hing But the Truth
The Leveson Inquiry as it needs to be viewed.
hing But the Truth
The Leveson Inquiry as it needs to be viewed.
It’s probably worth reminding ourselves that the reason there are eight News of The World employees facing charges over phone hacking is that they were shopped, grassed-up or exposed by other journalists. Proper journalists. Not coppers (bent or otherwise) nor Politicians (ditto), or members of the general public, but journalists. This bunch of whistle-blowers happen to have come from The Gaurdian, but they could have come from any number of sources. Because, just as everyone at The Screws wasn’t a crook, then not every newspaper journalist is on the take (whatever the BBC may have you thinking). Not every Grauniad hack will be as white as the driven snow, and there may have been other reasons for exposing the Wapping scandal other than good, honest investigative journalism, but let us not forget that the industry shopped itself, Westminster please note.
You can extend this thought to the fact that it wasn’t only Wapping hacks that were up to no good – just that they are the first to get pinched for it. The reader might like to note that this week PC Plod revealed that two Prison officers had received payments totalling over £50,000 from The Daily Mirror and Daily Star. As mentioned here before, the shredding machines all over Fleet St have been doing overtime whilst the Inspector’s time is taken up with Murdoch titles. Only time will tell if, by the time Sue Akers and her Mukkers get to “M for Mail” or “P for People” in Glenn Mulcaire‘s address book, the evidence has somehow vanished (like an old oak table).
The conversations may well get interesting as the assorted journos in HMP-issue uniforms are locked up for the night by the very people they were throwing cash at for info about their celebrity/muslim/titillating inmates. Retribution may ensue. The News of the Screws has never been a more appropriate nickname for their paper, in so many ways.
I can’t help thinking public would never have given a toss if the enquiry had merely revealed that the papers had been listening into the phone messages of Elton John or George Michael, going through Hugh Grant’s bins or Jordan’s drawers. That is, after all, why the average knuckle-dragger buys The Sun and The N.O.W- for the gossip stuff that they always seem to get. Fuck actors and sportsmen and singers and the like. They’re not real people. They forfeited their right to privacy the minute they…er…became good at their job (something, thankfully of which I have never been accused).
But to hack into the phone of a little blonde girl who is a possible murder victim ???? Disgusting ! It is a mark of the country’s appetite, class and taste that had the victim not been a little girl, then not only would this intrusion not have registered with the moral code of Joe Public, but the original story would never have made the front pages of the tabloids in the first place. But sadly for Milly Dowler, and latterly Andy Coulson this was not the case. The girl was just the sort of target which his papers and readers salivate about, and the whole sorry saga was somewhat inevitable.
I’ve never bought into the Kelvin McKenzie argument that “papers only print this stuff because that’s what the readers want” but I’m prepared to make an exception in this case. It’d be nice to think that the avid Screws reader realises his own part in this sorry and sordid affair. Nice to think he would, but unlikely to be true, as The Sun on Sunday‘s figures still show. More tits, more bums, more shite, more readers.
Thank god Madeleine McCann wasn’t a 6 ft tall hod carrier from Bridgend – you’d have never heard of the case. News International likes promoting these cases on its covers, and Maddie’s plight has been thoroughly reported over the years, none more so than by The Screws. The family felt this would do their cause some good, giving them some hope and support to find their little girl. Right up until the paper published mum’s personal diaries for the Editors and the average Wayne and Waynetta to dribble over.
So do I feel and pity for these eight (on the understanding, of course, that they are all completely innocent until proven guilty) and the torrid time the police and prosecution will put them through ? No, not much. Maybe sorry that they’ve been singled out, when there are many, many others around that need their collars felt. But the overwhelming feeling is of relief that the industry ratted-out itself and showed others how it should be done. Just don’t talk to me about a self-regulating Press Complaints Commission. It clearly doesn’t work.
Things are definitely changing around here, and some of them not for the best.
I took off this morning on another one of what my doctor, Mr Lansley, calls “life-extending promenades” this morning. I know he means well but I’m not sure Dr Lansley understands just how far “a half hour’s walk” is. Or, come to that, if he understands anything at all about my health. Anyway, the novelty of the yomp to the post office is wearing off already so today I decide to turn the other way into the village itself. This way is a little more interesting as I pass by or through all the hustle and bustle which country life can offer.
I therefore reach the top of the lane and turn left this time, past the school with its newly installed metal detector and courtesy black maria which the children seem to find very interesting indeed. I stand to watch several of them playing a game of Hopscotch (or HopCaledonian as they are told to call it nowadays) through and around the metal detector. I started to reminisce about my time at the school and all the lovely knife-free years I enjoyed there, before I am awakened from my daydream and shooed away by a man pointing a Taser and wearing a flak jacket in school colours. I am a mixture of embarrassed and annoyed, but in any case shuffle off in the direction of the newsagent’s and the football fields beyond.
I no longer use this newsagent. I spent years gleaning from it all the info about the outside world I could. It was a lovely sight. A lovely big sign outside reading “The Village News” above the window was flanked by smaller ones of a bygone day: The News Of the World, News Shopper and even Horse&Hound were all represented in enamel signs down the sides of the shop. Proudly and efficiently run by old Mr Turnbull and his younger wife Susanna, it was a constant source of news, gossip and entertainment.
Sadly, as in everything nowadays, the shop has had a makeover, renamed itself “T’News of T’Village” and is daubed with posters for the Yorkshire Post, Salford Sentinel, and Whippet Magazine. The shop window has been widened, the counter brought closer to the door, and there’s even a space in the background for customers to enjoy a cappuccino or a flat white, run by the serial liar Mrs Kirkwood. (Amazing they haven’t pensioned her off yet.) The company has brought in a whole new staff to help out old Bill. I went in there one Sunday afternoon and found Jack Duckworth and Seth Armstrong serving. I had not a clue what they were on about and left sharply, never to return.
For your information I now pop along to Mr Humphrys who runs the paper stand on the corner. He doesn’t carry any of the tabloids or the magazines, and is only interested in the broadsheets, but at least I can understand what he’s talking about. And he and his friend Mr Naughtie (“Naughty Naughtie”, my mum calls him) do have a laugh when one of them accidentally mispronounces Mr Jeremy Hunt‘s name. The only alternative place to get my news from is Holmes’– the convenience store in the high street. But I fear that if the manager, Eamonn, doesn’t stop tucking into the pasties (“well, no-one else is buying them any more”) they’ll be no room for anyone to get into the shop to buy anything. Fat eejit, so ye are.
As I passed them, Old Bill had young Charlie helping him pile up sandbags outside the door of the shop. They looked very sad. Mrs Kirkwood had her sunglasses on, so I knew it was about to rain. I put up my brolly, upped the pace to a stroll and continued up the path.
The school football pitches lay silent, save for the rustling of Ginsters Dwarf packets being blown about in the goal netting, and old Mr Fry, the omnipresent caretaker re-marking out the lines with his trusty, squeaky wheely machine. I’m sure that’s not what it’s called and that Mr Fry would take the time to tell me, at length, what its real name is, but I intentionally don’t catch his eye. I’m getting bored of him telling me everything about everything. It seems like he’s everywhere I go. And he keeps asking me to follow him. It’s creepy, I reckon. Why he doesn’t find himself a nice wife I’ll never know.
Much excitement was to be had, apparently, up at these pitches at the weekend as two of the immigrant boys did frightfully well in their respective soccer matches. Young Fernando scored three goals. IN ONE MATCH. Putting to bed the fear had by his new PE master, Signor Baldio, that the boy needed to be fitted with calipers to sort his legs and feet out.
Over on another pitch, little Adolf Suarez also scored three times, even though parents were assured at christmas that he was to be expelled for calling some of the other boys “Schwartzers”. His coach, Mr Kenneth Gorbals (pronounced Goebbels), sadly now blind in both eyes, did offer something by way of excuse, but no-one understood him. And on Pitch 3 John the School Bully amazed everyone by staying on the pitch for the whole of the match, and without abusing or maiming anyone. He got rather excited when he scored a goal, but his dad rushed on to the field of play and administered some pills, which he’d secreted in a little baggie down his sock. After the match ‘Bully’ was seen talking to the nurse, Mrs Bridge who seemed to be backing in to him. A lot.
It’s sad to think that in a matter of weeks the pitches and the ancient trees that surround them will be dug up and tarmacked over for use as an Olympic car park. Oh well, we all have to do our bit, I suppose. What’s hundreds of years of history and a few old Oaks when compared to ensuring the success of a
corporate carve-up sports tournament ?
The school’s newly-appointed Temporary Chief Coach, Mr W.O.T. Wovers (Cantab) said that he was “wery happy with all the boys he’d seen in twaining” and that he was confident in their ability to do well in the tournament this summer “especially against fwance and the Ukwaine”.
On the far side of the football pitches I could see the SBS training in the village pond. Their activity was only hampered by having to steer their boats around the Astute-class nuclear submarine which the Royal Navy have parked, sorry moored in our pond, much to the annoyance of both the ducks and the local flasher. Sadly, since the local ARP warden, Mr Johnson, announced that our village was a prime Al Qaeda target this summer, the whole place has been a hive of activity, with varying degrees of success and popularity.
The site for the gun emplacement – originally destined to be on top of the Conservative Club – has been moved (thank the Lord) and will stand proudly, perched on top of the ICU building at the local Hospital. Mr Johnson tells us that, not only will this deter the “Mad Raghead Mullahs” from bombing our NHS hospital, but it will ensure the general security and safety of all those waiting hours in corridors to be seen by the woefully short-handed staff”. I can certainly see that no right-minded burglar would want to break into the hospital now.
As I turned for home, I paused for a moment and removed my cap as a funeral cortege passed by. They were burying old Mrs Blears who died suddenly and horribly in a freak razor-wire accident. She was wrapping the aforementioned wire around her chimney in an effort to dissuade the Taliban from mounting an attack on her home, when she slipped and fell through the wire to the ground. Only the wire catching her across the neck and in her mop of lovely ginger hair saved her fall. Sadly she died from the injuries sustained. Had she been rescued in time she may have lived. Apparently she hung there for four weeks before anyone noticed she’d gone. One neighbour said “I’m so relieved she’s dead: I thought I’d gone deaf”. Another was quoted as saying “Let’s just remember what she did for us and for herself and enjoy the peace and silence now she’s gone”.
I buy my paper from Mr Humphry’s I see that they’ve decided to allow drug users to represent the village in the summer sports day. That’s good. It’ll give School Bully something to do in the closed season. I did see his dad and Mr Chambers having a good old chin-wag earlier (which is strange, given Mr Chambers’ colour), but I’m sure whatever was said could be easily taken out of context.
Ok, gotta go now. Have to buy one of Mr Coe’s lottery tickets for a place in the Air Raid shelter. S’funny, I always thought there’d be a place for all of us in the shelter when the time finally came, given all the taxes we’ve paid over the years and how long we’ve lived here. Not to mention that many of us had to move out of home to allow Mr Coe to build that big bunker of his. But apparently some seats have to be reserved for special friends of Mr Coe, and their friends and their families. Which is only right, I suppose.
The British, or to be more precise, the British Press, or to be more precise, the English Press don’t like Sepp Blatter, though they’re not exactly alone on that one. They think he takes bungs, fixes elections, is anti-English. Fresh from the “row” about whether the English football team could wear poppies on Remembrance Sunday, and following his insightful views on women’s football (“Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could have tighter shorts.”), match fixing (“I could understand it if it had happened in Africa, but not in Italy.”) and homosexuals (“I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities.”) there has been a torrent of outraged copy spewing out of Fleet Street regarding Blatter’s latest decree. The head of FIFA has opined that racism on the pitch should be forgotten with a handshake after the match. A ridiculous opinion indeed, but what a godsend for the hacks of the press ? Immediately headlines such as “Now Beckham and Cameron slam Sepp Blatter over racism in football” (Daily Mail) and Blatter Must Go” (The Sun) have ploughed into nasty Sepp in exactly the way they…er…didn’t attack John Terry when he was filmed calling Anton Ferdinand a f**king black c*nt”.
Exactly the same organs demanding the hated Blatter’s resignation are the ones not calling for Terry to go: “Terry vows to clear his name in race storm” (Daily Mail) and “Terry is Gagging for Action with England” (Sun). That’s telling him ! Strong stuff, indeed. The Blatter affair has saved the tabloids from having to chastise the serial-shagging Terry and focus their sights on nasty foreigner Sepp. There’s something quite ironic the Mail labeling someone a racist. But that’s another yarn for another day.
This latest case of double standards pales into insignificance compared to the coverage of the official inquiry into the workings of the press. When not attacking Johnny Foreigner, there’s nothing journalists like better than writing about other journalists. Journos think we, (or rather you) are, like them, equally infatuated with journalism and stories about it. This obsession with their own trade and fellow hacks more often than not supersedes any other story that may drop on their desks. And nothing, NOTHING excites a hack more than when other hacks are deemed to be up Shitestraße, a condition currently afflicting my old colleagues at News International. You may have noticed the absolute glee with which other media outlets have been reporting the phone hacking scandal. The Guardian clearly has an axe to grind with the Murdoch press and are loving every second of the coverage. The BBC are visibly beside themselves. But they all should be very careful, I reckon.
One can only assume that the thus-far unquestioned members of the press have nothing to hide. Either that or they realise that Inspector Knacker is taking so long over the News of the World and associates, that by the time the law gets round to them the shredders will have been doing overtime and their friendly private eyes will have been shooed out the back door, taking a large wad of cash with them. All evidence of naughtiness will be long gone by the time the rozzers arrive at their door.
Wherever I worked, there was always a deeply held belief in the mantra “there but for the grace of god go I”. The Mail put in the wrong picture ? Poor sods – someone’s due for a kicking. Headline in The Times got a typo in it? Jesus, someone’s for it. We just knew that, sooner or later we’d drop a clanger and it would be our turn to be hauled over the coals. There was always a bunch of annoying hacks giggling about and reveling in the misfortune and the mistakes of other rags, but us photo bods knew better than to behave like that. We’d been there too often to carp.
But the recent events at the NoW are not the result of honest mistakes, no matter what Herr Flick says. This isn’t a case of mistakenly putting a pic of a boy from the wrong school in the paper (guilty as charged- Eton instead of Harrow) or putting a photo in upside down (property page – also guilty, your honour) or accidentally being pissed most afternoons (Happy Days. Oh fuck it, ok, I’d like 173 other offences taken into account). No we’re talking serious, intentionally-undertaken crimes here. As much as we’d like to think that this sort of behaviour was confined to Fortress Wapping, I think we all know that that’s unlikely. If I was the rest of Fleet St, I’d treat the phone hacking story with due reverence and respect. These things have a nasty habit of turning around and biting you on the arse, just when you’re gloating about them.
It only surprises me that all this seems to have come as a shock to most people. How the hell did they think the tabloids (and those pretending not to be tabloids) got their information from ? Through honest journalism ? Concerned readers offering exclusives to those nice gentlemen of the press ? Above-the-table briefings by policemen to reporters?
What will hang Fleet St is the same that has kept the UK tabs thriving for so many years: The ability (thru piles of cash) and the willingness (thru the unique competitiveness of the Street) to work outside the law to obtain ‘scoops’. The Scews was not the most read rag in the world for no reason. It delivered all the tawdry and ugly stories that the British public craved after. Whether the public demand for such shite is reason enough to go get these stories is a moot point. However, they spent fortunes hunting down these yarns, keeping them from the notebooks of their competitors, out-bidding anyone else that showed an interest. So many competing national papers in one small county propagates such a frenzied pursuit of higher readership figures.
The sort of pressures between titles, almost unique to London’s papers, made it almost inevitable that one day they’d go too far in their quest for the best story. What “too far” actually meant was open for debate for a long time. Apparently, if you happened to be successful and obtained celebrity through your work, reporters sneaking around your bins and eavesdropping on your private conversations was truly shocking, but frightfully readable, and understandable. Gordon Taylor, (“that’s rotten, got any more?”) Elton John (“awful! what else ?”), Hugh Grant (“terrible! love it”). Then the manure hit the air-conditioning system. The Milly Dowler episode clearly was “too far”. Even the well-kept coppers, some of whom passed on vital info to the newspaper, now displayed the sort of outrage and indignation a guilty party will often show. The mucky business was rife. Everyone knew it, but somehow no-one now admits they did.
A while back I was asked for a colleague’s mobile phone number. This colleague was a reporter who happened to be vaguely connected to someone famous who happened to be in the news at the time. The reporter who asked me for this number had gotten my number from a friend. I gave him a “fuck right off” for his trouble. This reporter was not working for the News of the World. He must have been another “lone rogue reporter” (there’s a lot of them about). I don’t know why he wanted the number. I just had a good idea why he wanted it. He was (and still is) a dodgy, slimy cvnt. I wasn’t playing his game.
Not that I am suggesting that the Mail, Mirror, Express, Guardian etc etc have anything to worry about. This is clearly only an issue which needs to be addressed over at Wapping and Wapping alone.
There’s nothing new here. You’d think that this distaste for and distrust of the press was a new thing. Don’t be fooled. In 1959 Peter Sellers, in “The Goons” episode The Scarlet Capsule had the line:
“Sir, the gentlemen of the press are here. I tried to hold ’em back, but they burst through by putting money in me hands”.
It could have been written yesterday.
…and there’s more…
Back in 1987 Jim Hacker was certainly under no illusions about the newspapers of London – or at least who they were read by.
Over 20 years later, comedians Hugh Dennis and Steve Punt updated it. Not much has changed. Apart from the addition to the list of The Independent and the fact that the Express and the Star are now recognised as newspapers – if that is the right word:
The Times is read by the people who run the country.
The Telegraph is read by the people think they run the country.
The Guardian is read by the people who have run the country for the past 12 years and realised they’re blown it.
The Independent is read by people who got to the newsagents after they’d run out of The Guardian and The Times.
The Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country.
The Express is read by Marcus Brigstocke to wind himself up.
The Mirror is read by the people who vote for the people who read the Guardian and have now blown it.
The Sun is read people who’ll vote for people who’ll run the country to suit the people who read the Financial Times while somehow convincing themselves that those people will give a toss about the people who buy The Sun the moment the election’s over.
And The Star is read very … slowly … with your lips moving.
Makes you feel proud, doesn’t it ? All those wonderful politicians putting party differences aside to gang up on Rupert Murdoch. Oh well, good luck to them with that one, then. Rupe tends to be a bit cute when he’s cornered. My money’s on the brains-trust of Clegg, Cameron and Miniband being outwitted by the Dirty Digger. Again.
But at least they’re trying, right? I mean just who the hell does he think he is ??? Think he can just do what he likes and get away with it. Well there are standards you know, cobber !
Fiddling your expenses, claiming for moat-cleaning, buying porn for your partner, fridges and televisions for your second home, repairing your mock-tudor house at the taxpayers expense, false accounting, ghost mortgages, keeping your gay-lover sweet and secretly-housed with our money THIS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. Anyone found guilty of such behaviour would surely be deemed unfit for both office and/or purpose? Go get him, boys !!!
Oh, hang on…I may have got some of that wrong.
Anyway, just a quick pointer on how to (and how not to) behave in front of a parliamentary select committee: This bloke used to be a journalist and was found out to be a naughty boy…
…while this bloke used to be a copper investigating corruption at News International until he stopped investigating corruption at News International when he took up a very nice offer to become a crime correspondent for…er…News International.
Wot think? And the BAFTA goes to…
(apologies to all those expecting a piece on David Beckham‘s daughter. My bent copper has been tardy with the info this week).
Wotcha, sorry I’m late.I just spent an hour in a line waiting for the last ever copy of The News of the World.
No, not really. But I suspect a lot did.
So farewell then etc etc … As horrible as it must be for those hundreds of poor sods, the subs, the secretaries, the IT crew, the designers, the researchers, the ad sales guys, the marketing men and, dare I say, the picture editors who were obliged to fall on their swords to save the the fragrant Rebekah Brooks, I stand before you as an ex-News International employee who can reveal (though not exclusively) that there is life after Wapping: a life of dignity and respectability, of honour and pride, a life where you can at last look yourself in the mirror because you no longer work for that bunch of nasty cnts. (and if you’re reading this, you know who you are).
But I digress.
Dear, dear Rebekah. We are told she offered her resignation to Murdoch and he refused to accept it. Tell you what, love, offer it again. Offer it again and again. Keep offering it until he accepts it.
In a secretly-recorded speech, Brooks told her (former) colleagues that within a year they would all realise why The Screws had to be shut down. How bad is this gonna get??? They have already pissed on the chips of their core readership: the hang em and flog em brigade; Mr & Mrs Castrate-Rapists; those poor families who receive the remains of their loved ones in a Union Flag-draped coffin at RAF Brize Norton. By hacking into the phones of murder victims and war casualties, the NOW have stabbed their week-in-week-out reader straight through the heart. And it’s gonna get worse than this? Jesus, RebeKAH, what the fuck have you lot done? You been funding the Taliban? You didn’t secretly vote for Gordon Brown, did you ? Kill Diana ??
(Is it only me, by the way, who every time I see her picture I hear the phrase “lollipops, lollipops children” running though my head ?)
Oh well, we’ll find out soon enough, I guess. At least La Brooks will be tucked in safe and sound in her wapping great office (or is that great Wapping office?). Or maybe not. Let’s see what Rupert has to say when he arrives.The story changes by the minute and there’re sure to be many more twists in the tale, all of them minutely reported by News Int’s rivals.
There’s nothing the press enjoy more than writing about the press. And when one of their rivals gets itself in the mire, then happy, happy days. Pick up any copy of last week’s Mail or Mirror, Guardian or Telegraph and you will be overwhelmed by the stench of smugness, and self-righteousness. Just imagine ! Paying the Police for information !!!!! How disgraceful !!!
Working on one American magazine (the exact name escapes me) during the 7/7 terrorist attack story, I remember voicing my astonishment that we didn’t have a tame copper on board who’d pass us information. All very bloody frustrating. How the hell was I supposed to move our snappers into the right positions ? Rely on Sky News ? I don’t think so. Fortunately there were plenty of old pals back in the Fleet St who were on hand to help. Though heaven only knows where they were getting their info from. Maybe they were just very good at guessing.
I’m not saying anything more than a Ruby Murray and a pint changes hands when hack meets detective, but any journalist who says his paper doesn’t curry (geddittt???) favour with their local crooked plod is a fibbing rotter. Legend has it that the greater the size of your wad, the greater amount of info and help you can expect in return. Thus, those papers with the bigger budgets (I’ll leave the calculations to you) have the means to get the most info from Inspector Knacker. Brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a bent coppers favourite things. Failing that a chicken dhansak and a pint of Cobra, please.
Stick your head out of the window and listen carefully. If you can block out the mass-indignation and tut-tutting of editors, you’ll hear the unmistakeable sound of shredders going into overdrive all over Fleet Street as the red-tops and broadsheets alike get rid of the evidence, should Cameron ever get around to setting up an inquiry. I should think Murdoch jnr will be up for some sort of Queen’s Award for recycling, such will be the weight of shredded paper coming out of the back door of Wapping. But don’t ever think it’ll be any different anywhere else.
You can call for heads of the hacks who pay the Old Bill for information, or you can ask why Constable Smellie is betraying the public and releasing private and confidential details. It all stinks to high heaven to everyone, it seems, except Beckie Brooks, Rupert and sonny James Murdoch.
Many who enjoy joined-up writing won’t mourn the passing of the News of The World. A nastier, more racist, more bigoted little organ you’d be hard-pushed to find (unless you happen to be in the High St Kensington area). Doubtless The Sun on Sunday will re-employ some of those hapless buggers who lost their jobs last night, but I suspect the total aggregate cull will be in it’s hundreds. More journos looking for work. Bugger. It’s hard enough out there as it is, without having to compete with even more for that odd shift that occasionally comes up. The world can do without more unemployed scribblers, snappers, subs and subs and artists, especially when all it really needed was one ugly ginger head to roll.
Thank you and Goodbye ? How about No Thank You & Fuck Off.