Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

The Misrepresentation of the Hacking Trial Verdicts (updated)

by ceebs Tue Jun 24th, 2014 at 09:06:32 PM EST

The Trial of the Century is mostly over, barring a couple of charges and the press would have it that Everyone has walked away apart from Andy Coulson and that the CPS has thus failed utterly in bringing a malicious prosecution against a group of upright citizens who should never have been there in the first place, on top of this they are claiming that the Crown have spent through lawyers and police a total of £30 million on an unnecessary trial.

This argument will be pushed by a whole selection of papers in the next few days as it is in their interest. If the charge can be shown to be spurious then much of the justification for the reforms suggested by Lord Leveson are obviously unnecessary.

However there are several details that the magicians of the press don't want you to look at while they trot out their card trick.

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One lone paper?

by ceebs Wed May 29th, 2013 at 11:05:02 PM EST

Earlier I was reading the Jack of Kent blog on The law and culture of phone hacking which raises some interesting points. He points out that it was not only a failure of the individuals involved, but also a failure of the editorial and management levels of the papers, who were insufficiently risk averse, and also a failure of the legal staff at the papers who failed to appropriately advise both management and staff because they had been left behind by the changes in underlying technology, and had become stranded out on an arm of legal expertise covering libel and defamation, where their jobs had come to need knowledge of technology law.

Personally I think it is a tempting argument, but slightly misses what I think was the real problem. And that is that journalists are generally drawn from too narrow a section of the knowledge base, and so having skills based on journalism and writing we have newspapers produced from a narrow social viewpoint, We just do not have enough scientists or geographers or people with social work or policing skills working as reporters, so we have too few questions asked. The same reasons we get poor medical coverage in the mid market tabloids with their seemingly daily causes of/cures for cancer. Or the pitiful "unbiased" climate change reporting that leads people to think that the science isn't basically settled.

If we see the problem as occurring this way then as the organisations shrink then this is a problem that will only get worse. Fewer journalists mean an ever shrinking width of questions, and that will result in more and more people turning away from newspapers, In a readership death spiral.

To see if I could back either of these views up I went for a trawl amongst the output of the News International tabloids and came across something quite amusing instead.

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The UK and the Euro

by ceebs Thu May 2nd, 2013 at 09:34:41 AM EST

An interesting posting on the LSE  Blogs

Poor economic performance may leave the UK with no choice but to join the euro if it wishes to remain in the EU | British Politics and Policy at LSE

In light of the Eurozone crisis, many commentators in the UK maintain that the Eurozone and the EU are doomed. Recalling the UK's desire to remain apart from embryonic attempts towards European integration in the 1950s, Tim Bale argues that, should the euro survive, the UK may be unable to resist further integration. With a relatively poor outlook for growth in the coming decade, the UK may be soon faced with a choice: join the euro to remain in the EU, or face complete marginalisation

Now an alternative might be to take an economic path, less serious, but that would never do. but it may become a choice that has to be made.

Comments >> (7 comments)

An Ambush of Wishful thinking and Cargo Cult law.

by ceebs Fri Apr 26th, 2013 at 01:36:21 PM EST

Yesterday, the Press made its latest move to avoid any regulation.  This week's cunning wheeze is to provide a counter proposal of the presses own Royal Charter.  From a view of the text of the new press text what they are suggesting from their version is a royal statute, is the reintroduction of the old PCC system, with an added clause that says that any future changes are not allowed without the agreement of the press, in that it would need the unanimous agreement of the recognition committee, one of the members of which is the press representative and so essentially provides a Veto.

Press regulation: newspaper industry launches rival royal charter | Media | guardian.co.uk

he newspaper industry, led by five of the country's largest press groups, has rejected David Cameron's plans for press regulation and launched a bid to set up its own royal charter-backed body.

Sun publisher News International, Telegraph Media Group, Associated Newspapers - which owns the Daily Mail - Trinity Mirror and Express Newspapers have drawn up a draft alternative royal charter, which will be put to the privy council later on Thursday.

Hacked Off, which has been campaigning for press victims, immediately condemned the move.

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Press Ethics

by ceebs Wed Mar 27th, 2013 at 06:35:16 AM EST

Over the past several months we have had the [UK] press complaining bitterly about the introduction of new regulation. This is both unnecessary and unwanted in their eyes. Depending on the argument deployed, either an outrageous attack on investigative journalism to hide the crimes and misdemeanours of the rich and powerful (which several investigative journalists have said is untrue); or, if you follow their other line of reasoning, entirely unnecessary because due to the loss of readership, there will be no papers in ten years. So any legislation will be a waste of time, and we may as well not bother.

This second argument has a particular, painful moral flaw. As the readership numbers have been falling, the tabloid press has slowly shifted its story-generated attack from those with cash and and expensive publicity machine to those without. Simply put it is easier and cheaper to train their sights on those unable, unwilling, or too far out of their depth to fight back.

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600 new hacking victims from NOTW

by ceebs Sat Mar 16th, 2013 at 12:31:43 PM EST

Yesterday we had several senior members of the UK's Mirror Group arrested, former editors and deputies from one of the papers, including the person who was Piers Morgan's deputy. In the corner of the article was the mention that the supergrass involved was someone who had worked for both the Mirror Group and the News of the World.

And tonight some of what is being investigated was revealed:

Phone hacking: Rupert Murdoch hit by 600 fresh claims | UK news | The Guardian

Detectives are examining an estimated 600 fresh allegations of phone-hacking incidents at Rupert Murdoch's now closed News of the World on the back of fresh evidence obtained by the Metropolitan police from a suspect turned supergrass.

Further details are expected to emerge on Monday morning at the high court during a hearing relating to the existing litigation by hacking victims against Murdoch's News International (NI) - hours before MPs are due to vote on joint Labour and Liberal Democrat amendments that would introduce a backstop law to stiffen regulation of the press.

Sources say Scotland Yard detectives believe they can identify as many as 600 new incidents after obtaining the phone records of an insider who is now being lined up as a crown witness. As a result of the new information, the force's Operation Weeting is recalibrating the timetable for concluding its investigation, which had been due to be completed with the conclusion of trials this year. Police now expect their work to continue into 2015.

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Where are we now post Leveson?

by ceebs Mon Mar 11th, 2013 at 09:11:05 AM EST

Since the publication of the Leveson report there has been a large amount of manoeuvring both in the public eye and behind the scenes. Some skilled, some inept and some so poor you would wonder how our leaders ever managed to reach their current positions in their respective parties and places of employment.

Lord Justice Leveson provided a reasonably balanced report, with a few minor problems, but nothing that should have been dealt with with the outrageous wailing and gnashing of teeth that the newspapers responded. It was as if the end of the world or the Black death had suddenly unexpectedly ridden into their midst. If the Leveson proposals were enacted, it would mean the imminent death of all investigative journalism. This was quite obviously completely untrue. Hillsborough is quoted as something where investigation would now be impossible. After the report of the Independent Panel where one paper was shown to be rampantly dishonest in its reporting, you would think that this would be an example that would have been avoided.

Today you have reporters claiming that newspapers wouldn't bother to investigate the Huhne case as leveson would make it impossible. This is at best misleading. There appears to be nothing in the Leveson report that would bring about such a situation, however actions outside the report have been presented in such a way as to seem that there is an attack on press freedom, Whether there is, or if it is in fact a sweeping out of the Augean stables of UK policing and public life, is hard to tell, because it is not in the interest of newspapers to report on the occurrences openly and honestly.

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A Labelling Scandal

by ceebs Sun Feb 17th, 2013 at 04:31:17 PM EST

Since the initial discovery of equine meat being substituted for beef in a range of burgers in an Irish supermarket chain, we have had the situation extend to a variety of ready-prepared meals and foodstuffs. As this has happened we have had a variety of PR firms charging into battle trying to manage the reputation of a selection of food producers. As a first step we are seeing the solid attempt to designate the current problem as "contamination" which suggests either reporters, PR and politicians are being somewhat dishonest, either that or their expensive education did not extend to buying a dictionary for looking up the definition of words.

Around twenty years ago I used to do lots of agency work, and for a couple of months ended up at an industrial food plant's office, sorting out the paperwork, after the previous member of office staff had done a runner. Ended up signing more confidentiality agreements for this job than for any other job, including those that had the Official Secrets Act involved.

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Will the dogs bark?

by ceebs Mon Jan 21st, 2013 at 10:00:23 AM EST

Today the Sun managed to publish a dose of rabid Tory wankfantasy.  An article that managed to hit just about every single point in Benefit bingo.

Benefit Claimant
Single Mother
East European Imigrant

There was only one small problem,  anything more than cursory examination of the story and it instantly smelt funny, and so the internet went to work and found she was an actress.

Zelo Street: Super Soaraway Benefits Story Stitch-Up

As if in a perfect storm, the Murdoch Sun - always on the look-out for anyone it can smear as a "scrounger", as well as single mothers and anything EU related - has hit the jackpot: a Lithuanian single mum who is living on benefits, and who appears not to be fussed about it. And she's going on holiday to Malaga. And she buys "designer clothes". And we're paying for it all.

Zelo Street: Who Set Up The Sun?

As I pointed out earlier, the Sun's supposed "exclusive" featuring Lithuanian actress Natalija Belova presses all the right buttons: EU bashing, benefit scrounger exposing, and crafty foreigners who come over here and, er, work part time while bringing up a three year old daughter. But, as must have been obvious to anyone checking out the story, the Murdoch hacks did not just stumble on her.

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Leveson report day

by ceebs Thu Nov 29th, 2012 at 07:46:10 AM EST

yesterday at midday the first copies of the Leveson Inquiry report were delivered to David Cameron. Over the next period, at 8:30 this morning the political oposition leaders recieved their copies, and at 11:00 am today core participants were allowed locked in access to the report.

At 1:30 Uk time the judge will present the report with a short statement, he's not then taking questions orholding a press conference. and at that point the report will be available from the Inquiry website.

At 3:00 David Cameron will be getting up and making a statement, then approximately an hour Later Nick Clegg his coalition partner is also getting up and making a statement,  which is an interesting  event.

Rumours are that the full thing is roughly 2000 pages long,although there is a shorter summary copy.

More will be here once the report is available

Comments >> (18 comments)

A free press?

by ceebs Sun Nov 25th, 2012 at 02:19:50 AM EST

Since the end of the formal witness interview section of the Leveson Inquiry, we have had a variety of people in what appears to be an almost coordinated attack on the upcoming report, culminating in last week's Daily Mail poison pen letter to the world about one of Lord Justice Leveson's assessors.

The bullying attitude of the press has been in full flow against something they have yet to see. The attitude is that the end of the world is coming, and that Britain is on the verge of being reduced to little better than a dictatorship. Witness Fraser Nelson in yesterday's Telegraph:

Call a truce, before centuries of free speech are brought to an end - Telegraph

It is not quite clear at what stage Conservatives stopped thinking that freedom of speech is important, but we have a useful point of comparison. Five years ago, the then Labour-dominated Culture, Media & Sport Committee made a powerful declaration in a report. "Statutory regulation of the press," it concluded, "is a hallmark of authoritarianism and risks undermining democracy." This was a point of principle: you can't have a little bit of state control, any more than you can be a little bit pregnant. Either the press is free, or it must operate within parameters defined by the state. Bahrain made its choice. And soon, so will Britain.

I suggest that he looks at the bottom of what is normally the back page of most newspapers. There you will see in small print: "Registered as a newspaper at the post office". Now this relates to the Newspaper Libel and Registration Act 1881, and Companies House has this to say about registration:

Newspaper Libel and Registration Act - GP03

Section 1 of the Newspaper Libel and Registration Act 1881 (the Act) defines a 'newspaper' as any paper containing public news, intelligence, or occurrences, or any remarks or observations therein printed for sale, and published in England, Wales or Ireland periodically, or in parts or numbers at intervals not exceeding 26 days between the publication of any two papers, parts or numbers. This Act does not cover Scotland.

Also any paper printed in order to be dispersed, and made public weekly or more frequently (but not at intervals exceeding 26 days) containing only or principally advertisements.

Now further to this there are exemptions to this under which registration is not needed, but why does this law, which appears to offer minor defence against libel actions and a reduced postage rate for newspapers, not equally form the "thin end of the wedge" which is being screamed about? Does this thin end of the wedge not matter if the newspapers are making a few pennies on the deal?

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Yet another Murdoch diary

by ceebs Mon Nov 19th, 2012 at 08:35:41 AM EST

Over the last two years this side of the Atlantic has been providing piece after piece of evidence of irregular practices between journalists and private eyes employed on behalf of the newspaper arm of News Corp in the UK, News International. These activities have been detailed in past diaries here, and have allegedly consisted of phone hacking, bribery of public officials, bribery of police officers and military figures. This has resulted in a stream of files being handed by the Metropolitan Police to the UK's Crown Prosecution Service.

News Corp for its part started by insisting that this was just the work of "one rogue journalist", a claim that stretched credulity seeing as the original rogue was a royal reporter, and one of the victims was a football agent. As the scandal has rolled on, it has become clear that it wasn't just one rogue reporter, but rather one rogue newspaper, and from there as the investigation progressed, other print arms of the UK business have gradually had their own range of skeletons exposed.

So far the problems have all been confined to one national newspaper group, but it looks like the company's crisis may be at the point of getting its feet wet and leaping across the Atlantic.

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Cameron, Rebekah, messages and horses

by ceebs Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 09:24:38 AM EST

For the last two weeks Chris Bryant, one of the MPs who has been holding the government's feet to the fire over phone hacking, has stood up at Prime Minister's Questions and asked David Cameron to reveal 150 emails between himself and Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, the two Murdoch ex-editors who are facing trial for a variety of charges. Each time Dodgy Dave has waved the request off on the grounds that Bryant leaked some information that should have been held privately by the Leveson Inquiry, and hence he won't reveal anything till Bryant apologises. However Bryant has already formally apologised to the house, so at some point this will all come to a head.

It has been revealed this week that Cameron will be away for the next two Prime Minister's Questions, so Bryant will have to wait as there is little point in asking a deputy and there we thought it would all lay quiet for a couple of weeks, coming back to the boil at the point where Rebekah and Andy were back facing the courts for the next procedural step.

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Torches and Pitchforks again?

by ceebs Wed Oct 31st, 2012 at 06:39:48 AM EST

It looks like Tony is returning with a third time Lucky attempt for president of Europe.

BBC News - Tony Blair calls for elected president of Europe

Tony Blair has floated the idea of having a President of Europe directly elected by people across the continent.

The former UK prime minister made the suggestion in a speech to the Council for the Future of Europe in Berlin.

"Out of this European crisis can come the opportunity finally to achieve a model of European integration that is sustainable," said Mr Blair.

"A Europe wide election for the Presidency... is the most direct way to involve the public," he added.

So the question is do we restart the petition site? do we re-write it to fit the EU as it is now? or do we  say a plague on all your houses and sit this one out?

Comments >> (51 comments)

Another Leveson Document Dump

by ceebs Fri Oct 5th, 2012 at 04:31:53 PM EST

It appears that over the last couple of days, yet another dump of documents happened at the Leveson Inquiry website. Mainly they are a succession of editors and newspaper employees saying "not me guv, nothing to see here, of course we obeyed the PCC regulations". But amongst the documentation is a statement by David Brown, a former employee of The People, one of the Sunday tabloids.
Part of his statement reads as follows


I cannot independently verify the general matters that I raised in the second half of my statement and have no other relevant matters which could add now. The statements about phone hacking were largely based on anecdotal information I was not involved in any hacking(or phone screwing as it was often called}. The only story that was personally involved inwich I believe I had any element of phone hacking was the one where was sent to Stockholm to doorstep a man who I was told had contacted Ulrika Jonsson and her mobile phone I do not know who hacked the phone and cannot remember specifically who sent me as it must have been over six years ago. Furthermore I would also like to point out that the Information Commissioner: referred to the use of Steve Wattamore by The People (among other publications) in his What Price Privacy? Report in 2006.

It is interesting that although this appears to be a claim that another newspaper was involved in phone hacking, beyond the News of the World. Now there have been suggestions that other papers were involved in similar activity to that which has been claimed occurred at the News of the World, but few journalists have come forward and said that they think that their stories had their root in the world of illegal telephony. It is most disappointing that further questions were not asked in the Leveson Inquiry to confirm this question. On top of this, he refers to evidence in the Motorman report, which we have been unable to see. with the implication that this has some relevence to the story as written.

Interesting questions raised with no real solid answers supplied.

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Murdoch and Ofcom

by ceebs Fri Sep 21st, 2012 at 03:18:36 AM EST

For several months we have been waiting for a report from OFCOM the UK broadcasting regulator and it has rolled out this morning. Now it was a long shot that the Murdoch organisation might be staked through the heart by the UK regulator, but the  publication is interesting

BBC News - Ofcom says BSkyB 'fit and proper' but James Murdoch criticised

UK media regulator Ofcom has concluded that BSkyB is a "fit and proper" company to hold a broadcasting licence.

Ofcom was investigating the broadcaster in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that engulfed Rupert Murdoch's media empire, which owns 39% of BSkyB.

However, Ofcom has criticised former BSkyB chairman James Murdoch, Rupert's son, for his role in the scandal.

Ofcom said his actions "repeatedly fell short of the conduct" expected of a chief executive officer and chairman.

Now Sky is trying to sell this as a complete vindication,  with its statement  
BBC News - Ofcom says BSkyB 'fit and proper' but James Murdoch criticised

"Ofcom is right to conclude that Sky is a fit and proper broadcaster. As a company, we are committed to high standards of governance and we take our regulatory obligations extremely seriously."

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Murdoch: The Truth

by ceebs Thu Sep 13th, 2012 at 11:23:00 AM EST

Yesterday a Hard hitting report was published covering the Hilsborough disaster, one of the UK's worst sporting tragedies, where 96 individuals died in a disastrous crush at the Leppings Lane end of the Hilsborough football stadium.  Hilsborough was an old stadium, with a flawed design, and with a flawed safety plan,  and with the addition of terribly flawed policing on the day, was a disaster waiting to happen. Police opened a gate to relieve crowd pressure outside the ground, which forced people into one of the internal crowd areas, and that led to a crush against  fences and barriers.For a full view of what happened that day look Here for a view of the Incident, and here for significant exerpts from todays report

New details that have emerged from the latest report are that police  activity Caused the crush, then ineptitude resulted in 41 of the people who died not receiving the proper medical attention down to police and other emergency services having poor planning for such a situation, and poorer implementation.  

In the days following this disaster, police officers re-wrote their initial notes, to quote from the report "Some 116 of the 164 statements identified for substantive amendment were amended to remove or alter comments unfavourable to SYP." subsequent investigations have either managed to miss this entirely or fail to apreciate the scal of the changes.

As investigation into the cause of the tragedy commenced The local police started pushing out a selection of misinformation to distract from their failings.  They put out claims that the police had been attacked by fans while they had been helping the injured, that fans had urinated on police who were helping, that fans had been drunk, and that they had been stealing from the bodies of the dead.  All of these stories were pushed out through a local news agency, who didn't pass it on until their reporters had been told this story by four separate senior policemen in the local force and by the local MP. all had provided the story unprompted,   The Agency passed this story on but with caveats that it was suspicious of the story. Several newspapers reported this with appropriate questions for the police, The Mirror going as far as to say that the  police were putting about a dishonest story. However the Sun, the Murdoch tabloid national Published the story in full with no dissent, under the Banner headline "THE TRUTH" and  Rupert Murdochs attack dog Kelvin McKenzie has never lived this down

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More Murdoch phone fun

by ceebs Mon Sep 10th, 2012 at 09:45:03 PM EST

At the end of last week, the Commons Home affairs committeehad a meeting to update itself on where we are at with the Murdoch investigations of Operations Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta. DAC Sue Akers turned up as we have seen in   ericlewis0 diary

Its generally considered that this appearance by Sue Akers was her worst appearance before any of the several comities or Inquiry, seeming to be short on knowledge of related investigations and the related numbers. This was in marked difference to earlier appearances where she has seemed thoroughly on top of her brief.  

As with other days where the police have appeared under pressure they have responded by announcing that there is some positive action. Normally this has happened the weekend before  a segment of the  Leveson Inquiry has commenced  (The look over here we're actualy doing something strategy)

So today an anouncement has slipped out that further  files have been passed to the CPS,

 CPS gets new files from investigations into alleged phone hacking | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Scotland Yard has referred new files in relation to seven individuals, including four journalists, to the Crown Prosecution Service for charging advice following investigations into alleged phone hacking and illegal payment to police and other public officials.

The latest referrals all took place in August, but have not been publicised by the Metropolitan police.

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An Opportunity with Harry.

by ceebs Sat Aug 25th, 2012 at 03:24:47 AM EST

And so the third in line to the throne, on army leave, goes out on a wild weekend with a selection of his mates to Las Vegas. And during this weekend, along with swimming in the pool with Olympic medal winners, ends up, as a single man in his mid twenties moving the party back to his room with a group of local women. In the course of this, someone being under the influence of alcohol suggests a game of strip pool, and at some point either through lack of skill or native cunning, the prince and his female playmate both end up naked, and pictures get taken. So much so far for the normal story of youthful royals. It's not unusual, he's a squaddie and an ex rugby player and if you've ever been to one of their paries and people didn't end up drunk and naked at some point when off base, you'd wonder what was going on. If it wasn't for the fact of his position in the life of the nation, it wouldn't even rate a line in a local newspaper.

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Murdoch: at the Olympics

by ceebs Sat Aug 4th, 2012 at 05:26:13 AM EST

The Olympics being just about the only thing in the news at the moment. You would think that Rupert would be keeping his head down, but no. Over the last few days there has been a rumour doing the rounds that Boris Johnson had invited Rupert to this evening's swimming finals.

Now this is something that is being looked at with at least raised eyebrows by people. Boris as Mayor of London being one of the two people who, with the Home Secretary, has political management of the Metropolitan Police. Who are the force who are conducting the investigation of News International. At best it looks inept, at worst it looks utterly corrupt, and you would think that politicians would have the brains to see this problem coming up.

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