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Go online for the full Leveson story

Posted on 24 November 2011 | 12:11pm

As part of my new regime – lost 17 pounds in seven weeks, for which I was surprised to get a round of applause at an awards dinner I hosted last night – I now try to walk at least one journey per day that I would otherwise go by car, taxi, tube or bus. So today I enjoyed an early morning long one, from NW3 to Waterloo, where I was meeting the British Cycling genius who put me on my current regime and exercise routine.

All a long winded way of explaining why someone stopped me as I walked down Kingsway, and asked why I hadn’t blogged so much in recent days. I am always taken aback when anything like this happens, which suggests I continue to see things through an old media rather than new media prism. If someone says ‘I saw that thing you wrote in the Daily X,’ that seems perfectly normal. If they say they read your blog, it still feels a bit weird.

So why have I been a bit more reticent than usual? Partly because Philip Gould’s death knocked me a bit sideways and I haven’t quite recovered my equilibrium. Partly because I do seem to have more in the diary than usual at the moment – there will be a strategic review at Christmas. Partly because I am preparing to play the bagpipes in a big concert in Glasgow at the weekend, and am practising as hard as time permits. And partly because I am due to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry next week, and so am giving that considerable thought.

I have not been able to see much of the evidence being given live, so have had to rely on snatches of TV, radio and newspaper coverage. As I tweeted yesterday, I did spend a little time on the inquiry website and I strongly recommend that anyone really interested in the issues reads the statements submitted by witnesses. The testimony given so far, not least that of the McCanns yesterday, has been powerful enough. But the statements really are worth careful reading.

I hope this is enough to satisfy my Kingsway lady. But now I must walk to my next engagement, lunch with an old mate.

  • I quite agree: the witness statements on the Leveson website are powerful and the website itself is a very useful public document.

  • I quite agree: the witness statements on the Leveson website are powerful and the website itself is a very useful public document.

  • Libdem

    Although not one of your natural supporters Alastair, I do find your blogging thought provoking to the point I actually miss you not blogging! Then I tell myself that you’re obviously too busy to blog and whizz back to see if you have managed to find sufficient time.
    I think we all expect too much from you sometimes…..

  • dagi

    I am slightly surprised to read that you’ve got a new exercise regime and you’re walking more.

    That’s all very impressive, but I thought you are (or perhaps were?) a very keen jogger who goes out running several times a week?

  • I am glad that, amid your relentless activity, the prospect of a review and rest are seen and felt to be in order.
    These wonderful late autumn days are inviting to be outdoors in. The past few months of lovely weather have seen me preparing and training for Mind fundraising cycling in the spring 2012. Mind are lovely people. Another long winter is late in arriving and shall sure be late in leaving too.
    After your radio work and evening functions, even more time populated with people must be utterly exhausting.

  • Olli Issakainen

    The press is not above law.
    But we need to secure investigative journalism in the public interest.
    Voicemail and email hacking are serious crimes. There is no public interest defence there.
    But the aim of the media must always be to tell the truth. It was the Guardian, AC and JP who disclosed the phone-hacking, not police!
    Blagging for personal details is also a crime. Publishing health details is not usually in public interest.
    But in Finland the health record of our president is made public on regular basis.
    Payment to police officers is a crime, too. And if the Telegraph paid to get the leaked details of MPs´ expenses, it was a criminal offence.
    Encouraging leaks from public office may be wrong.
    Official Secrets Act could also be used against press.
    But we still need to know about criminal offences. There is public interest defence to make sure that public is not being misled.
    We must safeguard investigative journalism.
    Jose Manuel Barroso (Bilderberger) now wants strict central controls on TAX and SPENDING in the eurozone. This would mean loss of sovereignty for nation states.
    Spain´s new PM is also a Bilderberger and pro-European.
    Technicians linked to international finance have already taken over Italy and Greece. Democracy in Europe in being suspended.
    I have done some investigative journalism myself. Here is the result.
    I have recently gone through a lot of annual reports by British companies checking who owns them.
    I have so far found that Rothschilds control: Astra Zeneca, BAE Systems, BHP Billiton, BP, BT, Barclays, HSBC, ITV, Kingfisher, Marks & Spencer, Pearson, Rio Tinto, Rolls-Royce Group, Royal Dutch Shell, SABMiller, Tesco, Unilever, Vodafone, Legal & General and Burberry.
    And this is only the beginning. And only in Britain.
    In practice the Rothschilds own Britain.
    They exercise their control through companies called State Street, BlackRock, Vanguard, Wellington Management, FMR Corporation, JP Morgan Chase, Franklin Resources, Invesco, Fidelity, AXA, Schroders, Capital Group Companies etc.
    The Rothschilds, for example, control Legal & General through Schroders (5.02%), BlackRock (4.96%) and AXA (4.31%). Legal & General, in turn, controls a lot of other companies.
    All in all, the Rothschilds have 147 companies which own 40% of the wealth of the global economy!


  • Clawrence

    The McCann statements are very bad indeed. We have an erosion of Media standards in some German media too (I work in Germany) but not as Bad as this.

  • Brookec

    Congratulations on losing the weight.Regretably so many  people are going in the opposite direction with huge increase in obesity and diabetes.Big contributing factor is the calories in alcohol.Why arent they shown on alcohol beverage labels?
    How can people look after their health and reduce their calorie intake by 10% as Health Secretary Lansley claims they should ,when they dont know the consequences of what they are consumming?
    Would young women be drinking more and more if they knew the effects on their health and figures?
    Our efforts to change the Coalition Government’s position on this is getting no where.They’re now praying in aid European Regulatory obstacles when they presently have the freedom to act.
    The drinks and food manufacturing industry is showing its muscle again whilst the public’s turns to fat.
    Come on Alastair.Get your weight behind the soon to be established  ACID –  the campaign for  ALCOHOLIC CALORIFIC INFORMATION and DISCLOSURE
    Best wishes Clive

  • Ehtch

    The PCC is being shown in a very bad light with this inquiry, and so they should be too. They should pre-empt complaints, rather than letting those intruded initiate complaints. Doesn’t anyone at the PCC read the papers and say “hang on, this sounds dubious”, and make immediate inquiries of their own? They seem to act arse-backwards as a stewart of the press.

  • Absolutely indeed.
    Daily Politics with Andrew Neil exploded the myth of them actually regulating anything at all ever.
    Toothless and teetering on retiring, failing and facing fiasco, powerless and proof of a perfidiously perfunctory approach to merely perusing the press.

  • ambrosian

    Before he became Tory Leader, Cameron was a director of a pub chain which specialised in youth-oriented ‘vertical drinking’ pubs (i.e. no seats so people drink more quickly). In a memorable interview at that time, Paxman began by asking Cameron if he knew what a ‘Pink Pussy’ was. It turned out to be a potent mix of drinks that Cameron’s former pub chain sold cheaply by the bucket to teenagers. Cameron didn’t know this and went not so much pink as that dark shade of burgundy we now see when he is under pressure at PMQs.

    The point is that Cameron has very close past links with the drinks industry so is unlikely to get tough with them any time soon.

  • Cory


    Liked the blog for some time. Never commented before, but the conduct of parts of the British press, as exposed by the Inquiry, has driven me to it. I’ve no specialist expertise, beyond being a regular newspaper reader, but for what its worth a few of ideas to hopefully raise media standards:

    1. every paper has to have a legally responsible position of executive editor (they can determine who this is themselves, no need for government to be involved in the selection).

    2. the executive editor has a personal legal duty to ensure the good legal conduct of the publication (similar to the responsible person duty for health & safety legislation- with similar penalties)

    2. the editors name, photo & a personal contact e-mail for them has to be displayed at a prominent size on the inside cover of every edition.

    3. A right of reply should also be introduced – perhaps through insisting readers letter pages are displayed prominently in all newspaper & a cross-section of views aired… (some papers hide theirs beyond the fold – don’t they trust their readers comments and their ability to weigh differing opinions & come to their own conclusion?).

    4 A regular report should have to be produced within the body of the paper – again in a prominent location – disclosing all the on-going legal action against the paper, the nature of this action – summary version of the action in the claimants own words, (with a sensible word limit!) – & the total number of complaints received over the course of the year.

    5. The largest individual shareholder of the newspaper company (inc. the individuals behind any holding company) should have to have their photo & contact details produced in an annual report  – again prominently within the body of the paper – to encourage transparency. For example, who does own the Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers, but who are they? Who is behind it & what is their agenda? The average reader doesn’t know – I certainly don’t. Is it a fella called Rothermere? What does he do for a living? Has he ever expressed his own opinions, or is it all done through his papers? Has he ever given funding to a political party? The annual report would be a chance for him to tell us directly.

    If the Inquiry can nail down some practical recommendations we can move from outrage to action.


  • MicheleB

    Are you aware of the spook websites owned by Bilderberg conspiracy theorists Olli?

    Seen the one called ‘Watching Aaronovitch’ that is in response to his (DA) articles about the CTs?

    As for the one called ‘Watching Hitchens’ that is gleeful about CH’s terminal illness and how he should alleviate his pain (sarcasm about his past lifestyle).  Ooooops, I digress.


  • Whatifwhatif

    ………. “All in all, the Rothschilds have 147 companies”…….

    Have?  That implies controlling share ownerships.  You sure?

  • MicheleB

    I didn’t see that edition of Newsnight but have been vexed recently about the ‘terrier’ Paxman having rings run round him by Boris Johnson (on a Tory conference evening) and Jacob Rees-Mogg (after his ‘Bagpuss’ sarcasm).

  • MicheleB

    oOOOOOPs hello, ’tis me.
    Think I do have to re-register with new ISP’s email address!

  • Ehtch

    more off topic – Why didn’t you just kick him in the nuts then, simples? Makes me ashamed to say that Michael Howard was brought up in Llanelli, and took to change his surname taken from the Park Howard park near him in Llanelli from when he spent his early life. Howard is a tory total knob, full stop, no need to say anything further. “did you threaten to over-rule him”

  • ambrosian

    I agree. Paxman seems quite jaded now and just going through the motions.
    In that Boris conference interview Paxman should not have played the straight man to Boris’s ‘lovable clown’ act. It may have been entertaining but it wasn’t appropriate to a serious news programme.

    Paxman is as much part of the Establishment as the late Robin Day – public school, Garrick Club, very wealthy. Remember how he once went round to Mandelson’s house after the programme to deliver a note apologising for Matthew Paris outing Mandelson on Newsnight? More the action of a poodle than a rottweiler!

    I’d like to see some TV interrogators who are more representative of the viewers on whose behalf they ask the questions and not part of a cosy social and political elite.

  • Chris lancashire

    I think he eats babies too.

  • MicheleB

    Further to what I posted last night and ambrosian’s response … it’s looking more and more as if J Paxman’s carried on raking it in long past being in any way committed to the programme. 

    One could even speculate that in that clip Paxman is allowing Howard to avenge his own Newsnight experience but to do so on AC; not a lot of point wondering why JP didn’t threaten to overrule him!

  • MicheleB

    I wonder whether it’s a generation thing?

    JP lived through posh not being cool whereas those a decade behind him revel in their birth ‘rights’. 

    He’s certainly pussycat-ish with the likes of BJ/JR-M.

  • MicheleB

    I’ve not looked online but have heard about Christopher Jefferies’ complaints today.

    The behaviour of the media was scandalous but he needs to accept that he was arrested for questioning for what were understandable reasons if what we heard was true.

    Jo Yeates had not been sighted for 7 days with not a single piece of information.  After her body was found Mr Jefferies apparently offered info that he’d seen her leaving the house with someone.

    Of course that was suspicious and it still is, especially as we came to know it couldn’t have been true, so there hadn’t even been the reason of his being discreet for the sake of her boyfriend.

    If, on the other hand, he never gave such info we need to know who started the story.  Anyone care to take a bet on where whichever journo reported it first will claim it came from and whether that claim will be swallowed wholesale?

  • Anonymous

    I wish someone would point out that the “normal journalist” technique of getting a story – whether from a grief stricken family with no other presence in the public domain or from a celebrity or a politician – is very often simply extortion at best and blackmail at worst. They always say “We will print a story in any case, so this is your only opportunity to have some input into it.”
    This is why in the midst of terrible tragedy, ordinary people either produce a statement or give an interview for the media.  It is the last thing in the world they want to think about or do.  It is a vicious and cruel burden imposed upon them when they are most vulnerable. 
    Next time you hear a statement or read an interview with someone – even in a respectable local or national newspaper – put it in that context:  people are blackmailed/extorted into this when they are at their most vulnerable.
    In any other walk of life, this would be clearly be understood for what it is; however, it is just accepted as normal journalistic practice. 

  • Ehtch

    Suppose it could help if I quote my youtube comments on above video, to sum up my own personal feelings for Michael Howard. A “dap” by the way is what in Wales we call those canvas gym shoes which we used to wear in gym lessons in days gone past, pre-Nike and that modern shite. I quote, myself,
    “Michael Howard gives welsh jews a bad name. You’re a knob Michael, suck on your sweaty dap, you idiot.”

    Second comment, by me, self-quoting again, if you don’t mind – pass the port…
    “As that tory woman said, Ann Widdecombe, there is something of the night about Michael Howard. Something of a twat, I would have said.”

    Hope you all get some semblence of a laugh from this, otherwise my type of sense of humour is wasted in life. But I think you will, I know it.

  • Bingbongharvey

    This summed up my reaction well:‘is-a-tabloid-newspaper’-201111304615/

  • Bingbongharvey

    This summed up my reaction well:‘is-a-tabloid-newspaper’-201111304615/

  • Ehtch

    The tory party and their clubs in London, clubs to promote what? Themselves only, not the rest of us?

    Gilbert & George, what do you have to say about these torys as they are, London bound, in song?