|THEY HAVEN’T GOT A CLOUSEAU…|
THE Met Police’s belated admission that its secret
policeman Mark Kennedy was undercover at the 2009 London G20 protests throws
new light on these demonstrations – not least for 11 protesters who were
arrested on the day for themselves “impersonating a police officer”.
The knowledge that police were pretending to be demonstrators at the same protest where demonstrators were arrested for “pretending” to be police underlines the absurdity of the arrests. The Met finally dropped all charges against the group last year, and the 11 are now suing the police for false imprisonment. One protester lost their job after the arrest, while another was not allowed to take medicine for a painful condition while under arrest.
A job for Austin Powers…
As the Eye reported in 2008, private spy company “C2I” sent its agent Toby Kendall undercover into the “Plane Stupid” protest group. His Austin Powers-style blunders, however, led to his unmasking and the closure of C2I.
Justin King, the former army officer who ran C2I, has now resurfaced in charge of a security company called Lynceus, which offers similar services to C2I – “a variety of covert tactics, covert observation, covert search techniques, close target reconnaissance and foot surveillance”. With some irony Lynceus tells prospective clients: “There are many ways in which a company’s reputation can be damaged. Firms whose corporate reputation is severely damaged frequently don’t recover.” It should know: C2I’s reputation never recovered from the Agent Toby scandal.
King’s new company has some serious help, however: one of its “senior advisers” being John Dearlove. The firm says Dearlove was “a member of the Cabinet Office Security and Intelligence Secretariat during the premiership of Mr Blair” but it does not mention that he is also the brother of Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6.
The firm’s second adviser, Sir Neil Thorne, former MP for Ilford, has excellent security contacts: he founded the Armed Forces and Police Parliamentary Schemes, which allow MPs to play at being soldiers and policemen.
Stella McCartney can’t afford to pay interns who work for her for months at a time – but she can afford to pay a PR man to threaten legal action against those who complain.
NO ONE in Fleet Street ever believed the protestations of ignorance by
former News of the Screws editor Andy Coulson. Did he really have no idea
any of his scoops were obtained by telephone interception? Did he never ask
why hacker Glenn Mulcaire got an annual retainer of more than £100,000?
Coulson stated on oath in the perjury trial of Tommy “Shagger” Sheridan, a former Socialist member of the Scottish parliament, that the Clive Goodman case was a one-off. “I knew his [Mulcaire’s] consultancy was used in an entirely legitimate way during my time as editor,” he told the high court in Glasgow in December. “As far as my reporters are concerned the instructions were very clear: they were to work within the law and within the PCC code.”
If Inspector Knacker now finds that phone-hacking was rife, this will lay Coulson open to a possible criminal charge of perjury.
Cleaning the Augean stables after the horse has bolted…
As soon as they had the details they would offer settlements to the victims, “to cut out the requirement for huge lawyers’ fees.” Or, perhaps, to cut out the embarrassment of NI having its smelly underwear aired in open court – though this seems not to have occurred to Peston. His sources also assured him that “any culpable News International executives will be sacked.”
It’s more than four years since Screws hack Clive Goodman and phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire were jailed. Why has News International only now got round to finding out who else was involved? This was another question Peston failed to ask in his fusillade of upbeat dispatches. Two days later he revealed that the Screws had sacked its head of news, Ian Edmondson, and sent his emails to the police. This proved that News International was now “aggressively investigating the involvement of its employees”.
Peston, it should be noted, is a close friend of former Telegraph editor Will Lewis, who is now the group general manager at NI. What are friends for if you can’t return the occasional favour, only a few weeks after Lewis did Peston the favour of leaking him Vince Cable’s unguarded comments about the Dirty Digger?
Thirsty Will is in bullish mood, and no wonder: he’s one of the few Murdoch lieutenants at Wapping who can’t be harmed by the scandal, having only arrived last summer. But many other current and former NI grandees are in a blue funk – and, again, no wonder.
Pathetically inept investigator
From his involvement in settlements with Max Clifford (whose silence was bought for £1m) and PFA boss Gordon Taylor (£700,000), Myler should have known this was untrue. We now learn that he didn’t even bother to check the emails of Ian Edmondson, one of the executives who dealt with Mulcaire. So he is not only a useless editor – he had to quit his previous job at the Sunday Mirror after being fined £75,000 for contempt of court – but a pathetically inept investigator.
The heart of the cover-up
This in turn brings Murdoch Junior to the very heart of the cover-up. Did he ask why the company was compelled to shell out such a vast sum, complete with gagging clause? If he did, he knew long ago that NI’s official defence given to the Commons media committee – that Goodman was a lone “rogue reporter” – was dishonest, yet he continued to go along with it. If he didn’t ask, he’s a negligent half-wit who is clearly unfit to run a major corporation.
From cocktail party to cock-up queen
Recent events confirm the assessment of several senior execs at NI that Rebekah is a great cocktail-party networker who can charm the likes of David Cameron and the Murdoch family, but is essentially a lightweight in journalism and business, who deluded herself that the whopping early settlements to Gordon Taylor and Max Clifford, plus endless recitals of the “lone rogue” mantra, would prevent the truth ever emerging.
Enter the Moron
Any exposure of dubious methods wouldn’t exactly help their new careers. Hall has gone from poacher to gatekeeper, with a new career as a celebrity PR, and has already been embarrassed by his nephew, a Screws hack in the Coulson era, admitting that he transcribed hacked messages for sleazy Neville Thurlbeck, then as now the paper’s chief reporter.
Moron, meanwhile, is enjoying the limelight as a celeb interviewer on cable TV. Former Mirror hacks have this week been reminiscing about the occasion when Moron serenaded their newsroom with the Beatles song “And I Love Her” during a period of pre-wedding froideur between Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, and then informed them that “It’s the message he sang to Heather to make it up – you should hear the tape.”
Wallis and vomit
PS: Screws insiders point out that it was George Osborne rather than David Cameron who originally championed Andy Coulson’s case as the Tories’ spinmeister. They also recall that in his latter days as editor a couple of embarrassing stories on the Osborne family never appeared in the paper, at the insistence of Coulson and his mentor, Rebekah Wade/Brooks. Oddly enough, a story about the private life of Andy Hayman, the Scotland Yard detective heading the hacking probe, also never made it into print. This is the same Andy Hayman who since leaving the Met has acquired a lucrative column in the Times, published by News International. Small world!
Gavel Basher writes: For years the main excuse for having a House
of Lords was that it behaved in an adult, non-partisan way, improving laws
and raising the tone at Westminster. The Lords contained wisdom, sobriety,
independence of mind. No longer.
Tory Lord Taylor of Warwick’s conviction for expenses-fiddling went unmentioned in the chamber – shades of Basil “Don’t mention the war” Fawlty. Ditto the shagging antics of the leader of the House, Lord Strathclyde. The rotund swordsman was maybe a little less visible on the frontbench after the Sunday Mirror’s kiss-and-tell exposé, but no one taunted him about it in debates. Instead, peers guffawed quietly in the lobby and corridors and in the Bishops’ Bar, rejoicing over the details of Strathclyde’s Ugandan discussions.
Given Labour’s filibustering in the parliamentary voting system and constituencies bill, it is perhaps understandable that Strathclyde sought afternoon relief with Miss Rita Chevrolet when the alternative was listening to Neil Kinnock and Clive Soley.
Lords left-wingers are horrified. How dare the coalition try to reduce the size of the political class! Filibustering – the practice of talking gibberish to gum up parliament – is against the rules. But filibustering, despite their denials, is what has been happening. Hence the all-night session and days which have stretched far into the small hours as Labour peers have sought to block the bill.
Lord Lipsey – sometime pisspoor Fleet Street hack David Lipsey – brought the House the benefit of his detailed reading of “British Political Facts” and launched into a précis of the history of Speaker’s Conferences. He did so in one of those nasal, now-here’s-an-interesting-thing voices sometimes adopted in comedy sketches by Peter Cook. Lipsey has been loving the Labour delay game. For years he has lurked on the sidelines, regarded as an Olympic-sized bore. At last here was a use for his droning talents.
Many of the Labour filibuster crowd are ex-MPs, among them Quentin Davies (Lord Davies of Stamford to give him the title he bagged after defecting to Labour from the Tories in 2007). Davies, during the course of one verbose contribution, spoke about the importance of MPs staying in contact with their constituents’ views. This will come as a surprise to the staunch Tory electors he dumped by crossing the floor for his own personal benefit.
Another Tory MP who joined Labour, Lord Howarth of Newport, was aghast at a reduction in the number of MPs. It would make it so much harder to find recruits for all-party parliamentary social groups. He told the House about the all-party Archaeology Group to which he had belonged. From examining fossils to sitting in the Lords? You get the picture.
But Strathclyde had hit the G-spot of the current Lords shenanigans. The Lords is stuffed with Blair peers. With most of them comparatively young, we could have years of this sort of legislative blockage.
On and on the filibustering continued. Blairite apparatchik Sally Morgan, Baroness Morgan of Huyton, coughed up a long essay about Merseyside. Lord Graham of Edmonton spoke at length about his memoirs, From Tyne to Thames. Lord McAvoy (Labour’s former deputy chief whip in the Commons, a notorious thug), spoke about Rangers football supporters in Corby. Lord (Paul) Boateng started citing “a paper presented to the parliamentary affairs journal of Oxford University Press entitled, ‘Far Too Elaborate About So Little’: New Parliamentary Constituencies for England, by three academic, impartial observers of our system”. He then proceeded to read much of an article from the London Evening Standard.
Notorious Blair brown-noser George Foulkes (best known for once nosediving into a gutter after a whisky reception), launched into a travelogue of his home area. Around him peers slept deeply. “Moving on a little,” said Foulkes, after an age, “we find Auchinleck and Cumnock, both mining townzzzzzzzzz...”
Foulkes boasted that he took his title from a place called Cumnock, “where James Keir Hardie lived for a while and is now buried – the cradle of the Labour movement.” This was all most fascinating. But what would Keir Hardie think of these so-called socialists in an unelected House of Lords, defying the Commons and trying to keep a system which skews elections to one party’s distinct favour? Would he have been proud? Or, like Ed Miliband, distinctly embarrassed?
Stella McCartney, Veggie Ratbag Of The Year
As graduate unemployment hits 20 percent, competition for jobs and even unpaid internships is fiercer than ever. Nowhere is that felt more keenly than in the fashion world where, it seems, even illustrious companies are lapping up free labour even if it means potentially flouting national minimum wage laws (see Eye 1277). At fashion house Stella McCartney, for example, unpaid interns in the press office outnumber paid employees by more than two to one.
One fed-up intern posted her story on the website of the internship campaign group, Interns Anonymous. In the post bluntly entitled "I had a horrible experience working for Stella McCartney", she described how interns regularly steamed clothes and mailed envelopes and worked until midnight, all unpaid. "One intern had been at Stella for five months and I could see she could never get a real job out of it," she wrote, adding that she left because the atmosphere "was toxic".
Zealously safeguarding McCartney's image, the company's worldwide communications director, Frenchman Stephane Jaspar, immediately contacted the intern, reducing her to tears, and then the website's administrator. "I was shocked and baffled," said the administrator. "Jaspar began threatening me, saying 'I'll make it very difficult for you with your employers' and 'this is a big man's world'. It was totally bizarre and more like a parody from 'Allo 'Allo."
Jaspar then told the website administrator that the intern had signed a confidentiality agreement and that if the post wasn't taken down he would be calling in McCartney's lawyers.
The administrator duly obliged. But not content with that, Jaspar began personally contacting everyone on Twitter who had re-tweeted a link to the post. In one email he wrote: "You don't want to be associated with this messy situation with legal ramifications." When asked what they should do, Jaspar wrote: "Just remove your re-tweet."
Clearly the Gucci group, which owns McCartney and made €455m profit in 2009, is not paying Jaspar enough for his dedication to the job.