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
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
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.