Recent events surrounding Stephen Messham, Lord McAlpine, BBC’s Newsnight and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, could well, on top of the phone hacking scandal have serious implications for freedom of speech in this country. There are already strict libel laws and laws regarding intrusive journalism, so what will an external regulator of the media achieve other than initiate a control that will make people fear to speak out about what they are thinking, doing and believing, and what they have discovered – even if it is rubbish, even if it is the truth?
There is an entity that My Black Cat has been mumbling and bumbling on about for years on this blog. That something we call “The Intertwingled Triplets.” Nobody else calls it that and only the few avid readers of this blog will have a clue what The Witch Doctor is talking about.
The Telegraph has picked up on one of The Intertwinglements. They won’t call it that of course. And they certainly won’t have heard about The Intertwingled Triplets.
“How to maintain high standards of journalism is, of course, the question that Lord Justice Leveson will aim to answer in his report. His remit does not include broadcast journalism, however; it is restricted to newspapers and magazines. There is much speculation that he will recommend some form of statutory regulation as the best way of ensuring that the press abides by high standards of journalism and of ethics. It is a striking fact that one of his assessors was Sir David Bell, who is a trustee of the same Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and indeed a former chairman of the Media Standards Trust, the organisation that formed the “Hacked Off” campaign for statutory regulation of the press.
As we have said before, we think that statutory regulation of the press, however “light touch” it might be said to be, would be a cure far worse than the disease. We recognise that mistakes have been made by sections of the industry. More than that, crimes were committed: these should have been dealt with by the police. Statutory regulation is not the way to improve standards, however. It will be impossible to avoid “mission creep”, whereby politicians gradually extend the rules to prevent the publication of material that is embarrassing to them.
The BBC is regulated by statute because it is the state broadcaster, its programmes piped into the nation’s sitting rooms. Newspapers are different: people freely choose to buy a newspaper. This is a crucial distinction. As it is, statutory regulation seems not to have stopped the BBC producing sloppy reports and failing to observe guidelines.
It is also notable that social media sites, while in theory subject to the law of defamation, are in practice operating independently of it. It is hard to see how any form of statutory regulation of the press would deter individuals from releasing names in an irresponsible way. But it could eventually bring an end to newspapers’ exposure of real corruption among the powerful.”
Here is a taste of what Intertwinglements are about. This one concerns Sir David Bell.
Sir David Bell was a co-founder of The Media Standards Trust.
The Media Standards Trust is the birth-mother of Hacked Off.
Hacked Off (fronted by a celebrity who has reason to feel hacked off with the media) is pushing for external regulation of the media.
It would therefore be logical to conclude that Sir David Bell is not neutral about external regulation of the media.
However, Sir David is also involved in The Leveson Inquiry as an assessor. He had to hand over his Chairmanship of The Media Standards Trust to Roger Graef in order that there would be “no conflict of interest” in his role with Leveson. Roger Graef recently had to hand over to Dame Helena Kennedy (already a longstanding trustee) in order that there would not be seen to be a “conflict of interest” because his film company are producing a documentary on Leveson.
And now, from the Telegraph, My Black Cat has discovered another Intertwinglement that she didn’t know about – Sir David Bell is one of the Trustees of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the outfit that fed information into the BBC for their Newsnight programme – the one that didn’t name Lord McAlpine.
However, prior to the Newsnight programme going on air, Ian Overton, chief editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism tweeted:
“If all goes well we’ve got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile.”
Today Iain Overton resigned.
However there is something unusual about the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
There is no list of the Trustees of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism on their website.
My Black Cat, in her search for intertwinglements here, there and everywhere, has looked up the list of trustees for many, many different web-sites and it is unusual for her not to find it easily.
It is unusual that My Black Cat has failed to locate the trustees of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
You may even describe it as odd.
However she has managed to confirm elsewhere that Sir David Bell is indeed a trustee of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
She will keep looking for the whole list of Trustees on their site.
Because that is one of the many ways she hunts for Intertwinglements.
Ahem… The Trustees have appeared on the site, although My Black Cat was correct. They were not present in the cache of 11 Nov 2012 10:03:22 GMT.
The Trustees are :
The Bureau’s Trustees are Sir David Bell, Elaine and David Potter, James Lee and George Brock.”
Just an unintentional omission maybe – a lack of attention to detail.
Or maybe My Black Cat has been mucking about with The Book of Spells.
a red apple ……………………
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