While there may be no more headlines right now about the Brooks Newmark “sting”, the signs are not good for the Sunday Mirror and editor-in-chief Lloyd Embley, who put their faith in Alex Wickham, newly anointed teaboy to the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, who was the presence behind the fictional “Sophie Wittams”, revealed first on Zelo Street.
Embley’s defence of what will certainly be a thorough examination by new press regulator IPSO, and may include Police involvement, depends to a large part on two things: Wickham having told his people the truth, and there being no case for anyone involved to resort to the law. On both counts, the Mirror boss could be in the mire.
Let’s look first at Wickham’s honesty, or lack of it: yesterday Stig Abell, managing editor of the Murdoch Sun, found his front page story the subject of severely adverse comment in the deeply subversive Guardian. “Even by its own standards, this Guardian piece on our front page today is vapid, pious and divorced from reality”. This is quite clearly an expression of opinion.
Guardian and Sun in difference of opinion no shock horror. Film at 11. But not in Wickham’s world “Guardian in writing something factually incorrect about commercial rival shock. Seems to be happening a lot recently”. The opinion is changed to become a fact, or, as it is more commonly called, lying.
There was more: after Laurence Durnan at Scrapbook tweaked the Fawkes teaboy with “How is the Sun a commercial rival to the Guardian?”, Wickham went totally OTT. “am just bored about Guardian publishing outright lies about other newspapers and journalists”. So that's a lying’n’smearing combo.
Seeing that Wickham lies more or less when he draws breath, Lloyd Embley should be worried. He may be yet more concerned to read the analysis on Barrister Blog of the Newmark sting, which, it might be noted, was written before the involvement of the Fawkes rabble was known. A crime, it suggested, may have been committed.
“The crime which springs to mind in this case is that of ‘causing a person to indulge in sexual activity without consent’ contrary to S.4 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 ... The offence ... normally carries a maximum prison sentence of ten years ... It seems unlikely that the prosecution would have much difficulty proving that the taking and sending of [the Newmark] picture was a ‘sexual activity’”.
As to whether Newmark consented to the activity, “His consent ... was obtained by fraud ... unfortunately for the Sunday Mirror there has been case law on the section”. And who was the presiding judge when the case cited came before the Court of Appeal? Why, Lord Justice Leveson! The same one that the Fawkes blog, and its press pals, spent so much time rubbishing. You OK in there, Mr Embley?