After Steven Edginton, the routinely dishonest gofer to mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott, opened his heart to the Mail on Sunday, giving the paper the truth, the holed truth, and nothing like the truth on his involvement in those leaked diplomatic cables, his story began to unravel. His claim that this was merely an “honest journalistic endeavour”, given his back story and clear bias towards the Brexiteers, merely compounded the disbelief.
Steven Edginton - not really a journalist
The claims about his alleged “journalism” were summarised directly by Julia Macfarlane of ABC News. “Curious about the Mail on Sunday piece by Steven Edginton. The MoS describes the 19 year old as a 'journalist' and in his piece he claims to have 'provided exclusive stories for national newspapers including the Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, The Sun and the MoS.’” What stories these might be, we do not know.
Why so? “Steven Edginton has no bylines at the Times/Sunday Times, or Telegraph. He also doesn't have a profile on Muckrack (as 99% of journos do). What he does have is previous positions at Leave Means Leave and the Taxpayer's Alliance, where he was Chief Digital Strategist at both”. That’s why. And there was more.
“He has a byline at the Sun - but it's a comment piece. Anyone can submit an oped to a national newspaper, but that doesn't make you a journalist … So given his previous roles in the Taxpayers Alliance and Leave Means Leave, we can describe him as a former lobbyist. Given his previous work with the Brexit Party, one might consider his argument in the MoS that his role in the leak was not a 'Brexiteer plot' to be questionable”.
Ian Dunt of Politics Co UK was yet more direct. “So to summarise, he worked for Banks' Westmonster site and Tice's Brexit party, but the leak was nothing to do with Brexit. He's an ambitious 19-year-old journalist who leaves his byline off the biggest piece of his life”. And his brutally honest conclusion? “Did anyone really believe we were going to buy this bullshit? It's extraordinary”. Journalists say alleged journalist is not really a journalist.
As for Edginton’s supposed impartiality, Ian Fraser, whose works include Shredded, the inside story of RBS, observed “Steven Edginton, 19-year-old journalist behind the Sir Kim Darroch scoop, claims he’s impartial yet he formerly worked for [Westmonster], [The TPA] and [Leave Means Leave] and currently runs social media feeds for [The Brexit Party]”.
Impartial he is not. And on the core of Edginton’s story, David Allen Green has dissected the claims with his customary forensic precision. “Imagine if you were a source wanting to make a disclosure which you would know is a criminal offence … doing it by a telephone call (where data records are easy to get) to an inexperienced journalist would be the worst way of doing it”. Also, he reminded us that he has some authority in this area.
“I am a media/communications lawyer and ex-government lawyer, so see legal/evidential issues for both disclosing and receiving parties … And I genuinely cannot think of a more risky way of disclosure than such a telephone call, given ease State can get call data … Would be mad”. As to Edginton’s source, “If I were the source of the disclosure I would be utterly livid at the publication of the means of communication … So, implausible”.
Green also pointed out that, even if there was no phone conversation involved, Edginton’s story did not hold water. “Someone has correctly pointed out to me that the article says ‘when a trusted source read out to me an astonishing letter’ and no mention of a phone … Fair point, but if parties in same place, then the document would just be shown, allowing it to be copied … But yes, my assumption”. His point still stood.
“The ‘read out to me’ makes sense to me only if there was some form of communications medium … However, bear this in mind with my points above … In any case, source should/would be livid even with the wording used in piece, if true”. And that’s before the possible involvement of others in the Brexiteer camp is considered.
The MoS story is not credible. Edginton’s back story has been hopelessly over-promoted. And - the inevitable tell-tale - that part of our free and fearless press which has shilled most ardently for Brexit is asking no difficult questions about the whole business.
Steven Edginton is not believable. Nor is his story. I’ll just leave that one there.
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