EXCLUSIVE — OWEN SMITH: A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS

August 8, 2016

 Owen_Smith_head_seasons

THE BATTLE for the Labour leadership is in full swing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But some of his answers are unconvincing.

And more questions are emerging …

♦♦♦

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

His press team told us on Wednesday:

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

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

Nick Evans then sent us two emails.

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

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

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

We asked Owen Smith about this contradiction.

His press team replied:

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

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

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

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

Press Gang rang Keith Rawlings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It contained this paragraph:

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

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

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

DaiSmith_35
DAI SMITH
OWEN SMITH’S father has been an important figure in Welsh public life for decades. He was the second most powerful man at BBC in the late 1990s and close to the clique that controlled broadcasting at that time. As one of the main historians of the south Wales miners, he’s also close to some of the key political figures in Welsh Labour. Owen Smith insists his father played no part in his career …
Photo: Parthian Books 

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

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

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

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

French noted:

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

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

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

The Press Gang editor added:

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

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

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

♦♦♦

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

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

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

His press team told us:

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

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

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

Murphy told us:

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

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

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

We asked Pfizer for more information.

The company told us:

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

The job involved a substantial increase in salary.

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

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

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

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

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

Newport Labour MP Paul Flynn said:

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

He added:

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

♦♦♦ 

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

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

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

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

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

Owen Smith told the Sunday Telegraph:

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

The paper added:

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

Pfizer eventually dropped the bid.

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

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

Their report contained the following statement:

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

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

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

♦♦♦

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

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

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

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

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

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

Owen Smith’s press team told us:

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

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

Once again Press Gang went back to the newspaper cuttings.

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

The article then states:

“Mr Smith … was supported by Kim Howells …”

Press Gang asked Owen Smith to clear up the contradiction.

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

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

♦♦♦ 

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

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

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

Which of these two Owen Smiths is the real one?

Or is he just a political chameleon?

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

Take his political commitment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Smith says —

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

 — it’s the last sentence that rings false.

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a question of personal integrity.

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

♦♦♦

THIS INVESTIGATION continues.

A crowdfunding project has been launched on the By-line site here.

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Published: 8 August 2016
© Press Gang
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Notes
1. The first part of this investigation was published on August 3 — Owen Smith: Forged By Patronage and Nepotism? Click on the title to read it.
2. Press Gang editor Paddy French declares personal interests in this story.
— in the 1980s he was the editor of Rebecca magazine which was in competition for a substantial Welsh Arts Council grant. One of the competitors was Arcade magazine and Dai Smith was one of its supporters. The council’s literature committee chose Rebecca but the full council overturned the decision — and gave the grant to Arcade.
— he’s one of the thousands of traditional Labour voters who have joined the party following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Leader. He will be voting for Corbyn in the Leadership election.
3. The Rebecca investigation into nepotism and patronage at BBC Wales is explored in the articles The Son Of The Man From Uncle and In The Name Of The Father?
4. The cover block pic is by Gareth Fuller / PA.

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EXCLUSIVE — OWEN SMITH: FORGED BY PATRONAGE AND NEPOTISM?

August 3, 2016

Owen_Smith_head_400c

WHY HAS there been so little examination of Owen Smith’s career by the British press?

In the two weeks since Smith became Jeremy Corbyn’s sole challenger for the Labour leadership, journalists have largely accepted his CV at face value.

For national newspapers he’s a credible candidate.

Smith says:

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

No-one has drilled down into this statement.

A Press Gang investigation into Owen Smith’s 24 year career shows little dedication to politics — or any other profession:

he displayed no appetite for a political career — until he walked into a plum job for Cabinet Minister Paul Murphy.

he had no experience of lobbying — until he was appointed to handle “government affairs” for the UK branch of global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

he had absolutely no journalistic experience — until he was appointed a producer at BBC Radio Wales.

The only constant in his working life is his father Dai Smith, historian-turned-broadcasting mandarin and a key figure in the Welsh establishment.

Dai Smith was a senior manager at BBC Wales for most of his son’s ten-year stint there — and he and his friends have been influential figures in his political career.

So is Owen Smith’s current high-profile the result of nepotism and patronage?

♦♦♦

TWO DAYS after Owen Smith became the sole challenger to Jeremy Corbyn, the BBC published an article called “The Owen Smith Story”.

There’s a fascinating paragraph about his early career:

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

DaiSmith_35
NEVER SAY DAI
DAI SMITH, Owen Smith’s father, insists he’s played no part in his son’s career. Smith the father was born in the Rhondda valley, educated at Oxford and is a well-known Welsh left-wing historian with several landmark books to his name. By the early 1980s he was also presenting TV programmes for BBC Wales and gradually became an important figure at its HQ in Cardiff. In 1992 he became editor of Radio Wales and, in 1994, was appointed head of English language programmes — becoming the second most powerful BBC man in Wales.
Photo: Parthian Books 

Ignoring the inaccuracies — there has never been an editor of BBC Wales and Dai Smith didn’t become head of programmes until 1994 — it’s worth noting the order of these two sentences.

The first sentence says Owen Smith joined Radio Wales as a radio producer.

The second says his father was appointed editor of BBC Wales “in the same year”.

The impression being conveyed is that Owen was appointed first and his father Dai Smith second.

In other words, the egg (Owen) got his job before the chicken (Dai).

But, if that’s the case, why didn’t the BBC just say so?

Press Gang has been trying to solve this riddle.

We spoke to Dai Smith — he insisted that Owen was already working at BBC Wales when he arrived.

We asked BBC Wales boss Rhodri Talfan Davies which came first: Owen Egg or Chicken Dai?

There was no answer.

We also asked Owen Smith about this.

He never came back to us.

But then, out of the blue, we received an extraordinary email from the man who claims to have first employed him at BBC Wales …

♦♦♦

AT FIVE o’clock on Monday night Nick Evans, a former senior producer on Radio Wales, wrote to us from Tenerife.

“Owen and Dai have forwarded the points you put to Dai about his role in Owen’s career,” he wrote.

“I hope I can clarify some aspects of the timeline.”

Nick Evans said that in the early 1990s he was working on the Meet For Lunch midday programme presented by Vincent Kane, BBC Wales’ leading presenter.

When Kane wasn’t able to present the programme, Dai Smith would often stand in.

On some of these occasions, in the summer and early autumn of 1992, Dai Smith brought the young Owen Smith into Broadcasting House in Cardiff and introduced him to Evans.

Evans said:

“As I did with anyone who approached me for work (it was Owen himself) and who was clearly bright, committed and possessed of proper integrity, I gave him some casual work.”

“So it is no surprise that he rose quickly — both in Wales and London.”

Press Gang asked Evans for more detail.

When he replied, there was a change of emphasis:

“When Owen started it was when he was still considering the Swansea option.

(Owen Smith had been planning to do an MA at Swansea University.)

“I liked him”, said Evans, “and knew he was considering his options and offered as I often did the chance to come in and ‘shadow’ / work as a researcher on MFL [Meet For Lunch].

After a few days unpaid work experience, Evans gave him paid freelance work.

“Then he got a contract job on the programme as a researcher through the next competitive board (which no-one other than myself had any say over, apart from HR [Human Resources].”

“He had no experience as such … but then again nor did many of the others who came through the same (yes loose) process.”

“It might not have been as rigorous a system as has became the norm but it had its merits and I can put my hand on (very self-examining) heart and say that Owen got where he got (when I had a say) absolutely because he was (often head and shoulders) the best person.”

When Dai Smith became Editor of Radio Wales, Evans said the two of them tried to avoid favouritism:

“… much of what myself and Dai attempted was to try and move away from the kind of nepotism that had pervaded the Welsh media for years … maybe didn’t work for long … but I tried.”

He made it clear that “Owen became (as Dai did) a close friend.”

Nick Evans’ comments leave many unanswered questions but it’s clear Dai Smith was already an important fixture at Radio Wales long before he was appointed Editor — and while his son was still a student at Sussex University.

It’s also clear that Dai Smith was instrumental in introducing his son to a senior producer on the Meet For Lunch programme.

The unanswered question is: would Owen Smith ever have got a foothold in the BBC if his father hadn’t been Dai Smith?

♦♦♦ 

FOR TEN years Owen Smith was a competent but undistinguished broadcaster.

Neither Owen Smith nor the BBC would provide a detailed chronology of his career.

There’s no evidence Dai Smith intervened to further his son’s prospects.

There’s no evidence Owen Smith tried to take advantage of his father’s position.

Owen Smith worked on many radio programmes before moving to television producing the BBC Wales flagship political programme Dragon’s Eye.

Insiders say his Dragon’s Eye performance ranged from “tough and uncompromising” to “heavy-handed” with some accusations of “bullying” of junior staff.

For a spell he worked on the Radio 4 Today programme in London.

Owen Smith claimed there was a culture of bullying at Today.

rhodri-talfan-davies
FATHERS’ BOYS
THERE ARE remarkable similarities between the current Director of BBC Wales, Rhodri Talfan Davies (above), and Owen Smith. They’re both in their mid 40s — Talfan Davies is 45, Owen Smith 46. Both rose to prominence when relatively young, both have powerful fathers — and both face questions about the role of nepotism and patronage in their careers. Rhodri Talfan Davies is a member of a powerful media clan which has controlled BBC Wales for a quarter of a century — his father Geraint Talfan Davies was BBC boss from 1990 to 2000. An investigation by Press Gang’s sister website Rebecca entitled The Son Of The Man From Uncle revealed that Rhodri Talfan Davies’ rise to the top was eased by the previous Director, Menna Richards, who was a close friend of Geraint Talfan Davies. Rhodri Davies was just 40 when he took over from Menna Richards in 2011 but the appointment was dogged by controversy. He was initially rejected before BBC Director General Mark Thompson stepped in to confirm the post. BBC Wales is extremely touchy about allegations of nepotism and patronage surrounding the Talfan Davies clique. In 2014 it refused to answer any further questions on the subject, telling Rebecca “… we will not be commenting in future other than in truly exceptional circumstances”.
Photo: Wales Online

Former Today editor Rod Liddle believed that charge was levelled against him because he had once criticised Smith.

Smith had been asked to arrange a police spokesman for the programme.

To the amazement of colleagues he picked up the phone and dialled 999 to arrange one.

The police complained.

Liddle said:

” … there was a culture of shouting at Owen when he did something deranged”.

Liddle added that, aside from this one mistake, he was “perfectly competent”.

But Smith never secured promotion to senior editorial roles at the BBC, either in London or Cardiff.

By the early 2000s, according to one insider, he faced a future of either moving sideways — or out.

In 2000 the boss of BBC Wales, Geraint Talfan Davies, retired.

Talfan Davies had been a strong supporter of Dai Smith.

The new broom, Menna Richards, was not.

Dai Smith left BBC Wales to become Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glamorgan.

In 2002, Owen Smith also decided to switch tack — and became a special adviser to the South Wales MP, Paul Murphy, who was Secretary of State for Wales.

♦♦♦ 

AGAIN, THERE’S no evidence of a political backstory.

Owen Smith is on record as saying the 1984 miners’ strike was his “political awakening” and that he joined the Labour Party when he was 16.

However, as far as the public record is concerned, he then seems to have lapsed into a political coma.

Press Gang asked him what other political activity he’d been involved in  — student politics, constituency activism or involvement in local politics.

He didn’t answer the question.

His appointment as a “special advisor” to Paul Murphy, a veteran Labour MP representing the South Wales seat of Torfaen, came as a surprise to many Labour Party members in Wales.

Smith’s experience as a political journalist at BBC Wales qualified him to be a special adviser at the Wales Office.

But was another family connection also involved in the appointment?

Paul Murphy is a friend of Dai Smith.

Press Gang asked Murphy if this played any part in the appointment.

He replied saying it hadn’t.

Paul Murphy
MURPHY’S LAW
PAUL MURPHY insists Owen Smith’s appointment as one of his special advisers at the Wales and Northern Ireland Office had nothing to do with his friendship with Dai Smith. But he wouldn’t explain how Owen Smith came to be chosen. Murphy was a leading figure in Welsh Labour for many decades and MP for the south-east Wales seat of Torfaen from 1987. He was made a life peer in 2015, taking the title Baron Murphy of Torfaen.
Photo: PA 

We asked how Owen Smith came to be selected.

Murphy’s reply was enigmatic:

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

Owen Smith was a special adviser until 2005 when he left to join the controversial US pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer.

But his political connections were powerful enough for him to secure the Labour nomination for the 2006 by-election in Blaenau Gwent.

Normally this was a safe Labour seat.

But Peter Law, the dominant Labour politician in the area, had fallen out with the party — and won the 2005 general election as an independent.

His death led to the 2006 by-election — and many expected the seat to return to Labour.

But Labour remained deeply unpopular in the constituency and Owen Smith failed to turn the tide — he was convincingly beaten by an ally of Law’s.

It was another four years before another opportunity arose, this time in Pontypridd.

The sitting Labour MP, Kim Howells, is another friend of the Smith family.

Owen Smith was selected and this time was elected MP — although with a reduced majority.

But he remains an elusive character for many in Welsh Labour — a man who seems to have emerged out of the shadows.

One Labour MP, who didn’t want to be named, told Press Gang he was a deeply unimpressive character:

“I can’t believe the Parliamentary Labour Party have been taken in by him.”

Within six years of taking Pontypridd, Owen Smith is a candidate for the Leadership of the Labour Party …

♦♦♦

Notes
1. Press Gang editor Paddy French declares a personal interest in this story. In the 1980s he was the editor of Rebecca magazine which was in competition for a substantial Welsh Arts Council grant. One of the competitors was Arcade magazine and Dai Smith was one of its supporters. The council’s literature committee chose Rebecca but the full council overturned the decision — and gave the grant to Arcade.
2. The Rebecca investigation into nepotism and patronage at BBC Wales is explored in the articles The Son Of The Man From Uncle and In The Name Of The Father?
3. The cover block pic is by Gareth Fuller / PA.

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THE PEOPLE v. MURDOCH: ENGAGEMENT

January 19, 2016

MURDOCH v THE PEOPLE- 2

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 …

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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

ENGAGED
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

A CRIMINAL AT NO 10
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.

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

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

THE PEOPLE v. MURDOCH

January 12, 2016

Murdoch_series_head_1

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

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

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

A SERIOUS FAILURE OF GOVERNANCE
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

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

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

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 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.

♦♦♦

If you want to support The People v Murdoch campaign, click on the donate button below to make a contribution to Press Gang.

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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.

A SLICKER FULL OF LIES

November 4, 2015

PIERS_MORGAN_part_5-1

THE CLOSEST Piers Morgan has come to standing in the dock was in 2000.

He was editor of the Daily Mirror.

The government launched an investigation after he made huge profits from shares tipped by the paper.

Two of his journalists were sacked and later convicted of manipulating the stock market.

One of them went to gaol.

Piers Morgan was not charged.

An internal inquiry by Mirror owners Trinity Mirror cleared him of any “impropriety or wrong-doing”.

The Press Complaints Commission “severely censured” Morgan.

But Mirror directors suppressed key material.

This corporate cover-up continues to this day.

It involves the paper instructing lawyers to deliberately mislead the Leveson Inquiry.

This is the first time the full story has been told … 

♦♦♦

FOR PIERS MORGAN the nightmare began one evening in February 2000. 

It was Tuesday, February 1.

That day he’d had a secret meeting with Arsenal Football Club about becoming the club’s managing director.

“But they couldn’t afford me,” he said.

This was followed by management meetings. 

He arrived back at his 22nd floor office in Canary Wharf at 7pm.

His secretary Kerrie Buckley told him the Daily Telegraph had left a message.

Business reporter Suzy Jagger had a question for Morgan:

“Did you buy shares in Viglen Technology through Kyte Securities on 17 January?”

In his 2005 memoirs, The Insider, Morgan remembers: 

“I froze to the spot”. 

He had indeed bought shares in Viglen — a company owned by Amstrad boss Alan Sugar — on that day.

It was also the day the Daily Mirror business column, City Slickers, were preparing an exclusive story about Viglen starting an internet business. 

The article made the company its tip of the day: 

“We expect the price, which closed last night at 180p, to double in a very short time,” it said.

“Get in quick for the pay-day of a lifetime.” 

The next day, 18 January 2000, the shares doubled in value — from 180 pence to 366 pence. 

TIPPING POINT THE INFAMOUS column of 17 January 2000 sparked a scandal for the Daily Mirror that remains a toxic legacy of Piers Morgan’s editorship. City Slickers was the brainchild of Piers Morgan and former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie who was a Mirror executive. Launched in May 1998 with a “ cheeky irreverent style”, it was soon riding the dotcom boom of the late 1990s. The share price of the column’s top ten tips for 1999 rose by 142 per cent.

TIPPING POINT
THE INFAMOUS column of 17 January 2000 sparked a scandal for the Daily Mirror that remains a toxic legacy of Piers Morgan’s editorship. City Slickers was the brainchild of Piers Morgan and Mirror executive — and former Sun editor — Kelvin MacKenzie. Launched in May 1998 with a “ cheeky irreverent style”, it was soon riding the dotcom boom of the late 1990s. The share price of the column’s top ten tips for 1999 rose by 142 per cent.

His secretary asked if he was OK.

“Well, I’m not sure, to be honest,” Morgan told her. 

“I bought some bloody shares a few weeks ago, and I think it’s about to crash around my ears.”

Morgan rang Jagger back and admitted he’d bought some shares. 

“Better to be open and up front in situations like these,” he wrote.

He also “called the Mirror lawyers and talked them through it all.” 

At 11pm that evening he saw the first editions of the Daily Telegraph which carried his admission that he’d bought £20,000 worth of Viglen shares.

Morgan was relieved: 

“… there was just a small, balanced story on a left-hand inside page.”

“I wasn’t too worried when I saw it: if they’d really thought I’d done something awful, it would have been on the front.”

But the Sun also saw the Telegraph piece.

It changed its later editions, putting the story on the front page  — and carried an editorial calling for Morgan’s resignation.

The next day directors of Trinity Mirror, owners of the Daily Mirror, were getting involved.

They called Morgan down to the executive offices on the 20th floor of the Canary Wharf tower block. 

He told John Allwod, deputy chief executive, he had no idea the City Slickers were going to tip the company.

Morgan said he’d only bought a small number of shares tipped by the City Slickers.

In all, he’d only bought shares on about twenty occasions: 

“ … and made hardly any money on anything”. 

The law firm Lovells were brought in to help the board with its investigation. 

Emails between Piers Morgan, his broker and the City Slickers were examined. 

Anil Bhoyrul and James Hipwell, the two journalists who wrote the City Slickers column, were questioned.

They said Piers Morgan didn’t know about the Viglen article. 

The investigation took just two days.

On February 4 Trinity Mirror issued a statement to the Stock Exchange saying that an internal investigation had taken place.

“The findings of this inquiry … supported by the group’s solicitors Lovells … show there are no grounds for any accusations of any impropriety or wrong-doing by Piers Morgan.” 

Morgan sold his shares and donated the profits to charity. 

♦♦♦

BUT THE crisis wouldn’t go away.

The Department of Trade & Industry announced an investigation and the Press Complaints Commission launched an inquiry.

On February 17, a month after the Viglen article was published, the City Slickers Anil Bhoyrul and James Hipwell were sacked for gross misconduct.

“A decision I was not allowed to take any part in,” Morgan later wrote, “but everyone will think I did to save my own scrawny neck”.

“I can sense a certain frostiness among some of the staff, and there are even rumours that some senior journalists are planning a vote of no confidence in me”.

MORGAN THE SLICKER PIERS MORGAN was a greedy editor. On one occasion he emailed Bhoyrul to congratulate him on a piece about a major City figure getting involved in Formula One motor racing. “

MORGAN THE SLICKER
PIERS MORGAN was an avid follower of the City Slickers. On one occasion he emailed Anil Bhoyrul to say “I need some ideas for my general Pep, which is bursting with profit from NXT [a share tipped by the column]. Got any good longer term suggestions for this year?” He also emailed Bhoyrul to congratulate him on a piece about a major City figure getting involved in Formula One motor racing. “”Great story. Does this mean free tickets to the grand prix all round?” Bhoyrul replied: “I already have free tickets to all grand prix.” Morgan replied: “You did, Anil, you did .”
Photo: PA

There was no rebellion.

But the strain was affecting Morgan.

At the Press Gazette awards in March 2000 he got drunk and lost his temper with the team from the Sun.

“Then one of the Sun lot, quite understandably, threw a punch at me, which missed, and all hell broke out — with journalists from the Mirror and the Sun trading shoves, slaps, kicks and abuse.”

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) completed its investigation in May 2000.

Unusually, its rules about financial reporting are more stringent than the criminal law.

Clause 14 of its Editors’ Code of Practice was clear:

“ … although it may not be illegal for journalists to buy shares about which they have recently written or are about to write, such purchases are forbidden by the Code.”

It heard from the senior of the two City Slickers, Anil Bhoyrul.

Bhoyrul had originally told the Trinity Mirror inquiry he had not informed Piers Morgan that the column was about to tip Viglen on January 17.

Now he changed his version of events.

He claimed he’d informed Morgan of the piece on the morning of January 17— and said Morgan later told him he’d purchased shares in the company.

Bhoyrul also confirmed he’d bought shares on at least six occasions which the column had tipped.

James Hipwell admitting 25 such purchases.

Morgan insisted his purchase of the Viglen shares was coincidental — he bought them several hours before the article tipping the company was written.

He didn’t tell the City Slickers he’d bought them.

There was, he said, a general buzz about the company and it was one of the City Slickers’ top ten tips for 2000.

There had been job adverts which indicated that an internet division was being planned.

A relative — a wealthy and apparently successful private investor — thought it a good company.

In an attempt to distance himself from the column, Morgan also claimed he’d had concerns about journalist James Hipwell.

He said he’d been tipped off that the journalist was “being investigated in respect of share dealings”.

Morgan claimed he discussed this with Bhoyrul in June 1999 and personally warned Hipwell not to buy shares in companies the column was tipping.

Bhoyrul and Hipwell denied Morgan had talked to them about this.

No evidence has ever emerged to back up Morgan’s assertion.

In May 2000 the Press Complaints Commission announced its findings.

It issued a “critical adjudication” which “severely censured” Piers Morgan and the City Slickers.

This was the most serious judgment it could make.

(It was the second time Piers Morgan had been censured — the first was in 1995 when he was editor of the News of the World.

See the Press Gang article Whodunnit? for more details.)

The Commission found Morgan had breached Clause 14.

He had bought shares in Viglen and another company.

The PCC did not consider it necessary to decide if he had known the Viglen shares were going to be tipped.

As editor, Morgan had also allowed the City Slickers to engage in “flagrant, multiple breaches of the code over a sustained period of time.”

Morgan had therefore “fallen short of the high professional standards demanded by the code”.

PCC chairman, Lord Wakeham, said there was a “clear climate of slack” at the paper.

The watchdog referred the matter to Philip Graf, Trinity Mirror’s chief executive, “in view of the unsatisfactory state of affairs revealed by this episode.”

According to the PCC, Trinity Mirror issued a “severe reprimand” to Morgan and a “written warning” about his management of the paper.

The PCC congratulated itself:

“This is an example of where the provisions of a tough industry Code are more onerous than the law and an example of the strength of effective self-regulation.”

There were no financial penalties, however.

Naturally, the Sun made the most of the ruling — its editorial verdict on Morgan:

“A lying spiv.”

♦♦♦

SIX MONTHS after the Commission’s ruling, the scandal erupted again. 

On 12 November 2000 the newspaper Sunday Business (it closed in 2006) published emails exchanged between Morgan and Bhoyrul.

The emails — also highlighted in other papers — had been deleted.

But inspectors from the Department of Trade & Industry were able to recover them from Trinity Mirror’s central servers.

One was sent by Morgan to Bhoyrul at 4.33pm on the afternoon of 17 January 2000 — the day he bought the Viglen shares.

KILLER EMAIL THE EXPLOSIVE Sunday Business article which gave the lie to Morgan’s claim that he had not told the City Slickers he’d bought shares in Viglen. The paper obtained an email from a source in the Department of Trade and Industry which was investigating Morgan. It showed Morgan discussing Viglen with one of the City Slickers before the paper went to press — and suggested he had also talked about the company before he bought shares …

KILLER EMAIL
THE EXPLOSIVE Sunday Business front page article which gave the lie to Morgan’s claim that he had not told the City Slickers he’d bought shares in Viglen. The paper obtained an email from a source in the Department of Trade and Industry which was investigating Morgan. It suggested Morgan discussed Viglen with one of the City Slickers before the article went to press …

Earlier that day, Bhoyrul claimed he’d urged Morgan to sell shares he held in a company called Pace Micro Technology — and invest the proceeds in Viglen.

He said Morgan told him he would buy into Viglen but keep the Pace shares.

After seeing the Pace shares rise, Bhoyrul said he e-mailed Morgan congratulating him on his decision to keep his stake.

Morgan sent a message back — at 4.33pm on the day he bought the shares — saying that he’d sold the Pace shares after all.

This crucial 10 word message reads:

“I sold them this morning for bloody Viglen. Congratulations halfwit.”

Bhoyrul told Sunday Business:

“I said I had an e-mail from Piers about Viglen that day, but it disappeared when I tried to recover it after I was sacked.”

“If it’s turned up, that’s very serious as the Mirror accused me of lying about it.”

Bhoyrul added:

“The Press Complaints Commission may have to look at this again.”

PCC director Guy Black played down the possibility of any new inquiry on the basis of the emails.

He said the Press Complaints Commission had never needed to consider the e-mails between Morgan and Bhoyrul as it was already clear the code had been breached.

“We haven’t been given any of this new evidence yet but a breach of the code is a breach of the code,” he said.

“The Commission found him guilty in the first place.”

“The existence of e-mails may add icing to the cake but it unlikely to change our decision.”

A Trinity Mirror spokesman claimed that the company had known about the e-mails for some time.

“We had a full investigation and nothing new has come to light that leads us to change our minds,” he said.

The PCC did not re-open the investigation.

At the time Morgan declined to comment.

When one reporter rang him, Morgan said “goodbye, mate” and hung up.

By the end of the 2000, it was clear Morgan had weathered the storm.

In April 2001 he signed a new contract — and became editor in chief of the Sunday Mirror as well as the Daily Mirror.

♦♦♦

IT TOOK the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) four years to complete its investigation.

It investigated Morgan because it suspected insider trading.

Insider trading is when employees of companies leak confidential information to outsiders so that shares can be bought before the price goes up.

Viglen was one of the companies investigated.

The shares had doubled as soon as the City Slickers tipped them.

It would later emerge that the Financial Services Authority had — secretly — censured Viglen for not declaring its intention to launch an internet “without delay”.

The rules of the Stock Exchange say price sensitive information should be announced via its own news service.

DTI inspectors interviewed Piers Morgan on several occasions but, in the end, could find no evidence of insider trading either in Viglen or any of the other shares he had bought.

It decided not to prosecute.

City Slickers Anil Bhoyrul and James Hipwell were charged along with a private investor with another offence — market manipulation under the Financial Services Act.

They had

“conspired to create a misleading impression as to the value of investments for the purpose of creating the impression and thereby inducing other persons to acquire those investments, by using the City Slickers column in the Daily Mirror to tip those investments.”

The prosecution case was that they operated a “first buy, then tip, then sell” policy.

Many of the shares they made a killing on subsequently dropped in value — thus cheating ordinary investors who’d followed the tips.

Ironically, the Viglen investments were not part of the prosecution.

Bhoyrul pleaded guilty — but Hipwell and the investor decided to fight the case.

JAMES HIPWELL THE CITY SLICKER'S decision to plead not guilty led to most of the story finally seeing the light of day. By the time he was sentenced to six months in gaol, he’d had a kidney transplant. Photo: PA

JAMES HIPWELL
THE CITY SLICKER’S decision to plead not guilty led to most of the story finally seeing the light of day. By the time he was sentenced to six months in gaol, he’d had a kidney transplant.
Photo: PA

It was this decision that, finally, brought a fuller version of the scandal into the open.

The trial started at Southwark Crown Court in London in October 2005.

(By then Piers Morgan was no longer Mirror editor.

He’d been sacked in May 2004 after he published photos of British soldiers abusing prisoners in Iraq which turned out to be fakes.)

The prosecution said Hipwell made a profit of £41,000 buying and selling shares that were tipped between August 1999 and February 2000.

Bhoyrul made £15,000 in the same period.

Hipwell said he made no secret of his trading and bought shares in his own name.

In the witness box, he said Piers Morgan told him:

“ … if we were in the business of tipping shares he was happy for us to trade and even used the analogy along the lines of you would not learn to drive a car from somebody who had never been in a car.”

To back up his version of events, the defence was to make a series of sensational revelations.

The thrust of these was that there had been a deliberate cover-up by Morgan and directors of Trinity Mirror.

♦♦♦

THE FIRST bombshell was that Morgan and Trinity Mirror had not been telling the truth about the extent of Morgan’s dealing in Viglen shares. 

For nearly five years it was believed Morgan had only bought £20,000 worth of shares.

In fact, the figure was more than three times greater — £67,000.

Morgan had said that he bought the shares on a whim.

In fact, he spent a considerable amount of time and effort in acquiring the shares on 17 January 2000.

Hipwell’s barrister spelt it out:

12.33pm
Morgan arranges for the purchase of 6,884 Viglen shares worth £12,805 through his then wife Marion’s tax-free private equity plan (PEP).

12.45pm
Twelve minutes later, Morgan uses his own PEP to buy a further 19,632 shares worth £36,074.

3.28pm
Morgan rings his broker Antony Laiker at stockbrokers Kyte Securities and buys a final block of 10,000 shares worth £18,275.

This is nine minutes after the Mirror’s editorial computer records Anil Bhoyrul filing the Viglen piece — at 3.19pm.

Morgan’s final purchase is made through a nominee account, a legal device which hides the identity of the purchaser.

It is this last purchase which generates the original tip-off — probably from someone inside Kyte Securities — that Morgan had bought £20,000 worth of shares in the company.

Reporters in court were shocked by this revelation.

It was quickly followed by another.

It was revealed that other journalists had also bought shares in Viglen on the same day: business editor Clinton Manning, news editor David Leigh and reporter Ian Miller.

And other senior figures had bought other shares later tipped by the City Slickers.

They included deputy editor Tina Weaver and the paper’s lawyer Martin Cruddace.

Cruddace is a close friend of Piers Morgan.

In 2010, Morgan wrote of Cruddace:

“A finer, more loyal, trusted colleague and friend it would be impossible to find.”

GAMBLING MAN MARTIN CRUDDACE, the Daily Mirror’s legal manager during the City Slickers scandal, is one of Piers Morgan’s closest friends. In 1999 he organised a syndicate with Piers Morgan and James Hipwell to buy stakes in a racehorse called Ledham. When Morgan was kicked out by his wife in 2000 — after he started an affair with Sun journalist Marina Hyde — Cruddace put him up in his London flat. Cruddace left the Mirror in 2002 and has worked in the gambling industry ever since. Photo: Betfair

GAMBLING MAN
MARTIN CRUDDACE, the Daily Mirror legal manager during the City Slickers scandal, is one of Piers Morgan’s best friends. In 1999 he organised a syndicate with Piers Morgan and James Hipwell to buy a racehorse called Ledham. When Morgan was kicked out by his wife in 2000 — after he started an affair with Sun journalist Marina Hyde — Cruddace put him up in his London flat. Cruddace left the Mirror in 2002 and has worked in the gambling industry ever since.
Photo: Betfair

It was the lawyer’s job to advise Morgan about libel and the Press Complaints Commission’s Editors’ Code.

He also took a close interest in the City Slickers column after the industrialist Victor Kiam sued the Mirror in 1999.

Kiam was later awarded more than £100,000 in damages.

Cruddace also invested £6,500 in several companies — but not Viglen — before they were tipped by the City Slickers.

His mother, his girlfriend and her father also bought shares in some of these firms.

Cruddace told the jury he “regretted” the purchases but insisted it was a “coincidence” they were later tipped by the Slickers.

In his evidence Hipwell claimed he’d asked Cruddace if the column should carry a warning that the City Slickers held shares in some of the companies they were tipping.

He says Cruddace told him it wasn’t appropriate.

Cruddace said he couldn’t remember the conversation but accepted it might have taken place.

At the trial Hipwell also alleged that Cruddace — and deputy editor Tina Weaver — put pressure on him to protect Morgan.

Both denied this allegation.

The jury also heard the transcript of a phone call between Anil Bhoyrul and his broker Richard Grossman of stockbrokers Redmayne Bentley.

Grossman also acted for Hipwell.

Bhoyrul was concerned about buying shares that he and Hipwell were tipping.

“We have been sort of been asking our people at the Mirror …”, he said, “When we tip something, if we have shares in something, is it a problem?”

Grossman replied:

“It’s all to do with something called morality …”

“As far as the law is concerned, I am very surprised your company doesn’t have rules on it.”

Grossman admitted he and other Redmayne Bentley employees also bought shares tipped by the City Slickers but denied the purchases were influenced by the column.

Once again, it was just coincidence …

♦♦♦

THERE WAS another dramatic development when a statement from public relations man Nick Hewer was read out.

Hewer — later to become famous as one of Alan Sugar’s advisers on the television programme The Apprentice — represented Viglen in 2000.

Hewer said that on the day Morgan bought his shares Bhoyrul rang him for a quote for the Viglen story.

After the storm broke in February, he rang him again.

Hewer said Bhoyrul:

“explained that Piers was in trouble and that we needed to help him.”

Hewer was asked to tell the law firm Lovells, who were helping Trinity Mirror executives with their investigation, that the call from Bhoyrul on January 17 came much later than it actually had.

This would show that Bhoyrul wrote the Viglen article late on January 17 — long after Morgan bought his last batch of shares in the company.

“I explained I was unable to help as all the facts were locked in a letter to the Stock Exchange from Viglen,” Hewer wrote.

“This suggestion placed me in a difficult position …”

“My living was to deal with these people and I again explained I could not be pressured into saying anything.”

The statement also revealed that Hewer subsequently spoke personally to Piers Morgan.

They discussed the timing of Bhoyrul’s phone call and Morgan suggested it would be “helpful if the time of the clearance quote could be pushed back from the time it was actually made.”

Hewer told Morgan he was not prepared to lie — but agreed to say the call was made “late in the afternoon”.

(Morgan denies this allegation.

He told Press Gazette after the trial that it was “absolutely cock and bull rubbish”.

“I never asked Nick Hewer to lie.”)

Solicitor Graham Livingston, who carried out the Lovells inquiry into the scandal on behalf of Trinity Mirror, was questioned about Hewer’s testimony when he gave evidence.

He was asked if he would have cleared Morgan of “impropriety or wrong-doing” if he’d known that Hewer had been asked to lie.

Livingston said he would not.

TWO FACED? PIERS MORGAN says Nick Hewer — now the presenter of Channel 4’s Countdown programme — is lying when he claims the former Mirror editor asked him to lie on his behalf ... Photo: PA

TWO FACED?
PIERS MORGAN says Nick Hewer — now the presenter of Channel 4’s Countdown programme — is lying when he claims the former Mirror editor asked him to lie on his behalf …
Photo: PA

It was during the trial that the fact that the Financial Services Authority had censured Viglen for not declaring its decision to launch an internet site “without delay” was revealed.

The criticism had never been made public.

Hipwell’s defence was that he was open about his share dealing — and only did so because Piers Morgan and other senior reporters and executives were also doing it.

The jury wasn’t impressed — and he and the private investor were convicted.

He was sentenced to six months in prison.

Mr Justice Beatson said the sentence would have been longer had Hipwell not been suffering from kidney failure.

And he added:

“There was no guidance from your superiors or from in-house lawyers, and there was evidence of a culture of advance information about tips — and share dealing in the office.”

“I also take into account the fact there was no formal code of conduct for journalists at the Daily Mirror.”

The private investor was gaoled for three months.

Anil Bhoyrul, who admitted the offence, was ordered to serve 180 hours of community service.

♦♦♦

THE TRIAL was an eye-opener for Roy Greenslade, former Mirror editor turned media commentator.

He felt the Press Complaints Commission had been conned by Piers Morgan and Trinity Mirror back in 2000 into believing he’d only purchased £20,000 worth of Viglen shares.

Greenslade believed several Trinity Mirror executives had conspired to give false evidence to the Commission.

Morgan, he thought, would have found it difficult to survive as Mirror editor if the true scale of his dealings in Viglen had been known.

He asked the Commission to reinvestigate.

ROY GREENSLADE THE MEDIA commentator — and a former Daily Mirror editor — was shocked by the revelations which emerged during the City Slickers trial in 2005. He believed Piers Morgan and the Mirror had deliberately deceived the Press Complaints Commission back in 2000. Photo: Roy Greenslade

ROY GREENSLADE
THE MEDIA commentator — and former Daily Mirror editor — was shocked by the revelations which emerged during the City Slickers trial in 2005. He believed Piers Morgan and Mirror directors had deliberately deceived the Press Complaints Commission back in 2000.
Photo: Roy Greenslade

The PCC asked Trinity Mirror to explain why it had suppressed the full value of Morgan’s Viglen purchases.

The PCC reported that the company

“told the Commission it almost became a touchstone of the veracity of Messrs Bhoyrul and Hipwell as to whether they could show independent knowledge of the total of £67,000.”

Directors decided to hold back the total amount involved.

As a result, it had sent the Commission an edited version of the report prepared by the law firm Lovells.

The Commission “considered the logic” behind the company’s strategy “weak”:

“… it was a matter of regret” that the company had “for whatever reason — submitted a partial account of Mr Morgan’s share dealings to the Commission which had the effect of misleading it.”

The Commission also criticised the company for not issuing a statement after the trial explaining why it had suppressed the true amount of Morgan’s Viglen holdings.

But it had “not found evidence to suggest that directors … had conspired to present untruthful evidence to … protect Mr Morgan and to minimise the Commission’s criticisms.”

Roy Greenslade told Press Gang he was convinced the Commission — had it known the full facts — would have issued “an even harsher judgment than it did”:

“In the PCC’s previous verdict against Morgan, over a breach of the Code when he was editor of the News of the World, the chairman had prevailed on the paper’s owner, Rupert Murdoch, to admonish him in public.”

“The PCC could have done that over the Viglen affair too and that would have placed the Trinity Mirror board under pressure to fire him.”

He was certain Trinity Mirror management had been

“… complicit in allowing Morgan to escape the appropriate PCC censure.”

One key fact was left out of the Commission’s consideration — the “killer email” Morgan sent to Bhoyrul at 4.33pm on the day he bought his shares.

♦♦♦

IT TOOK five years before the inside story of the City Slickers scandal finally saw the light of day.

But Trinity Mirror continues to deny key elements of it to this day.

David Seymour — political editor of the Mirror newspapers from 1993 to 2007 — made a statement to the Leveson Inquiry in 2012.

He said he had openly expressed concern about the City Slickers long before the scandal broke.

Of the Viglen affair he wrote:

“There was, in my view, a ‘killer email’ showing conclusively that the editor knew what was going on.”

This is a reference to the 4.33pm email Piers Morgan sent Anil Bhoyrul on 17 January 2000.

Trinity Mirror instructed the law firm Herbert Smith to contest this allegation.

In a letter to the Inquiry, Herbert Smith stated:

“Mr Seymour’s allegation … that there was a ’killer email showing conclusively’ that former editor of the Daily Mirror Piers Morgan ’knew what was going on’ in respect of the City Slickers matter, is wrong.”

KILLER EMAIL v URBAN MYTH THIS IS the email David Seymour believed proved Piers Morgan knew the City Slickers were going to tip the Viglen shares. It was published in the Sunday Business in November 2000. Trinity Mirror say it's an

KILLER EMAIL v URBAN MYTH
THE EMAIL former Mirror political editor David Seymour believes proved Piers Morgan knew the City Slickers were going to tip the Viglen shares was reproduced in the Sunday Business in November 2000. Trinity Mirror told the Leveson Inquiry the email was an “urban myth” …

“Trinity Mirror informs us that the existence of such an email was an ’urban myth’ during the City Slickers saga.”

“No such email was ever found despite a thorough investigation by the DTI — which included … the seizure of a number of personal computer hard drives including those of Messrs Morgan, Hipwell and Bhoyrul.”

This article has already shown that this ‘killer email’ — the 4.33pm  email Morgan sent to Anil Bhoyrul on the day of his Viglen share purchases — had been revealed in November 2000.

When Seymour wrote to the Inquiry to give further evidence about the email, he was told that there wasn’t time to add new material…

We asked Trinity Mirror for a comment.

Company secretary Jeremy Rhodes said:

“The contents of your email are noted.”

♦♦♦ 

ONE INTRIGUING question emerges out of this Press Gang investigation.

In 2000 Piers Morgan said he had sold his shares in Viglen — and donated the profits to charity.

MORALLY DEFUNCT AFTER THE trial of the City Slickers in 2005, Piers Morgan told the Independent on Sunday: “I fully accept that I’m a morally defunct human being.” At the height of the scandal, in 2000, he told actress Kate Winslet “ … you don’t get to be the editor of the Daily Mirror without being a fairly despicable human being.” Photo: PA

MORALLY DEFUNCT
AFTER THE trial of the City Slickers in 2005, Piers Morgan told the Independent on Sunday: “I fully accept that I’m a morally defunct human being.” At the height of the scandal, in 2000, he also told actress Kate Winslet — in a conversation about her unlisted telephone number — “ … you don’t get to be the editor of the Daily Mirror without being a fairly despicable human being.”
Photo: PA

At that time, he was only admitting to owning £20,000 worth of shares.

But he and his wife actually owned £67,000 worth.

So did he donate just the profits from the £20,000 block — or did it also include the proceeds of the entire £67,000 investment?

We put this to Piers Morgan this morning.

There was no answer by the time this piece was published.

♦♦♦

NOTE
This is the fifth instalment of the series A Pretty Despicable Man.
Already published are
Dial M For Morgan
Down In The Gutter
Assault On The Bank Of England
Whodunnit?
Click on a title to read the article.

♦♦♦
© Press Gang
Published: 4 November 2015
♦♦♦

COMING UP 
THE MIRROR: CRACK’D FROM SIDE TO SIDE
WHEN THE Daily Mirror started recruiting former Murdoch journalists — like Piers Morgan — it committed itself to the use of the “dark arts” as a way of competing with the Sun. The full extent of the moral corruption of one of Britain’s greatest newspapers is only just beginning to emerge. And yet an ostrich-like management continues to deny the full extent of the catastrophe. Part Six of A Pretty Despicable Man says it’s time the company cleaned out the stables once and for all … 

 ♦♦♦

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

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

EXCLUSIVE — FAKE SHEIK CHARGED

September 29, 2015

THE SUN journalist Mazher Mahmood has been charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

FAKE SHEIK IN THE DOCK AFTER YEARS of being accused of lying on oath in criminal cases, Mazher Mahmood is to swop the witness box for the dock ... Photo: BBC

FAKE SHEIK IN THE DOCK
Photo: BBC

The decision follows a Scotland Yard investigation — Operation Silverhawk — and comes after the aborted trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos in July 2014.

The singer’s prosecution followed a Sun on Sunday sting in June 2013.

After an elaborate operation, Mahmood and his team persuaded Tulisa to contact a friend who then supplied them with drugs.

Judge Alastair McCreath stopped the trial after Mahmood gave contradictory evidence about changes to a statement made by his driver Alan Smith.

Smith has also been charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The two men will appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on October 30. 

In a statement issued through his solicitors Kingsley Napley, Mazher Mahmood said:

“I am deeply disappointed that, after a totally unjustified delay, the Crown Prosecution Service have today informed me that they have decided to charge me with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. 

“I deny the offence. I will vigorously contest it at court. In the meantime I have nothing further to say.”

Nick Vamos, CPS Deputy Head of Special Crime, said:

“After carefully considering all of the evidence the CPS has decided that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to charge both men.”

“The decision comes after it was alleged that Mr Smith agreed with Mr Mahmood to change his statement to police as part of a trial in July 2014, and that Mr Mahmood then misled the court.”

“May I remind all concerned that both Mr Mahmood and Mr Smith have a right to a fair trial.”

“It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

“For these reasons it would be inappropriate for any further comment.”

 ♦♦♦

COMING UP 
A SLICKER FULL OF LIES
THE STORY of Piers Morgan’s involvement in the “Slickergate Affair” of 2000 makes sobering reading. There’s evidence 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 Fve of A Pretty Despicable Man tells the story of a deliberate corporate cover-up  … 

 ♦♦♦

JOIN THE GANGBUSTERS …
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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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.

DIAL M FOR MORGAN

June 29, 2015

PIERS_MORGAN_part_4

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

BUGGERS
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 …

SMOKING GUN
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.

SNITCH
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.  

GARY “DARK ARTS” JONES
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 

CORRUPT DETECTIVE
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

KIRSTY YOUNG
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 

“CUNNING AND DEVIOUS”
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 

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

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 People, 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

TOM NEWTON DUNN
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

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

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

MIRROR, MIRROR
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

♦♦♦

NOTES

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 …

♦♦♦

COMING UP 
A SLICKER FULL OF LIES
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  … 

 ♦♦♦

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

RIGHT OF REPLY
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DOWN IN THE GUTTER

June 7, 2015

PIERS_MORGAN_part_3

 ON MAY 21 Mr Justice Mann delivered a damning verdict on the Mirror group. 

He found that its newspapers — the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and the People — had engaged in phone hacking and other illegal news-gathering on a massive scale.

In a test case at the High Court, he ordered the company to pay £1.2 million in damages to just eight victims.  

Six of these — including the footballer Paul Gascoigne, BBC executive Alan Yentob and the actress Sadie Frost — were also hacked by reporters working for Piers Morgan during his 1995-2004 tenure as Daily Mirror editor.

Many more cases are in the pipeline.

Morgan himself has been interviewed under caution by detectives as part of Operation Golding, the Scotland Yard inquiry into phone hacking at the group.

Press Gang continues its investigation of the former tabloid editor with a revealing tale of the Daily Mirror’s intrusion into the private life of television newsreader Kirsty Young.

♦♦♦

IN 2009 Piers Morgan was put on the spot about his knowledge of the “dark arts” — including phone hacking — at the Mirror.

He was a guest on the BBC Desert Island Discs programme in June that year.

Presenter Kirsty Young asked him:

“And what about this nice middle-class boy who would have to be dealing with, I mean, essentially people who rake through people’s bins for a living?

KIRSTY YOUNG  THE SCOTTISH journalist's interview with Piers Morgan on Desert Island Discs in 2009 has proved to be a serious embarrassment for the former Mirror editor. Photo: PA

KIRSTY YOUNG
THE SCOTTISH journalist’s interview with Piers Morgan on Desert Island Discs in 2009 has proved a serious embarrassment for the former Daily Mirror editor.
Photo: PA

“People who tap people’s phones, people who take secret photographs… who do all that very nasty down-in-the-gutter stuff — how did you feel about that?”

Morgan was clear:

“Well, let’s put that into perspective …”

“Not a lot of that went on …”

“A lot of it was done by third parties, rather than the staff themselves …”

“That’s not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work.”

“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.”

“I simply say the net of people doing it was very wide …”

These comments echoed his views when News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman was gaoled for hacking royal phones in 2007.

Morgan — who had been Goodman’s editor at the News of the World in 1995 — told trade journal Press Gazette he had a lot of sympathy for Goodman:

“… a man who has been the convenient fall guy for an investigative practice that everyone knows was going on at almost every paper in Fleet Street for years.” 

But he suddenly changed his tune after the revelation, in July 2011, that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked. 

When the U.S. Daily Beast website resurrected his Desert Island Discs comments, Morgan was emphatic.

He told the Beast:

REVISIONISM AS SOON as it became clear that the phone hacking scandal was going to see journalists gaoled , Piers Morgan has been trying desperately to distance himself from earlier statements which suggested he knew all about the practice ...  Photo: PA

REVISIONISM
AS SOON as it became clear that the phone hacking scandal was going to see journalists gaoled, Piers Morgan has been struggling to distance himself from earlier statements suggesting he knew all about the practice.
Photo: PA

“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.”

By the time Morgan appeared before Lord Leveson in December 2011 he was claiming there’d been a misunderstanding during the Desert Island Discs recording:

“I didn’t hear her say phone-tapping.”

“She rattles off a list of stuff, and if you listen to it in real time I think you would see that.”

(Readers can judge for themselves: here’s the link to that edition of Desert Island Discs.)

But when Piers Morgan appeared on the programme, there was one thing he didn’t tell Kirsty Young.

And when he gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, he didn’t mention it either … 

It was that Young herself been the target of “down-in-the-gutter” tactics by Piers Morgan’s Mirror.

The story is also pregnant with the possibility it started as a result of phone-hacking … 

♦♦♦

THE TALE begins in September 1998.

On the 5th, the Mirror exclusively revealed the presenter had split up with Scottish rugby star Kenny Logan.

A week later, the Mirror found out that Young had spent the night with Nick Jones, the millionaire owner of the Soho House club.

At the time Jones had just separated from his wife.

But, for reasons that have never been explained, the paper did not splash the story at that point.

NICK JONES                                                   THE ENTREPRENEUR who founded the Soho House group, Nick Jones had just separated from his wife Tania when he met Kirsty Young. The new couple — who are now married — were targeted by Piers Morgan's Daily Mirror when their relationship began in 1998.  Photo: PA

NICK JONES
THE ENTREPRENEUR who founded the Soho House group, Jones had just separated from his wife Tania when he met Kirsty Young. The new couple — who are now married — were targeted by Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror when their relationship began in 1998.
Photo: PA

Instead, senior Mirror journalist Gary Jones asked a private eye to organise a surveillance operation.

This was Jonathan Rees, a partner in the Southern Investigations detective agency.

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

(See The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency for more details.)

On September 16, one of Rees’ “agents” used a motorbike to keep tabs on her movements.

He spent three hours and travelled 35 miles.

The next day, it was for just under three hours, clocking up 25 miles.

On September 18, it was exactly the same.

Rees charged the paper £260.25.

Again, the Mirror didn’t publish.

Again, the reasons why it hesitated have never been made clear. 

On September 22 Young was once again under observation — but not by Rees and his team.

JONATHAN REES THE CONTROVERSIAL private eye was an important cog in the Daily Mirror's illegal news-gathering operation. Rees had been a suspect in the 1987 murder of his partner Daniel Morgan and was convicted of conspiracy to plant cocaine on an innocent woman. He was given a seven year prison sentence.   Photo: PA

JONATHAN REES
THE CONTROVERSIAL private eye was an important cog in the Daily Mirror’s illegal news-gathering operation. Rees had been a suspect in the 1987 murder of his partner Daniel Morgan and was later convicted of conspiracy to plant cocaine on an innocent woman. He was given a seven year prison sentence.
Photo: PA

It seems the paper’s own reporters, convinced Young and Jones were an item, were now mounting their own surveillance operation.

On September 22 Young was followed from the studios where she’d just finished presenting the Channel 5 News.

She left the building at 7pm and was tailed to her flat in Kensington.

Nick Jones turned up and, an hour later, the pair were photographed at a local restuarant. 

They were still being watched the next morning when they had breakfast in a cafe.

The couple then travelled to Somerset to stay in the Babbington House country club near Frome, also owned by Jones’ company. 

After an overnight stay, Young caught the London train in time to read that evening’s Channel 5 News.

But it took another week before the Daily Mirror exclusively revealed — in a double page spread  on September 30 — that the couple were an item.

The piece was written by Lucy Rock and Oonagh Blackman. 

“DARK ARTS” MASTER
GARY JONES — today he’s executive editor of the Sunday Mirror — was one of the key figures in the illegal news-gathering activities at the Daily Mirror. A former crime reporter on the News of the World when Piers Morgan was editor in 1994-199, he moved to the Mirror in 1996.

So why did it take the Mirror so long to make its dramatic revelation?

The paper sat on the information for at least a week — and possibly a fortnight.

The story was tabloid dynamite and every day the Mirror risked being scooped by one of its rivals. 

Surveillance has never been illegal and — at that time — listening to phone messages was not unlawful.

But paying someone to blag confidential details of phone numbers and PIN codes was a criminal offence.

Was this the original source of the story — and the paper was desperate to find alternative sources for the story?

Former Daily Mirror reporter James Hipwell claims that, by mid-1999, phone hacking was “rife” and “endemic” at the paper, especially on its showbiz desk.

Even though Hipwell was gaoled for insider dealing at the paper in 2000, his testimony was considered reliable by Lord Leveson — and by Mr Justice Mann in last month’s civil case. 

♦♦♦

WE ASKED all those involved in the Kirsty Young story to comment. 

Gary Jones, the senior journalist who asked Jonathan Rees to carry out the surveillance operation, didn’t reply.

He’s been named in several Press Gang articles but doesn’t answer our emails. 

JAMES HIPWELL THE FORMER Mirror financial reporter claims that phone hacking started at the Daily Mirror in mid-1999. Although he was gaoled for insider dealing at the Daily Mirror, judges — including Lord Leveson and Mr Justice Mann, have believed his testimony. Photo: PA

JAMES HIPWELL
THE FORMER Daily Mirror financial reporter claims that phone hacking started at the paper in mid-1999. Although he was gaoled for insider dealing at the Daily Mirror, judges — including Lord Leveson and Mr Justice Mann — have believed his testimony.
Photo: PA

We have not been able to contact Oonagh Blackman, one of the reporters who wrote the exposé of Kirsty Young and Nick Jones’ relationship.

We emailed the other by-lined journalist, Lucy Rock — now news editor at The Observer.

She told us:

“I was asked by the newsdesk to ‘doorstep’ those involved.” 

“I don’t know where the tip came from, but there was never any suggestion of phone hacking.”

“Indeed, I heard no mention of this practice during my time at The Mirror.”  

We were unable to reach Piers Morgan.

He’s never answered any of our emails. 

We left a message with Nick Jones, Kirsty Young’s husband, at Soho House.

He didn’t come back to us.

♦♦♦

IN 2005 Piers Morgan published his best-selling memoirs, The Insider.

It’s an account of his years as editor of the News of the World (1994-1995) and Daily Mirror (1995-2004).

There’s not a word about the “dark arts” practiced at the Daily Mirror

In the late 1990s anti-corruption detectives at Scotland Yard launched Operation Two Bridges against Jonathan Rees and his Southern Investigations private detective agency.

They wanted information about Rees’ attempts to corrupt serving police officers — and about his alleged involvement in the 1987 murder of his partner Daniel Morgan.

Invoices seized from Southern Investigations during Operation Two Bridges show the firm was a key element in Piers Morgan’s editorial strategy.

INSIDER SECRETS PIERS MORGAN published his memoirs — The Insider — but there's no mention of the

INSIDER SECRETS
PIERS MORGAN published his memoirs — The Insider — in 2005 but there’s no mention of the “dark arts” used at the Daily Mirror
Photo; PA

In August 2011 BBC economics editor Robert Peston obtained a set of these invoices.

He revealed that, between October 1997 and September 1999, the Mirror group used Jonathan Rees on 230 occasions.

Peston calculated that the Daily and Sunday Mirror paid Rees just under £67,000.

Many of these were simple “fishing expeditions” — finding out about famous people’s financial affairs.

Often the information was not newsworthy — and nothing appeared in the Daily Mirror.

Press Gang has also obtained a set of these invoices.

Here are some of the entries that could have gone into Piers Morgan’s diaries — if he’d decided to tell the truth about what the Daily Mirror was really up to …

20 May 1998  The Mirror’s Gary Jones ordered “confidential enquiries” on “Emma Noble”, then girlfriend of former Prime Minister John Major’s son. No private information appeared in the paper. Cost: £282.

13 July 1998  In another fishing expedition, Gary Jones asked Jonathan Rees to obtain “bankers details” on No 10 advisor Roger Liddle and lobbyist Derek Draper. The two men were suspected of selling access to Labour ministers. The cost — £662.47.

21 Sept 1998  Arthur Scargill’s wife, Dr Margaret Scargill, was the target. Gary Jones spent £403.37 on “bankers details”. Nothing appeared in the paper. 

THE FORMer English rugby srar, hacked by the Mirror.

WILL CARLING
THE FORMER captain of the England rugby team, Carling was blagged by the Daily Mirror in 1998. The paper published details of his bank account and mortgage.
Photo: PA

6 Oct 1998  The paper paid Jonathan Rees £677.97 to dig out personal information on Will Carling. The former England rugby international was in the news because he’d left his wife. Gary Jones ordered the search for “Financial / Company Information” which was extracted from “RBS, Abbey National”. The bill was £677.97. 
    This time personal information was published. In a long piece written by Gary Jones, Colin Price and Oonagh Blackman on October 7, two quotes stand out. One says: “Last month Carling took £5,000 in salary from the business to pay his mortgage.” One of his companies — Inspirational Horizons — “has just £1,500 in its account”. This could have come from his RBS bank account. 
    The second states: “The star, who has a £400,000 mortgage on the five bedroom property, needs to find more than £2,800 a month in repayments.” Did this come from his Abbey National mortgage? Will Carling told us
 he did not want to comment. 

19 Oct 1998  Jonathan Rees sent Gary Jones two bills relating to an investigation of the business affairs of TV presenter Anthea Turner’s then boyfriend Grant Bovey. Turner had left her husband the previous January and moved in with Bovey. The first invoice, for £500, was for “confidential enquiries” about Bovey and his wife. The second — “undertaking detailed financial searches” into Bovey — was worth £569. The total was £1,069.
A double page spread had appeared on Bovey’s affairs four days earlier. The piece — written by Gary Jones, Matthew Wright and Oonagh Blackman— stated Bovey’s bankers were “calling for crisis talks to discuss his personal problems.” “They have told him to stop issuing cheques after running up an overdraft of nearly £16,000.” This information could have been blagged from Bovey’s bank.

PETER MANDELSON   THE LABOUR minister was another victim of the Daily Mirror. He resigned as Trade Secretary in December 1998 after it was revealed he'd failed to declare a £378,000 personal loan from fellow minister Geoffrey Robinson. The day before his resignation the Mirror's Gary Jones asked Jonathan Rees to blag details of the Trade Minister's bank and mortgage accounts. The Mirror revealed Mandelson had £50,000 in a Coutts account — and that his £150,000 mortgage with the Britannia Building Society cost £1,000 a month. According to the BBC's Robert Peston, the Mandelson operation cost the Mirror £1,116.  Photo: PA

PETER MANDELSON
THE LABOUR minister was another victim of the Daily Mirror. He resigned as Trade Secretary in December 1998 after it was revealed he’d failed to declare a £378,000 personal loan from fellow minister Geoffrey Robinson. The day before his resignation the Mirror’s Gary Jones asked Jonathan Rees to blag details of the Trade Minister’s bank and mortgage accounts. The Mirror revealed Mandelson had £50,000 in a Coutts account — and that his £150,000 mortgage with the Britannia Building Society cost £1,000 a month. According to the BBC’s Robert Peston, the Mandelson operation cost the Mirror £1,116.
Photo: PA

4 Jan 1999  Gary Jones paid Jonathan Rees £499.37 to find information about Alistair Campbell, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s press secretary. No personal financial details appeared in the Mirror. The cost was £499.37.

15 Mar 1999   The Mirror pays £264.37 for information about Mick Jagger — no confidential material appeared in the paper.

♦♦♦

ALL OF these individuals have grounds for suing the Daily Mirror.

Their chances of success have been strengthened by last month’s verdict in the eight “sample” cases heard by Mr Justice Mann.

The judge ruled that, even for those whose confidential details were never published in the newspaper, damages can be awarded.

His judgment also reveals the extraordinary scale of illegal newsgathering —  the “dark arts” — at the Mirror and its stablemates.

CROCODILE CONTRITION  THE MIRROR'S limited apology published in February this year — more than a decade after the paper began phone hacking. In the civil case last month, Mr Justice Mann considered this to be a

CROCODILE CONTRITION
THE MIRROR’S limited apology published in February this year — more than 15 years after the paper began phone hacking. In the civil case last month, Mr Justice Mann considered this to be motivated by “tactical” legal reasons rather than genuine “contrition” …

Up to now, for example, Press Gang has only been aware of two private eyes who were used by the papers.

They are Jonathan Rees of Southern Investigations in the years up to 1999 and Steve Whittamore in the early 2000s.

The BBC revealed that the Daily and Sunday Mirror spent £67,000 with Southern Investigations between 1997 and 1999. 

An analysis by ITV News showed that the Daily Mirror paid Steve Whittamore at least £92,000 up until his arrest in March 2003.

That makes a total of £159,000.

But the Mann verdict reveals this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Judge Mann noted 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.”  

“The total covers a lot of agents, and some of their work may have been legitimate.”

But the judge added that the Mirror’s legal team:

“has admitted 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.” 

In other words, illegal news-gathering — including but not limited to phone hacking — was taking place on a colossal scale at the group.

♦♦♦

Published: 7 June 2015
© Press Gang 

♦♦♦

NOTES

1  There are reporting restrictions in the recent civil case against the Mirror group. Mr Justice Mann has ordered the names of several journalists should be redacted — apparently because they are the subject of active police inquiries.

2  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.

3  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 …

♦♦♦

COMING UP 
DIAL M FOR MORGAN
THE JUDGE in last month’s civil case against the Mirror group accepted that phone hacking became a key feature of the papers in mid-1999. In part four of A Pretty Despicable Man Press Gang presents cast-iron evidence Daily Mirror reporters were hacking the phones of senior politicians a year earlier…

 ♦♦♦

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

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

 

TORY MP CONCEALED LINK TO MILIBAND TORMENTOR

May 6, 2015
.
 

TORY MP Andrew Jones failed to declare an interest in a company owned by controversial Leeds businesswoman Catherine Shuttleworth.

Shuttleworth hit the headlines in last week’s BBC Question Time when she attacked Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough in the last Parliament, helped Shuttleworth set up her marketing business in May 2006.

ANDREW JONES THE MP worked with Catherine Shuttleworth in the late 1990s and was company secretary of her marketing business until 2010. But he didn't tell Parliament about their links ... Photo:

NOT SAVVY
THE MP worked with Catherine Shuttleworth in the late 1990s and was company secretary of her Get Savvy Marketing company until 2010. But he didn’t tell Parliament about the appointment — he says he took no payment from the company after he was elected. 

He was company secretary for more than four years.

He should have declared his interest when he was elected an MP in the May 2010 General Election.

He didn’t do so.

Press Gang investigates the links between an MP and a marketing executive …

♦♦♦

IT WAS the Daily Mail which prompted this inquiry.

The paper lionised Catherine Shuttleworth after she savaged Ed Miliband on Question Time last Thursday over the economy.

She volunteered to be a member of the Question Time audience as an “undecided” voter but declared she was going to vote Conservative during her exchange with the Labour leader.

The Daily Mail hailed her as “the woman who shredded Red Ed”.

It continued:

“How marketing company boss used laser-like precision to lead audience attack on Labour leader.”

However, Twitter comments began revealing that she had signed a letter from 5,025 small businesses to the Daily Telegraph backing the Tories just four days before the programme.

SCAMP Catherine Shuttleworth started her company in 2006 under the name Scamp Marketing. In 2011 she told the Yorkshire Post the company had a turnover of £6.5 million and 70 staff. In December 2013 the company had cash in the bank of £382,000. Photo: BBC

SCAMP
Catherine Shuttleworth started her company in 2006 under the name Scamp Marketing. In 2011 she told the Yorkshire Post Get Savvy Marketing had a turnover of £6.5 million and 70 staff. In December 2013 the company had cash in the bank of £382,000.
Photo: BBC

The letter was clear:

“We would like to see David Cameron and George Osborne given the chance to finish what they have started.”

Other tweets also revealed she’d started her Leeds-based marketing company with Andrew Jones MP.

The Daily Mail allowed Shuttleworth to answer these criticisms in an Exclusive interview on May 1.

The paper asked her if she was a Tory.

“Oh God no,” she replied.

“I’ve never been a member of any political party and I do not intend to be.”

“I’m not a Tory at all. It’s absolute nonsense. Absolutely not, categorically no.”

She signed the Telegraph letter from small businesses:

” … because I agreed with it. I have never done anything like that before.”

She explained how Andrew Jones — Tory MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough and a candidate in tomorrow’s General Election — came to be involved in her business Get Savvy Marketing.

She told the paper:

“Fifteen years ago I worked with Andrew in another business.”

“When I set my business up nine years ago a number of people helped me to do different things and Andrew helped me do some of that.”

“That was long before his political career started.”

“There is no connection, he literally set some stuff up.”

The Daily Mail article was so uncritical of Shuttleworth that Press Gang decided to investigate.

We found most of her comments do not stand up to serious examination …

♦♦♦

WHEN CATHERINE Shuttleworth was an 18-year-old student, she was super-confident.
 
“Never in my whole life have I thought I couldn’t do something,” she told the Yorkshire Post in 2011. 
 
Her “back-up plan”, she told her interviewer, was to be Prime Minister.
 

She didn’t say which party she would be leading …

QUESTIONABLE TIME  DAVID DIMBLEBY should have been sharper during the exchange between the allegedly

QUESTIONABLE TIME
DAVID DIMBLEBY might have been sharper during the exchange between the allegedly “undecided” Shuttleworth and Ed Miliband. When she attacked the Labour leader — over the note Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne left for his successor in 2010 saying: “I’m afraid there is no money” — Dimbleby could have reminded viewers that the Tories have also made similar jokes. In 1964 Tory Chancellor Reginald Maudling left a note to his successor James Callaghan which said: “Good luck, old cock … Sorry to leave it in such a mess.”
Photo: BBC

Shuttleworth went to school in Sheffield and studied retail marketing at Manchester Polytechnic.After working at Allied Carpets and Dixons, she came back to Yorkshire in 1994 when her partner Neal Austin got a job with supermarket group ASDA.

Shuttleworth went to run a marketing company which did work for ASDA.

By 2003, she and her husband were moving up in the world.

They bought a detached house in Weeton Avenue, Leeds for £535,000.

In 2006, her husband left ASDA to become a senior executive at rival Morrisons. 

In the same year, Shuttleworth set up Get Savvy Marketing after winning a big contract from ASDA.

The company secretary was Andrew Jones — the man who would later become Tory MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough.

Jones had spent 25 years in sales and marketing with firms like B&Q, Superdrug, Going Places and Taylors of Harrogate. 

The pair had already worked together.

Jones was never a shareholder in Get Savvy Marketing and Shuttleworth, who began with three-quarters of the shares, soon owned them all. 

But when she told the Daily Mail —

“When I set my business up nine years ago a number of people helped me to do different things and Andrew helped me do some of that.”

“That was long before his political career started.” 

— she wasn’t telling the truth.

Andrew Jones joined the Conservative Party in 1987.

A decade later he was already a well-known figure in Conservative circles and chaired the influential think-tank, the Bow Group, in 1999-2000.

In 2001 he unsuccessfully contested the Harrogate and Knaresbrough constituency. In 2003 he was elected a Tory councillor on Harrogate Borough Council — and rose to become Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources.

He was still company secretary of Get Savvy Marketing when he became an MP …

♦♦♦

WHEN NEW MPs are elected to Parliament, they are expected to declare their financial interests.When Andrew Jones entered the House in 2010, the relevant Code of Conduct stated that its purpose was

” … providing the openness and accountability necessary to reinforce public confidence … ”

“Members are required to complete a registration form and submit it … within one month of their election to the House … ”

Any change must be registered within 28 days.

NON-DECLARATION ANDREW JONES' entry in the 2010 Register of Members' Financial Interests. There is no declaration of  his role in Catherine Shuttleworth's company. All he admits to is receiving £872 as a Harrogate Borough councillor in his first two months as an MP.

NON-DECLARATION
ANDREW JONES’ entry in the 2010 Register of Members’ Financial Interests. There is no declaration of his role in Catherine Shuttleworth’s company. All he admits to is receiving £872 as a Harrogate Borough councillor in his first two months as an MP.

The first register of the 2010-2015 Parliament was published on 25 October 2010.

The only entry under Category 2 —  “Remunerated employment, office, profession, etc …” — is Jones’ payments as a Harrogate councillor.

He did not resign from Get Savvy Marketing until the following month.

A spokeswoman for the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Hudson, told Press Gang:

“During dissolution (i.e. until after the General Election) the Commissioner cannot look at any allegations of breaches of the rules.”

Press Gang will lodge a complaint once the election is over.

We asked Andrew Jones for a comment.

There was no reply by the time this piece was posted in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

However, later that morning he emailed the following statement:

“MPs are required to declare outside earnings in the Register of Members’

Financial Interests, to detail who employed them, how much money was earned, how many hours worked and the nature of the work.From the date I was elected onwards I did no work for the Company, so
therefore received no remuneration. To be clear, while the paperwork and
administrative arrangements were made for terminating my role as Company Secretary and putting in place new arrangements for the Company I did no work and therefore received no payments or benefits of any kind.Had I done so my understanding is that a declaration would have been
required and I would have made such a declaration. There was nothing to
declare, so the Register of Members’ Financial Interests is complete and
correct.”

Press Gang also asked Harrogate Borough Council for the last declaration Andrew Jones made when he was a councillor.We were interested to see if he’d declared his role in Get Savvy Marketing.

After seven hours Giles Latham — the authority’s Communication and Marketing Manager (Organisational Development and Improvement) — came back to say the council couldn’t find it.

We then asked for copies of all Andrew Jones’ declarations during the years he served.

Latham came back to say that this — and other questions — would be considered under the Freedom of Information rules.

This gives the authority up to four working weeks to reply …

♦♦♦

PRESS GANG also emailed Catherine Shuttleworth.

We asked about her false comment to the Daily Mail that Andrew Jones’ involvement in Get Savvy Marketing took place long before he became a politician.

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

♦♦♦

Published: 6 May 2015
© Press Gang 

♦♦♦ 

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

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

 ♦♦♦

JOIN THE GANGBUSTERS …
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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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.

ASSAULT ON THE BANK OF ENGLAND

April 27, 2015

PM - ASSAULT

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

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

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

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

Piers Morgan claims he was ignorant of all of this.

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

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

Press Gang presents new evidence that further undermines this testimony.

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

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

♦♦♦

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

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

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

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

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

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

It will be the first for many years.

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

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

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

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

But there’s an elephant in the room.

Few in the conference will acknowledge it.

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

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

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

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

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

He served his apprenticeship on the News of the World.

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

Jones followed Morgan to the Daily Mirror in 1996. 

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

This is the private eye Jonathan Rees. 

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

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

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

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

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

♦♦♦

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

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

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

The piece reveals five members have no mortgage at all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She has a £200,000 mortgage. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦♦♦

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

The total is £1,936.

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

But a separate statement is sent to Gary Jones personally.

It’s marked

FOR YOUR INFORMATION ONLY  

This is more revealing.

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

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

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

” … identifying their mortgage details as directed.”

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

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

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

So does Gary Jones.

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

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

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

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

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

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

— knowing or believing this to contravene the Act

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mirror accounts department want more information.

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

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

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

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

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

♦♦♦

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

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

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

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

Once again, the private eye involved is Jonathan Rees.

And his contact at the paper is Gary Jones.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRINCE’S BANK CRISIS

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

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

The operation against the Prince costs the Mirror £546.37.

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

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

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

Rees refuses.

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

The paper says

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

The Mirror adds:

“We accept that our original allegations were untrue …”

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

A report seen by Press Gang states:

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

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

“This offence may be capable of proof.”

No further action is ever taken by the Metropolitan Police.

♦♦♦

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On this occasion, the blagger is John Gunning.

He targets Coutts and Lloyds Bank.   

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

The business banks with Lloyds in the City of London. 

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

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

John Gunning invoices Jonathan Rees.

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

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

This account has a zero balance.  

None of this information ever appears in the Mirror.

It’s a fishing expedition.

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

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

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

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

The report concludes:

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

Scotland Yard takes no further action. 

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

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

He added:

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

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

“They were last used in 1999.”

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

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

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

♦♦♦

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then they pounced.

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

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

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

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

Piers Morgan had no connection with the Sunday Mirror.

The CPS decided not to prosecute.

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦♦♦

Published: 27 April 2015
© Press Gang 

♦♦♦ 

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

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

 ♦♦♦

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