Yesterday, seemingly to the surprise of some other journalists, Henry Zeffman, political correspondent for the Murdoch Times, announced that he was being sent by the paper to cover goings-on in Washington DC. Congratulations from other Blue Tick Twitter accounts flowed in. But no-one was asking the question: was this a promotion, or an exile?
That lawsuit cost HOW MUCH?
Because, while Zeffman was telling everyone “From one election to another... excited to say I'm going to the US to become Washington Correspondent for [The Times]. But sad to be leaving my amazing colleagues in Westminster from whom I've learnt so much”, it was less than a month after another, rather more embarrassing, announcement.
As Press Gazette has told, “The Times has apologised and paid damages to an imam who questioned the Conservative leadership candidates about Islamophobia during a televised BBC debate in June. Imam Abdullah Patel, who appeared on BBC One’s Our Next Prime Minister on 18 June, was selected to ask Boris Johnson and the four other Tory leadership hopefuls whether they agreed that Islamophobic rhetoric had real-life consequences”.
There was more. “He was subsequently suspended from his mosque and his job as a deputy headteacher after controversial posts he had made online emerged. Press Gazette understands he has since been fully reinstated and that no action was taken against him”. So what did the Times say that got the paper into such hot water?
“Two days after the debate, The Times wrongly claimed Patel had blamed Israel for the 2003 murder of a British police officer by a terror suspect in Manchester [and] also wrongly claimed that Patel ran a primary school that had been warned by Ofsted for imposing a segregation policy for parents at events that ran ‘counter to British democratic principles’”.
The story, which was on the front page of the Times on 20 June last year, was titled “Tory candidates threaten BBC debate boycott”. Two of the names on the by-line were Andrew Norfolk (no further comment required) and Henry Zeffman. Worse is that the PG article notes “The claim is believed to have been based on posts by someone with the same name”. And who started going after Abdullah Patel, the day before the Times story?
That would be the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. Which suggests that it was The Great Guido who gave the Murdoch press a serious bum steer - as well as someone not bothering to do the basics when it comes to that increasingly elusive newspaper phenomenon called journalism.
Being awarded what looks like a promotion after dropping your title in the legal mire is not unknown among those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet: the Mail on Sunday rewarded Charlotte Wace, whose intrusion and amateurish hit piece caused such distress to beautician Danielle Hindley, by making her the paper’s Royal correspondent.
And now Ms Wace has taken another step up the journalism ladder. Oh hang on a minute, someone must be taking the piss … she’s now the Northern correspondent of the Times!
See what I mean about getting on by fouling up? Bad journalism can be so rewarding.
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