Sometime in the next 24 hours we will be switching European Tribune over to a new layout. This will involve a little downtime and no doubt some teething troubles. Do not adjust your set. - Colman
. Make a new account
. Reset password

User pages for ceebs:

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?

Read more... (18 comments, 843 words in story)

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.

Read more... (33 comments, 1107 words in story)

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.

Read more... (33 comments, 1227 words in story)

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.

Read more... (3 comments, 724 words in story)

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."

Read more... (6 comments, 861 words in story)

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

Read more... (12 comments, 1326 words in story)

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 |

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.

Read more... (8 comments, 530 words in story)

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.

Read more... (36 comments, 757 words in story)

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.

Read more... (100 comments, 389 words in story)

Murdoch: circling the Plughole

by ceebs
Wed Aug 1st, 2012 at 03:59:30 AM EST

Rapid maneuvering tonight  as News International tries to push back against the possibility of upcoming corporate charges:

News Corporation directors could face charges for neglect of duties | Media | The Guardian

Directors within Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation could face corporate charges and prosecution for neglect of their duties, in plans that are being examined by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Company lawyers, fearing a dramatic escalation of the hacking scandal by criminalising the boards on which Murdoch family members sit, are understood to have protested to the authorities.

A criminal prosecution could have a strong adverse impact on the deliberations by Ofcom as to whether News Corp representatives are "fit and proper" to hold UK broadcasting licences.

If these charges occur, We would be seeing directors and former directors up in front of a judge. And if that happens then the chances of BskyB retaining its fit and proper person test sink dramatically. That is the first domino, as several countries have laws that say if you are found not fit and proper in one country, then you are automatically not fit and proper there also.

Read more... (12 comments, 367 words in story)

News International's Big Day

by ceebs
Wed Jul 25th, 2012 at 01:18:25 AM EST

At 11 AM Alison Levitt QC, Principal Legal Advisor to the Director of Public Prosecutions, got behind the podium at their offices to announce the results of the Operation Weeting investigation.

Phone hacking: Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and six others face charges - live | Media |

* Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and five other former News of the World journalists, plus the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, charged over phone hacking.

* Six ex-News of the World employees, including Brooks and Coulson, face charges of conspiracy to intercept Milly Dowler's voicemail messages.

* The eight charged are: Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner, Glenn Mulcaire, Greg Miskiw, Ian Edmondson, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup.

* All eight charged with a six-year conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages of more than 600 high-profile people.

* Neville Thurlbeck, the former News of the World chief reporter, and James Weatherup, the ex-assistant news editor, charged on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept the voicemails of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

* CPS announce three others will not face charges. Prosecutors defer decision on two other suspects.

Now each of these charges could theoretically be two years of hard time, plus there are other outstanding charges, this is only the first step (or maybe second after the perverting the course of justice cases).

Read more... (21 comments, 577 words in story)

On Forgetfulness at Leveson

by ceebs
Sat Jul 7th, 2012 at 04:09:56 AM EST

We have now concluded the first three modules of the Leveson Inquiry into the standards of the press.  Throughout the recent days there have been many complaints that Leveson has become a partisan witch hunt, when questioning has concentrated on the Murdoch BskyB deal that was in process at the start of the current session, it has necessarily dealt with those in power at the time, there has also been an allegation that there has been nothing coming out of Leveson, as nobody can remember anything.  How does that relate to the figures?

When we look at the evidence, transcripts of witness sessions run to in excess of 450,000 lines of text with approaching 30,000 questions asked by lawyers at court 73 and the judge.  Covering in excess of 500 hours of time, spread over several months.  Now in previous times this would have just headed off to sit on an academic shelf somewhere, but with the internet, and computing power, nowadays, anyone can download the lot, and as the saying goes, there's always someone out there with an idea and time on their hands.

My idea turned up in a conversation with Brit from DKos, during one witness's evidence, about the number of times there had been mention of "I don't remember".  Which lead to the idea of throwing all of the evidence into several spreadsheets, and seeing if there was anything interesting that came out at the far end.

Read more... (12 comments, 1365 words in story)

How Ridiculous is Nick Clegg?

by ceebs
Tue Jun 12th, 2012 at 09:05:50 PM EST

A question maybe posted in exasperation, but tonight one that needs asking.

Last Thursday Jeremy Hunt appeared before Lord Justice Leveson. At best his evidence could be characterised as being poor, and in the morning he dealt with the inquiry's lawyer about as effectively as Lembit Opik dealt with a professional wrestler. In the afternoon, the inquiry seemed to go much softer on him, either out of sheer embarrassment that they were going to end up with a government minister in tears in the room if they carried on, or because he was already shredded, and so they just put together details for the final report and to put together information for Cameron's questioning next week.

Within thirty minutes of this terrible performance, Downing Street had managed to put together a statement saying what a wonderful chap young Jeremy was and how the Prime Minister couldn't see anything that he'd done wrong at all, to general shock.

Read more... (33 comments, 694 words in story)

Twenty days of Crisis for Cameron

by ceebs
Wed May 9th, 2012 at 08:02:39 PM EST

Ten days ago Rupert and James Murdoch were brought up before the Leveson inquiry, and the fallout is still echoing round the British political system. The thing that fired it off was the three days of evidence given by Rupert and James. In amongst this was a shot across the bows of the Cameron government, a selection of emails between News International's chief lobbyist and various others, detailing contacts between the lobbyist and the government department involved in adjudicating the control of the UK Media Market, and hence the monopoly situation on the BskyB ownership.

Read more... (22 comments, 1666 words in story)

More Murdoch Fun

by ceebs
Wed Apr 18th, 2012 at 08:27:42 PM EST

A big day once again and the Murdoch press just can't manage once again to stay out of the papers. (Even when in this case it appears to be mostly unconnected) And something big from the US side of the Atlantic too.

Firstly we have  an announcement by the UK's Director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer that the police have today handed  four files to the Crown Prosecution service

The New York times explains this step,
British Prosecutors Consider Charges in Phone Hacking Case -

Under  Britain's judicial system, criminal charges are drawn up by the Crown Prosecution Service on the basis of evidence gathered by the police. A spokeswoman for the service said that the names of those now being considered for prosecution would not be released, and that the service could not say when it would take the next step, deciding whether to prosecute those involved or not.

Read more... (14 comments, 998 words in story)

A Horse Tale

by ceebs
Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 03:30:34 AM EST

We've had a week of fun at the Leveson Inquiry, we're now onto the second module of part one which covers the interactions between the police and the press.  The first section seemed to consist of heroes and villains, the innocent and their tormentors in the press and their victims.  The second part has appeared to consist of villains on both sides of the argument.  Dodgy reporters and corrupt cops, with the occasional stellar performance by the honest copper.

The big news this week has been all about a horse, although it should have been all about corruption between journalists and the Metropolitan Police.  But this story's duck house is a horse called Raisa.  And Raisa was a retired police horse who was placed with Rebekah Brooks.  In less intense periods the fact that a newspaper editor whose husband owns a stable was looking after a retired police horse would go almost unremarked, but this isn't a normal time.

Read more... (47 comments, 1127 words in story)

Another week in Murdochland

by ceebs
Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 08:38:38 PM EST

It's been a week of ups and downs for the followers of this story. The main feature was a big down, Rupert has flown in after a couple of weeks of arrests of Sun journalists, and has begun a fightback. On the eve of his arrival, Trevor Kavanagh, the long running political editor of the Sun, his weekday tabloid, painted the attacks on the paper's journalists as a witch hunt.

Trevor Kavanagh: 'Police have treated Sun journalists like suspected terrorists' - Telegraph

The paper's former political editor said the tabloid was "not a swamp that needs draining" and that a police "witch-hunt" was making press freedom worse than in former Soviet states.

Five senior Sun journalists were detained over the weekend over alleged corrupt payments to police as part of Operation Elveden - the inquiry examining allegations of bribery - which has more than 60 detectives on its team.

Writing in The Sun today, Kavanagh said the journalists has been "needlessly dragged from their beds in dawn raids" and humiliated while their homes were ransacked by officers.

He accused police of treating them "like members of an organised crime gang" and "threats to national security" simply for doing their jobs, uncovering stories in the public interest.

The fact that the article was somewhat flawed in its arguments didn't stop it getting picked up by a variety of other newspapers worried about the impact of the Leveson inquiry on their own underhand methods.

Read more... (7 comments, 1402 words in story)

Murdoch - Outsourcing and Hubris

by ceebs
Fri Feb 3rd, 2012 at 10:43:13 PM EST

And so it comes to pass. Some days the ironies of history hit with the force of a hammer. For the past decade or two the firmest advocate of globalisation has been Rupert Murdoch, his papers pushing the agenda of outsourcing may find that it is this which will provide the evidence to bring his organisation down.

How did we get to this situation? Well it turns out to be raising questions for any company that wants to sail close to the wind on the oceans of legality.

Read more... (18 comments, 1627 words in story)

Next 20 >>
Occasional Series