Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hackgate Day Nine: Hacked Off, Blagged Up, Or Pinged Out?

Sky News on Monday evening ran a brief segment concerning the vile and odious rascal Hunt's weaselly statement to the House of Commons on the subject of the BSkyB deal. Unfortunately - but very amusingly - the reporter, Jon Craig, stumbled over the vile and odious rascal Hunt's surname. And, therefore, joined a club previously populated only by James Naughtie and Andrew Marr!

News Corp's 'move to renege on a commitment to spin-off Sky News into a separate company' was 'designed to end the political impasse surrounding the deal and allow the Competition Commission to have the final say' according to a report on the - completely impartial and unbiased - Sky News website. According to Dharshini David and Tadhg Enright of the Sky business desk: 'Shortly afterwards Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt referred News Corporation's proposed takeover of BSkyB - the owner of Sky News - to the Competition Commission. In a statement the company said: "News Corporation continues to believe that, taking into account the only relevant legal test, its proposed acquisition will not lead to there being insufficient plurality in news provision in the UK." An investigation by the Competition Commission is expected to take twenty four to thirty six weeks. BSkyB's share price fell by seven per cent at the open of trading to under seven hundred pence - lower than the amount bid originally by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in June 2010 - and the lowest level since last autumn. The scale of the fall was a shock to many, given the share price drop late last week and underlines the feeling in the market that the chances of News Corp getting total ownership of BSkyB, which owns Sky News, have severely receded.'

Two current and two former Metropolitan Police officers will be quizzed by MPs in public about inquiries into phone-hacking at the News of the World. Assistant Commissioner John Yates, Andy Hayman and Peter Clarke will appear before the Home Affairs Committee to answer for their massive shortcomings. MPs are expected to ask them why the hell the initial investigation, which started in 2005, failed to uncover evidence of hacking of crime victims' voicemail messages. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers will also appear before the committee. She is leading the current investigation into phone hacking, Operation Weeting which, at least, seems to have a vague idea of the difference between its arse and its elbow. So far. Detectives are contacting nearly four thousand people whose personal details were collected by the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. The committee is expected to ask former Assistant Commissioners Hayman and Clarke, the officers who supervised the original police inquiry, why that information was apparently overlooked. MPs want to know if the decision to close the investigation after Mulcaire and former News of the World Royal editor Clive Goodman were jailed in 2007 for phone hacking was 'influenced' by Scotland Yard's desire to maintain good relations with News International. Assistant Commissioner Yates refused to reopen the inquiry in 2009. He has said that the scope of the first inquiry was restricted because of legal advice from prosecutors, lack of co-operation from those at the newspaper - for which, no one was arrested for obstruction - and the need to 'target resources' towards counter-terrorism. So, ultimately, it's all Osama Bin Liner's fault, it would seem. Meanwhile, David Cameron's former press secretary, George Eustice, has said he does not have confidence in Assistant Commissioner Yates. Eustice told BBC2's Newsnight programme that the senior officer's position was 'not good.' On Monday, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was said to be 'shocked' after it was alleged The Sunday Times targeted his personal information when he was chancellor. Documents and a phone recording suggest 'blagging' was used to obtain private financial and property details. The 'blagging' reports concern alleged attempts by someone said to be acting for The Sunday Times who posed as Brown and obtained details of his Abbey National account in January 2000. Brown and his wife Sarah also fear that medical records relating to their son Fraser, whom the Sun revealed - in a much-trumpeted 'exclusive' in 2006 - had cystic fibrosis, may have been obtained illegally. News International, which publishes The Sunday Times and the Sun, said that it would investigate the claims. Because, of course, all of their previous 'investigations' have been so transparent and so impressive in discovering wrongdoing, haven't they? Energy Secretary Chris Huhne - subject of the best single joke told in the House of Commons for years by Dennis Skinner in yesterday's debate - said that if the allegations were true, the implications for Rupert Murdoch's empire could be huge. 'If this is going right across News Corporation, there is a real problem for Mr Murdoch for he has to pass the fit and proper test as a person to own a broadcasting organisation like Sky. And if he doesn't pass that, it's not a question of just stopping the BSkyB deal, it will be a question of him getting rid of Sky altogether.' Blagging, or 'knowingly or recklessly obtaining or disclosing personal data or information without the consent of the data controller' has been illegal since 1994. Addressing MPs in the the Commons, the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt described blagging as an 'awful' practice. He said that the judge-led inquiry into phone-hacking would look at all illegal methods newspapers may have used in the past to obtain information. Evidence has been found suggesting a News of the World reporter tried to buy a phone book containing numbers of the Royal Family. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall may have also been targets of phone-hacking conducted at the News of the World, according to the Gruniad. In an exclusive interview with the BBC, Gordon Brown alleged that News International used 'known criminals' to get access to personal information when Labour was in power. The former prime minister accused the newspaper group of having links to the 'criminal underworld.' And he accused The Sunday Times of running a story 'with the purpose of bringing me down as a government minister.' He told the BBC that an inquiry should look at how the company abuses its power. The latest claims relate to personal details which, it is alleged, were obtained for a front-page Sunday Times report that Brown had bought a London flat owned by the late Robert Maxwell at a 'knock-down price.' Brown told the BBC the story had been 'completely wrong' but that the company had been 'trying to prove a point' and had aimed to bring him down as chancellor. The former PM also said he was 'in tears' when he was told by editor Rebekah Brooks that the Sun had details of his son Fraser's medical condition as he had wanted the information to be kept private.
'Sarah and I were incredibly upset about it, we were thinking about his long term future, we were thinking about our family,' Brown said, adding that he did not know how the newspaper had got access to the details: 'The fact is, it did appear and it did appear in the Sun newspaper.' Alan Johnson, the former Labour home secretary, told Sky News that Labour did not set up an inquiry into phone hacking - as Gordon Brown said he would have liked to have done - because ministers 'would have been accused of exploiting the issue' for party political gain. 'If I'd have ordered a public inquiry at the time, I'd have probably been castigated because in the run-up to a general election people would have said it was an attempt to get at Andy Coulson who'd been appointed by Cameron. So you can't take today's knowledge and just apply it retrospectively, you have to look at the information that was available at the time.' The Gruniad's Marina Hyde writes, movingly and with real anger, about how the Sun dealt with the story of Gordon Brown's son having cystic fibrosis: 'Gird your stomachs – I have further information on the Gordon Brown story. Are you insufficiently repulsed by the Sun's mysteriously-obtained exclusive on Brown's son's cystic fibrosis? Don't worry - like everything about the hacking scandal, there are always more details to emerge to compound the horror. I've been speaking to a source close to Gordon Brown at the time of the story, who recalls that it was served up with a chaser of threat: "Gordon insisted - despite a heavy brow-beating from Rebekah - that he was not willing to let his son's medical condition be the stuff of a Sun exclusive," recalls this source. "So he put out a statement on the Press Association to spike their scoop and make clear that despite his condition, Fraser was fit and healthy. The Sun were utterly furious, and Brown's communications team were told that if Gordon wanted to get into No 10, he needed to learn that was not how things were done." Yes, how DARE the then-chancellor refuse to accept that his child's health was not technically a commercial Murdoch property? I'd like to tell you there's a sick bag located in the rear pocket of the seat in front of you. But I'm afraid you're on your own.'

Meanwhile, a bitter internal wrangle appears to have broken out at News International over who actually saw e-mails retrieved by the company four years ago which suggest that News of the World journalists approved payments to police. The e-mails were recovered during a 2007 internal investigation into claims that phone hacking was more widespread at the paper than had been previously admitted. One of the executives involved in the inquiry, the former head of legal, Jon Chapman – who left the company last week – is understood to be considering legal action against The Times after the paper linked his departure to the investigation. Chapman, is currently 'on gardening leave,' according to the Gruniad. Colin Myler, the News of the World's editor at the time, who also took part in the 2007 investigation, is expected to say the content of those e-mails, which were recovered by the company's then director of human resources, Daniel Cloke, were never shared with him. Myler told the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee in July 2009: 'I conducted this inquiry with Daniel Cloke, our director of human resources. Over two thousand five hundred e-mails were accessed because we were exploring whether or not there was any other evidence to suggest essentially what you are hinting at. No evidence was found.' That statement has now been shown to be wholly untrue. During the course of the internal investigation, Chapman asked the law firm Harbottle & Lewis to review the e-mails that the company had recovered. However, the firm only received three hundred of the two thousand five hundred e-mails examined internally. Myler also told the select committee: 'No evidence or information emerged to suggest that others at the News of the World knew of these activities or were complicit in them.' But, it is now claimed, Myler accepted an assurance that the e-mails contained no 'smoking gun' without checking the contents of the e-mails himself. News International 'insiders', the Gruniad allege, said Tom Crone, the News of the World's lawyer, claims that he was 'not told' about the existence of the e-mails until July 2009, a few days before he was due to appear before the same committee to give evidence about the extent of phone hacking at the title. Les Hinton, the long-serving Murdoch executive who also took part in the investigation, has not commented on the e-mails. Hinton was executive chairman of News International when the inquiry was conducted and twice told the culture committee that Goodman was the 'only journalist' who hacked into phones. He was asked in March 2007 by its chair, John Whittingdale, whether he had 'carried out a full, rigorous internal inquiry, and you are absolutely convinced that Clive Goodman was the only person who knew what was going on?' Hinton replied: 'Yes, we have and I believe he was the only person, but that investigation, under the new editor, continues.' In 2009 he told the culture committee: 'There was never any evidence delivered to me suggesting that the conduct of Clive Goodman spread beyond him.' Hinton left News International in December 2007, when Rupert Murdoch made him chief executive of the Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones. The internal investigation was carried out after Clive Goodman, the former Royal editor at the paper who was jailed for targeting members of the royal household, claimed that other journalists and executives at the paper knew hacking was widespread. It concluded that Goodman had acted as 'a rogue reporter' a story that, essentially, News International stuck to rigidly from 2007 until January of this year when they, suddenly, changed their tune. Lawrence Abramson, a partner at Harbottle & Lewis, confirmed to the Gruniad the e-mails contained 'no evidence that hacking went beyond Goodman.' Abramson, who now works at London law firm Fladgate, said in a statement last night: 'Professional duty of confidentiality prevents me from commenting on this.' Some of the e-mails were recovered last month by the company's general manager, Will Lewis, from Harbottle & Lewis following a request from Scotland Yard. News International handed them to the Met last week. The Met said yesterday that those e-mails contain evidence of 'alleged payments by corrupt journalists to corrupt police officers.'

News International executives face further accusations of a cover-up after it emerged they were in possession of the so-called 'smoking gun' e-mails more than two months before handing them to police, according to the Daily Torygraph. It has emerged that the e-mails were in the possession of News International's troubleshooting team, led by Will Lewis, in April but that they were not delivered to the police on 20 June. In addition, the Torygraph state, 'it is also unclear whether a large amount of information – extracted by lawyers acting for News International from jailed private investigator Glenn Mulcaire’s financial records – has been made available to detectives.' The company has already faced criticism over the fact that crucial e-mails identified four years have only just been handed to police. In May, they claim, old Ken McDonald QC (he had a problem, eee-aye-eee-aye-oh), who is advising News International, reviewed the e-mails and last month advised the board that they contained evidence of illegal activity by staff. Among the information passed to the police were communications alleged to show how senior executives approved illegal payments to police officers. But with just a fraction of the e-mails originally collected being passed to police, there are concerns that crucial information could be being held back.

In the Commons yesterday the vile and odious rascal Hunt said that he hoped the inquiry into the phone hacking affair would consider 'blagging' - the practice of obtaining private information illegally, normally by impersonating someone on the phone. The vile and odious rascal Hunt said blagging was 'at the heart of many of the problems that we have been finding out about in the past week.' Investigators were often only able to hack phones because they had 'blagged' phone numbers and passwords in the first place. On the Today programme this morning Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, made much the same point. He said that blagging was an offence under the Data Protection Act, but that it attracted a 'rather puny penalty.' The last Labour government actually passed a law bringing in a much tougher penalty, he said. But this law has never been enacted because of opposition from the press, he went on: 'We really need to get a serious penalty in place to stop this happening. Frankly, we need to say to people "You will go to prison if you do this." The serious penalty that is needed has been on the statute book since 2008 - Section seventy seven of the 2008 Criminal Justice Act provides for a custodial sentence of up to two years in the Crown Court, but it has been suspended for three years because of a stand-off between the Press and the politicians.'

An inquiry by the New York Times, which included interviews with two former journalists at the News of the World, has - they claim - revealed the workings of the illicit cellphone tracking, which the former tabloid staffers said was known in the newsroom as 'pinging.' Under British law, the technology involved is restricted to law enforcement and security officials, requires case-by-case authorisation, and is used mainly for high-profile criminal cases and terrorism investigations, according to a former senior Scotland Yard official who requested anonymity so as to be able to speak candidly. According to Oliver Crofton, a cybersecurity specialist who works to protect high-profile clients from such invasive tactics, cellphones are constantly pinging off relay towers as they search for a network, enabling an individual's location to be located within yards by checking the strength of the signal at three different towers. But the former Scotland Yard official who discussed the matter with the paper said that any officer who agreed to use the technique to assist a newspaper would be crossing a red line. 'That would be a massive breach,' he is quoted as saying. A former show business reporter for the News of the World, Sean Hoare, who was fired in 2005, said that when he worked there, pinging cost the paper nearly five hundred dollars (or, whatever that figure was in pounds, anyway) on each occasion. He first found out how the practice worked, he said, when he was scrambling to find someone and was told that one of the news desk editors, Greg Miskiw, could help. Miskiw asked for the person's cellphone number, and returned later with information showing the person's precise location in Scotland, Hoare said. A former Scotland Yard officer said that the individual who provided the information could have been one of a small group entitled to authorize pinging requests, or a lower-level officer who duped his superiors into thinking that the request was related to a criminal case. Hoare added the fact that it was a police officer was clear from his exchange with Miskiw. 'I thought it was remarkable and asked him how he did it, and he said, "It's the Old Bill, isn't it?"' he recalled. 'At that point, you don't ask questions,' he said. A second -anonymous - former editor at the paper backed Hoare's account. 'I knew it could be done and that it was done,' he - allegedly - said. Speaking on condition that his name be withheld, he added that another way of tracking people was to hack into their credit card details and determine where the last charge was made. He said this tactic yielded at least one major scoop, when the News of the World tracked down James Hewitt, a former army officer and lover of Princess Diana's, who had fled to Spain amid the media firestorm that followed the publication of his book about the affair.

Monday was announced as the final scheduled day of shooting on the current series of Doctor Who. Series six concluded for the summer break with A Good Man Goes To War last month and will return later this year. The show's official Twitter feed confirmed: 'This may be the last day of shooting for this series but everyone is fresh and in sunny spirits. Someone shouts "Cut!" Another scene done!' Earlier, they teased: 'Shooting has started and as one of the crew announces, it's all about one [of] the main character's feet.' Doctor Who Magazine have also tweeted: 'It's the final day's shooting on the new series of Doctor Who today - for a very important scene for the first episode...' presumably referring to Let's Kill Hitler.

John Barrowman has said that Torchwood and its 'sister show' Doctor Who have developed 'separate identities.' The actor explained that he likes how Torchwood has branched out from simply being a spin-off. 'Every year Torchwood has become something a little different than it was before. It's still sci-fi, but it doesn't just deal with spaceships and aliens all the time, because we've done that. Our science fiction is more psychological,' he told New York Magazine. 'Our sister show, Doctor Who, is the one that does that: talking cats and Cybermen and Daleks - which is brilliant, but we're something completely different now. That's not to say that it will never happen.' Barrowman's Torchwood character omnisexual space agent superhero Captain Jack Harkness first appeared in the 2005 Doctor Who two-part serial The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances. Captain Jack would later become the focal point of Torchwood, but has returned to Doctor Who for a number of guest appearances. Barrowman also suggested that he never worries about Captain Jack being killed off by Torchwood's creators because it was already revealed in a 2007 Doctor Who episode that Harkness will one day become the aged Face of Boe. 'There couldn't be a Torchwood without Captain Jack. That's the bottom line. If the time comes when it's time for him to leave - they couldn't kill him. They have to wait until he's the Face of Boe before he dies,' the star explained.

Scott & Bailey ended its six episode series with an excellent consolidated series average of 7.36 million - behind only Silent Witness, Wild At Heart and Doctor Who for non-soap drama in 2011 so far. The average timeshift was 1.43 million per episode, only Doctor Who and Above Suspicion having a larger per episode figure.

The Sinking of the Laconia, Exile and Merlin are amongst a raft of BBC dramas that have been sold into Central and Eastern Europe by FremantleMedia Enterprises. Second World War drama The Sinking of the Laconia, which originally broadcast on BBC2, is sailing to HBO CEE, Pro TV Romania, Pop TV Slovenia, TV Barrandov Czech Republic and HRT Croatia. Paul Abbott's BBC1 drama Exile, starring Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman and John Simm, has been sold to the Czech Republic's Ceska Televize, while BBC1's popular family fantasy drama Merlin has been acquired by Pro TV Romania, Pop TV Slovenia and TV3 Russia. The deals were brokered by Maximilian Bolenius, FME’s vice president of sales for German-speaking Europe and Central and Eastern Europe.

There's a superb - if completely unintelligible - think-piece by Will Self in the Gruniad on a number of subjects surrounding the closure of the News of the World. This sees the disreputable - albeit massively amusing - old druggy on truly sparkling form: 'A tectonic shift is taking place in our culture, namely the transition from a print/broadcast era in which information, opinion and entertainment is transmitted down a pyramidal social structure, to a pro forma egalitarian web culture in which there is no longer the mediation of a class of editors and opinion-formers, but instead everyone swims about in a protoplasmic gloop of titillating supposition. Marshall McLuhan's equation of the medium with the message has become a shibboleth to be lisped on a thousand thousand message boards, but less widely understood is that the "glocal" phenomenon of the web plus the Internet has yet to crystallise into a definable medium – we live in an interregnum between cultural hegemonies, and in such times, as Marx observed of political interregnums, the strangest forms will arise.' Stunning. Haven't got a frigging clue what it means, like, but it sounds about right!

The BBC's annual report, is due to be published later, and will reveal salary figures for the corporation's top earning presenters, performers and senior managers. It is expected to show a reduction in overall spending on talent between March 2010 and March 2011. The total paid to the BBC's biggest stars, earning more than one million pounds, is expected to have dropped. The combined wages of current executive board members is also thought to have fallen - significantly - since last year. The report will also feature accounts for the year 2010-2011 and the BBC's plans for the coming year. It is the first annual report to be published since Chris Patten took over as BBC chairman. Last year, the BBC pledged to reduce the pay of its top executives and slim down its senior management. The 2009-10 annual report showed that talent pay had fallen by £7.7m. And a total of £52.2m was spent on salaries above one hundred and fifty thousand. Sir Michael Lyons - then BBC Trust chairman - had said that new managers were being paid twelve per cent less than their predecessors.

Jo Brand and Johnny Vegas are among the comedians who have signed up to be guest judges on ITV's new series Show Me The Funny. The programme, which is hosted by Jason Manford, sees ten contestants battling it out to become 'the next stand-up comedy star.' On the assumption that they can't be much worse than a few of those we've got already. Jack Whitehall, of one. James Corden for another. The winner, who will be decided in a live final from Hammersmith Apollo, will be handed a UK tour, a Christmas DVD and one hundred thousand smackers. Alan Davies and comedy critic Kate Copstick will judge the contestants' performances and will be joined by 'a special guest' each week. As well as Brand and Vegas, these will include Wor Bob Mortimer, Wor Ross Noble, Cannon ad/or Ball and cheeky Scouse chancer Jimmy Tarbuck. 'Stand-up comedy has never been bigger and there has never been a better time to make this show,' Manford said, almost paraphrasing Gregg Wallace, but not quite. 'I'm excited to be involved in the series - it's very rare to have the ability to make pretty much anyone laugh, and I hope Show Me The Funny will find that comic.' Davies added: 'After years on the circuit, I know exactly what it's like to deal with the pressures of making an audience laugh, and this is an extremely tough challenge.'

ESPN have announced their opening Premier League games to be shown live next season. ESPN will be the first to televise a Premier League game of the new season with yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Magpies verses The Arse live from St James Park, the cathedral of dreams, on Saturday 13 August at 17:30.

Top Gear's trip to Lincoln will be broadcast in an episode later this month, it has been announced. Jeremy Clarkson tried out a new F1-style Lotus, then joined James May for a trip to the seaside in a pair of electric cars, the Nissan Leaf and the Peugeot iOn. Clarkson broke down outside the Echo offices in Lincoln in the Leaf he was road testing on 12 May. James, who was driving an iOn, borrowed a tow rope from the Echo in an attempt to get their cars, which had run out of charge, moving. Crowds gathered around the two presenters as they struggled to get the car rolling again. Bartender Divesh Haurheeram, of Lincoln's West End, told This Is Lincolnshire: 'It was exciting to see such a popular cast of a popular program in this city. Seeing the lads of Top Gear was great as the majority of people knew who they were. It meant lots of people were given an opportunity to talk to them and aid them in the filming of the programme.'

Watch's series Dynamo: Magician Impossible improved on the channel's audience six-fold on its debut last Thursday with an audience of six hundred and twenty two thousand across the 9pm hour. The series produced by Phil McIntyre Television, following the magician travelling round the world improved on the year-to-date slot average of one hundred thousand with a further eighty eight thousand viewers on time-shifted Watch+1.

William Shatner, of course, played Captain Kirk in the Star Trek television series and films. In. A. Very. Mannered. Way. But, whilst his character may have been a fan favourite the actor - famously - wasn't always popular with his co-stars. Walter Koenig has become the latest of Shatner's crewmates to take a swing at him, publicly. The actor, who played Pavel Chekov in the series, has compared his former co-star unfavourably to Patrick Stewart, star of the subsequent spin-off Star Trek: The Next Generation. 'Bill just never got it,' Koenig said. 'Bill wasn't Patrick Stewart. We never had the respect for our captain the way the TNG crew had with theirs.' You do know that he wasn't really a captain, Walter, he was just an actor? Koenig claims that he wasn't the only actor to have had difficulties with Shatner - with the late James Doohan and George Takei being notable other examples. Both previously criticised the actor. The most recent example was Takei's disagreements with Shatner which came to light several years ago when Shatner claimed that Takei didn't invite him to his wedding. Shatner recently stated that he would not be in the forthcoming Star Trek sequel movie despite fan hopes of a cameo for the veteran actor.

There's been some speculation that David and Victoria Beckham may have named their new baby daughter after the To Kill A Mockingbird author, Harper Lee. Although, that pre-supposed either Posh or Becks have ever read a single book in their lives, which seems unlikely, frankly. But, attention has also been focused upon their unusual choice of a middle name for little Harper, with the claim that it may have come from an episode of the sitcom Seinfeld. Victoria gave birth to the couple's fourth child, Harper Seven, on Sunday. The name of the baby has reminded some fans of the Jerry Seinfeld comedy, where one of the main characters is mocked for wanting to name his baby Seven. George Costanza (played by Jason Alexander) tells his girlfriend Susan (Heidi Swedberg) that the name Seven is 'a beautiful name for a boy or a girl, especially a girl.' Susan responds by saying: 'It's awful, I hate it. No child of mine is ever going to be named Seven.' Jerry also mocks George's choice of baby name by suggesting that he call her 'Mug', 'Gherkin' or 'Maxwell House.' Seinfeld has also been a trending topic on Twitter since the name of the baby was revealed. A CNN producer joked: 'Victoria and David Beckham gave their daughter the middle name Seven. They're officially an episode of Seinfeld.' Alternatively, the poor child might have been named after the movie Se7en, or the simply number up to which David can count without getting confused.

Award-winning actor David Oyelowo has told how he was in the 'last chance saloon' before the Prince's Trust stepped in and changed his life. Oyelowo said that the charity helped him go from a teenager with just a paper round for cash to a star of stage, silver and small screen. Oyelowo, now best-known as Danny Hunter of TV drama [spooks], lived with his parents on a council estate and won a place with the National Youth Music Theatre but his family couldn't afford the costs. His theatre studies teacher suggested that he approach the Trust and, with the charity's help, he has enjoyed a successful career, acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company, winning the Ian Charleson Award for his leading role in its production of King Henry VI, and appearing in The Last King Of Scotland and [spooks]. The thirty five-year-old said: 'I wouldn't say my parents were poor but they spent all their money on our education. There wasn't really much left after that. We lived on a council estate in North London. I got into the NYMT and I couldn't afford it. The Prince's Trust gave me a few hundred pounds which made all the difference. It was the last chance saloon for me. There was no way I could afford it with the paper round I was doing.' After joining the NYMT he decided to go to drama school, won a scholarship from director Nicholas Hytner to train at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and the rest is history. Oyelowo, who is now a Trust ambassador, said its grant changed his life and made him determined to work hard, adding: 'It was literally the seal of approval that I needed. I was aware that the Prince's Trust had invested in me.'

CNN staff filming a report about how to stay safe around wild bears were interrupted by one of the animals. The crew were working in Yellowstone National Park on Friday when they spotted hiker Erin Prophet trying to avoid the young black bear by taking to a lake, according to Reuters. The incident was captured on film by the TV crew as three people in a kayak helped to guide Prophet to safety. Park representatives told the news agency that the animal, which was at first mistakenly identified as a grizzly bear because of its brown fur, appeared to be minding its own business and was unlikely to have posed a threat to Prophet. In spite of the species name, only seventy per cent of black bears have black fur. The crew were filming at Yellowstone following the first fatal bear attack at the park in twenty five years last week.

The Times newspaper has again this morning decided to feature an editorial on the phone-hacking scandal. It's something of a mixed bag: part self-critical look at News International, part analysis of what it means for the media as a whole: 'At a very early stage of the hacking scandal, News International proved unable to establish, disclose and take responsibility for what happened at the News of the World. As the story has got worse, the same pattern of uncertainty, opacity and defensiveness has characterised the response. The consequences for the company, which among other things owns The Times, have been catastrophic.' It goes on to claim that 'The political cost became even clearer yesterday as those with long-held grudges against News International weighed in' and reiterates a point it has consistently been trying to make - that it will affect the media as a whole: 'But it is not a cost that will have to be paid by the company alone. There will also be broader questions about the methods and motives of journalists that will have to be answered by all media companies. For there will not be one that hasn't cut corners or used what will seem to some questionable methods to pursue a story.' It does, however, point out that 'Some of the great journalistic exposés in history were achieved using methods that could now be, and sometimes were at the time, challenged by the police or taken to court.'

There's a rather unfortunate typo on the front page of today's Financial Times which makes reference to one 'Rupert Murdock' in a headline. Who he?
BBC Radio 2 is resurrecting flagship TV show The Old Grey Whistle Test featuring artists such as Alice Cooper, Elton John and Robert Plant to mark its fortieth anniversary. The sixteen-part show, produced by The Whispering Bob Broadcasting Company, will be fronted by original host Bob Harris. The original series ran from 1971 until 1988 (by which time it had shortened its name to Whistle Test) and gave British audiences their first taste of numerous artists including Bob Marley and the Wailers, Bruce Springsteen, Steely Dan and Billy Joel. Harris said that the show would be 'a must-listen' to 'all serious music fans' whether or not they remembered the original. 'It's a massive re-union, featuring superstars of British and American music. We are re-creating the ethos of the original shows, featuring amazing new performances, interviews and archive in a gloriously musical atmosphere,' he said. Radio 2 is also giving a debut series to legendary reggae DJ David Rodigan who has been handed his own ten part series launching on 14 July at 11pm. The Somethin Else-produced show will air the best reggae, roots and ska tunes from the Sixties to present day. The station will also broadcast a special from the Cambridge Folk Festival on 3 August, produced by Smooth Operations and featuring acts such as Rumer and Laura Marling. And a series of in-house productions will form part of a Radio 2 Summer of Soul season. It includes a two-part tribute to Aretha Franklin, a profile of Marvin Gaye's What's Goin' On LP by fellow Motown legend Smokey Robinson and a Craig Charles-fronted documentary Way Down South: The Muscle Shoals Story about the iconic recording studio in Alabama (where the cow shit lies thick).

Neptune is about to celebrate its first birthday. On 12 July it will be exactly one Neptunian year - or 164.79 Earth years - since its discovery on 24 September 1846. But why do we still know so little about the distant planet? About 4.4 billion kilometres away from Earth, Neptune was the first planet in the solar system to be discovered deliberately. After the classification of the planet Uranus in the 1780s, astronomers had been perplexed by its strange orbit. Scientists came to the conclusion that either Isaac Newton's laws of planetary motion were fundamentally flawed - unlikely - or that something else - specifically, another planet - was pulling Uranus from its expected orbit. And so the search for the eighth planet began. 'It was such an incredible mathematical business, it makes searching for a needle in a haystack look like a ten-minute job for a child,' says Dr Alan Chapman, author of the Victorian Amateur Astronomer. While mathematical predictions had been made over the previous decades, it was not until French mathematician Urbain le Verrier's theories were tested at the Berlin observatory by Johann Gottfried Galle that the planet was first seen. After only an hour or so of searching, Neptune was observed for the first time on the night of 23 September 1846. It was found almost exactly where le Verrier had predicted it to be. Independently, British scientist John Couch Adams also produced similar results, and now he and Verrier are given joint credit for the discovery. But many claim that it was not Galle who documented the planet first, but rather the famous astronomer and mathematician Galileo. Bishmiller! In his famous work The Starry Messenger, some evidence points to his discovery. 'If you look at the drawings for January 1613, you can see a fantastic drawing of Jupiter and its moons,' says Dr Robert Massey of the Royal Astronomical Society. 'It even includes an object labelled as "fixed star" which is the first telescopic drawing of the planet Neptune.' Presumably, after he'd drawn in Galileo went off and did the fandango. Yes, we will let that one go. Controversy aside, comparatively little is still known about the planet - except that yer actual Keith Telly Topping once co-wrote a novel about their being Devil Goblins from it (or, specifically, from one of its moons). Good title. Crap book. Anyway ... Part of the problem is that there is no way for the planet to be viewed with the naked eye and until the Hubble telescope was created, scientific observation of Neptune was very difficult. Winds on the planet can reach twelve hundred mph, creating storms unimaginable on Earth. Unless you're in Hull on a wet Wednesday in November in which case, you probably can. These huge storms are seen as dark spots in a similar way to the Great Red Spot on Jupiter. The reason astronomers know so little is because the planet has only been photographed once from close range - on the Voyager 2 mission in 1989. And because its seasons last forty Earth years, only Neptune's spring and early summer have been closely documented.

You can tell when a British story gets really huge because it makes it onto Jon Stewart's Daily Show in the US. Stewart - along with British colleague John Oliver - covers it wonderfully with the usual blend of comic indignation. Watch the whole clip here. Interestingly, the programme's account of the News of the World's antics (particularly in relation to the families of terrorist victims) provokes booing from the audience. 'That's right,' notes Oliver at the climax. 'The guy who got car-head from an LA prostitute is now the moral compass of my nation!'

And finally, Kerry Katona has said, according to the Metro, that she's 'prepared to go to drama school' in an effort to 'prove she can act.' 'I would also look at panto if I was offered a role,' she is quoted as saying. Front end of the horse or back? You decide dear blog reader.

For Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a little ambient masterpiece from Anubian Lights. No obvious link to news International but, you know, not everything in the world revolves around Rupert Murdoch's chuff. It's just that, after this last week, a few more people than previously seem to realise that now.

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