the statement and the two men then had a conversation about it.

Mahmood told him that he should ring the police and change it if he was not sure Tulisa had made the remark.

Dein put it to Mahmood that he had lied when he gave evidence at the earlier hearing.

“I disagree with you,” was Mahmood’s answer.

The barrister put it to him that it was he, Mahmood, who had persuaded Smith to change his statement.

“I did not,” replied Mahmood.

Mahmood added that the change made no difference.

Smith, he said, was sensitive about drugs because his son had recently died of a drugs overdose.

After Mahmood left the box, Judge Alistair McCreath sent the jury out.

He then addressed both the prosecution and the defence.

He made it clear that he felt Mahmood had told a “knowing lie” when he gave evidence on June 27.

And that he did so, in his opinion, to conceal “improper conduct”: he had interfered with evidence that would have been to Tulisa’s advantage.

In circumstances where a key witness was guilty of “gross misconduct”, he added, it would be an abuse for the state to rely on him.

It would also compromise judicial integrity — “it would be on the court’s conscience,” he said.

He then adjourned the court.

Throughout these proceedings, the press gallery was packed.

Reporters cannot report what’s said when the jury is out but the judge’s comments would have made it clear that Mahmood’s earlier dramatic climb-down was not only sensational — it now threatened the entire case.

Yet not a word of what had happened was reported by that evening’s radio and television news.

The next morning, the press were also silent.

The Daily Mail, for example, led with the story that one of Tulisa’s aides told Mahmood that he believed Simon Cowell was gay.

The defence team were disappointed.

They’d hoped press reports of the sensational developments might generate other material helpful to their case.


FRIDAY WAS the fifth day of the trial.

By now it was clear that the judge was proposing to reopen the abuse application he had turned down the previous month.

The prosecution, though, were unable to get advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) about contesting it.

So the matter was left to the following Monday.

By then, the CPS had thrown in the towel and made no objection to the judge re-opening the defence application to stop the proceedings.

Judge McCreath not only halted the trial — he also dismissed the case against Michael Coombs, who had already pleaded guilty to supplying the cocaine.

He said that if he had thrown out the case earlier, Coombs would not have had to stand trial.

In his judgment, McCreath was scathing about Mahmood’s evidence about Alan Smith’s statements:

“When he gave evidence last week, he was asked questions on the same topic and gave answers which were entirely inconsistent with his earlier evidence.”

“And it certainly appears that the contact he had with Mr Smith was not unconnected with a fundamental change in the evidence which it was anticipated Mr Smith was going to give.”

“He was, as you will have understood, expected to be able to give evidence supportive of Ms Contostavlos — that she told him she disapproves of hard drugs.”

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

“But after his conversation with Mr Mahmood, he had changed his mind.”

“It should not be forgotten that Mr Mahmood is

– the sole progenitor of this case

– the sole investigator

– the sole prosecution witness

– a man who has exercised his journalistic privilege to create a situation where the identities of others involved in the investigation are unknown to the defence (or the prosecution or even to me)

– someone who appears to have gone to considerable lengths to get Ms Contostavlos to agree to involve herself in criminal conduct, certainly to far greater lengths that would have been regarded as appropriate had he been a police investigator.”

He concluded:

“there are strong grounds for believing that Mr Mahmood told me lies when he gave evidence to me on June 27”.

And he added:

“there are also strong grounds for believing that the underlying purpose of these lies was to conceal the fact that he had been manipulating the evidence in this case by getting Mr Smith to change his account.”

He ended by saying, ominously for Mahmood:

“My view of the evidence cannot bind any other court which may (or may not) be called on to consider this matter in a different context.”

The fall-out from the collapse of the case was instant.

The Sun suspended Mahmood until an “immediate internal investigation” was complete.

The paper issued a statement:

“We are very disappointed with this outcome, but do believe the original investigation was conducted within the bounds of the law and the industry’s code.”

But it added:

The Sun, of course, takes the judge’s remarks very seriously.”

A spokesman for The Sun told us this week Mahmood remains suspended and that “the internal investigation is ongoing.”

“I will not divulge further details of an internal investigation.”

He added that Alan Smith “worked on an ad-hoc basis with Mr Mahmood.”

The Met said:

” … the Metropolitan Police Service have been able to consider the judgment issued by the trial Judge along with other material supplied by the Prosecution Counsel …”.

“As a consequence of the information supplied officers from Specialist Crime and Operations are now investigating whether any of the matters highlighted amount to the commission of any criminal offences.”

The CPS said it “has no investigative powers and therefore any criminal investigations following the conclusion of this case are a matter for the Metropolitan Police Service.”

On September 30 lawyers for Tulisa Contostavlos will be in court for a hearing to determine if the Sun on Sunday should pay her legal costs.

They have still not decided if she will sue the newspaper.


THE COLLAPSE of the trial raises many questions.

There’s no doubt the Metropolitan Police had no choice but to investigate when presented with clear evidence that Michael Coombs had sold drugs to Mahmood.

But the force was well aware that Mahmood, throughout his career, has come in for sustained criticism about his methods, some of it from judges.

They should have subjected his evidence to a forensic investigation of their own.

It should have been the force that interviewed Alan Smith and not have left it to the defence to force them to do it.

If Smith had not been interviewed, it’s possible Tulisa Contostavlos would now have a criminal record.

IN 2012 Press Gang editor Paddy French wrote and asked the force to investigate allegations that Mazher Mahmood may have committed perjury in many of the cases where he gave evidence. There was no reply.
Photo: Rebecca

The force can’t say it wasn’t warned about the possibility of Mahmood committing perjury.

In November 2012 the editor of this website, Paddy French, wrote to Sue Akers, the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner, asking her to investigate allegations that Mahmood was a serial perjurer.

The letter cited the claim he made to the Leveson Inquiry, under oath, that he had more than 250 criminal convictions to his credit while he was Investigations Editor at the News of the World.

This was untrue.

Paddy French and researcher Chris Nichols had examined the News of the World throughout Mahmood’s career — and could find reports of only 70 convictions.

The full story is contained in the article Fake Convictions.

In the wake of this investigation, the Leveson Inquiry put the allegation to Mahmood.

What was then called News International called in the lawfirm Linklaters to carry out a proper audit.

In a subsequent statement to Leveson, Mahmood admitted that Linklaters could only find 94.

The letter also drew attention to the case against the London’s Burning actor John Alford who was gaoled in 1999 for supplying cocaine to Mahmood.

“In the September 2000 judgment refusing the actor known as John Alford leave to appeal against a nine month sentence for supplying cocaine to Mazher Mahmood’s undercover team in 1999, the court noted that Mahmood claimed 89 SCPs [successful criminal prosecutions]”.

At that point, Press Gang had found only 28.

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

A press officer told us Akers had retired and “the letter has been forwarded to deputy assistant commissioner Steve Kavanagh for consideration.”

“You will be contacted in due course.”

Kavanagh never replied.

Published: 4 October 2016
© Press Gang

This the sixth article in the Press Gang series “The Life & Times Of A Serial Perjurer”. The previous articles and their links are:

Fake Convictions
The Sting In The Singer’s Tale
Lying to Leveson
Withering Heights 
No 10 Silent On “Fake Sheik” Intervention
The relevant statements about Mazher Mahmood’s claims about the convictions he secured to the Leveson Inquiry were made by Rebecca Television:


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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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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.

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.


June 29, 2015


FOR THE last four years Piers Morgan has been desperately trying to distance himself from the phone hacking scandal.

Twice he’s been interviewed under caution by detectives investigating phone hacking at the Daily Mirror when he was editor from 1995 to 2004.

Between 2001 and 2009 he made a series of incriminating statements widely interpreted as evidence he knew all about the practice.

Two of his protégés — Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks — have appeared in the dock at the Old Bailey.

Coulson went to gaol: Brooks was acquitted.

Morgan now insists he knew nothing:

“For the record … I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone.”

But a Press Gang investigation reveals 

— as early as 1997, the Daily Mirror was paying for “confidential enquiries” about telephone numbers

— in 1998 the paper was openly hacking the mobile phones of senior politicians

— a year later it spent nearly £6,000 on illegally obtained print-outs of calls made on individual phones 

The evidence suggests the “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering — including phone hacking — were at the heart of Daily Mirror editorial policy when Morgan was editor. 


WHEN HE appeared on Desert Island Discs in 2009, Piers Morgan was challenged about phone hacking.

Presenter Kirsty Young asked him about dealing with people who listened to phone messages.

“People who tap people’s phones … how did you feel about that?”

Morgan didn’t deny the allegation:

“I’m quite happy … to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to …”

“I make no pretence about the stuff we used to do.”

But after the revelation in July 2011 that Rupert Murdoch’s journalists had hacked murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s mobile phone, he changed his tune.

BUGGERS PIERS MORGAN and his friends Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson at the height of their power in 2004. Morgan edited the Mirror, Brooks The Sun and Coulson the News of the World. All three tabloids were hacking phones at that stage. Coulson and Brooks — long-term on-off lovers — were tried at the Old Bailey in 2014. Brooks was acquitted but Coulson was gaoled for 18 months. Picture: Richard Young / REX

PIERS MORGAN and his friends Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson at the height of their power in the early 2000s. Morgan edited the Mirror, Brooks the Sun and Coulson the News of the World. All three tabloids were hacking phones at that stage. Coulson and Brooks — long-term on-off lovers — were tried at the Old Bailey in 2014; Brooks was acquitted but Coulson was gaoled for 18 months. Piers Morgan was by far the most experienced of the three: he had been Coulson’s boss at the Sun’s show business column in the early 1990s and gave Rebekah Brooks her first big promotion while he was editor of the News of the World
Picture: Richard Young / REX

When the American Daily Beast website resurrected his Desert Island Discs comments in 2011, Morgan insisted:

“For the record … I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone.”

But, in fact, the Daily Mirror had printed an article based on phone hacking more than a decade earlier.

It was just as mobile phones were taking off — and Piers Morgan had been Daily Mirror editor for more than two years.

Early in 1998 one of the paper’s journalists in Dublin realised it was possible to access messages left on the mobile phones of senior Irish politicians.

Reporter Karl Brophy — based at the Irish Parliament — proceeded to listen to messages left on the phone of the Irish leader, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

He also successfully listened to messages left on the phones of other Cabinet ministers.

Brophy’s article — published as an “Exclusive” on Saturday, 18 April 1998 — went into great detail about how phone messages could be hacked:

“The phone tap can be operated by anyone who knows the number of the mobile phone they wish to listen in to.”

The article explained that mobile phones were sold with a standard password for stored messages that most people never changed.

“That means that anyone can listen in to another person’s messages by simply phoning into their electronic mailbox and dialling the digits 0000.”

CAPTION THE FRONT page story proving the Daily Mirror knew how to hack phones as early as April 1998. Reporter Karl Brophy provided a blueprint on how to listen to messages left on mobile phones. The article did not appear in mainland editions of the paper …

THE FRONT page story proving Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror knew how to hack phones as early as April 1998. Reporter Karl Brophy provided a blueprint on how to listen to messages left on mobile phones. The article did not appear in mainland editions of the paper …

“Once they have done this the hacker has unlimited access to all the messages.”

The article was accompanied by an editorial.

This stated:

“If Richard Nixon had lived in Dublin he would have had no need for Watergate.”

“Instead of teams of bungling burglars all he would have needed was a mobile phone to tap into the thoughts of his political rivals.”

The piece continued:

“The Irish Mirror discovered this amazing security breach and chose not to keep it under wraps.”

“It is to be hoped the gap has been plugged before some unscrupulous eavesdropper has used it for sinister [purposes].”

There was to be no phone hacking scandal in Ireland. 


NOT A word of the story appeared in the mainland editions of the Daily Mirror.

This was despite the fact that several million people of Irish descent live in Britain — thousands of them Daily Mirror readers.

And the implications of the story for the British political establishment were obvious.

If British mobile phones were anything like their Irish counterparts, there was a potential security problem.

There were also strong connections between the Irish edition and the paper’s headquarters in London’s Canary Wharf.

DOMINIC MOHAN THE SUN editor told Lord Leveson about the Irish Mirror phone hacking story in 2012. But the Inquiry team did not enter the article into evidence — and Piers Morgan was never questioned about it.

SUN EDITOR Dominic Mohan told Lord Leveson about the Irish Mirror story in 2012. But the Inquiry team failed to understand its significance and didn’t enter the article as evidence — Piers Morgan was never questioned about it.  Back in May 2002 Mohan was editor of the Sun’s “Bizarre” column when he sarcastically thanked Vodaphone’s lack of security for the success of Piers Morgan’s show business coverage in the Mirror Photo: PA

The man in charge of the Irish Mirror was Craig Mackenzie, brother of Kelvin Mackenzie, Mirror Group deputy chief executive.

Kelvin Mackenzie was editor of the Sun when Piers Morgan started on the paper in the late 1980s.

Both Mackenzie brothers were friends of Morgan’s. 

Press Gang spoke to Karl Brophy last week.

He said he wrote the story at a time when mobile phones were taking off.  

“When you got your phone in those days it clearly … told you to change your PIN immediately,” he said.

“The thing was that most older people didn’t bother.”

“So, one day, I just started phoning mobiles of politicians and seeing if they had changed their PINs.”  

“A lot hadn’t so I changed all the PINs of the ones who hadn’t to a single four digit number so nobody else could listen in.”

“I thought the fact that voice messages … of government ministers and advisers could be so easily accessed was rather serious – especially considering where we were in 1998 with the Peace Process …”

In fact, the historic Good Friday agreement had been signed a week earlier.

All the ministers Brophy hacked immediately changed their PIN numbers after he told the government what he’d done. 


FIFTEEN MONTHS later the Daily Mirror in London were told about security problems with mobile phones.

Welsh sales manager Steven Nott rang the paper in August 1999 about a flaw in Vodaphone’s system.

He talked to Mirror special projects editor Oonagh Blackman. 

He told her that if people did not change the standard Vodaphone 3333 PIN number, anyone could dial in and listen to messages. 

Nott claims that, initially, Blackman was enthusiastic but after 12 days told him the paper wasn’t interested.

The paper later sent him a £100 cheque with a statement saying it was in relation to “mobile phone scandal.” 

Nott later told the Leveson Inquiry:

“I accused the Daily Mirror of keeping the phone hacking method for their own purposes.”

But, in addition to the Irish Mirror story, there’s evidence the paper’s journalists were already deeply involved in the “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering, including phone hacking.


CENTRAL TO this operation was senior reporter Gary Jones and his dealings with a corrupt firm of private detectives.

Jones had been News of the World crime reporter when Piers Morgan edited the Sunday tabloid in 1994-1995. 

Jones won the Press Gazette Reporter of the Year award in 1995 for his scoops.

One of the most dramatic was a story about anonymous calls being made by Princess Diana.

This was also one of the key stories in Piers Morgan’s career — it impressed Rupert Murdoch who liked big, international controversies.

Especially if it also involved an attack on the British establishment he despised.

GARY “DARK ARTS” JONES THE SENIOR Daily Mirror journalist was the paper’s mastermind when it came to illegal news-gathering. He’d been the News of the World’s crime reporter when Piers Morgan edited the Sunday paper in 1994-1995. Jones — who has featured in many Press Gang articles —  does not answer our emails.  

A KEY LIEUTENANT throughout Piers Morgan’s editorship, Jones was the Mirror mastermind when it came to illegal news-gathering. He’d been the News of the World crime reporter when Piers Morgan edited the Sunday paper in 1994-1995. Jones — who has featured in many Press Gang articles —  does not answer our emails.

This worldwide exclusive was based on a leaked investigation report from Scotland Yard.

Press Gang — in the article Whodunnit? — revealed Piers Morgan almost certainly authorised an enormous payment to a recently retired senior police officer for access to the report.

The sum is believed to have been in the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Piers Morgan was appointed Daily Mirror editor in 1995 and Gary Jones joined him the following year.

Documentary evidence shows that by October 1997 Gary Jones was responsible for organising much of the paper’s clandestine operations.

Jones was using the controversial detective agency Southern Investigations to illegally access information. 

The agency had also been working for the News of the World from the late 1980s — including the period Piers Morgan was editor.

The firm was run by private eye Jonathan Rees.

Rees had been a suspect in the murder of his partner Daniel Morgan in 1987.

JONATHAN REES THE PRIVATE eye who provided the Daily Mirror with a hoard of confidential information. He stood trial for the murder of his partner Daniel Morgan but the trial collapsed in 2011.  A fuller account of his activities can be found in the Press Gang series The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency.  Photo: PA 

THE PRIVATE eye Jonathan Rees who provided the Daily Mirror with a hoard of confidential information, much of it obtained from bent police officers. He later stood trial for the murder of his partner Daniel Morgan but the case collapsed in 2011.  A fuller account of his activities can be found in the Press Gang series The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency
Photo: PA

Daniel Morgan’s place as Rees’ partner was taken by former Scotland Yard detective sergeant Sid Fillery. 

Fillery had been part of the homicide team investigating the murder until his superiors realised he was a friend of Rees.

Southern Investigations provided Gary Jones and the Mirror with one scoop after another.

The evidence comes from a secret operation — Two Bridges — mounted by anti-corruption detectives at Scotland Yard.

They bugged the offices of Southern Investigations and, in September 1999, raided the firm and many of its network of informants. 

From the files generated by this operation, Press Gang has already shown that 

— in September 1998 phone hacking may have played a part in an exclusive about news presenter Kirsty Young’s new relationship with millionaire businessman Nick Young. In our story Down In The Gutter we showed that Southern Investigations followed Young over several days. The paper’s reluctance to publish the story straight away suggests the original source of the story may have come from phone hacking ,,,

KIRSTY YOUNG WHEN THE presenter interviewed Piers Morgan in 2009, he appeared to admit the Daily Mirror had been involved in phone hacking. What Young didn’t know is that she had been a target of the Daily Mirror in 1998 when she began a new relationship. The story may have resulted from phone hacking …  Photo: PA

WHEN THE Desert Island Discs presenter interviewed Piers Morgan in 2009, he appeared to admit the Daily Mirror had been involved in phone hacking. What Young didn’t know is that she’d been a target of Piers Morgan’s paper in 1998 when she began a new relationship. The story may have resulted from phone hacking … 
Photo: PA

— in October 1998 Gary Jones and Oonagh Blackman published an article revealing the confidential mortgage details of members of the committee which set interest rates. In our article Assault On The Bank Of England we showed that Southern Investigations had illegally “blagged” the information from banks and building societies. The firm sent one set of doctored invoices to the Daily Mirror accounts department but Press Gang obtained a confidential statement sent to Gary Jones marked “For Your Information Only” which reveals the true nature of the operation.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Invoices generated by Southern Investigations were usually heavily disguised.

“Confidential enquiries” was the phrase used to cover up illegal activity ordered by Gary Jones on behalf of the Mirror.

Four of these invoices include parts of telephone numbers.

The first was in October 1997 — long before the Irish Mirror published its piece.

Southern Investigations was billing Jones for “confidential enquiries” relating to a telephone number showing just the dialling code 01480 (Huntingdon). 

In 1998 there were three more invoices — again with only part of the number given.

The sums involved — around £300 each — suggest these “confidential enquiries” involved print-outs of calls made from the numbers.

Southern Investigations had people inside phone companies who made copies of itemised phone calls.

Just how corrupt the relationship between Gary Jones and Jonathan Rees actually was is shown by a dramatic row which took place in July 1999. 


IT’S TUESDAY, 6 July 1999 at the offices of Southern Investigations in Thornton Heath, South London.

Jonathan Rees is busy.

Some of his work is legitimate routine bread and butter stuff like serving writs and tracing people.

But increasingly his time is taken up with obtaining confidential information and selling it to newspapers like the News of the World and the Mirror Group. 

Unknown to him, every word he says today will be recorded.

A bug has been planted in the building by anti-corruption detectives from Scotland Yard as part of Operation Two Bridges.

Two Bridges has two aims.

One is to generate information about the murder of Daniel Morgan in 1987.

The second is part of an attempt to prevent Southern Investigations from corrupting police officers.

An internal Scotland Yard document — later leaked to the BBC Home Affairs correspondent Graeme McLagan — spelt out the concerns.

Rees — and his partner, ex Metropolitan Police detective Sid Fillery:

“.. are alert, cunning and devious individuals who have current knowledge of investigative methods and techniques which may be used against them.”

SID FILLERY THE FORMER Scotland Yard detective — charged with perverting the course of justice in connection with the murder of Daniel —  was discharged in 2010. By then, though, Fillery already had a criminal record — he was convicted of making and possessing indecent images of children in 2003. He now helps run the Lion public house in the village of Thurne in the Norfolk Broads. Photo: PA 

A CHARGE against former Scotland Yard detective Sid Fillery — perverting the course of justice in connection with the murder of Daniel Morgan— was dropped in 2010. By then, though, Fillery already had a criminal record — he was convicted of making and possessing indecent images of children in 2003. He now helps run the Lion public house in the village of Thurne in the Norfolk Broads.
Photo: PA

“They use some of the techniques in their own daily activities.”

“Such is their level of access to individuals within the police, through professional and social contacts, that the threat of compromise to any conventional investigation against them is constant and very real.”  

But on that Tuesday — 6 July 1999 — Rees is oblivious to the fact that his office is bugged.

When he rings Gary Jones at the Daily Mirror to discuss invoices, he believes the conversation is private.

Rees says he’s faxing through a full list of invoices for the work done for the Mirror Group (including the MirrorPeople and the Sunday Mirror) that year.

The total is £16,991 for the five months. 

The list includes nearly £6,000 for the illegal supply of itemised print-outs of calls made from phones. 

Rees says

“… when it comes through you’ll see the invoice, with lots of stars next to them, and roughly billed at about £300 odd — which is print-outs.“

Rees tells Jones there are 19 of these print-outs with the initials of the reporters who ordered them, with “G.J. being you.”

Later that day Rees and Jones have another discussion about the lack of detail on the invoices relating to these print-outs.

Jones is under pressure from the paper’s accounts department to provide more information on the Southern Investigations invoices.

Rees loses his temper:

“Well they are printouts …”

“ … this is tiresome, fucking tiresome …”

“ … we are not going to put the numbers in there because what we are doing is illegal …”

“ … I don’t want people coming in and nicking us for criminal offence, you know.”

When this conversation takes place, Gary Jones is sitting at his desk in the Daily Mirror newsroom on the 22nd floor of the skyscraper at Canary Wharf.

A few yards away is the editor’s corner office.

Can Piers Morgan have known absolutely nothing about Gary Jones’ illegal activities?


OPERATION TWO BRIDGES comes to an abrupt end in September 1999.

The bug in Southern Investigations reveals Rees has a client fighting his estranged wife for custody of their child.

Rees agrees to organise a conspiracy with a corrupt police officer to plant cocaine in the wife’s car.

The plan is to saddle her with a drugs conviction — so proving her to be an unfit mother.

The police pounce on the conspirators.

Rees and the client are given seven year prison sentences.

The corrupt police officer is gaoled for five.

Sid Fillery is not involved. 

SURVEILLANCE OPERATION TWO BRIDGES officers photographed Jonathan Rees outside the offices of Southern Investigations in south London. Detectives were watching the building while others listened in on the bug secretly placed inside …  Photo: PA 

TWO BRIDGES officers photographed Jonathan Rees outside the offices of Southern Investigations in south London. Detectives were watching the building while others listened in on the bug secretly placed inside … 
Photo: PA

When police closed in on the conspiracy, they also arrested many of those suspected of being involved in illegal news-gathering.

One of them was Doug Kempster, a reporter with the Sunday Mirror, part of the Mirror group.

An internal police report shows some senior police officers wanted a conviction:

“It is likely that journalists and private investigators who actively corrupt serving officers would receive a long custodial sentence if convicted.”

“There will be a high level of media interest in this particular investigation, especially when involving journalists.”

“The Metropolitan Police will undoubtedly benefit if a journalist is convicted of corrupting serving police officers.”

“This will send a clear message to members of the media to consider their own ethical and illegal involvement with employees of the Met in the future.”

Police submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service which decided not to charge the reporter.  

Kempster’s arrest sent shock waves around senior management at the Mirror Group.

But it did not stop illegal news-gathering at Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror.

With Jonathan Rees in gaol, the paper turned to another private eye — Steve Whittamore.

By the time he was arrested for breaches of the Data Protection Act in 2003, the paper had spent at least £92,000 with the private eye.

In our article Whodunnit? we exclusively revealed that one of the Mirror reporters who apparently commissioned work from Whittamore was Tom Newton Dunn.

TOM NEWTON DUNN THE CURRENT political editor of The Sun, Tom Newton Dunn was a young Mirror reporter when he ordered an unlawful criminal record check. Photo: PA

THE CURRENT political editor of The Sun, Tom Newton Dunn was a young Mirror reporter when he allegedly ordered an unlawful criminal record check.
Photo: PA

Today, he’s the political editor of The Sun.

In the early 2000s Dunn’s name was recorded by Whittamore as the Mirror contact for a criminal record check of a parliamentary candidate. 

This was Adrian Flook, who later became Tory MP for Taunton.

Newton Dunn does not answer our emails.


IS IT possible Piers Morgan didn’t know what was going on at the Mirror when he was editor? 

During the Leveson Inquiry journalist James Hipwell gave evidence about phone hacking when he worked at the paper between 1998 and 2000.

Hipwell was a financial journalist and worked close to the paper’s showbiz reporters.

He said they hacked openly and frequently.

Hacking was “a bog-standard journalistic tool for gathering information.” 

He had no direct evidence Piers Morgan was involved but added: 

“I would say that it is very unlikely that he didn’t know it was going on …”

“The newspaper was built around the cult of Piers.”  

“He was the newspaper.”

‘Nothing happened at the newspaper without him knowing.”

When he gave evidence, Morgan was contemptuous of Hipwell.

Hipwell had been gaoled for six months for insider dealing in 2000 while working for the paper’s City Slickers column.

He bought shares in a company owned by Alan Sugar before they were tipped by the column.

JAMES HIPWELL A FORMER Daily Mirror financial reporter in the late 1990s, Hipwell says phone hacking was “bog-standard” among the paper’s show-business journalists. Piers Morgan claims Hipwell was not a credible witness because he had a grudge against him — but several judges preferred Hipwell’s testimony to Morgan’s …   Photo: PA

A FORMER Daily Mirror financial reporter in the late 1990s, Hipwell says phone hacking was “bog-standard” among the paper’s show-business journalists. Piers Morgan claims Hipwell was not a credible witness because he had a grudge against him — but several judges preferred Hipwell’s testimony to Morgan’s …  
Photo: PA

The shares rocketed in value the next day.

Piers Morgan also bought shares but always insisted he didn’t know they were going to be the subject of a Mirror article.

In a statement to Leveson, Morgan wrote:

“I note that Mr Hipwell is a convicted criminal who changed his story on a number of occasions during the City Slickers investigation, in part to wrongfully implicate me.”

“I believe any testimony he gives to be inherently unreliable.”

Leveson, though, found Hipwell a credible witness:

“… the Inquiry does conclude that the practice of phone hacking may well have taken place at the Mirror titles at the time Mr Hipwell was working there …”

Leveson also questioned Piers Morgan about his comment after the 2007 gaoling of News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman for hacking royal phones.

Morgan had been Goodman’s editor at the News of the World in 1994-1995.

“… I feel a lot of sympathy for a man who has been the convenient fall guy for an investigative practice that everyone knows was going on at every paper in Fleet Street for years.” 

Morgan told Leveson he was talking about the “rumour mill” at the time — and that phone hacking wasn’t happening at the Daily Mirror.

Leveson was caustic:

“This was not, in any sense at all, a convincing answer.”

“Overall, Mr Morgan’s attempt to push back from his own bullish statement to the Press Gazette was utterly unpersuasive.”


MORE AND more evidence is emerging about the “dark arts” at the Daily Mirror.

So far Operation Golding, the Scotland Yard operation into phone hacking at the Mirror Group, has seen 15 journalists — including Piers Morgan — questioned under caution. 

The investigation continues.

Scores of civil claims are also generating large amounts of information.

In May Mr Justice Mann ordered the Mirror group to pay eight victims a massive £1.2 million in damages.

MIRROR, MIRROR THERE ARE two Piers Morgans. Photo: PA

THERE ARE two Piers Morgans. There’s the brash tabloid editor with the big mouth who’s made a large number of comments making it clear he knew all about the “dark arts” when he was the paper’s editor. And then there’s the innocent journalist who claims he’s been misunderstood — he’s actually a high-minded, ethical editor. If these terrible things happened on his watch, he certainly didn’t authorise them …
Photo: PA / Graphic: Terry Evans, Wheelbarrow Studios

Six were victims of the Daily Mirror during Piers Morgan’s tenure — including the actress Sadie Frost and the footballer Paul Gascoigne.

The judgment also revealed that the Mirror papers:

“admitted paying over £2.25 million (in over 13,000 invoices) to certain named private eyes in the years from 2000 to 2007.”

Mr Justice Mann noted that the Mirror’s legal team acknowledged:

“that ‘an unquantifiable but substantial’ number of the inquiries made of the agents is likely to have been to obtain private information that could not be obtained lawfully.”


© Press Gang
Published: 29 June 2015



1  Many of the examples where Piers Morgan is alleged to have made statements indicating he knew about phone hacking have been left out of this article. They are all well known and including them would have made the piece too long.

2  There are reporting restrictions in the recent civil case against the Mirror group. Mr Justice Mann ordered the names of several journalists should be redacted — apparently because they are the subject of active police inquiries.

3  A more detailed analysis of Mr Justice Mann’s decision will be included in a planned article — The Mirror: Crack’d From Side To Side — about the group’s disastrous management of the scandal.

4  Since the Mann judgment opens the way to everyone targeted by the Daily Mirror, a full list of all those whose names are included in the Southern Investigations invoices will be added to this post later. They include, for example, the environmental activist Daniel “Swampy” Hooper as well as scores of ordinary people …


THE STORY of Piers Morgan’s involvement in the “Slickergate Affair” of 2000 makes sobering reading. There is evidence that Morgan sacrificed two of his journalists to save his own skin — and that senior Mirror Group managers were in on the plot. The attempt to spin the truth of what happened even involved lying to Lord Leveson …  Part five of A Pretty Despicable Man tells the story of a deliberate corporate cover-up  … 


THERE’S A need for a trustworthy website to expose rogue reporters. Press Gang is that outlet — fearless and fair. Join us by becoming a gangbuster and help pay some of our expenses. Just hit the button …

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