Freedom of speech or freedom to leech?

Press regulation:  proprietors and editors to fight back with new “Freedom to Leech” campaign.

(via MickyLeaks)


  • Freedom to Leech is the cornerstone of democracy, our democracy.
  • The “lightest touch” statutory underpinning of leech freedom would make us considerably worse off, which would make us very angry indeed.
  • Any prime minister who dares to introduce it knows he will receive rightful punishment in our newspapers, lose his seat in parliament and be forced into the abused benefits system.
  • The cost of a curb on freedom to leech is unthinkable. It could mean, for instance, that we can no longer leech off the private misery of scumbag families and children unless it is in the public interest.
  • Public interest indeed! Why should any independent body or representatives of any elected politicians deem what is in the public interest?  For centuries we have fought to establish our God given right to tell the public what to think and what is in their interest.
  • Despite vile rumours to the contrary, it is we who are the are champions of ethics. We do not print sordid stories of sex and drugs by Z-list soap actor nobodies for the fun of it.  Partners and children have a right to learn of the errant behaviour of their loved ones on our front pages over the Frosties. We do them, and the nation, a great service and we are proud of it.
  • It goes without saying that we are best placed to judge other peoples behaviour since none of us, or our employees, has ever strayed from the straight and narrow.
  • The fact that more people buy our papers when there are more sordid stories is further proof of our high moral standing. The extra income that comes our way is also useful since we can never be rich enough. And this makes us happier and nicer, which is good news for everybody.
  • We have also shouldered the responsibility of helping the nation, by persuading politicians what to do at all times. When their interests do not coincide with our interests, we are sadly obliged to ridicule and/or annihilate them.  It is a heavy burden, but the essence of free leechdom.
  • We must fight our opponents every step of the way, notably Lord Justice Evilson, Harriet the Harridan, Nick Cleggfool and assorted anti free leech desperados. These include arsehole professors, despised intellectuals and poor, misguided liberals with their sad little Twitter campaigns.
  • Chief of the infidels is the subversive Fucked Off cabal, with its debauched “spokesperson”,  Hugh Hitler Grant.  It is now painfully clear that, ever since his putsch in Four Weddings and a Funeral, he has been worming his way into a position from where he plans to take over Britain and the rest of Europe.
  • Make no mistake. Failure to take on the enemies of free leechdom will result in either Hugh Grant or Al Qaeda running Britain by Easter.
  • Remember the words of the great Winston Churchill: “We will fight them on the leeches”.

                     Rupert Leech

                     Dacre Leech

                     Leech Brothers

                     Dirty Leech

                     Tax Haven Leech

                     and other Leeches.


The 12 questions Louise Mensch needs to answer

Critics of Louise Mensch often say, “ignore her, don’t feed her insatiable appetite for publicity”. Understandable but not so easy because, even though she lives across the Atlantic, Mensch won’t leave Britain alone.

She writes for Murdoch’s Sun and Times, she tweets incessantly to her nearly 73,000 followers, she hovers from New York over her former constituency in Corby and comments daily on events in the UK, from Prime Minister’s Questions to the Jimmy Savile scandal.

And is she about to be a face of Britain in America, forming US opinion and perceptions of the UK? Does Fox Television beckon?

Thus, for good or bad, Louise Mensch has a sizeable and probably growing influence both in Britain and about Britain. The difference now is that it is without a shred of accountability.

It is not the desire of this blog to be uncivil to Mrs Mensch, or to comment on her private life or politics. And she has the right to work for whom she chooses. But there are serious issues around her tenure of the Media Select Committee investigating the activities of News International, and her subsequent actions. These give genuine cause for concern in a parliamentary democracy.

Would it have made a difference to the Select Committee’s report and its impact if Mensch had been less supportive of Rupert Murdoch? Undoubtedly, but maybe her contribution was entirely genuine. Even so, there are other fundamental principles at stake about conflict of interest, or the perceived conflict of interest.

How would it look, for instance, if a member of the Treasury Committee left parliament and, within months, was working for the bank he has just been investigating?

At the end of the day, this is for Parliament to address. But Louise Mensch should be open about her own situation, even if our unease is groundless. Only she can set the record straight.

Copious tweeted questions to her in the last month have been ignored and the time has come to place them in a more serious format. This is not least because, for reasons hard to fathom, no MP (as far as is known) has raised all of them publicly. Similarly, even the non Murdoch press is more entranced by the Louise soap opera than the underlying issue of democracy.

We ask those 12 (plus) questions now in the hope that Mrs Mensch, known for neither her reticence nor, to her credit, cowardice, will provide the answers that the British public has a right to know.

So, Louise, even though the chances of receiving a reply are as great as witnessing pigs in flight, we nonethless ask …

  1. When did you take the decision to stand down from parliament before the next general election?
  2. When did you take your decision to establish your online business, menshn?
  3. Did you inform the Chairman and/or colleagues on the Media Select Committee of your intention to stand down this year? If so, when and to whom?
  4. While you were still on the Select Committee, and when he was new to Twitter, Rupert Murdoch tried to send you a tweet, which just had your name and was then abandoned. Did he indeed tweet you and, if so, what did he and you say in undisclosed tweets?
  5. Since you were at least considering moving to the USA while you were still sitting on the Media Select Committee, did you in any way or at any stage converse with Rupert Murdoch, or any of his staff, about working for him when you moved to the USA?
  6. When did any kind of written or oral discussion take place between you (or your representative/s) and Rupert Murdoch, (or his representative/s) about the possibility of you working for News Corp – either from the USA or anywhere else?
  7. Why have you constantly ignored genuine questions about this on Twitter, despite numerous requests by DemocracyFail and hundreds of others?
  8. Can you see how questionable it looks if a former member of a select committee only a few months later takes a job with a company being investigated by that committee?
  9. How can any reasonable person be assured that the prospect, or even aspiration, for a job with News Corp had no influence on your deliberations on that committee?
  10. Do you believe current select committee rules are sufficient to ensure that MPs have no conflict of interest?
  11. How do you reconcile your much declared feminism with writing for The Sun, particularly at the time of a very serious campaign to stop the Page 3 portrayal of women in a family newspaper?
  12. Were you genuinely offended by Austin Mitchell’s tweet? Or did you, in fact, see a three-fold opportunity to: (a) deflect criticism about your exit from parliament (b) attack the Labour Party (despite a swift Labour Headquarters instruction to Mitchell to withdraw his remark) on the most spurious of grounds and (c) satisfy your ongoing quest for self-publicity?

Finally, before you brand us “lefties”, we assure you that, despite any political leanings, we would ask the same questions of a Labour, Lib Dem or any other Member of Parliament in a similar situation – particularly if related to a media empire. It may sound annoyingly high-minded, but the issues really are democracy, accountability and integrity.


Leveson, the powder keg

When Lord Justice Leveson reports in November, the thinking is that his recommendations are expected to include “light touch” regulation of the press, underpinned by statute. Such a prospect has already fuelled a torrent of hyperbole and scare-mongering from its opponents, led by most UK newspapers who insist they are able to regulate themselves and that any form of statute is a nail in the heart of democracy.  These powerful newspaper noises echo the vested interests of their proprietors, publishers and editors. Some have now formed an alliance, under the dubious title of the Free Speech Network – which, incidentally, has been anything but free about revealing information on its formation, funding and administration.

But this blog is not about the pros and cons of independent regulation, which we wholeheartedly support. It’s about the politics that could undermine it.

David Cameron has said he would implement Leveson’s proposals, unless they are “bonkers”. Harriet Harman and the Lib Dem’s Nick Clegg have stated they are in favour of independent regulation. So far so good, as cross party agreement is crucial because any one party standing up to the press would be singled out for persistent bashing, and we know where that leads! Together, they are a force to be reckoned with.

When it comes to legislation, the ball is of course in the Government’s court. If Cameron opts for continuing self regulation, this may fail, because the Lib Dems and Labour are likely to vote against. If he opts for independent regulation, supported by statute, the big question is: dare he risk further unpopularity with a press already punishing him for setting up Leveson in the first place?  

If his party were united on the issue, it would be an easier ride. But this is very far from the case. Leading figures, like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Eric Pickles, have vociferously opposed independent regulation. And Johnson, already the darling of the press, is a serious leadership contender – or so we are constantly told.

All this puts Cameron in an extremely difficult position. With the best will in the world, would he risk further unpopularity and jeopardise his future as party leader? Because that is precisely what will happen if the unforgiving forces of Murdoch, Desmond, The Telegraph, Mail and array of other national, regional and local papers mete out their revenge. With so few owners of so many titles – the underlying problem that Leveson may not address – the self regulation faction have a disproportionately high level of influence on their own governance, as well as everybody else’s.

If Cameron is brave (but possibly politically suicidal) he will implement the Leveson proposals. If he is (characteristically) more interested in self preservation, he will wriggle out of them – making some attempt at saving face, but essentially kicking them into oblivion.

With the press being both self interested and extremely partisan, a fair hearing on the merits of independent regulation is impossible. The BBC (and some papers) will give a more balanced assessment, but they will be mauled by screaming tabloid headlines and sniffy broadsheet editorials. And we should remember that the Savile scandal broke at a very convenient time for some newspapers to sharpen their daggers aimed at the heart of the BBC, already to be “investigated for left wing bias”.

In summary, the PR dice are heavily loaded against a unique opportunity of achieving independent press regulation. The stakes are very high. It may seem far fetched but the end result could be both the continuing charade of self regulation and Boris Johnson in Downing Street.

Cross party unity is a must on press regulation. As is the widespread use of social media in the face of the vested interests of newspaper proprietors and publishers.

If ever there was a time when the individual needed to speak up for regulation independent of the media barons, and give Cameron the backbone, then now is that time.

MickyLeaks – The EdMail

MickyLeaks can reveal the following Email, which explains quite a lot ….

From:  The Establishment

To:        Just about everyone in the UK Media

Re:       Ed Miliband

Date:   Day in, day out

In the name of vested interests – and our tradition of consigning most Labour leaders to the dustbin of history with serial cheap-but-deadly headlines – we direct you to interpret and define the politics, personality and actions of Ed Miliband as follows:

1.  Highly intelligent and well read = “WEIRDO”

2.  Has values and principles = “NAIVE”

3.  Has vision = “BARKING”

4.  Inspiring and refreshing = “SCARY”

5.  Wants a fairer society = “NORTH LONDONER”

6.  First name rhymes with a colour = “STALINIST”

7.  Genuinely Labour = “DELUDED” (only Tories can lead Labour)

8.  Challenged his brother = “MASS MURDERER”

9.  Made typo on Twitter = “TOTAL FAILURE” (did not attend secretarial college)

10. Right man for these changing times = “LEADERSHIP IN CRISIS”


Blitz with sustained negative publicity, then conduct an opinion poll to show his lack of popularity.  Repeat process every week until he falls off graph.

Remember the three Rs: ridicule, ridicule, ridicule. (Words with “k” are useful in this respect, e.g. geek, wonk, plonker.)

Do not waste valuable time and space on his policies. Either laugh them off, say he has none or interview some New Labourite with an axe to grind and an income derived from “predatory capitalism”.

Suggested further reading: “How I shafted anyone who mattered” by Kelvin MacKenzie.

Viva Margaret T, Tony B and David C (but not Gordon B)!

Yours most powerfully

The Establishment

Joseph Goebbels House, City of London.

MickyLeaks reveals “bombshell” email

Today the Daily Mail revealed the police had discovered “bombshell Emails” on the phone-hacking scandal, that may lead them to question James Murdoch.   Intrepid as ever, Mickyleaks has uncovered this 2008 email, from James Murdoch himself.

From:    James Murdoch

To:          Rebekah Wade

cc:           Louise Mensch

Re:          Some stuff

1. Papa says to pay Gordon Taylor up to a million to shut up his big fat greasy mouth. If that don’t work, you personally go see him with your Uzi.

2. Accounts wants the list of cops awaiting gifts for their favourtie orphanages. Check we have a large number of brown envelopes in the stationery store.

3.  Tell Coulson he stays on the payroll so long as he and this Cameron hood deliver.

4. Papa’s pissed with the hacking. He says to get the dirty conversations, not just the goddam voicemails. Go hire some investigators who are smarter than that Mulcaire loser.

5. Hey, we all do our spring cleaning and stick to the “one rogue reporter” line. Anyone saying anything else loses his or her job – and legs.

6. If some motherfucker do decide to sing, my defence will be like: I am a polite Harvard gentleman boy; I cannot recollect; I knew nothing substantive; I employ 50 billion people; they are all liars; it wasn’t top of mind; I take exception to that, Mr Watson.

7.  If ever the day comes when you may need to stash your laptop, use the trash bin in your underground car park.

8. Erase this email pronto.

9. My sister hates you and wants you dead.

10. Say Hi to Ross.

Must Amanda Knox make millions?

Amanda Knox stands to make millions from press deals in the aftermath of her imprisonment in Italy. Is it acceptable for her to earn a single penny out of Meredith’s death?

Some would say “yes” – if Amanda is indeed the innocent victim of a dreadful miscarriage of justice. She underwent a nightmarish and horrifying ordeal over four long years that will have left her permanently scarred. Her notoriety is such that there is no chance of her returning to a normal way of life in Seattle. It’s only reasonable, therefore, that she makes use of that fame to both champion the cause of wrongful conviction and to provide herself with a high level of income. It is, one could say, small compensation for the terrible suffering and trauma of an innocent person.

If, conversely, Amanda is guilty of murdering Meredith Kercher, and only won her appeal because of insufficient evidence and a botched enquiry, the answer is an emphatic “no”. Not only should she remain behind bars, but the thought of her profiteering out of this terrible crime is deeply cruel to the aggrieved Kercher family and unacceptable to society in general. To reward a vicious killer with fortune and celebrity is utterly repugnant.

There is a wider issue here. The sums received by people who are wrongly convicted vary enormously and are disproportionate to the amount of injustice or suffering. Amanda Knox, with her powerful publicity campaign, the high profile of the murder and her photogenic looks, is set to make huge sums. But there are others, whose cases have not hit the headlines, who are released from prison into poverty, and with precious little expectation of having their stories sold.

How, then, does one begin to address these inequities and the fact that a murderer, released on a technicality, can potentially earn millions? With great difficulty, but here’s a germ of an idea …

Why don’t the USA, Britain and other democracies introduce laws that state that no media or publishing entity can make a payment directly to anyone charged, convicted, suspected of or exonerated from murder for anything in connection with that murder? Instead, all monies negotiated for buying the story should be paid to independent charities that work with victims of miscarriages of justice.

The charities would hold the funds and dispense them in the ratio they deem fit, to both the individuals and other victims of miscarriage of justice. If the case of Amanda Knox, for instance, it would mean that all her media/book earnings go first to the charity, which will assess how much she should receive and how much should go to help others.

You could say that this allows the charities to play God – by, in effect, deciding who is less worthy and innocent – but they would be in the position to assess the needs of all the miscarriage of justice victims, including the unsung ones, and dispense the funds on that basis.

And what about the families of the murder victims? My first thought was that they should be the recipients of the media earnings but, the more I considered this, the more complications and dilemmas I could see. Would, for instance, the Kerchers feel comfortable taking money “earned” by Amanda Knox? I concluded that there were other and better ways to give financial help to bereaved families and that this scheme should centre on victims of miscarriages of justice.

Establishing and administering it would be quite complex to start with, but it could work and would certainly be an improvement on the status quo. At any rate, it is food for thought.

MI5, Murdoch and The Lady – all very odd

Dame Stella Rimington has revealed that she was spied upon by Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times while she was head of MI5 (1992-96). They snooped into her private life – her shopping, her banking and even her medical records.

This story takes the News International scandal into a new zone. This time, we are not talking about tabloid phone-hacking. We are talking about a Murdoch broadsheet, The Sunday Times, and spying – or “blagging” – into the life of the head of Britain’s secret services. While the facts they were seeking may have been personal, there were still major national security implications and the public are entitled to know what went on.

Curiously, the story came to light in an interview Stella Rimington gave to The Lady, the most genteel of genteel magazines. And, strangely, the magazine published this sensational news with no fanfare whatsoever. Is that because it failed to recognise its significance or is there some other reason?

Now The Lady is not as stuck in the past as some people might think. Under the savvy editorship of Rachel Johnson, it has been given a new lease of life and gained in reputation. How could Ms Johnson not have realized the importance of what Stella Remington was saying? (A cynic might wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that Murdoch’s tablet Daily, newly arrived in the UK, is advertised on The Lady’s website. An even greater cynic, might wonder if Rachel is disinclined to upset too many Murdoch papers while her brother is seeking re-election as Mayor of London.) But perhaps we are being unfair. The stories about the behaviour of News International are so numerous and shocking, we are all getting a little punch drunk. And, at the end of the day, we owe Ms Johnson and her magazine our gratitude for bringing the matter to light.

As for the manner of Stella Rimington’s revelations, this is even more puzzling. One assumes that, as head of MI5, she reported her suspicions at the time. If so, were they investigated and what was the conclusion? Will we ever know? If she has said nothing until now, why has she kept quiet for so long? And why, of all publications, did she choose The Lady? Was she being deliberately low key or did she herself not recognize the significance of what she was saying?