Tag Archives: reporter

Harry and Meghan step down as senior Royals – because of bad press?

Bye bye: Prince Harry and his wife Meghan wave farewell to the corporate mass media hacks who they have accused of “misreporting” and spreading “false impressions”.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex – that’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (still) to most of us – have announced their intention to step back as senior members of the UK Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while still fully supporting the Queen.

It seems they are unhappy with certain aspects of the job – one of which appears to be the way their activities are reported in the press.

In that respect, This Writer thinks they’re right up with the rest of us.

Complaints and criticism of the way the general election has been reported are rife. And it seems these Royals are equally unhappy with the way they have been treated by the Fourth Estate.

In a statement on the Sussex Instagram page, they ripped into the Royal correspondents working for the UK’s mass media organisations [boldings mine]:

“Britain’s Royal Correspondents are regarded internationally as credible sources of both the work of members of the Royal Family as well as of their private lives. This misconception propels coverage that is often carried by other outlets around the world, amplifying frequent misreporting.

“Regrettably, stories that may have been filed accurately by Royal Correspondents are, also, often edited or rewritten by media editorial teams to present false impressions.”

The statement also announced a new publicity plan that takes them off the Royal Rota system, in which only a limited number of mainstream media organisations are allowed to attend Royal engagements – so they are obliged to share material that they gather there.

Instead, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they will be adopting a revised media approach to ensure diverse and open access to their work:

“This updated approach aims to:

“Engage with grassroots media organisations and young, up-and-coming journalists;

“Invite specialist media to specific events/engagements to give greater access to their cause-driven activities, widening the spectrum of news coverage;

“Provide access to credible media outlets focused on objective news reporting to cover key moments and events.”

They will continue to share information directly to the wider public via their official communication channels.

This could really shake up the way Royal events are covered in the news.

Being somewhat long-in-the-tooth, This Writer doesn’t expect to benefit from the engagement with young, up-and-coming journalists – but I look forward to find out who these may be, and what grassroots organisations they Sussexes choose to carry their stories.

The idea of “widening the spectrum” of those who cover Royal news could really shake up a stagnant system, and if it jolts some of our more complacent reporters and corporations out of their smug security, I’m all for it.

Of course, it is entirely possible that the Sussexes want to go to the grassroots because they think less-established media organisations may be easier to manipulate.

I’ll be watching for that, too.

But at a time when the so-called media Establishment may have thought they had news coverage sewn up as propaganda for their chosen (right-wing, let’s face it) causes, this should come as a body blow.

Members of the UK’s fundamental institution don’t trust the Tory media – and they’re telling us not to trust them either.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Suspicious deaths of the elderly in hospital: An appeal for people to get in touch

David Hencke is an excellent – award-winning – investigative reporter. If you have been affected by the issue he discusses below, please contact him.

He writes:

For the past four years I have been a member of the Gosport War Memorial Hospital Independent Panel that concluded that at least 456 elderly people had their lives shortened as ” a direct result of the pattern of prescribing and administering opioids that had become the norm at the hospital.”

Since publication of the report the events at Gosport are now the subject of an independent police inquiry so I cannot take up any cases involving Gosport.

However since the report’s publication a number of people have contacted me on my website with allegations of a similar nature in other parts of the country,

As a result I have started investigations into these and would welcome other people – relatives of former patients, NHS staff or lawyers representing them- to contact me in confidence as I am actively looking at this issue.

The aim will be to publicise and investigate these fresh allegations to find out what happened to their relatives and seek explanations from the various hospitals who were responsible for their treatment.

Contact Mr Hencke by visiting this web page.

Source: Suspicious deaths of the elderly in hospital: An appeal for people to contact me | David Hencke

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In the run-up to Cameron’s conference speech, let’s recall his greatest achievement this year

Spoof reporter: Jonathan Pie

Spoof reporter: Jonathan Pie

[WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE]

Remember Jonathan Pie?

It seems the spoof reporter just can’t get David Cameron’s alleged amorous encounter with a dead pig’s head off his mind; as the nation prepares (somewhat indifferently) for the Prime Minister’s speech to the Conservative Party conference, Mr Pie has come out with some words of his own.

Be warned – some of those words are rather salty!

If Vox Political readers are interested in Mr Pie’s opinions on other topical issues, please get in touch and This Writer will pass them on. I’m told he has a fairly strong opinion on most things, one way or the other.

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Here’s a reporter who has his priorities right. Shame about his bosses… (STRONG LANGUAGE)

Jonathan Pie: A star is born?

Jonathan Pie: A star is born?

This appeared on my Facebook feed and struck a chord with Yr Obdt Srvt, having quit newspapers partly because of the silly priorities of the people in charge.

I have no idea who Jonathan Pie is, or who employs him – smart money says he’s a fake, but take a look at this (strong language alert):

Afterthought: I reckon this chap is Tom Walker, under whose name it was posted. Look at his YouTube channel and you’ll see other material featuring the same person. It makes no difference to the message, though.

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Another Tory falls casualty to his own swollen pride (if that’s the right word)

Healthy lifestyle: What a shame Mr Newmark had his back turned to the words that could have helped him.

Healthy lifestyle: What a shame Mr Newmark had his back turned to the words that could have helped him.

Isn’t it disappointing that the Minister for Civil Society has resigned after admitting he indulged in some spectacularly un-civil – in fact downright explicit – behaviour towards a young lady (who turned out to be an undercover newspaper reporter – and a man)?

Brooks Newmark, whose ministerial responsibilities include overseeing charities such as the Girl Guides movement, apparently started a dialogue with a reporter he believed to be a young female activist, in the course of which he transmitted an image of himself that revealed more than propriety permits.

We’re told he co-founded an organisation called Women2Win and has been an outspoken campaigner for women in politics – which seems like a lot of effort in order to indulge in this kind of behaviour.

But Mr Newmark is also on record as saying, “We really want to try and keep charities and voluntary groups out of the realms of politics… The important thing charities should be doing is sticking to their knitting.” He seems to be quite confused and it is probably just as well that he will now be able to spend more time pulling himself together.

Back in the 1980s and 90s, it seemed as though the Conservative Party had a major legover crisis every five minutes. Who can forget Cecil Parkinson’s resignation? Or how about David Mellor and his possibly-imaginary Chelsea strip (look it up if you don’t remember it)?

This is a pale imitation – an attempt at a legover crisis, and a poor attempt, at that.

Still, it has provoked a certain amount of hilarity. Tom Pride, in inimitable style, seized on the moment with the following satirical words: “A spokesperson for Number 10 said Mr Newmark’s boo-boo was clearly much too inconsequential to be of major concern:

“’The Prime Minister has seen the pictures and is assured that Mr Newmark’s folly is tiny. In fact his howler is so miniscule, negligible and trifling, it’s hardly worth mentioning at all.’

“Not long after the story broke, Mr Newmark took to Twitter to defend his bungle against accusations it is small:

“’I completely deny accusations that my howler is tiny. In fact my pickle’s actually quite a big one – certainly just as big as all the other Tory MP’s gaffes we’ve seen over the years.’

If only that were true.

It should be stressed that the use of a reporter in disguise who seems to have encouraged Mr Newmark to reveal his… indiscretion… is morally reprehensible in itself. Would he have desported himself in such a way without inducement?

Nevertheless, this piece of tattle has heaped more embarrassment on David Cameron, right on the eve of the Conservative Party conference.

This was going to be the conference where the Tories were going to state the case for their re-election, claiming they are perfectly fit to steer the ship of state on their own, without the Liberal Democrats and their pitiful attempts to behave like the political equivalent of bicycle stabilisers (if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor).

Instead, with two Conservative MPs having defected to UKIP and more likely to follow, with a ministerial resignation due to improper behaviour, with outrage from the Queen at his own indiscretion about a telephone conversation with her, with much of Scotland on the verge of open rebellion in the belief that he lied about giving that country’s Parliament new powers, and with the rest of the UK incredulous at his claims the the economy is recovering fast when their wages are plummeting…

It suddenly seems entirely possible that Mr Cameron will be the only person there.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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My letter to MEPs over the transatlantic trade stitch-up

Corporate trade a-greed-ment: Notice that this image of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has mighty corporations straddling the Atlantic while the 'little' people - the populations they are treading on - are nowhere to be seen. [Picture: FT]

Corporate trade a-greed-ment: Notice that this image of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has mighty corporations straddling the Atlantic while the ‘little’ people – the populations they are treading on – are nowhere to be seen. [Picture: FT]

Your rights and freedoms have been under attack from all sides.

Not only has the government been able to pass the ‘gagging’ bill, preventing you from organising large-scale campaigns against repressive right-wing Conservative and Liberal Democrat legislation; not only are the police lobbying a sympathetic Home Secretary (there’s no restriction on their campaigning powers) for permission to use water cannons to suppress public on-street political protests; not only is the government hiding legislation to shackle news reporters and ignore the democratic process within a Bill that is supposed to be about cutting ‘red tape’; but negotiations to barter away your rights in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are still taking place.

Now, dear reader, you have probably written to your elected representatives at the European Parliament already. You haven’t? In that case, please look them up here – MEPs are elected on a regional basis so you should write to everyone representing your constituency – and get writing.

For information, here’s the letter I wrote to my own MEPs. Do not copy this, paste it into your email program and send it as your own! You will be ignored. The best way to grab their attention is to put in your own words your concerns about this issue. Use what follows as reference, but say it your own way.

Readers of Vox Political have been accused of improper behaviour before, because they copied and pasted rather than using their own words. Let’s not allow that again.

Here’s my letter; see if you can improve on it:

May I draw your attention to the detrimental effects of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This agreement, currently in negotiation between the USA and the European Union, has as its stated aim opening up markets for services, investment and public procurement.

Much of the groundwork has been carried out in secret, hidden from public scrutiny, but the information that has been made available has aroused serious concern that this agreement will weaken existing standards and regulations that protect workers and consumers in the EU.

In particular, the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) would allow any foreign company operating in the UK to make a claim against the government for loss of future profits resulting from any regulatory action by the government, such as new legislation. Such claims would be considered by an unelected, unaccountable tribunal composed of three corporate lawyers whose decisions are likely to favour the corporations and would override national laws.

ISDS was set up to protect companies operating in countries with a history of political instability where the rule of law could not be guaranteed. This does not apply to either the US or the EU and you should interpret this mechanism only as a device for subverting our national and supranational legislation.

It is widely believed that the TTIP will be used by our Conservative-led government as a means of locking-in its detrimental changes to the National Health Service. I am sure I do not have to rehearse the arguments that introducing private companies to the health service in England is leading to a patchwork system in which care is provided entirely on the basis of profitability. There is now no obligation on the Secretary of State for Health to provide a high-quality service across the whole of the UK, and the new system encourages Clinical Commissioning Groups and medical practices to exclude from their lists patients with conditions that are expensive to treat. The TTIP will forbid the UK government from improving this system with legitimate public health regulation, health protection and health promotion policies as private health companies will be able to sue the state for loss of future profits. ISDS would make it impossible for CCGs to cancel contracts with private providers, even when those firms were providing inadequate standards of patient care, because they would then face a legal challenge for loss of earnings that they could not fund. It will also limit the government’s ability to regulate professional standards and qualifications regarded for healthcare workers and lower the quality of patient care. In short, it would be impossible to reverse the disastrous Health and Social Care Act 2012, and its marketisation of the NHS. Do you want the health of your constituents to depend on a foreign company’s balance sheet?

You may wish to take heart from comments by the British Medical Association that it believes the NHS will be exempt from the TTIP. There is no evidence to support this statement. In fact, David Cameron stated in reply to a Parliamentary question in June 2013: “I am not aware of a specific exemption for any particular area, but I think that the health service would be treated in the same way in relation to EU-US negotiations as it is in relation to EU rules.”

In fact, as comments from the chairman of the Liberalisation of Trade in Services Committee (LOTIS) and financial services pressure group TheCityUK make clear, no issue had been identified that would allow exclusion of any sector from the second round of TTIP negotiations in November last year. You should also note that the Lisbon Treaty provides no protection for the NHS, despite the arguments of some people.

Furthermore, evidence to the House of Lords European Sub-Committee on External Affairs has shown that public health measures such as warnings on food labels, pesticides and chemicals, and other potentially toxic or unhealthy products may be restricted to bring the EU in line with the narrow approach to risk assessment taken in America (that promotes sales) and away from the EU’s broader precautionary principle (that promotes safety). Are you in favour of sales or the safety of your constituents?

You will know that the USA has not implemented fundamental labour rights such as the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Regulatory harmonisation brought about by the TTIP will lower European labour rights to American standards – the agreement will always bring standards down to the lowest common denominator. This means that workers in all sectors, including (again) health, will lose vital rights in their struggle for fair pay and conditions of work. Do you support attacks on workers’ rights?

To sum up: The TTIP is ill-judged in its entirety and neither the UK nor the European Union should have anything to do with it. It would give huge power to transnational corporations while stripping away member states’ rights to regulate them and, in that sense alone, represents an enormous threat to democracy. British people fought long, arduous battles to gain the few rights they have, and neither you nor anybody else in the European Union have a mandate to sign those rights away.

This agreement may safeguard the profits of large multinational companies, ensuring that huge amounts of money go into their shareholders’ bank accounts (wherever they may be), but it will undermine the wages of everybody who works for them – again, according to the principle of the lowest common denominator. Yet it is workers’ wages that support national economies – by necessity they spend most (if not all) of their income as soon as they get it, on rent, utility bills, groceries and other vital supplies. The TTIP will harm national economies.

There is an argument that the TTIP will create growth and jobs – but there is little evidence for this, and even that is poor. The European Commission’s own impact assessment admits that a 0.5 per cent increase in growth would be “optimistic”, and independent research suggests that a meagre 0.01 per cent increase in the growth rate over 10 years is more likely. The North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico led to a net loss of almost a million jobs in the US.

Negotiations on the TTIP represent a test on where your loyalties lie. Do you support the people who elected you – or are you a puppet of the corporations?

As my representative, I am asking you to take all steps necessary to publicise this attack on democracy and on our sovereignty, and to take any action – individually or collectively – to put an end to it.

Please let me know what you intend to do.

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Hidden plan for ministers to axe laws that protect you – with a penstroke

Gone in a penstroke: If the Deregulation Bill becomes law, Acts of Parliament that protect your freedom could be removed from the statute book at a minister's whim.

Gone in a penstroke: If the Deregulation Bill becomes law, Acts of Parliament that protect your freedom could be removed from the statute book at a minister’s whim.

I have spent much of today putting old paperwork through the shredder in advance of tomorrow’s debate on the Deregulation Bill.

Why? Hidden among the plans to revoke ancient laws regulating pigsties is a clause that revokes the freedom of the press – in particular, the freedom of journalists to protect their sources.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats don’t want reporters to be able to protect political whistleblowers and the information they release from state harassment and confiscation.

Vox Political has long warned that the Coalition government was pushing us towards totalitarianism, and that is exactly what this apparently innocuous – but in fact deeply pernicious – piece of legislation proves.

We’ve had the gagging law, to silence organised dissent; we know that police chiefs want to use water cannons to stifle public protest; now we are faced with a cloak-and-dagger scheme to silence the press.

The removal of these privileges means the media will be unable to report anything that does not meet government approval – or face confiscation of equipment including computers, notebooks, recordings and correspondence that will lead to the identification of people who provide information that the government wants hushed up.

As a blogger who is also a qualified journalist, this directly affects me – and that is why I have been destroying paperwork. Tomorrow is only the Bill’s second reading – it must go through the committee stage, report stage and third reading before moving on to the House of Lords – but it is better to be well-prepared than to be caught napping.

Far more insidious than this, however, is the other part of this ‘red tape-cutting’ Bill that goes unmentioned. The really harmful part…

The part that says ministers should have the power to revoke any law they like, using statutory instruments (at the stroke of a pen) rather than taking the issue to a democratic vote in Parliament and, you know, actually telling anybody about it.

This means freedoms we have enjoyed for centuries-  or just a few years – could be removed with no prior notice, under the pretext of getting rid of ‘red tape’.

We would certainly be living in a police state if this were allowed to happen.

So here’s the big question: Do you think your MP even knows about this?

I only know because I read it on Another Angry Voice – from which site this article has swiped much of its information.

In his article, AAV creator Thomas G. Clark points out: “The Tories that devised this scheme… are clearly relying on the vast majority of Coalition MPs voting this through as the whips instruct them, without bothering to even read the documentation, understand the intricacies or even participate in the debate.

“If you chose to ignore the wealth of evidence and refuse to believe that David Cameron and the Tories would use these new powers to… stamp out dissent for their own sociopathic reasons, then at least consider the possibility that they are enabling the possibility of an unimaginably invasive totalitarian regime in the future. One where open justice is abolished, the population permanently monitored for signs of dissent, and dissenters are silenced in secretive Stalinist style legalistic proceedings.”

Obviously AAV and Vox Political will be right in the firing-line if this happens.

You need to contact your MP and ask what they’re going to do about this appalling assault on your freedom. Tell them about the clauses in the Deregulation Bill that have nothing to do with removing archaic regulations and everything to do with clamping down on your freedom and tell them in no uncertain terms that you won’t have it.

It’s a good bet that they won’t know what you’re talking about. Clause 47 relates to the press, as this Guardian report and this article from Inforrm’s blog make clear.

I believe Clause 51, and those following, relate to the repeal of laws by statutory instrument.

You can find contact details for your MP on TheyWorkForYou.com

If you get an email off to them quickly, there might even be a chance to nip this in the bud.

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Evidence states Murdoch knew about bribery of officials – so why isn’t he in the dock?

Inscrutable: But does this impassive visage mask knowledge about corruption in newspaper journalism going back at least 40 years?

Inscrutable: But does this impassive visage mask knowledge about corruption in newspaper journalism going back at least 40 years?

Rupert Murdoch has known for decades that his newspaper reporters were bribing public officials, according to an audio recording reported on the Exaro News website.

It seems the media mogul made the comments in March, in a private meeting with a group of journalists from The Sun who had been arrested over allegations of illegal news-gathering – including payments to police and other public officials for information.

In the recording, a Sun journalist asks: “I’m pretty confident that the working practices that I’ve seen here are ones that I’ve inherited, rather than instigated. Would you recognise that all this pre-dates many of our involvement here?”

Murdoch replies: “We’re talking about payments for news tips from cops; that’s been going on a hundred years, absolutely. You didn’t instigate it.”

At another time, he says: “It was the culture of Fleet Street.”

The full story, and a transcript of the recording, are on the Exaro News site, but the revelation raises serious questions about the phone-tapping trial of Andy Coulson, Rebekah Brooks and others, which is currently taking place.

If Brooks and Coulson are on trial for allowing corrupt and illegal practices in their newspapers, why not Murdoch?

And what are the implications for David Cameron, the Prime Minister who may have allowed this kind of corruption into Downing Street?