Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Twenty Two Days Of Christmas: Everywhere It's Christmas (Even Timperley)

The BBC has released a new trailer for this year's Doctor Who Christmas special. The festive episode - The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe - will see Matt Smith appear alongside guest stars Claire Skinner and Alexander Armstrong. Bill Bailey and The Fast Show's Arabella Weir will also appear in the hour-long episode, written by Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat. The promo features new footage from the special, as Cyril (Maurice Cole) and his sister, Lily (Holly Earl) step into a terrifying winter wonderland. It made its television debut on Tuesday night at 8pm on BBC1, between EastEnders and Holby City.
The BBC's director general slapheed Mark Thompson, and chairman Lord Patten have defended Jeremy Clarkson in the wake of his controversial comments on The ONE Show, describing Top Gear as one of the UK's leading cultural exports. And, about bloody time, too. Which, of course, the Gruniad Morning Star had a scowlingly good tut about. Which is, of course, good. In fact, anything which annoys those hippie-lice full-of-their-own-importance Communist sods is a jolly good thing in this blogger's opinion. Other's may differ. Way of the world, innit? Clarkson's appearance on the BBC1 magazine show, in which he said, that he'd enjoyed the one day public sector strikes because there'd been less people on the roads but, because he was on the BBC he needed to balance this with an opposite point of view so, therefore, he suggested that striking public sector workers should be 'executed in front of their families,' generated around thirty two thousand complaints to the BBC and media regulator Ofcom. The vast majority of these coming after a few national newspapers - and, in particular the Gruniad Morning Star - had stirred the shit up a bit to see what happened. Labour MP Jim Sheridan told Thompson and Patten that the Top Gear presenter was a 'luxury you can't afford.' In fact, given the amount of coin Top Gear brings into the BBC, on the contrary, it's a luxury they can't afford to do without. However much that any annoy a bunch of people with their own, personal, sick agenda. Thompson said that he would 'not consider' sacking Clarkson over 'a couple of flippant remarks.' Quite right. Sadly, he didn't also go on to tell Sheridan that if everybody in the world were threatened with the sack for saying things that some other people claimed they didn't like then nobody would have a job. Least of all Jim Sheridan himself. 'I don't intend to sack him,' Thompson told MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday. 'I believe it is absolutely clear to anyone who watches the clips, perhaps not who reads a section of the transcript, these remarks are said entirely in jest and not to be taken seriously. In my view Jeremy Clarkson's remarks were absolutely and clearly intended as a joke.' Patten said that Top Gear was 'probably one of the leading cultural exports of this country' and said 'a lot of people would be disappointed [if Clarkson were to be threatened with the sack].' Thompson admitted that Clarkson was 'a polarising figure' - true, this blogger himself disagrees with much of Jezza's outpourings - but noted that the public needed to balance that fact against his 'value to viewers' of the top-rating show. 'There are many millions of people who very strongly support and enjoy Jeremy Clarkson,' Thompson said. 'That has to be balanced against a couple of flippant remarks in one programme. Well over twenty million people watch Top Gear in a given season. It gets a very high rating from the public for quality. People watch that programme expecting often outspoken humour from Clarkson.' In 2009, Top Gear was BBC Worldwide's biggest selling TV show internationally. Alongside Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing and the BBC Earth and Lonely Planet formats, it helped to earn more than three hundred million smackers in revenue and forty million quid in profits. Money which is put back into the BBC and benefits all manner of other shows. Indeed, it's probably fair to say that there isn't a programme on the BBC anywhere that doesn't have a part of its budget - however small - paid for by Top Gear's merchandising and overseas sales. One for a few more Gruniad readers to spew some inarticulate bile from their ringpiece over, as they gurn into their muesli I'd warrant. They're quite a sight.
Having, seemingly, grown a backbone overnight, Thompson then went on the offensive. And, about sodding time, too. Tabloid criticism of BBC1's Frozen Planet may have been prompted by the corporation's coverage of Lord Leveson's inquiry into media ethics, he stated. Sir David Attenborough's acclaimed natural history series became embroiled in an alleged 'fakery' row after it used footage of newborn polar bear cubs shot at a wildlife centre in the Netherlands rather than in the Arctic. Thompson read out the scummy editorial from Tuesday's Daily Mirra which condemned the corporation for using footage of the captive bears. The leader said: 'The national broadcaster's quick on the draw when it comes to pointing fingers at others. Perhaps when it comes to their own editorial standards and ethics a little more action and a little less pontification would be handy.' Thompson told MPs: 'I do rather wonder whether this is about polar bears or about Leveson and other matters.' Oh, indeed. Subtexts rapidly becoming the text there, one might argue. Albeit, the Mirra are a bunch of scum with their own agenda anyway, so it might just be some leader writer woke up and didn't like the cut of Bill Turnbull's suit that morning on Breakfast. Who, honestly, cares? Patten, said that the BBC had received just thirty two complaints about the matter to date. He added that the alternative to using the wildlife centre footage would have been 'dead bears or dead people with cameras.' Thompson said the BBC had consulted the public in the past to find out if they would like on-air captions to highlight scenes which were artificially created for natural history programmes. 'For the overwhelming majority of the public there is no evidence that it was "spoilt" for them. And moreover when we asked them the question about whether they want to be reminded constantly about how the programme is made as it goes along, they said they would prefer that we didn't.' In 2001, it emerged that a rare hatchet fish in BBC series The Blue Planet was 'reanimated' using computer wizardry after the genuine fish that was captured by programme-makers died. Thompson said that the BBC had been open about the techniques used for Frozen Planet on the programme's website. 'The reason this story appeared is because we exposed it all on the website,' he told MPs. 'Some years ago we asked the public the specific question – this is audience research done a few years ago – whether they would prefer it if there were on-air captions or labels and the overwhelming response from the public was they did not want us to do that. And they were quite happy simply explaining after the programme, on the website, how we do it so those who want to know how it was made can find out. We've thought very hard about this and talked to the public.' Patten added: 'It seems to me, overwhelmingly likely that some of the journalists who got this story got it from the 7 November programme [the making of video on the BBC website a fortnight before the episode was shown on BBC1], it's been on the website of that programme about how that scene was shot.' John Whittingdale, chair of the Commons media select committee, had previously got his big fat snout into the story by saying it would have been 'better' if the programme had been 'entirely open.' Which they were. Still, why let a little fact like that get in the way of a good bit of Beeb bashing. How very Tory.

Separately, Patten gave the clearest indication yet that the BBC Trust may be about to ask management to change some of its proposed cuts to BBC local radio. The local radio cuts, which will see two hundred and eighty jobs axed as part of cost savings of fifteen million smackers outlined in Thompson's Delivering Quality First proposals, prompted an outcry from MPs and listeners. And from this blogger, too. Minor point, I know, but still. Patten made several mentions of local radio in his answers to the culture committee, including the fact he had received a large number of messages about the topic. Including one from this blgoger. Okay, okay, I'm just saying ... He told the select committee: 'If at the end of this consultation we put everything back on the table I guess the public and this committee would give us a pretty frosty reaction.' To further make the point he added: 'I would have thought my response to your questions didn't suggest I was entirely cloth-eared on this subject.' However, he said that if the cuts are not made to local radio, they would have to come from elsewhere, saying: 'We can't simply conjure money out of the air.'

The BBC will more than double the number of US homes that receive its international news and current affairs channel BBC World News after striking a 'breakthrough' deal with cable giant Comcast. BBC World News, which is currently available in fewer than six million households – predominantly in the New York and Washington areas – will be rolled out to fifteen million homes through Comcast's Xfinity TV service. 'This deal represents huge progress for BBC World News in the most competitive television marketplace in the world,' said Peter Horrocks, the BBC's director of global news. '[It is] one of the most important breakthroughs for the BBC's international commercial news channel.' The BBC currently has deals in place with Verizon and Cablevision to carry BBC World News. Comcast owns assets including NBC Universal and Telemundo. The deal will mean that the twenty four-hour news channel will be available in most major markets within the US, with Philadephia, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Portland, Northern California, Michigan and parts of New England starting to receive broadcasts by the end of this year. Horrocks said that US viewers 'increasingly value' the 'smart and impartial' international journalism provided by the BBC. Somebody should tell the Daily Scum Mail, the Daily Mirra and the Gruniad Morning Star, they'd be horrified.

The BBC, ITN and Sky News are challenging attempts by Essex police to force them to hand over two days' worth of unbroadcast footage of the Dale Farm eviction in October. The broadcasters will contest the wide-ranging production order, which covers all footage filmed at the UK's largest Travellers' camp on 18 and 19 October, in a court hearing in Chelmsford on Tuesday. The freelance journalist who filmed the controversial footage of police apparently using stun guns at close range during the eviction is also fighting the production order, alongside Hardcash Productions, the independent production company behind BBC1's Panorama special, Dale Farm: The Big Eviction. Essex police said it believes the footage could help to identify people responsible for 'the assault of a number of officers' during clashes between Travellers and its officers. The media routinely challenge pressure from police to hand over unbroadcast footage of public disorder to avoid being seen as a surveillance arm of the authorities. However, this attempt is understood to have been more fiercely opposed because the orders are not restricted to footage of the clashes. Police want material from both days of the eviction, including non-violent footage of Travellers. 'The fact they are going for everything across the two days clearly shows to me this is not just about gaining additional material to prosecute, it is a fishing exercise to gather intelligence,' said Jason Parkinson, the freelance journalist challenging the order. Essex police said: 'Footage from the media is thought to identify the people responsible for these offences who have fought to conceal their identities.' A spokeswoman for the force said that it needed images of those responsible for the violence in different states of dress to help identify them. In deciding whether to grant a production order, judges are supposed to weigh the interest of the police in obtaining evidence with the public interest in a free press. Parkinson said that being forced to comply with the order would compromise his work. 'I am resisting the order because I believe it will have serious consequences on my ability, and the ability of those in my profession, to report future events,' he said. 'I believe it will increase an already growing trend of intimidation and violence against members of the press in such situations, which I think is being caused by the increase in the use of production orders that we have seen, particularly since the student protests of 2010. I do fear it won't be long before we do see a journalist killed on the streets of the UK and I do fear it will be because the media will be seen as part of the state apparatus.'

And so to a full and, frankly, funny day in the life of Hackgate. Starting with an e-mail chain which has been released apparently showing that James Murdoch was copied into messages where the potential scope of phone-hacking at the Scum of the World was discussed in June 2008. One of the e-mails mentions a potential 'nightmare scenario' arising out of a case then being brought by Gordon Taylor, head of the PFA footballers' union. Murdoch has said that he only read the most recent e-mail in the chain, requesting a meeting - and continued to claim that he knew nothing - naaaathing - about widespread wrongdoing at News International papers. The e-mails, copies of which have now been given to the Commons culture, media and sport committee of MPs, discuss the case being taken by Taylor. The e-mail trail suggested that Taylor wanted to 'demonstrate what happened to him was rife throughout the organisation.' In a letter to MPs Murdoch claimed that he is 'confident' he had not read the full e-mail chain. This was 'given the timing of my response, just over two minutes after Mr Myler sent his e-mail to me, and the fact that I typically received e-mails on my Blackberry on weekends. Instead, having agreed to meet the following Tuesday, I would have relied on the oral briefing on 10 June 2008 that I have previously described in my testimony before the committee. I would also like to take this opportunity to reaffirm my past testimony that I was not aware of evidence that either pointed to widespread wrongdoing or indicated that further investigation was necessary. I apologise this has only now come to light and that it is being brought to the committee at this late stage of your enquiry.' Taylor's lawyers had obtained a transcript of voicemails taken from the phone of Joanne Armstrong, a lawyer at the PFA, which were subsequently transcribed by Scum of the World reporter Ross Hindley and sent by e-mail intended for Neville Thurlbeck, the newspaper's chief reporter. Evidence which has became known as the 'for Neville' e-mail. Three days after Myler sent the note that Murdoch claims he did not review in full, the News Corp boss met the editor and Crone and agreed to pay Taylor seven hundred thousand quid to settle the case in secret. Murdoch's News Corp, however, continued to maintain that that hacking was confined to a single 'rogue reporter' until the very end of 2010. The e-mail chain begins with a report on a meeting with Taylor's lawyer Mark Lewis, which discusses a possible settlement figure and says Taylor 'wants to see NGN suffer.' This was then sent, with further comments, from ex-News International legal chief Tom Crone to the ex-Scum of the World editor Colin Myler on Saturday 7 June 2008. Myler then forwarded the three e-mails in a chain on to Murdoch, saying that the news is 'unfortunately as bad as we feared,' and asks for five minutes with him on the following Tuesday. Murdoch replied two minutes later, saying: 'No worries. I am in during the afternoon. If you want to talk before I'll be home tonight after seven and most of the day tomorrow.' Murdoch told the committee of MPs in November he had not been made aware of details suggesting phone-hacking went beyond Clive Goodman - the former Scum of the World royal reporter jailed in 2007 - when he authorised a large out-of-court settlement to footballers' union leader Gordon Taylor in June 2008. Myler and Crone have both said they 'did inform' Murdoch about the existence of evidence that phone-hacking might go beyond 'one rogue reporter,' but Murdoch said he believed 'their testimony was misleading.'

The Scum of the World was 'concerned' about 'containing publicity' over phone-hacking, a media lawyer has told the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics. Lawrence Abramson, then of Harbottle & Lewis, said the fear was expressed when publisher News International asked him to review its extent in 2007. Former NI lawyer Tom Crone told the inquiry that he had believed the practise was 'more widespread' than first thought. He said that he had believed it incorrect to blame it on 'a single rogue reporter.' Crone told the inquiry he 'occasionally' discussed the legality of methods with journalists over the course of his career. He had a discussion on phone-hacking 'on one occasion' before the arrest of former Scum of the World royal editor Clive Goodman in 2006 and 'several' after that time. After some faffing about over whether revealing the date of his prior-the Goodman case discussion on phone-hacking would break lawyer-client privilege and confidentiality, he eventually revealed that the discussion had taken place 'in 2004.' Crone had earlier claimed: 'I am concerned by this, I am sure it is covered by privilege. I was asked for advice, went away and did some research. If I give the dates and the time and to whom it seems to me I am encroaching on privilege. My concern is give me twenty questions and every one chips away at the privilege.' News International's QC, Rhodri Davies, said that he was not in a position to object to Crone saying which year the advice took place. Though he did continue that Crone may not breach privilege but he may incriminate someone. Leveson asked Neil Garnham QC – who acts for the Metropolitan police – whether the question caused potential difficulty. Garnham, enigmatically, said 'my answer might.' Leveson replied: 'Well, don't answer' and instructed Crone to reveal the year. Asked about Operation Motorman, the investigation into payments for confidential information by journalists, Crone noted that he only became aware of this when private investigator Steve Whittamore was arrested. He said that he had also encountered situations over his career when journalists had asked him 'for advice' after being offered information by people in public office looking for payment. Crone said his advice was consistently 'that it would be a criminal offence to pay someone in public office for information that they shouldn't be passing out.' Crone also told the inquiry that he had suggested that the Scum of the World newsdesk be asked to look into suspicions that Charlotte Harris and Mark Lewis were 'sharing confidential information' as they seemed to be 'good at producing evidence' on relationships. Crone added that he had given advice on the Scum of the World's story on Max Mosley before its publication and saw fifteen to twenty minutes of the video footage of what was described as 'an orgy' attended by the ex-motorsport chief. The newspaper's subsequent article falsely claimed that the orgy had a Nazi-theme and Mosley later won considerable damages from the Scum of the World after a judge ruled that the story had invaded his right to privacy. Crone said he had advised that Mosley should not be notified that the story was going to be published, in case he filed an injunction. 'I thought there was a good chance it would succeed but not probable,' he said. 'My own view on this is that I thought it was a justifiable story without the Nazi element to be honest.' The lawyer said he recalled thinking that the video of the orgy - excerpts of which were published on the Scum of the World website - was 'pushing it a bit' but he 'didn't recall' advising that it should be taken down. He later said he had trouble 'remembering what happened and in what order. I may well have advised before the video went up,' he said. Lord Justice Leveson suggested that Crone would likely have remembered if he had advised that the video was 'pushing it' and had his advice ignored. Crone responded: 'I advise on risk - I don't necessarily make the decision on risk.' Crone denied that he had 'the ultimate veto' on what went into the papers, as asserted by author Peter Burden who wrote a book about tabloid newsgathering techniques and gave evidence to the inquiry last week. Crone says most of the conclusions in Burden's witness statement to the inquiry were based 'on extrapolation and conjecture.' As a libel lawyer he would have advised no one at the Scum of the World to 'write anything based on extrapolation and conjecture,' yet Burden has done so. Burden's account of the Scum of the World was not a 'fair picture', Crone claimed. He said that he thought the newspaper decided not to look further into phone-hacking claims after the jailing of Goodman and Mulcaire, in the absence of any clear admissible evidence or action by the police. 'This was the worst thing that had happened in the newspaper's history and the company's primary thought was to draw a line under it,' he said. 'The fact that the company hadn't heard further from the police reassured people that this was a line they could take.' Lord Justice Leveson put it to Crone that employers could have taken one of two reactions to revelations of illegal activity at their organisations; investigating it further and clearing out those involved or wanting to help the person convicted and deciding there was no purpose investigating further. He asked the lawyer to comment 'on the perception that within the newsroom here the latter view prevailed and absolutely not the former.' 'I can't speak for what was going through other people's minds,' Crone replied. He said he thought there was a feeling that 'bad things had happened, possibly more than had come out, there was also a feeling that they weren't going to happen anymore and they weren't happening now. And the company hoped to move forward on that basis.'

But, whilst Crone was giving his evidence to Leveson, across London, he was - at the same time - being stitched up like a Toffer, Tommy Nutters by one of his old employees. Glenn Mulcaire claimed that he told the chief lawyer at the Scum of the World in 2007 he was instructed by Ian Edmondson, the title's former news editor, to intercept voicemail messages. Ben Williams, the lawyer acting on behalf of the private investigator, told a high court hearing on Tuesday that 'Mulcaire told Tom Crone in 2007 that it was not just Clive Goodman but Ian Edmondson who had been tasking him with interception.' The claim was made in a hearing where Mulcaire is attempting to force the now-defunct, disgraced and disgraceful tabloid's publisher, News Group Newspapers, to pay his legal costs relating to ongoing phone-hacking lawsuits. Mulcaire and Goodman, the former royal editor, were jailed for intercepting voicemails in 2007. Williams told the court that Mulcaire believed in 2010 that News Group Newspapers 'did not need' documents from him relating to what he knew about the targeting of a number of public figures, including Max Clifford and the football agent Sky Andrews. 'News Group Newspapers was saying it doesn't have information about interception and that it needs it from Mr Mulcaire,' Williams told the court. 'Mr Mulcaire says they already have this information. Mr Mulcaire told Tom Crone in 2007 that it was not just Clive Goodman but Ian Edmondson who had been tasking him with interception.' Sarah Webb, the solicitor acting for Mulcaire, later told the court during a cross-examination by the lawyer for NGN that 'my instruction [from Mulcaire] was that they knew the full extent, that is evidenced by my later conversation with Mr Pike at the end of June.' Webb added that documents obtained from Mulcaire's solicitor in a previous 'employment matter' between the private investigator and NGN revealed that 'Crone knew about the matter a lot earlier.' Mulcaire is suing News Group Newspapers for breach of contract after it decided to stop funding his defence in phone-hacking court cases. Mulcaire, who was not in court for the launch of his breach of contract action, wants the chancellor of the high court, Sir Andrew Morritt, to grant a declaration that NGN had no right to terminate an alleged indemnity in respect of his costs or damages incurred or ordered to be paid by him in connection with the hacking scandal. Setting the scene for the two-day contested case, Mulcaire's counsel Williams said hacking was wrong because it was illegal but also in the wider sense that there was a loss of inhibition and moral sense in some parts of the media. He said that Mulcaire did not have the means to fund his legal defence or pay successful claimants in the civil litigation – due to start in January – although he had secured counsel to represent him in today's hearing and last month's appeal over self-incrimination through conditional fee arrangements. Such arrangements depended on there being at least a reasonable likelihood of success in the proceedings, and it was not thought there was any likelihood of Mulcaire being awarded his costs in the January hearing before Mr Justice Vos. Williams said that it was a matter of public record that NGN did pay Mulcaire's legal costs until 19 July when Rupert and James Murdoch were questioned by a Commons select committee and challenged about the payment. 'Glenn Mulcaire's case is that the defendant did agree to pay his costs, the agreement is enforceable and the defendant did not have the right to terminate it.' He said that despite the rhetoric employed by MPs at the committee, there was nothing 'exotic, unusual or improper' in the arrangement contended for by Mulcaire. 'Where an employer and an employee have each acted unlawfully and the employer is liable to pay damages and costs resulting from one or both, it is not remarkable to find the employer paying an employee's legal costs and involving itself closely in his defence of civil proceedings.' Equally, where there was joint liability and one party had substantial means while the other did not, it was not surprising for them to reach an agreement between themselves as to how it would be funded. He said the first manifestation of an indemnity arrangement between Mulcaire and NGN, in respect of both damages and costs, was in June 2008 in proceedings brought by Gordon Taylor.

Back at Leveson, a lawyer who advised former Scum of the World owner News International until two months ago was telling the inquiry that he knew the paper's lone 'rogue reporter' defence did not stand up to scrutiny as long ago as April 2008. Despite this, numerous figures at News International continued to publicly use that defence until December 2010 when the weight of evidence that it was, let's be frank about this, total and utter horseshit, became overwhelming. Julian Pike, a partner at Farrer & Co, conceded that he had 'realised' the company's claim that phone-hacking at the disgraced and disgraceful Sunday tabloid was the work of one journalist, former royal editor Clive Goodman, 'could not be correct' when he saw evidence obtained by lawyers acting for Gordon Taylor. Asked by Robert Jay, the inquiry's counsel, when he became aware that the 'rogue reporter' defence was untrue, Pike said: 'That would be when material came forward in the Taylor case.' Taylor obtained evidence during a legal action against the company which appeared to show that a transcript of hacked messages from Taylor's phone had been prepared for another journalist, then now infamous 'for Neville' e-mail. News International became aware of the existence of the 'for Neville' e-mail in April 2008. Farrer & Co advised the company on libel and privacy cases for around twenty five years until the company was replaced in October. Pike continued to act for NI as a slew of legal actions were launched against the company by litigants who claimed their phones had been hacked by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire on the instructions of the Scum of the World. It continued to rely on the 'rogue reporter' defence in those cases and in evidence to Parliament. Pressed by Jay on whether he had suspicions about the veracity of the rogue reporter defence before April 2008, Pike said: 'One can have suspicions but one has to follow the evidence.' He said that in June 2008, when he was negotiating a settlement with Taylor's lawyer Mark Lewis: 'The evidence we had at that stage was suggesting the rogue reporter line wasn't sustainable. We didn't have at that stage evidence of it being "rife."' Pike told the inquiry that he was 'unaware' that a private investigator had been hired to follow victims' lawyers Charlotte Harris and Mark Lewis in April 2010. Lewis has previously described to the inquiry seeing a 'truly horrific' surveillance video of his ex-wife and fourteen-year-old daughter. News International has since apologised for the surveillance. It was part of an attempt by the Scum of the World to demonstrate that Lewis was 'sharing confidential information' with Ms Harris. Pike said that he had suggested in March 2010 the pair be put under surveillance as part of a 'a perfectly legitimate exercise' into alleged 'very serious breaches of confidentiality' but believed that freelance journalists would have been able to do the task. 'If it was being done properly it wouldn't be a hugely intrusive exercise at all,' he added. David Sherborne, counsel for several of the victims of press intrusion, quizzed Pike about a reference to a phone-hacking complaint Sienna Miller made at a meeting in May this year. The inquiry saw an attendance note for the meeting and the list of settlements being discussed including one from Miller. Sherborne said that her case did not become public until September, because she had deliberately followed a strategy of waiting to make her complaint to News Group Newspapers until she had obtained police documents providing evidence that she had been hacked. This application for police documents was not made until 1 June and then it was made in private, codenamed AZP. Pike claimed that he did not know, but that he would 'look into this.' Earlier, Lawrence Abramson, a partner at law firm Harbottle & Lewis, which was asked in 2007 to study claims made by Goodman that others at the paper knew phone-hacking was taking place, told the inquiry that he would have reached a different conclusion if he had seen a batch of e-mails sent to his company by News International in May of that year. Abramson told NI that he found 'no evidence' to support Goodman's claim after he was asked to examine an initial batch of internal e-mails retrieved from the company's database, which were sent and received by Scum of the World employees Goodman had named in a letter to the company. But, he said that a further file of e-mails had been passed to Harbottle & Lewis towards the end of his review of the evidence, which he had 'not looked at personally.' The first batch of e-mails dated from 2005 and the second from 2003. Abramson claimed that he was on holiday at the time and 'junior members of staff' had reviewed those e-mails 'on the firm's behalf.' He said that he had since seen those e-mails. Asked by Jay if his findings about Goodman's claims would have been the same or different if he had viewed them before reporting back to NI in 2007, Abramson said 'different.'

Meanwhile, the Gruniad - taking a few moments off from their seemingly never-ending series of agenda-soaked stories about Jeremy Clarkson (see above) - issued a statement saying 'a number of questions persist' about the deletion of voicemail messages on the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002. This comes after the Metropolitan Police told the inquiry on Monday that the messages were 'most likely' deleted automatically. The Gruniad's allegation that Scum of the World journalists deleted messages, giving false hope to Milly's family that she was still alive, reignited the phone-hacking scandal earlier this year. The Gruniad said: 'It remains uncontested that the News of the World hacked the telephone of a murdered teenager, obstructing the police inquiry into her disappearance. It would be surprising if anyone suggested the latest information rendered this behaviour any less reprehensible.' Although, by all accounts one or two ex-Scum of the World lice have, indeed, been doing just that, using Twitter to 'demand' an apology from the Gruniad. And, a senior News International executive accused the Gruniad's editor Alan Rusbridger of 'sexing up' coverage of the phone-hacking scandal. Richard Caseby, managing editor of the Sun, said the broadsheet's 'false accusation' that a Scum of the World reporter deleted voicemails from Milly Dowler's phone had been directly responsible for the closure of the Sunday newspaper. All of which sounds, to this blogger any-rate, like a thoroughly mendacious attempt by News International to weasel out of their wrongdoing. Just to sum up, in case anybody was in any doubt, the Scum of the World was not closed because the Gruniad claimed they hacked Milly Dowler's phone and then deleted e-mails. It was closed - by its own management, please remember - because the police discovered (and then the Gruniad reported) that some of the Scum of the World's staff had instructed Glenn Mulcaire to hack into Milly Dowler's phone (something which News International does not dispute). And the phones of other families of victims of crime (something which News International does not dispute), including 7/7 victims (something which News International does not dispute) and Sara Payne (something which News International does not dispute). Just some of the, so far identified, eight hundred and three victims of this activity. That's why the Scum of the World was closed, Mr Caseby. Just in case you'd forgotten. A statement issued on behalf of the Dowler family said that they stood by another statement issued last week. 'They have a clear recollection that the police told them that the News of the World had listened to their missing daughter's voicemail and deleted some of the messages,' the most recent statement said. 'They have asked all of the press to leave them alone and, while they remain willing to help Lord Leveson, they do not propose to make any further statement.' The Gruniad quoted the police last week as saying that the deletion of voicemails on Milly’s phone 'probably occurred' as the inadvertent result of Surrey police listening to her messages as they tried to find her. Because of an automatic system, this led to messages being deleted and gave her parents false hope that she was alive and picking up her voicemail. But Mark Lewis, lawyer for the Dowler family, said that although Glenn Mulcaire had not been instructed at the time, it was still possible that voicemails had been deleted by a Scum of the World journalist or that Mulcaire had been instructed by phone.

Anastasia Griffith has landed a role in BBC America's new show Copper. The drama, which is BBC America's first original scripted series, focuses on an Irish police officer working in Nineteenth Century New York. Griffith has now signed up to play the cop's wife, Deadline reports. The role of the police officer has not yet been cast. Griffith currently has a recurring role in Once Upon a Time. Her other credits include Royal Pains, Trauma and Damages. Copper has been created by Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson, who previously collaborated on Oz and Homicide: Life on the Street.

Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton is to attempt to become the first person to use a bicycle to help her reach the South Pole. The adventurous TV presenter will travel five hundred miles across Antarctica in January, using an ice bike, skis and a kite to raise money for Sport Relief. In the process, she will hope to set a new world record for the longest bicycle journey on snow. It follows Skelton's successful high-wire walk between the chimneys of Battersea Power Station in London and solo kayak voyage down the length of the Amazon. But she admitted: 'I didn't really think this one through. I've never done anything like it. When I went out to New Zealand [to prepare], that was my first experience of something that cold. I just didn't think about what it would entail - camping in the snow, using the water to cook your food, lugging all your stuff around, so yeah, it's been a steep learning curve.' Skelton will pull a sledge containing her supplies, weighing a total of eighty two kg. Sport Relief, which aims to improve lives in the UK and in the world's poorest countries, takes place in March. Supporters are able to sponsor Skelton on the Sport Relief website.

Channel Four News has appointed BBC London investigative journalist Paraic O'Brien as its newest reporter, as part of a series of changes to the flagship news bulletin. O'Brien will join Channel Four's London-based newsroom, being responsible for reporting on stories across the editorial agenda. He will particularly be tasked with covering stories with 'insight, analysis and distinctive character,' as well as engage viewers through social media channels. Working in television news for over ten years, O'Brien has most recently worked at the BBC, covering a variety of stories for the corporation's news channels, including the summer riots in England and the Pope meeting victims of clerical abuse. He joined the BBC as a trainee in 2001 and has also worked in a reporting role on Radio 4. 'Channel Four News still manages to surprise. It surprises with its scoops, it surprises with its storytelling,' said O'Brien. 'It's a fantastic time to be joining the programme, and I'll be looking to tell stories with the creativity and character that Channel Four News remit allows and indeed, encourages.' Channel Four News editor Jim Gray said: 'The reporter role at Channel Four News is a demanding one – requiring the versatility to apply distinctive, memorable journalism across the editorial agenda to domestic stories, and on occasion, beyond. 'We think Paraic's tremendous on-screen presence and proven skill for investigation means he will fit the bill perfectly.' O'Brien is the latest name to join Channel Four this year, following the arrival of Jackie Long as social affairs editor, Morland Sanders as North of England correspondent, and Matt Frei as Washington correspondent.

Odious rubber-faced full of his own importance tosser Jamie Oliver and the much nicer Eddie Izzard are among those who have signed up to appear in 2011's Big Fat Quiz of the Year. The duo are two of the celebrities joining Channel Four's annual round-up of the last twelve months, the broadcaster has announced. Oliver and Izzard will be joined by Miranda Hart. The programme, again hosted by Jimmy Carr, will also feature Jonathan Ross, David Walliams and David Mitchell as team members. Further celebrity guests are expected to appear to set the teams questions about the year. Subjects covered are likely to include politics and celebrity gossip. Other festive programming on Channel Four this year includes a Christmas edition of Coach Trip and new Vernon Kay-fronted game show Home for the Holidays.

Speaking of Steady Eddie, hope you managed to catch his appearance on The ONE Show on Tuesday evening, dear blog reader. Ed was on there, surviving Alex Jones's crushing over-pronunciation to plug both the forthcoming Lost Christmas, which is to be broadcast on BBC1 this weekend, and Sky's adaptation of Treasure Island which, Matt Baker confirmed, begins on New Year's Day. Presumably, opposite Sherlock. Well, that's no good, is it?
A retired cameraman has been speaking of the moment he realised he owned footage of David Bowie on Top of the Pops which was thought to be lost. John Henshall, sixty nine, from Stanford-in-the-Vale, Oxfordshire, retained a copy of Bowie performing 'The Jean Genie' in 1973. He said: 'I just couldn't believe that I was the only one with it. I just thought you wouldn't be mad enough to wipe a tape like that.' It was unveiled on Sunday at an event held by the British Film Institute. The annual event, Missing Believed Wiped, was the first time the footage had been seen since January 1973. Henshall said he only kept it because he wanted it for his showreel. In the footage he used Telefex Fisheye lenses which he had designed himself. He also ended up in the background of one of the shots. After the recording he asked producers for a personal copy on two inch broadcast videotape. Henshall said: 'I didn't realise that it had been wiped by the BBC. They'd been looking for it for years, hoping that somebody had maybe pointed an eight mm home movie camera at the screen, because there was no VHS in those days. I didn't realise that anybody wanted it. I'd just had it because it was my Fisheye. I had loads of ideas for optical effects back then.' Bowie's performance of 'The Jean Genie' was recorded on 3 January 1973 and transmitted the following day for the first and only time. After realising he had a 'rarer than rare' piece of television history, Henshall went to Westpoint Television in London to view the footage. 'The hairs stood up on the back of my neck,' he said. 'There it was in full broadcast quality. Amazing.' After his time with Top of the Pops, Henshall went on to film professional music videos for Blondie, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Kate Bush, Spandau Ballet, Roxy Music and Queen. Among other items recovered and shown at Sunday's event were two recently recovered episodes of Doctor Who - one featuring a Chumblie - an early television play by Dennis Potter, Emergency Ward 9 and a 1978 comedy sketch featuring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. The first transmission of 'The Jean Genie' since 1973 will be in a forthcoming BBC4 documentary, Tales of Television Centre, to be broadcast in the new year.
Nancy Dell'Olio has reportedly 'splashed out on a helicopter' to fly her to the Strictly Come Dancing final after refusing to ride in a coach along with all of the rest of the show's contestants. She will travel to the Blackpool Tower Ballroom separately after 'bosses' refused her demands for 'first class' transportation. 'It goes without saying the BBC can't splash the cash, even for the celebs,' an alleged 'source' allegedly told the Sun. 'We've scraped together enough pennies for your bog-standard British coach that will probably have a faint whiff of stale cigarette smoke and scratchy polyester seats. None of the stars mind as it's a free ride and they'll all be together sharing a few jokes on the way. We told Nancy about our plans but she wasn't happy. She was like, "Darling, I must sit in the first-class compartment." When we replied there was no such thing, well that was that - she was having none of it. She says she's booking a chopper to get her up there. Let's hope it doesn't blow her hair all over the place. It would be awful if she looked a state for our special final.' Dell'Olio has previously threatened legal action against Strictly judges Alesha Dixon and Bruno Tonioli over comments made about her on the show although, to date, no such legal action appears to have been initiated. Dell'Olio also suggested that professional partner Anton du Beke was 'attracted' to her, but felt 'intimated' by her presence. Something du Beke has not confirmed.

Very good final episode of Death in Paradise yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought, dear blog reader. Hopefully, that one will be recommissioned and return next year. Given the size of audience it's picked up so far - and the more than decent AI figures it's been getting - I'd be surprised if the attractive Ben Miller vehicle doesn't get a second run.
The advertising watchdog is to launch an investigation into an advert campaign by Ryanair featuring a scantily-clad flight attendant after complaints that it made it cabin crew look like 'glamour models.' The Irish budget airline ran a newspaper advert featuring a lingerie-clad flight attendant called Ornella, who appears as the model for the month of February in the Ryanair charity calendar, with the strapline 'red hot fares and crew.' Ryanair, no stranger to controversy having been referred to the Office of Fair Trading in 2008 over repeated breaches of the advertising code, has been targeted by an online campaign backed by more than seven thousand people. A flight attendant called Ghada has led the campaign to get the advert banned arguing that it 'basically portrays cabin crew as glamour models. Safety is our number one priority, not the brand of our underwear,' she said.
The Advertising Standards Authority has received ten complaints from members of the public who have said that the ads are 'sexist and objectify women, particularly female cabin crew.' The complainants allege that they are 'offensive and unsuitable for display in a national newspaper.' A spokesman for the ASA said that it has launched a formal investigation to see if the campaign, which appeared in newspapers including the good old PC-loving Gruniad, has broken the advertising code. Ryanair has had a long-running battle with the ASA with clashes over a number of campaigns, including an advert featuring a Britney Spears-style schoolgirl, and in France was forced to pay out sixty thousand Euros on damages for using a picture of Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni. The airline's latest campaign uses images taken from Ryanair's 2012 cabin crew charity calendar. A spokesperson for Ryanair said that it has been running the charity calendar for five years and that it would 'continue to support the right of our crew to take their clothes off to raise money for those who need it most.' That'd be Ryanair's board, presumably.

London, Brighton and Hove, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Cardiff, Belfast and Grimsby are among the UK towns and cities which are to get a dedicated local TV series within two years, Ofcom has announced this week. The media regulator is proposing twenty specific sites for consultation where local TV is 'technically possible and where there is interest in providing a service.' Ofcom said that the towns and cities were selected to cover a range of locations across the UK and a variety of different scales of local TV operation. The areas are: Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Grimsby, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Preston, Southampton and Swansea. The lack of culture Secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt has long held an ambition to create a network of sustainable local TV services across the UK, which he says will improve local democracy and provide a viable alternative to the BBC's local coverage. He also believes that the UK towns and cities should be able to offer vibrant local TV services similar to those seen in America and other countries. In a speech earlier in the year, the vile and odious rascal Hunt said that Birmingham in the West Midlands should have the same choice in local news as Birmingham in the US state of Alabama, which has four network affiliates. The initial plan was to launch a national 'spine' TV channel on Freeview for hosting 'opt outs' of local TV services, but this approach was officially dropped by the vile and odious rascal Hunt in July. Instead, the minister intends to allocate a specific kind of digital terrestrial television spectrum, known as geographic interleaved spectrum, to local TV providers to offer services, overseen by a new licensed multiplex company. GI spectrum is suitable for local TV because certain channels within the spectrum are not used to deliver DTT in selected geographic areas, meaning they can be used for other services. Ofcom has now identified the twenty areas that 'should constitute the minimum roll out requirement for the local television multiplex licence operator. Each of these towns or cities is the principal conurbation within the technically-possible coverage area,' said Ofcom. 'Some transmission areas cover secondary conurbations too, and where coverage is good enough, we will consider applications for local services targeted at these. In addition, we propose to ask applicants for the multiplex licence how many sites they will cover, on top of this minimum. We propose to award the multiplex licence partly based on the extent of this additional coverage.' Ofcom has also handed the vile and odious rascal Hunt a list of additional areas which could support local TV, including: Aberdeen, Ayr, Bangor, Barnstable, Basingstoke, Bedford, Cambridge, Carlisle, Derry/Londonderry, Dundee, Guildford, Hereford, Inverness, Kidderminster, Limavady, Luton, Maidstone, Malvern, Mold, Salisbury, Sheffield, Stoke on Trent, Stratford upon Avon and York. Further details about the local TV proposals will be laid out by Ofcom in a consultation on local TV licensing this month. The report will be published and then put before parliament for legislation to allow the plans to go ahead. The government hopes that the first local television licences will be awarded by Ofcom in summer 2012, with the first stations expected to be in operation within the next two years. Despite the current plan to allocate DTT spectrum to local TV operators, in the long term the vile and odious rascal Hunt believes that local media services should be broadcast over the Internet via IPTV.

The most coveted prize in particle physics - the Higgs Boson particle - may have been glimpsed, say researchers at the Large Hadron Collider (or 'The Black Hole Machine' as Frankie Boyle infamously called it!) in Geneva. Scientists believe they may have caught their first glimpse of the Higgs Boson, the so-called 'God Particle' which is thought to underpin the subatomic workings of nature. The particle is purported to be the means by which everything in the Universe obtains its mass. (They'll be making cities sentient and giving them hydraulic legs, next mark my words. Or, actually mark Mad Frankie's words. Of doom.) Scientists say that two experiments at the LHC (or BHM if you prefer) see hints of the Higgs at the same mass, fuelling huge excitement in the area. But the LHC does not yet have enough data to claim a discovery. Finding the Higgs would be one of the biggest scientific advances of the last sixty years. It is crucial for allowing scientists to 'make sense' of the Universe, but has never been observed by experiments. This basic building block of the Universe is a significant missing component of the Standard Model - the 'instruction booklet' which describes how particles and forces interact. Two separate experiments at the Large Hadron Collider Black Hole Machine Of Doom - Atlas and CMS - have been conducting independent searches for the Higgs. Because the Standard Model does not predict an exact mass for the Higgs, physicists have to use particle accelerators like the LHCBHM(OD) to systematically look for it across a broad search area. I hope you're taking all this down because yer actual Keith Telly Topping will be asking questions afterwards. At a seminar at Cern on Tuesday, the heads of the Atlas and CMS projects said that they had seen 'spikes' in their data at roughly the same mass: one hundred and twenty four or twenty five gigaelectronvolts. 'The excess may be due to a fluctuation, but it could also be something more interesting. We cannot exclude anything at this stage,' said Fabiola Gianotti, spokesperson for the Atlas experiment. Guido Tonelli, spokesperson for the CMS experiment, said: 'The excess is most compatible with a Standard Model Higgs in the vicinity of one hundred and twenty four GeV and below, but the statistical significance is not large enough to say anything conclusive. As of today, what we see is consistent either with a background fluctuation or with the presence of the boson.' Professor Rolf-Dieter Heuer, director-general of Cern, told BBC News: 'Such signals can come and go. Although there is correspondence between the two experiments, we need more solid numbers.' None of the spikes seen by the experiments is at much more than the 'two sigma' level of certainty. A level of 'five sigma' is required to claim a discovery, meaning that there is less than a one-in-a-million chance the data spike is down to a statistical fluke. Another complicating factor is that these tantalising hints consist only of a handful of events among the billions of particle collisions analysed at the LHC. Professor Heuer, said: 'We can be misled by small numbers, so we need more statistics,' but added: 'It is exciting.' If it exists, the Higgs is very short-lived, quickly decaying - or transforming - into more stable particles. There are several different ways this can happen, which provides scientists with different routes to search for the boson. They looked at particular decay routes for the Higgs that produce only a handful of events, but have the advantage of having less background noise in the data. This background noise consists of random combinations of events, some of which can look like Higgs decays. Other decay modes produce more events - which are better for statistical certainty - but also more background noise. Professor Heuer said that physicists were 'squeezed' between these two options. Professor Stefan Soldner-Rembold, from the University of Manchester, called the quality of the LHC's results 'exceptional,' adding: 'Within one year we will probably know whether the Higgs Particle exists, but it is likely not going to be a Christmas present.' The simple fact that both Atlas and CMS seem to be seeing a data spike at the same mass has been enough to cause enormous excitement in the particle physics community. And here's the smartest man the BBC have access to (well, Stephen Fry apart) explaining what it all means! Sort of.
A recruiter has been fired from his two hundred thousand smackers-a-year job after accidentally sending an allegedly 'expletive-filled' mass e-mail. Gary Chaplin was sent a job enquiry from Manos Katsampoukas, but was reportedly annoyed because Katsampoukas had sent it out to over four thousand people at once. Chaplin angrily replied to Katsampoukas, telling him to 'fuck off' in the process, but accidentally clicked on 'reply to all', leading the message to be sent out to many recruiters and companies. In his reply, Chaplin wrote: 'I think I speak for all four thousand people you have e-mailed when I say, "Thanks for your CV - it's nice to know you are taking this seriously." Please fuck off. You are too stupid to get a job, even in banking. Yours, hitting the delete button. Have a nice day!' So, that's one expletive, then. Hardly 'expletive-filled', is it? The e-mail led to Chaplin being derided by others in the recruiting business, with one writing: 'It displays an unbelievable degree of arrogance.' He was later fired by Manchester firm Stark Brooks. Chaplin told the Daily Scum Mail: 'I am mortified by what I did. It was a moment of idiocy. I am now looking for a job just a few days before Christmas. If I could turn back the clock I would. I will regret this forever.' He also criticised London-based rival Dan McCarthy in the e-mail, who said: 'Gary went a bit overboard with what he said about me but I have thick skin. I was more concerned with what he said about the jobseeker - as I think this creates a terrible impression of our industry. I would like people to know that we are not all like Gary Chaplin.'

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's Twenty Two Days of Christmas, we've got a little twenty four carat classic from yer actual Frank Sidebottom.
In fact, special Christmas bonus and from the same EP, let's have another one. A song that might just be turning up again on another one of the Twenty Two Days of Christmas, dear blog reader. If you play your cards right.

1 comment:

Carl said...

Hard to put into words how angered I was by the utterly inane Frozen Planet "scandal". Wildlife documentaries have always been made this way, contrary to what that bloody idiot John Whittingdale implied! That programme represents some of the best work of the best broadcaster in the world, and as such I'm sure it can withstand such cheap shots, but like you say, it's nice to hear the BBC stand up for itself.