Archive for April 2010
How can we have a free & fair election when the Tories are suppressing media coverage of their leading donor? *Freedom flashmob* Bank Holiday Monday, outside Conservative Central Office
The big unreported scandal of this election is that the Conservative Party’s leading donor (and Deputy Chairman) Lord Michael Ashcroft, is using our draconian media laws to suppress a major BBC investigation into his financial affairs.
As tends to happen when one outlet has been threatened, the rest of the media appears to be staying away from the story. The majority of people voting on May 6th will therefore have no idea of the financial allegations hanging over the country’s richest opposition Party.
While this may, in the words of the Independent, “delight” the Conservatives, it does raise questions about the degree to which an election held in such a climate could be considered genuinely free and fair.
To highlight this serious threat to our democracy, a “Freedom Flashmob” protest is taking place on Bank Holiday Monday at 12pm outside Conservative Central Office (30 Millbank, London SW1P 4DP).
If you’d like to take part, you can join the Facebook group here.
Major embarrassment for Trafigura as reports they claimed were defamatory win prestigious international journalism award
Trafigura sued the BBC for libel over this report
– now the piece has won a major international media award
From the Center for Public Integrity
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2010 — A gutsy, collaborative series by four European news outlets about toxic waste dumping in Africa and a surprising exposé by a freelancer on payoffs by U.S. military contractors to the Taliban won the 2010 Daniel Pearl Awards for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting.
The winners were announced tonight at the sixth Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. The Pearl Awards are presented by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a project of the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C.
The winners are:
- Kjersti Knudsson and Synnove Bakke, Norwegian Broadcasting Corp.; David Leigh, The Guardian; Meirion Jones and Liz MacKean, BBC Newsnight; Jeroen Trommelen, de Volkskrant (Western Europe), for “Trafigura’s Toxic Waste Dump,” which exposed how a powerful offshore oil trader tried to cover up the poisoning of 30,000 West Africans.
- Aram Roston, The Nation (United States), for “How the US Funds the Taliban,” on of how Pentagon military contractors in Afghanistan routinely pay millions of dollars in protection money to the Taliban to move supplies to U.S. troops. The project was sponsored by The Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute.
Tories use legal threats to censor BBC Ashcroft exposé, then make false and misleading claims about their record on press freedom
1. From The Independent, 19th March 2010
The BBC has shelved a Panorama documentary about the business affairs of the Tory billionaire Lord Ashcroft, because of a threat of legal action.
The Corporation has received what one insider described as “several very heavy letters” from Lord Ashcroft’s lawyers. There is now little or no prospect of the investigation being broadcast before the general election, if it goes out at all.
The hold-up will delight David Cameron’s campaign team, who had been trying to pressure the BBC into delaying the programme until after the general election. But sources inside the Corporation firmly deny that political pressure played a part in keeping the programme off the air, attributing the delay solely to the risk of legal action.
The Tories are anxious to suppress more publicity about Lord Ashcroft’s affairs after the outcry earlier this month when the Tory billionaire belatedly revealed that he is not domiciled in the UK for tax purposes, and so pays no tax on his huge overseas assets.
2. From The Guardian, April 23rd 2010
During a press conference convened to accuse Labour of “scaremongering” the elderly in their campaign literature, the Tory chairman, Eric Pickles, and the shadow schools secretary, Michael Gove, were forced to defend the Conservatives from accusations they were involved in the onslaught of negative press against Clegg and his party…
Pickles added: “We have a free and vigorous press, and beware of politicians who tells you that the press have gone too far. Beware of politicians who want to put restraints on the press. We don’t complain when articles are written about us and we might be unhappy about it.”
When challenged by one journalist on whether this was true, he said: “Well, we don’t go too far – we might be occasionally a bit unhappy, but we don’t think it’s a great conspiracy.
“This is not Zimbabwe or the Soviet Union. No political party, no government controls the press.“
From “Mistakes were made but not by me”, quoting Lenny Bruce on the 1960 TV Presidential debates:
I would be with a bunch of Kennedy fans watching the debate and their comment would be, “He’s really slaughtering Nixon.” Then we would all go to another apartment, and the Nixon fans would say, “How do you like the shellacking he gave Kennedy?” And then I realized that each group loved their candidate so that a guy would have to be this blatant – he would have to look into the camera and say: “I am a thief, a crook, do you hear me, I am the worst choice you could ever make for the Presidency!” And even then his following would say, “Now there’s an honest man for you. It takes a big guy to admit that. There’s the kind of guy we need for President.”
Of course the Spectator knows a thing or two about “popular delusions”, having recently got into an embarrassing mess championing the AIDS denialist propaganda film “House of Numbers”.