Daily Archives: February 27, 2012

How the BBC censors evidence of press misbehaviour

Robert Henderson

The Leveson Inquiry resumed sitting on 27 February.  Its  focus will be on the relationship between the police and the press.  Consequently, this subject was chosen for BBC Radio 5 Breakfast  Programme’s 9.00 am phone-in on that date.

Before  the subject was announced Piers Morgan appeared on the programme and repeated his denial of ever paying police for information or knowing of any journalist working for him doing so.  Because of this denial  I sent to the Breakfast email address and the presenter Nicky Campbell’s email address a facsimile copy of Morgan’s letter to the  PCC in which he admits receiving information from the police in circumstances which can only have been illegal. A copy of the letter is at the bottom of this post.

As soon as the subject was announced (8.49 am) I immediately rang R5  and offered myself as a caller.  Normally if you call at that time you will get on air. I explained that I had direct evidence of police collusion with the press and asked the researcher to put on his notes to the program producer the fact that I has sent a facsimile of Morgan’s letter by email which he agreed to do.  I added that I had tried to get the Leveson Inquiry to investigate  Morgan’s admission of dealing with the police illicitly but  they had refused.

Despite offering such solid evidence I never got on the programme.  Nor did many other members of the general public – in 50 minutes of broadcasting only seven people not connected with the media were put on air, most of them for a brief period.   Instead, the vast majority of the time  was taken by Nicky Campbell interviewing  the Labour MP  Chris Bryant and  journalists including Roy Greenslade, ex-Mirror editor,  and Jeff Edwards,  the recently retired chief crime reporter for the Mirror .   Edwards painted himself as whiter than white when it came to illegal dealings with the police. This was more than a little odd because Jeff Edwards was the reporter who received the information from the police about me to which Morgan refers in his letter to the PCC.

There was one interesting call from the brother of   Tom  Cressman   who  was murdered by Jane Andrews, the one-time  wardrobe mistress to the  Duchess of York.  Richard Cressman   complained that he had submitted complaints to the Leveson Inquiry but had not been called to give evidence.

Robert Henderson 27 2 2012

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Piers Morgan’s letter to the PCC admitting the illegal receipt of information from the police

FROM THE EDITOR

By fax (0171-353 8355) & by post

16 October 1997

Your ref: 970738

Christopher Hayes Esq

Press Complaints Commission

I Salisbury Square

London

EC4Y 8AE

 

Dear Mr Hayes

Mr Robert Henderson

I refer to Mr Henderson’s complaint as outlined in his letter of 23 September.

As you are aware, we have been in contact with Mr Henderson for some time due to his propensity to bombard individuals and this office with correspondence. There are certain irrefutable facts that escape emphasis in Mr Henderson’s correspondence.

Far from ignoring any of his correspondence we have written to him on the 20 May, 22 July and 6 August We have consistently made it clear  that we have no intention of entering into any further correspondence with him.

Be that as it may I will address his concerns:-

In essence, the basic “sting” of the article, of which he complains, was that he had been sending numerous insulting letters, some with racist undertones, to Mr and Mrs Blair which had been passed to the  Crown Prosecution Service for consideration.

Mr Henderson himself admits that he sent Mr and Mrs Blair at least thirteen letters. I have no way of directly knowing of the content of those letters because I have not had sight of them. However, clearly  they sufficiently concerned Mr Blair’s office to be passed to the Crown Prosecution Service and I think the Commission is perfectly entitled to draw an adverse inference on the contents of those letters as a result of that referral.

I cannot accept Mr Henderson’s explanation for writing to Cherie Blair.

To do so was clearly designed to intimidate.

In Mr Henderson’s draft article “Moral Simpletons Target Innocent Man”  the bile that he shows on the second page of that article clearly  illustrates his capacity to insult in his letters to Mr and Mrs Blair (to the extent that they be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service). I would also refer the Commission to Mr Henderson’s gratuitous reference to a “Blaireich”.

He also admits to expressing his disgust (we can only guess in what terms) of the decision of Mr and Mrs Blair not to send their son to a school whereby a white schoolboy was, apparently, murdered by five other boys (and that that murder was racially motivated).

The police source of our article (whose identity we have a moral obligation to protect) gave us tile detail of the letters that we then published. Nothing that Mr Henderson writes has convinced me that tile article was anything other than accurate.

Perhaps one can get a flavour of his correspondence with Mr and Mrs Blair by examining the final sentence of his draft article in which he states “It was a cargo of ancient male gonads”.

The Commission may be aware (I am attempting to get hold of the article) that the article of Mr Henderson’s that appeared in Wisden’s Cricket Monthly in 1995 gave rise to an extraordinary amount of controversy and resulted in Wisden paying substantial libel damages to the Cricketer, Devon Malcolm, whom the Commission will be aware is a coloured fast bowler for England. As I understand the matter, and Mr Henderson will correct me if I am wrong, the article implied that coloured players will not try as hard when playing for England as white players.

I have discussed the legal position with the newspaper’s solicitor, Martin Cruddace , and he has assured me that the law has recently developed whereby words (be they written or spoken) can constitute assault if the pattern of those words is such as to make the recipient of them either anxious or ill. It has developed as a reaction to the former impotence of the law on stalking.

The law has therefore developed since the publication of the dictionary reference on which Mr Henderson relies.

I cannot accept that the taking of the photographs of Mr Henderson, given the clear public interest concerning the subject matter of The Mirror article, could possibly constitute harassment under the Code.

I am most concerned not to waste any further time in dealing with Mr Henderson’s complaint but, naturally, if the Commission wishes me to address any further matters then I will endeavour to do so.

However, I hope that the above is sufficient to convince the Commission that the basic “sting” of the article is accurate and that Mr Henderson’s complaint ought to be dismissed.

Yours sincerely

 

Piers Morgan

The Leveson Inquiry and the suppression of evidence

NB This article is also  on the Libertarian Alliance website http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/the-leveson-inquiry-and-the-suppression-of-evidence/

 Robert Henderson

The remit of the Leveson Inquiry into the British Press is clear:

Module 1: The relationship between the press and the public and looks at phone-hacking and other potentially illegal behaviour.

Module 2: The relationships between the press and police and the extent to which that has operated in the public interest.

Module 3: The relationship between press and politicians.

Module 4: Recommendations for a more effective policy and regulation that supports the integrity and freedom of the press while encouraging the highest ethical standards.(http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/about/)

Module 1 has been completed, Module 2 is in progress.

In November 2011 I submitted extensive evidence to the Inquiry (https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/the-leveson-inquiry-the-blairs-the-mirror-the-police-and-me/). This covered gross abuse of me by the Press ; the illicit receipt of information from the police by the Daily Mirror; the repeated failure of the PCC to act on my complaints of clear breaches of the PCC Code of Conduct and criminal behaviour by the police both in supplying information about me illicitly to the Press and by failing to investigate meaningfully when I provided them with incontrovertible evidence of the supply of information illicitly to the Press by the police. Those matters were at the heart of modules 1 and 2. My submission also covered the relationship between the press and politicians, so is relevant to module 3.

The abuse by the Press concerned the Mirror newspaper which ran an extraordinarily libellous story about me relating to Tony and Cherie Blair’ failed attempt during the 1997 General Election campaign to have me prosecuted under the Malicious Communications Act. (https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/when-tony-and-cherie-blair-tried-to-have-me-jailed/). The failure of the PCC was their bald refusal to adjudicate on my complaints. This allowed them to avoid expressing an opinion on the Mirror story.

The evidence of the illicit passing of information to the Mirror by the police arose from my complaint to the PCC. Amongst the evidence I submitted to the Inquiry was a letter from Piers Morgan to the PCC ((https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/the-leveson-inquiry-the-blairs-the-mirror-the-police-and-me/). The letter was sent to me by the PCC. In it Morgan writes “The police source of our article (whose identity we have a moral obligation to protect) gave us the detail of the letters that we then published.” Morgan’s wording means that the information was supplied illegally because otherwise there would be no need to protect the police officer’s name

Morgan’s response to questions about receiving information illicitly from the police when appearing before the Inquiry begins at line 20 of page 86 of the official transcript. It runs

Q. Okay. Can I ask you, please, about paying police

21 officers. Is that something which happened at the

22 Daily Mirror whilst you were editor?

23 A. I have no reason to believe so, no.

24 Q. Are you saying by that that it was not brought to your

25 attention?

Page 87

1 A. I’ve never been made aware of any evidence for that at

2 all.

(http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Transcript-of-Afternoon-Hearing-20-December-2011.txt)

By far the most plausible motive for the police supplying the information to the Mirror is money. If that happened Morgan is guilty of perjury. But even if money did not change hands, both the police officer and the Mirror people involved committed crimes under the Official Secrets (OSA) and Data Protection (DPA) Acts.

Despite the compelling and pertinent nature of my evidence, all of which is substantiated by documents or personal witness by me, no attempt was made to call me as a witness for module I of the Inquiry or to use any of the evidence, including questioning Morgan about his letter to the PCC. In an attempt to force the Inquiry to use the evidence I applied for Core Participant status for module 2.

Core Participant status can be awarded ) if an applicant meets at least one of these criteria:

the person played, or may have played, a direct and significant role in relation to the matters to which the inquiry relates;

the person has a significant interest in an important aspect of those matters to which the inquiry relates; or

the person may be subject to explicit or significant criticism during the inquiry proceedings or in its report. (http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/about/core-participants/). One of the primary advantages of achieving the status is that it allows the Core Participant to question witnesses.

I readily qualified under the first two criteria, having been the subject of Press abuse, PCC regulatory failure and police criminality, both in the illegal supply of information about me to the Mirror and the likelihood of the information having been supplied for money.

I was asked to submit in writing my reasons for thinking I qualified for Core Participant status. This I did (https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/leveson-inquiry-the-response-to-robert-hendersons-application-to-be-a-core-participant-2/). Despite having been asked for a written submission, when I attended the directions hearing for Core Participant status on 25 January Lord Leveson announced that he had not read any of the submissions and instead would make his decision on a short impromptu oral presentation by the applicants. In the short time allowed I included in my presentation the fact that an editor who had appeared before the Inquiry had received information illicitly from the police and had almost certainly committed perjury by denying it under oath before the Inquiry. Nonetheless, I was not granted Core Participant status with no reason for this failure being given (https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/leveson-inquiry-robert-hendersons-application-for-core-participant-status/).

Despite the denial of Core Participant status there was still a possibility that I would be called as a witness. Then something very strange happened. On 15 February I received this email from assistant solicitor Sharon Hiles which ran

Dear Mr Henderson

I write to confirm that your submissions are currently being considered by the Inquiry. In relation to the letter from Mr Morgan, I would be grateful if you would confirm if you have a signed copy, and if so, please send a signed hard copy to the Inquiry.

On the face of it this suggested they were taking the matter seriously. I had already supplied a hard copy of the Morgan letter to the Inquiry and emailed Hiles back to say so. This elicited another email from Hiles which stated

Having considered the letter and Mr Morgan’s evidence to the Inquiry, we do not propose to take this matter any further. The relevant part of the transcript relates to questions regarding payments to police. This is not the same issue as a newspaper receiving information for which no payment had been made.

Between Hiles’ first and second emails there elapsed 4 hours and 38 minutes. The Inquiry’s position went from seemingly taking a serious interest in the matter to deciding with no evidence whatsoever that Morgan’s admission in his letter to the PCC meant that the paper received the information without paying for it and that this in some mysterious way meant the story was of no interest to them.

I have asked the Inquiry for an explanation of (1) how they reached their conclusion that the Mirror did not pay for the information; (2) why they asked for a facsimile of Morgan’s original letter if they believed the Mirror did not pay for the information – the Inquiry definitely had the wording of the letter when Hiles’ first email was sent and if their objection was that Morgan did not explicitly state the Mirror had paid for the information, there was no point in asking me whether I had a signed copy of it and (3) why they are refusing to investigate the breaches of the OSA and DPA. I have received no reply. The full exchange of emails between the Inquiry and myself from 15 February onwards can be found at https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/leveson-inquiry-wanted-people-who-have-had-their-evidence-ignored/.

As things stand, the Inquiry are refusing to investigate a very clear example of Press misbehaviour which at best involved the Mirror committing crimes under the OSA and DPA and which probably involved the Mirror paying the police for information and Piers Morgan committing perjury before the Inquiry. There is no legitimate reason this. That they are behaving this way points to one thing: the Inquiry is not intended to be more than PR exercise and, as with virtually any government instigated inquiry, any evidence which may seriously damage those with power, wealth or influence is to be suppressed. It is scandalous.

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