After the all-too-obvious signs from the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, media commentator Steve Hewlett finally pitched the name behind the Brooks Newmark sting on Newsnight: it was, as I suggested two days ago, Staines’ newly anointed teaboy Alex Wickham who had been touting his story to those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet.
A young up-and-coming political journalist. And Alex Wickham
That Staines had been silent when the Mirror titles began to pay out over a number of phone hacking cases, when he had previously gloated at the possibility that Trinity Mirror may be sent to the wall by those costs, was the initial give-away. This signalled that The Great Guido was now doing business with the Mirror. What that business was, we discovered on Sunday.
So why did they go to the Mirror? Simples. The story, as the Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn told, had been offered to that paper first: the Fawkes folks have a Sunday column there. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the caution of Rupe’s downmarket troops after the Fake Sheikh controversies meant that they passed on it.
There may also have been ethical considerations. The story was then pitched to the Mail On Sunday, who also turned it down. Only then did the Fawkes rabble fetch up at the Mirror. This pecking order was probably dictated by the amount of money they could have extracted for the story: the MoS would pay more than the Mirror, and the only other alternative, the Daily Star Sunday, may have paid very little for it.
So far, so routine, but now we encounter two key points: firstly, as Sunday Mirror editor-in-chief Lloyd Embley has conceded, “We thought that pictures used by the investigation were posed by models, but we now know that some real pictures were used”. My information is that Wickham may not have lied to the Mirror, but that there was, shall we say, less than full disclosure.
And secondly, the motive for the sting may not have been explained truthfully. When the Mirror’s Kevin Maguire appeared before the inquisition of Andrew “Brillo Pad” Neil on the Daily Politics yesterday, he explained the targeting only of (then) Tory MPs as purely down to information received that they may have been using social media to approach young women.
Neil was right to have been suspicious: the targeting of seven then Tory MPs (Mark Reckless has since jumped ship to UKIP) was, I’m told, down to The Great Guido going after them as an act of spite. What provoked this will almost certainly be made public in the very near future, but what can be told now is that this, too, was not revealed to the hapless Mirror management.
Anyone doing business with the Fawkes rabble: be warned. And don’t go there.