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Sunday 30 July 2023

Visit Lisbon - But Maybe Not Next Week

While the UK’s press continues to sink deeper into its self-imposed trough of self-pity, serving up a diet of stale culture wars, hatred of those who have incurred its displeasure, and denial of reality, especially including climate change, the rest of Europe moves on. Which at this time of the year means getting in the visitors to spend money. Portugal is rather good at that.

So much so that one recent estimate showed that tourism will account for just over 21% of the country’s GDP this year, something which the country’s rail operators, and those in Spain, France and elsewhere, might usefully consider the next time they trot out the lame excuses for not offering any direct trains between Portugal and the rest of Europe (more or less, folks).

But, as the late Clive James might have said, I digress. You should still visit the country, and especially Lisbon, just not next week, because the visitor event to end all visitor events is upon us. Hotels, Air B+Bs, campsites, forget it. There will be Very Little Accommodation anywhere in the Greater Lisbon Metropolitan Area until after next weekend. Because of JMJ. Or WYD.

What that? Jornada Mundial da Juventude, or in English, World Youth Day, is a Catholic festival which will attract pilgrims in their hundreds of thousands. Estimates put the total attending the final event, hosted by Pope Francis, at as many as one million. Yes, as Chief Inspector Clouseau of the Sureté might have observed, even the Purp will be there. He flies in next Wednesday.

Some of the numbers are mind-boggling: events begin on August 1st and end on the 6th. On Thursday 2nd, “The afternoon will see the ‘major meeting’ - at 5.45pm in Parque Eduardo VII, baptised the Colina do Encontro (Hill of Encounter) for the event, to which at least 400,000 if not more pilgrims are expected”. Four hundred thousand. And the next day will bring more.

750,000 pilgrims are expected to arrive, throughout the day, to Parque Eduardo VII for what is called the Via Sacra. This is a moment where pilgrims will be received by the Pope from 6pm … from the arrival of the Pope, this holy communion will begin, with processions arriving and many Catholics lining up for the reported million communion wafers made for the event”.

Small wonder that so many residents have decided to decamp to the Algarve, the Alentejo, the Silver Coast, the Douro Valley, anywhere that gets them away from what is going to be one heck of a crush in central Lisbon (the Parque Eduardo VII, named for the British Edward VII, overlooks the Avenida de Liberdade, and from there the old downtown).

So to the weekend. “Saturday is billed as being ‘the longest day, with most journeys for the Pope’ He is due to give two speeches, one in the morning in Fátima - to which he will travel in a military helicopter, and where he is due to pray with young people who are ill and some who are prisoners. It is here too that His Holiness is expected to say a prayer for peace in Ukraine”.

After that? “Then it will be back to Lisbon, first for a private meeting with members of the Companhia de Jesus, and finally to the Parque Tejo-Trancão - the slice of riverside shared by Lisbon and Loures municipalities where as many as one million pilgrims could be waiting for him”. Do go on.

This is where the ‘inscribed pilgrims’ will benefit over those that simply decided to turn up without informing organisers: inscribed pilgrims will have a place in the park (dubbed Field of Grace, for World Youth Day) closer to the spectacular altar-stage than the non-inscribed. There will be gigantic screens erected over the 100 hectares, for everyone to at least get a view of what is happening, even if they are a long way away from where it is going on”.

Any more? Sure is. “Finally, on the Sunday (August 6), the Pope’s final public appearance will come at 4.30pm, after the official closure of World Youth Day, where he is expected to give a speech of thanks in Algés, Oeiras, to the 30,000 volunteers who contributed to the event (even paying for the privilege)”. The volunteers, in their yellow T-Shirts, have been a presence for some days now around the city. Now will come all those pilgrims.

For those saying “Yeah, but what about what went on in Portugal’s Catholic church for so many years?” there is this coda: “there will be a lot of ‘spare time’ in the pontiff’s schedule, but that it is almost certain that some of this will be spent in meetings with victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church”.

There is also this upmarket thought: “If all goes according to plan, this will be an exceptional PR event for Lisbon, which is already one of the most popular European destinations on many scores. Mayor Carlos Moedas has stressed the return for the capital in terms of revenue from visitors will be worth every cêntimo spent on the planning and infrastructures, most of which will remain in place for use by local people”. It’ll just be heaving busy, that’s all.

Visit Lisbon - but wait until after the big event has run its course.

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Friday 28 July 2023

Harry And A Mail Legal Smear

In case anyone out there did not know, the Duke of Sussex has hit the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker with a lawsuit. And the iron law of the Mail titles and lawsuits is that the party taking out said lawsuit should be subjected to the most vicious, personal and generally bad faith smears that the Dacre doggies can muster. Including falsehood and misinformation.

The Mail also didn't give a crap about Sinéad O'Connor until they could make money off of her death

Both the latter attributes are on display this morning as the Mail has howled “HARRY’S HACKING CLAIM THROWN OUT BY COURT”. The supporting article tells “PRINCE Harry's evidence was ruled 'implausible' as his phone-hacking claim against The Sun was thrown out yesterday. A High Court judge said there was 'a lack of credibility' about the duke's claims”. Do go on.

And Mr Justice Fancourt dismissed as improbable Harry's story that Buckingham Palace had struck a secret deal behind his back. He said the Duke of Sussex had signed two 'statements of truth' that were 'inconsistent' with his evidence …His excoriating 40-page judgment is believed to be the first time the evidence of a senior royal has been tested in this way”.

There is more. “Beneath the crest of Harry's father the King at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Justice Fancourt ruled that the duke's case had 'not reached the necessary threshold of plausibility and cogency’. The duke, 38, is suing News Group Newspapers (NGN), publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News of the World, alleging phone hacking and other unlawful activities were used to write stories about him”. And yet more.

Yesterday, the phone-hacking elements of the case were thrown out after the publisher successfully argued Harry had left it too late to bring his case. By law, claimants must launch a case within six years, and the judge said there was 'no doubt' the duke had known as long ago as 2012 that he had been hacked by the News of the World”. “Phone hacking elements”? What that?

NGN hailed the ruling as 'a significant victory' - but it still faces a trial scheduled for January on the other aspects of the case, which Harry's lawyer David Sherborne claimed were 'the majority' of the allegations”. So it isn’t just a “hacking claim”, is it? What are these “other aspects” of which they speak?

Despite the setback to the prince, the rest of his case will continue to trial, with The Sun facing serious claims that it used private eyes to snoop on the fifth in line to the throne”. Aha. So, in typical style, the Mail strips out the part of the story it would prefer its readers not to know about, yet grudgingly mentions it after those readers will already have made their minds up.

What the f***'s this got to do with me, c***?!?!?

To see more clearly how the Mail operates, let’s see how the Guardian has reported the news. “Prince Harry’s lawsuit against Sun publisher can go to trial, judge rules … High court rules prince’s claims of illegal information gathering can proceed but phone-hacking allegations cannot” is the headline.

Do go on. “At a hearing in April, NGN asked Mr Justice Fancourt to throw out the duke’s case, arguing it was brought too late because he should have known sooner he had a potential claim. In a ruling on Thursday, the judge concluded that Harry could not bring his claim relating to phone hacking, but that his claim over other allegations - including use of private investigators - should go ahead to a trial, due to take place in January next year”.

And the Judge noted “‘Knowing or being on notice of a worthwhile claim for voicemail interception does not of itself amount to knowledge or notice of a worthwhile claim for other forms of [unlawful information gathering]’ … Whether Harry should have known about other forms of unlawful information gathering was ‘an issue that should be determined only at a trial, with a fuller evidential picture’”. Which will happen next January.

The Guardian also reminds readers “[Judge] Fancourt ruled in May that a claim by the actor Hugh Grant in relation to the Sun over alleged unlawful information gathering - other than allegations of phone hacking - can go ahead to be tried next January”. What the Mail makes sure it doesn’t tell you.

Another item the Mail manages not to tell its readers is this one: “Harry has been involved in six legal battles at the high court in recent months. His civil litigation has seen him bring claims against three major newspaper publishers over allegations of unlawful information gathering”. One of which is Associated Newspapers - which publishes the Mail titles.

The Mail reminds us once again that the power of our free and fearless press rests on its ability not only on what it decides to tell its readers, but also on what it decides not to tell its readers. Today’s screaming front page headline is a superb example of the latter. And no doubt there will be more.

Why did Haz’n’Megs relocate to the USA? Have a look at today’s Daily Mail.

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Wednesday 26 July 2023

Farage - Stop Grovelling To Him

Here in Portugal, anyone involved in politics or punditry knows all about former Brexit Party Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, after he claimed that the EU had interfered in the country’s 2015 General Election. There had been no interference: Nige was, as so often, talking well, but lying badly. There was no new Brezhnev doctrine, no tanks on the streets.

Like his contemporary, disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Farage is a congenital liar who is in the game purely for the advancement of Himself Personally Now, and who does not care about the damage his interventions do to his country. This should be borne in mind when considering his recent banking problems.

Ms Thirsty used to bank with Coutts, and my goodness, did he like to trowel it on. But Coutts recently decided they could get along without him. So Farage then told the world that he had been cancelled by the Rotten Woke Leftie Banking Blob because of his views. He was lying. But his lies got out there before the truth, and therefore became established in peoples’ minds.

It was then revealed that his account had fallen below one threshold set by Coutts (a million in the current account). But he met another threshold, three mil in deposits and loans, because he had an outstanding mortgage. The mortgage was paid off, and so he did not meet either threshold. Coutts had decided to end his arrangement with them. This they did.

But, as Farage had some difficulty getting an account elsewhere, NatWest, the parent company of Coutts, offered him an account. Mr Thirsty kicked off big time, maintaining he had been cancelled and made an un-person for his views. FREEZE PEACH! FREEZE PEACH!! Then the hated BBC revealed that Coutts ending his arrangement was a commercial decision.

But then a dossier was obtained by Farage that showed Coutts had discussed his views, even though it was clear that his arrangement had been ended because he didn’t meet the commercial criteria laid down. So, again, he kicked off about being cancelled for his views. He was still lying. And then something happened that should not have happened. The Beeb apologised.

The BBC had said Mr Thirsty had his Coutts account closed because he no longer met the criteria for banking with them. THIS WAS FACTUALLY CORRECT. But now, someone in the Corporation’s management had declared the reportinaccurate” because it did not mention the discussion of Farage’s views. Even though his views did not play a part in the decision.

The critical internal email, dated 10th March this year, makes clear “The relationship has been below commercial criteria for some time ... the decision was taken to exit upon repayment of an existing mortgage”. Full stop. End of story. Case closed. Finito, Benito. Farage was not, repeat was not, repeat WAS NOT, cancelled, kicked out or whatever because of his views.

But Farage had only just got started: he now wanted Alison Rose, CEO of NatWest, to go over the affair. The Government has a 39% stake in the company. So what did they do, as responsible shareholders? Tell Farage to shove his bluster? No. They agreed with the SOB and now Alison Rose has gone. Today Farage, sensing he’s on a roll, said the whole board should go.

He has gone on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme and told “I was kicked out of the bank because of my political views”. THIS IS A LIE. But he was not seriously challenged on it. Why not? Who at the BBC is allowing this revision of fact to take hold? Were I a betting man, I’d have a serious punt of rabid Brexiteer Robbie Gibb being rather adjacent to the decision making process.

And Gibb should never have been allowed near that process in the first place. The Farage fiasco shows what happens when the Corporation tries to “both sides” everything and allow charlatans like Farage house room - like giving him what amounts to a season ticket for Question Time. It emboldens liars.

Which now, it seems, includes economic secretary to the Treasury Andrew Griffith, who has said of Alison Rose’s resignation “This would never have happened if NatWest had not taken it upon itself to withdraw a bank account due to someone’s lawful political views. That was and is always unacceptable”. NatWest didn’t do that. GRIFFITH IS LYING.

Thus the problem: Farage lies, the BBC apologises and in doing so suggests he wasn’t lying, and now a junior minister lies. So those who have told the truth are subjected to monstering and abuse, not least Frances Coppola, who went on BBC Newsnight and told Farage the bad news.

And to those people, she has said simplyTo all the trolls telling me I should apologise: are you too dim to understand ‘I told the truth’, or is ‘truth’ a foreign concept to you? I will not apologise, because I have nothing to apologise for”. Meanwhile, Farage’s lies become fact. Government and BBC say so.

After Mr Thirsty lied about those elections in Portugal, the initial bemusement gave way to ridicule. He was, effectively, laughed out of court. It would have served politics in the UK far better had that happened there too.

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Monday 24 July 2023

So Farewell Then Brexit Britain

Why had the blog posts dried up? What was occupying so much of my time that it had to take precedence over all else? What was so important that it involved travel, meetings, form filling, lawyers, notaries, estate agents, removal firms, energy suppliers and engineers, a lot of visits from online furniture and electrical goods outlets, and lots of hotel stays?

Pinhal Novo - the bandstand ...

Well, as you will see from my Twitter bio (X or no X, that is the question), the short answer is that I have left the UK, and almost certainly for good. A country that is slowly, but perhaps irretrievably, on its way down the pan and into international irrelevance, the result of bad faith actors who thought Brexit was just a jolly game. So last year I decided to go. To Portugal.

Along the way there have been meetings with the folks who progress residence permits, which took me to Edinburgh in February and then a follow-up interview in June at the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras in the town of Viana do Castelo (the thought occurred that this was more an initiative test, as most Brits wouldn’t know where it was, or how to get there).

There was a lawyer providing a proxy so I could obtain a NIF (you can’t do much in Portugal without a NIF, folks), an estate agency person who accompanied me to the bank to get an account, a notary who oversaw the purchase of an apartment, an engineer who reconnected the gas supply (don’t ask), and a removal firm to take stuff from Crewe to Pinhal Novo.

Where that? Pinhal Novo, which literally translates as “New Pine Forest”, is on the south side of the Tejo. Like Crewe, you can get to lots of other places from there. Lisbon is half an hour to 40 minutes away by rail or express bus. It is a low rise town and growing at some rate (if you arrive by rail on the Fertagus service, the first signs of Pinhal Novo are the cranes).

... and nearby church

So will the blog continue? For now, yes, but not for ever. Will I be writing about the fun and games involved in moving from the UK to Portugal? A strong possibility. Will there be some stuff on the country’s politics? Could be, especially given the tendency of bad faith UK politicians, like former Brexit Party Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, to lie about them.

Do they have inflation in Portugal? Yes, but it’s on its way down, with food inflation now below the all-important 10%? Do they have strikes? Ho yus. Do they have The Fash? Yes, a bad Trump tribute act headed by a gobshite called André Ventura. He’s got a twitchy right arm and an acute sense of victimhood. But they also have influence. Because they’re in the EU.

Why make the announcement now? Simples. Today I got my hands on a residence permit, from those nice people at the SEF in Viana do Castelo, an increasingly popular tourism destination which closes on Sundays (this is not so much of an exaggeration). That makes it official. So it’s hello to warmer and drier weather (no rain for a month and a half). And farewell to Crewe.

There may be visits to the UK. But it is no longer home. I’m aware that this can be a lose-lose in the eyes of paranoid Brexiteers: on the one hand, you are told “If you don’t like it, why don’t you go”, and when you take the advice and go, they bawl “TRAITAH” in your general direction. Well, up theirs.

So, finally, farewell, and thanks for all the fish. I may be celebrating later.

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Saturday 22 July 2023

Dan Wootton - No Crowdfunder Needed

The loathsome Toby Young has urged anyone not yet asleep to donate to a crowdfunder: “Support [Dan Wootton]’s battle to save his career - and fight back against the malicious onslaught by Byline Times - by donating to his fundraiser”. How does Tobes know the Byline Times allegations are malicious? What research has he done? Probably none at all.

But one thing in this Tweet was true: the deeply unpleasant Wootton has indeed launched a crowdfunder, for legal fees. So why isn’t Gammon Broadcasting™ News (“Bacon’s News Channel”) underwriting them instead? Isn’t this crowdfunder a sign not only that Wootton is on his own here, but also that he is not confident of being able to win a defamation action?

Whatever. Let’s consider his schtick, his sales pitch. “A hard left blog is on a deranged campaign of harassment designed to destroy me financially, mentally and professionally - but, with your help, they will not succeed. Please support my legal case against Byline Times so I can keep fighting for you”. Wootton fights for someone who is not Himself? Well, well.

But let’s pick apart that statement. “Hard left blog”? Byline Times is not a blog; Wootton is trying to diminish its status by thus asserting. The claim that it is “hard left” is just abuse: Wootton cannot and will not stand that up. Nor does he do himself any favours with claiming to be a mental health victim, while using a mental health smear - “deranged” - against Byline Times.

Nor did he do himself any favours, it seems, with the mailing list someone has compiled to enable him to ask his Sleb pals to chip in to that crowdfunder, as the Byline Times Twitter feed has toldDan Wootton tonight crowdfunded for legal fees as he faces a series of allegations made by Byline Times he sent a message to dozens of celebrity contacts book begging for them to contribute - including at least one of those he is alleged to have catfished”. WHOOPS!

Then another thought enters: why does Dan Wootton, who, it has been claimed, is worth around five million notes, need to crowdfund for £150,000? Can’t he underwrite that amount himself, or get GB News to do it? Byline Times aren’t, as Peter Jukes has confirmed: “We're not yet crowdfunding for legal fees because we think it's very unlikely given the evidence we have Wootton will ever initiate proceedings”. Brian Moore had some thoughts.

Re Wooton' s grfiting for legal fees - if you're thinking of donating - 1. He appears to have the requested amount in cash 2. He reserves the right to keep any unpsent money for 'other' cases … 3. You're a mug”. OUCH!

He appears to have the requested amount in cash? How do we know? Well, Desperate Dan has his own limited company, Wellidon Limited (registered number 08186903) which last May submitted its accounts, made up to the end of August 2022. And they show “Cash at Bank” as £249,352. Even deducting the item for “Creditors - Amounts falling due within one year”, at £64,522, that still leaves him with £184,830 to play with.

So yes, on the basis of his last limited company accounts, Wootton already has more than the £150,000 crowdfunder target, and it could therefore be concluded that he has no need to ask for assistance. Hence Moore using the term “grifting” and telling anyone donating “you’re a mug”.

In any case, quite apart from Toby Young suggesting that his idea of “free speech” does not extend to those outside the media establishment, and is therefore worthless bluster, Peter Jukes is unmoved by the attacks on Byline Times and Tobes’ lack of support for the publication. “By this time next week, I bet a lot of Wootton's crowdfunders will want their money back. Bookmark this tweet”. Takes a confident man to make such an unequivocal assertion.

Meanwhile, the next set of revelations is on its way. Tick, tock, as they say.

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Friday 21 July 2023

Dan Wootton - All His Own Fault

The impression that the deeply unpleasant Dan Wootton sought to convey when he tackled the allegations against him the other evening on his Gammon Broadcasting™ News (“Bacon’s News Channel”) show was that he was the victim, that it was all about what others were doing to him. He was the innocent party in all this. And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

Desperate Dan was, as so often, talking well, but lying badly. The corner into which he is now boxed is entirely as a result of his own actions. It’s not someone else’s fault, but his own. We know this after Byline Times followed up their initial set of revelations (with a signpost to Part Three) and this week’s Popbitch email dropped. Two events stood out, on from each.

From the Byline Times article, we learn “Dan Wootton was the subject of at least six bullying claims from colleagues while working for The Sun - but was promoted by the newspaper as complainants were silenced with large pay-offs and non-disclosure agreements”. And we’re talking how much, exactly?

It’s a nice round number: “[News UK] did not deny that all six individuals received severance payments contingent on the signing of binding ‘restrictive covenant’ or ‘non-disclosure’ agreements. The cost of the legal proceedings and settlements is estimated to be more than £1 million”.

But then Wootton overreached himself. One source told Byline TimesAs the boss, he had control over the company payment system. He would sabotage other journalists. He would go into the payment system and find out the names of contacts. He would then get in touch with them himself and make them deal with him directly. It was impossible to do your job. The most valuable thing a journalist has are their contacts”. Do go on.

But he had a decisive falling-out with current editor Victoria Newton … In February 2020, on her first day in the role, Wootton left Newton furious by ‘demanding’ she promote him, prompting a ‘cute’ move by the new editor, who reached out to Wootton’s ‘best remaining royal contact’ and placed them on a special retainer ensuring that they dealt exclusively with her”. It was all Wootton’s own fault. Ms Newton had clearly done her homework.

And, as the Popbitch email has spelled out, Wootton’s departure from ITV also appears to be his own fault. “During the Phillip Schofield saga, Dan Wootton wrote in his regular Mail column that the reason he quit his job at ITV was because they tried to ban him from talking about Schofield and Meghan Markle on air … [He] told then where to stick their job, and left

To no surprise at all, this assertion caused Desperate Dan to need the services of the nearest fire extinguisher to put out his blazing trousers. “The story that survives at ITV is that Dan was suspected of leaking stories that he’d gleaned from hanging around at ITV and feeding them back to his paymasters at the Sun - in breach of the terms of his employment”.

There was more. “To make sure it wasn’t coincidence, they pulled the old Wagatha Christie trick on him, deliberately floating some fake gossip his way to see if - by some miracle - it made its way into the paper. And it did. So they dropped him”. The Popbitch email makes another telling point.

We hope he realises people aren’t just interested in this story because of the connection to GB News. They’re interested in it because of him … And it’s extremely well deserved”. Back at Byline Times, their article ends with the teaser “Coming Up … The Catfish Correspondent”. And I have to tell Desperate Dan that it will not be the final instalment.

How long will Dan Wootton go on before it sinks in that the game really is up? More to the point, at what point will management at GB News conclude that the reputational damage being done to their brand by Wootton’s continued presence means he is no longer worth the candle? When will they conclude they don’t need to stick a fork in him because they already know he’s done?

The time of Dan Wootton was for a time, but not for all time. Just rejoice at that news.

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Thursday 20 July 2023

Nigel Farage Is Full Of Shit

When Keir Starmer paid court to Rupert Murdoch at his annual summer party … he was lending importance and credibility to a person who has done more than any other to cheapen and impoverish British Life” observed Professor Brian Cathcart in Byline Times recently. But close behind Rupe was former Brexit Party Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage.

Farage has banked for some years at Coutts. He has let it be known that he did so, in a derivation of Harry Enfield’s Loadsamoney character waving his wad at the less well off. But Coutts has declined to continue the arrangement. So Mr Thirsty has gone off on a tirade, claiming that he the victim of The Remainer Woke Leftie Blob. Which, unsurprisingly, is another pack of lies.

Today’s front pages show the right-leaning part of our free and fearless press taking this con-man, congenital liar and bigot seriously, to the extent of taking him on trust. What happened, though, should be given at the outset: Coutts had decided that their arrangement with Farage would be brought to an end. This would happen when his outstanding mortgage was paid off.

Why is this a factor? Well, the property thus mortgaged was a security which meant the Farage account met the Coutts criteria - a million notes in the current account, or three million in loans and securities. The mortgage was paid off, the remaining current account had less than a million in it, so he no longer met the criteria for banking with Coutts. Case closed, game over.

But because Mr Thirsty had difficulty getting an account with any other banking group, NatWest - which owns Coutts - offered him an account. So he at no time was threatened with becoming an “Unperson”. It was a commercial decision. There was no incursion on his right to free speech. Nobody behaved improperly - except Nige and his pals kicking off about it.

This did not stop those out there on the right: Ian Fraser observed, “Torygraph goes big on Nigel Farage’s dispute with Coutts & Co, whose customer financial criteria (clients are required to maintain at least £1m in investments/borrowing or £3m in savings) he no longer met, devoting seven pages to it”. Cost of living crisis? Inflation? NHS? Nah, Nige is more important!

The Murdoch Times leads with “Banks told to respect free speech … They could lose licences for barring customers as Farage threatens to take Coutts to court”. No bank will lose its licence, and Farage won’t take Coutts to court, which the press knows already. He’s just full of shit. That isn’t stopping the Mail going totally gaga and telling readers there will be action (there won’t).

After outcry over Farage and Coutts, Chancellor promises action within days … NEW LAW TO CURB BANKS THAT SHUT DOWN YOUR ACCOUNT”. The only “outcry” is from Farage’s media cheerleaders; there will be no action from Jeremy Hunt (the former Culture Secretary). No law will be passed.

Yet Suella Braverman went totally Tonto over this non-event: “The Coutts scandal exposes the sinister nature of much of the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion industry. Apparently anyone who wants to control our borders & stop the boats can be branded ‘xenophobic’ & have their bank account closed in the name of ‘inclusivity’ Natwest & other corporates who have naively adopted this politically biased dogma need a major rethink”.

She’s going to review her department’s policies! Big deal. There is no scandal, just a load of bloviating right-wingers trying to make capital out of a commercial decision by a fringe bank. But it does deflect attention from her latest failing - two asylum seeker barges refused docking in Edinburgh and Merseyside - which meant more taxpayer funds being wasted.

The bandwagon jumping is off the scale, with the Tel whining “Top executive who handled the former UKIP leader’s account is an avowed Remainer”. ARE YOU, OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN, A REMAINER? The Senator from Wisconsin has been resurrected and demands answers! This is paranoid.

Presenter and journalist Marverine Cole had seen and heard enough. “Tired of Farage. I wish the papers were just as outraged about youth violence, the lack of adequate mental health services & our spiralling bills. I am sure one man moaning about being cancelled by an ‘elite’ bank is not the news ppl want to hear compared to current crises”. Major dead cat, though.

Nigel Farage is a congenital liar and con man: he has also claimed he will go after the BBC, but this too is hot air. He will take no action, consult no lawyers. His name still generates bemusement and ridicule in Portugal after he lied about the country’s 2015 Assembly Elections. But he has damaged and impoverished the UK like no other - apart, yes, from Murdoch.

This is the promotion of an irrelevance (Farage) by a morally bankrupt press. Which shows why the UK is in its current state. I’ll just leave that one there.

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Wednesday 19 July 2023

Dan Wootton Gets Out His Onion

Still presenting his evening show on Gammon Broadcasting™ News (“Bacon’s News Channel”), the deeply unpleasant Dan Wootton has at last got round to addressing the slew of allegations made not only by Byline Times, but also now by the Guardian. Alongside that, some in the media establishment have broken cover to offer support for The Great Man.

This last, I have to tell them, is a singularly unwise move, not least because we already know that Byline Times has another instalment ready to drop this afternoon, with, shall we say, a very strong possibility that there may be more instalments after that. And for those saying there’s no coverage as he’s not well known enough, this is horseshit. Arguing in your spare time, indeed.

So what’s Desperate Dan’s schtick? “These past few days, I have been the target of a smear campaign by nefarious players with an axe to grind … I, like all fallible human beings, have made errors of judgment in the past, but the criminal allegations being made against me are simply untrue. I would like nothing more than to address those spurious claims”. There was more.

On the advice of my lawyers, I cannot comment further”. But he then does. A lot. “But I have been thinking much over the past few days about the current state of social media”. Byline Times isn’t social media, Dan. But do go on. “Being in the middle of this witch-hunt has made me think a lot about the sort of journalist and broadcaster I aspire to be”. Go on, Tedious Maximus.

I mean, who doesn’t have regrets? Should I be cancelled for them many years later, or do you accept that I have learned and changed?” Is that an admission of wrongdoing? Whatever. “The last few years, I’ve grown professionally and personally [ho ho ho] … I didn’t say a word about Huw Edwards, by the way. Not. One. Word”. No, cos you were on holiday.

I do also note that there are dark forces out [there] to try and take this brilliant channel down … and that is because GB News is the biggest threat to the establishment in decades”. Enough bullshit: GB News (which is part of the establishment) has been going for two years. The Byline Times investigation began three years ago. Taking GB News down? Wrong again.

Dan did have some supporters, like wacko Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns: “Brave, heartfelt & powerful speech by [Dan Wootton] The left will stop at nothing to try to destroy those who have different views. We have your back Dan. You and [GB News] are a light of common sense in the political cancel culture we all find ourselves facing. Keep going”. Her cancel culture being the voters.

Otherwise, it was mostly one way traffic - the other way. Here’s the view from the Tweeter known as My Sweet Landlord: “Lily Allen. Katie Price. Kerry Katona. Caroline Flack. He built them all up just so he could knock them back down again. Now he is focused on 'massive political threats' rather than 'personal attacks'. Funny that”. Richard Bacon was less subtle.

Dan Wootton regularly told us he was morally superior to Caroline Flack. He sat in judgement over her. Let’s see how that checks out”. Would Otto English care to add his ninepence worth? He certainly would. “Who are these ‘dark forces’ exposing Dan Wootton's ‘errors of judgement’ .... it's quite the defence from someone who has spent years dishing out the bile, isn't it?

He got the not-quite-admission, too. Emma Kennedy also noted the lack of self-awareness on Wootton’s part: "The disconnect between man complaining he’s being hounded with allegations when he’s based his whole career on hounding people with allegations is quite something”. So it is.

Meanwhile, Danny Baker was especially severe on those defending Dan: “To every one of you in the UK media who are now refraining from commenting on your creepy pal’s antics because of a long agreed, now outdated, press omerta … You cowards. You weasels. You shameful no good creeps. Your entire lives have been for nothing. The 'game' is up”. It’s looking that way.

Just consider what last week’s Popbitch email said, apropos News UK checking out Wootton’s HR files: “There’s bullying allegations, NDAs, even a few pay-offs they could get the guys in Finance to dredge back up. While they’re doing that, they could look into why Wootton kept getting promoted while some of those who lodged complaints got sidelined”. Byline Times hasn’t given us bullying allegations, sidelined, NDAs or pay-offs. YET.

Dan Wootton is not yet totally finished. But you can see it from there.

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Tuesday 18 July 2023

Dan Wootton And Press Hypocrisy

So now the loathsome Toby Young has his answer as to what would happen if a host on Gammon Broadcasting™ News (“Bacon’s News Channel”) were caught offering cash for sexually explicit images, rather than someone working for the hated BBC. And to no surprise at all, the answer is that our free and fearless press would close ranks and protect one of their own.

Because Byline Times has nailed the deeply unpleasant Dan Wootton: “GB News presenter and MailOnline columnist Dan Wootton hid behind fake online identities to trick and bribe scores of men into revealing compromising sexual material … [he] targeted journalistic colleagues, friends and members of the public for at least 10 years”. There was more. A lot more.

Byline Times has extensive evidence to show that, between June 2008 and 2018, Wootton - who is gay - posed as a fictitious showbusiness agent called ‘Martin Branning’ to offer sums of up to £30,000 ‘tax free’ to his targets, many of whom were heterosexual men … Among them are a very senior executive at … News UK alongside at least six other staff at The Sun … friends, Facebook associates and users of the dating apps Grindr and Gaydar”.

And yet more. “Two of the targets made criminal complaints to Scotland Yard without knowing the real identity of their tormentor with detectives aware of the activities of Branning - whose name is a portmanteau of EastEnders characters Martin Fowler and Max Branning - since 2019”. Do go on.

Our journalists handed a dossier to the Metropolitan Police for investigation on 20 June 2023, however last week criminal claims started to emerge on social media … As a result, this newspaper is today publishing some details … We have identified five co-conspirators, [and] around a dozen victims. However sources suggest the true figure extends to many, many more men”.

Byline Times had “already informed executives at GB News of the scope and veracity of allegations against Wootton, but the channel has continued to heavily promote Wootton’s programme … Tonight, a representative for Dan Wootton declined to provide Byline Times with an on-the-record response. It is understood that he strongly denies all allegations of criminality”.

Unlike the “BBC Presenter” story, Wootton has been named at the start. No guessing need be undertaken. The Met has already been given a dossier of evidence (four weeks ago). The Byline Times article - with more to come - will have been legalled. So where is the press pile-on? And the thundering Mail editorials? And Toby Young saying it isn’t happening, for money?

Liz Gerard was thinking along the same lines: “Fully expecting the Sun to splash on this for six days running, for the rest of Fleet St to pile in with ‘GB News in crisis’ headlines, for News at Ten to devote half its main bulletin to the story and for Sunak to share his thoughts”. Instead, we get crickets.

Wootton was still on air, still promoting his parallel universe where he suggests that the Sussexes are breaking up and that Haz is about to be bankrupted. Mic Wright observedDan Wootton still on air. Dan Wootton still on air and joined by Lady Colin Campbell who made excuses for Jeffrey Epstein among other things”. She does the Sussex smear too.

But this time, the story is not going away. Wootton and his press pals can circle the wagons as tightly as they like, with a frightened broadcast media saying it’s not a story. They cannot hold it back. As Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, who you can tell as she’s a doctor, put it, “Prediction: If guilty 'Martin Branning' will claim mental health, subtly threaten to do something extreme to his life to avoid consequences & apologists will defend him. They'll say 'be kind' something he NEVER is. Don't forget Caroline Flack/Meghan Markle”.

And we can leave the last word to The Great Man himself. “I told ITV about Phillip Schofield's affair with his young colleague in 2019 and urged them to investigate but they dismissed it as 'malicious gossip’. What followed looks like nothing short of a cover-up”. You want fries with that, Dan?

The press can’t keep the lid on this. But thanks for the show of hypocrisy.

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Monday 17 July 2023

Petronella Wyatt - Bitter And Stupid

The old adage warning that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones has once again been disregarded by someone whose glasshouse has become significantly draughtier as a result. To no surprise at all, the disregard has been dispensed by one Petronella Wyatt, who claims to be a writer, broadcaster and columnist, although she is famous for one thing only.

Petronella Wyatt. Sad, really ...

Sad to say, that one thing was as long(ish) term mistress of disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who promised that he would leave his second wife for her. She was stupid enough to believe the SOB. He remained with his second wife, who made sure that when the parting came, it was she who made the decision to divorce him.

Some who had been through that particular mill, and especially one who has “Writer/ broadcaster. Ex Dep Ed [Spectator]. Columnist [Telegraph] [Spectator] [Daily Mail] Commentator [GB News] [Talk TV] [GMB]. Film fanatic. Pronouns genius/mastermind”, would stop and think before calling snob on anyone else. Ms Wyatt neither stopped, nor thought.

So when Michael Deacon at the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph sneered “Carol Vorderman’s hatred of Tories has turned her into a raging snob”, Ms Wyatt was in there like a shot. Deacon sniffed “Ms Vorderman, at any rate, did get a degree, back in 1981. It may only have been a Third, but I wouldn’t dream of belittling her for that. After all, I’m sure she tried her best”. That only drew Ms Wyatt in further.

But while Deacon was staying on the right side of the personal abuse line, despite his jealousy showing: “These days, she may not be quite such a constant presence on our screens. But she often pops up on ITV’s This Morning. What academic qualifications one requires to perform that particular kind of work, I don’t know. Perhaps she completed a postgraduate diploma in Sitting on a Sofa and Smiling”, Ms Wyatt failed to get the hint.

And so it came to pass that she got just a little too personal, and bitter with it: “Someone who has paid a fortune to look like a Kardashian has forfeited their right to be elitist. Carol Vorderman’s hatred of Tories has turned her into a raging snob”. Er, WHAT? Ms V was not just angry. “Angry? She’s foaming”.

... taking him at his word

The problem with getting so personal that you sneer at how they look - and not at all well, suggesting that Ms Wyatt may not have actually seen what your average Kardashian looks like - is that the blowback is bound to feature some mention about the wisdom her own personal choices, or lack of it.

One Tweeter posted two recent images of Bozo along with the inevitable reminderYou shagged this”. Another addedHack 'journalist' who had an affair with the worst Prime Minister of the 21st Century whilst said PM's wife was suffering a life threatening condition criticises social commentator over her looks ... Not a good Hill is it Pet?” Could it get worse? Don’t ask.

Another observer musedPetronella ‘Petsy’ Aspasia Wyatt - daughter of Veronica ‘Verushka’ Banszky von Ambroz - calling Carol Vorderman a snob gave me a chuckle this morning”. And again we gotSomeone who is famous purely because they humped a bloated former PM when his wife was suffering from cancer says what now?” Conned by Bozo. Repeatedly.

That would by itself have been enough to persuade most people to keep their heads down. Perhaps Ms Wyatt should consider a Tweet she put out only yesterday: “Thomas Mitchell on newspapermen in Selznick’s Nothing Sacred, ‘The hand of God reaching down into the mire couldn’t elevate them up to the depths of degradation’”. That’s talking about you, Petsy, that is.

So stupid she believed Bozo. And now so bitter that the world knows it.

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Sunday 16 July 2023

Dan Wootton’s Big Question

Last Thursday, with impeccably bad timing, the loathsome Toby Young asked the question he may already have come to regret: what if Huw Edwards had been a presenter on Gammon Broadcasting™ News (“Bacon’s News Channel”)? What would the reaction of other broadcasters have been?

The resultant drivel was down to the usual standard, filled with false equivalences, Tobes claiming that others are the Establishment but that he, by inference at least, isn’t. There is also generous use of sneering pejoratives, such as “liberal-left”, “metropolitan liberals”and “bien pensant members of the media class”, the last two of which describe himself.

And he doesn’t understand the public interest defence, claiming that breaching someone’s privacy “isn’t a considered reaction, but a tribal one”. Horseshit. John Whittingdale and the dominatrix wasn’t a story until the potential for blackmail entered. Likewise, Tobes’ hero, disgraced former occasional Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, going to Bunga Bunga parties wasn’t a story until MI6 raised the spectre of Kompromat.

But the most damning feature of Tobes’ latest Not Very Clever Attempt To Remain Relevant is timing. He Tweeted out the link to his post at 0700 hours on Thursday: later that day, the weekly Popbitch email dropped, and one read through of that and the world and their dog knew what would happen if accusations had been made about a GB News presenter.

Here’s the relevant bit: “The Sun have been having a hell of a time trying to retrofit a public interest to their Huw Edwards story, pulling up any old incident of workplace misconduct they can find to pin on him now that the Police are saying there’s no evidence of any crime”. Do go on.

It’s a shame they’ve put themselves in this position because if all they wanted was a story about a news broadcaster who has made life uncomfortable for colleagues by sending them ‘inappropriate messages’, they have a really juicy one closer to home. It will involve asking some difficult questions, but they have an excellent starting lead”. There was more.

They should still have all of Dan Wootton’s old HR files stashed away somewhere - so maybe they could start there? There’s bullying allegations, NDAs, even a few pay-offs they could get the guys in Finance to dredge back up. While they’re doing that, they could look into why Wootton kept getting promoted while some of those who lodged complaints got sidelined”.

And yet more. “Former colleagues seem perfectly willing to chat - but hey, we shouldn’t be doing their job for them. Just start pulling at the thread. See what you find”. Well, well. Anyone who has a handle on the machinations of our free and fearless press knows that Dan Wootton is a deeply unpleasant individual, so the suggestion of serial misbehaviour come as no surprise.

What will also surprise no-one is that Wootton will most likely go after anyone asking inconvenient questions in a less than cordial manner. But then a thought enters: The Great Man is no longer a fixture at the Murdoch empire, so perhaps those still slaving away at the Baby Shard bunker may not feel duty bound to keep the zipper on the old North and South.

On top of that, there is more than one person now on Wootton’s case. Among their number is Mic Wright, who has confirmedIf the Daily Mail or News UK has protected Dan Wootton at your expense, get in touch. I’m reporting out this story now and I absolutely welcome letters from Dan’s legal team at Mishcon de Reya … I’d *love* to be able to compel discovery”.

Whatever happens, the loathsome Toby Young will still be able to profit from the outcome: look out for another post full of weapons grade garbage telling the world something along the lines of “why The Woke Liberal-Left Blob’s pursuit of poor Dan Wootton shows the Bien Pensant Media Class and the Metropolitan Liberal Establishment is taking revenge for Huw Edwards and why it should worry supporters of Free Speech everywhere”.

In other words, he’ll still be full of shit. This isn’t a left versus right thing. Nor is it establishment versus outsiders. Those now on Wootton’s case were equally unyielding when the target was Nick Cohen, now a former pundit at the Observer. This is an exercise based entirely on merit, or the lack thereof.

Meanwhile, Wootton won’t take this lying down. Cos he’s desperate, Dan.

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Saturday 15 July 2023

Mail Climate Change Disconnect

Some out there still believe that newspapers really do seek to educate and inform their readers. That they do not is not always an easy sell. At times like this, though, the opposition often comes riding to your rescue, and this morning, the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker have come galloping.

The subject, not for the first time this summer, is man-made climate change, and its manifestations. The BBC is reporting currently onAt least 20 dead after torrential South Korea rain”, alongsideA third of Americans under extreme heat advisories”, and closer to home, “Heatwave prompts red alerts in 16 Italian cities”. That report tells “Periods of intense heat occur within natural weather patterns, but globally they are becoming more frequent, more intense and are lasting longer due to global warming”.

And while there are still some pretending that it’s not happening, or that there is no link to the burning of fossil fuels, others are taking matters into their own hands, with groups like Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil protesting, taking direct action in order to shake the public out of their complacency.

This the Mail will not take seriously. Hence headlines such as “'Get out of the road!': White van man tells Just Stop Oil protesters exactly what he thinks of them as traffic speeds past their latest London slow-march protestandJust Stop Oil eco zealot with a TAG on her ankle is seen being led away by police - as angry motorists resort to driving around activists and over pavements during yet another slow march”. The demonisation is off the scale.

Hence calling the protesters “eco zealots”, “eco clowns”, “pathetic and tedious”, and of course giving a good kicking to anyone who expresses sympathy with them. We have also had the sad sight of Labour’s Rachel Reeves dissing JSO in order to curry favour with the likes of the Mail.

But then came the heatwaves, and today all is changed, as the Mail’s front page howls “MELTDOWN … Holiday crisis as strike threatens to cripple Gatwick … Second walkout could hit one in three flights across Europe … and if you do get there, it’ll be a sweltering 45C!” There was more.

The supporting article told “A third blow to the holiday industry comes from record heatwaves on the Continent. Temperatures are tipped to exceed 45C (113F) ‘ making it too hot to go to the beach at popular resorts … Millions of families are now questioning whether an increasingly costly foreign break is worthwhile, with research showing that only 25 per cent of those considering one have actually booked”. Yes, it’s now affecting Mail readers.

So it has to be taken seriously. The paper is even conceding “Household budgets are also being stretched by sky-high inflation and soaring mortgage repayment costs”, although this is subject to the same disconnect as the heatwaves: the ineptitude of the Mail’s preferred Government cannot be cited as contributing to the inflation, and food and mortgage costs.

Headlines such asCerberus's inferno: Europe is set to hit its hottest temperature EVER within days as 48C double heatwaves that are named after mythological guardians of Hell leave continent boiling in sweat … British tourists across the Mediterranean are being warned of deadly temperatures reaching highs of 48.8C … Now, Italian meteorologists are warning the continent may be hit by another brutal heatwave next week” are generated.

It was bad then. It's worse now

Only grudgingly does the Mail admit the causes: “What's causing Europe's heatwave? Scientists reveal how scorching temperatures across the continent are being driven by a high-pressure anticyclone and El Niño - as well as climate change”. Climate change tacked on as an afterthought.

And never linked to Extinction Rebellion or Just Stop Oil, who are both there to be sneered at and viciously demonised. What do the Dacre doggies think drives climate change? Any chance of them suggesting to their readers that the protesters are not mere “zealots” or “clowns”, that they are sincere and have a valid point to make? Any chance of dealing in reality?

Any chance of the Mail behaving responsibly? Nah, that’ll never happen.

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Friday 14 July 2023

WhatsApp - Bozo Lies Again

After spending decades following the antics of disgraced former very occasional Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, it might be expected that our free and fearless press would have figured out that Bozo is a shameless and indeed congenital liar. But that thought would have been sadly misplaced when basic knowledge of technology was required.

Mobile phones. We’ve all got them; some of us have more than one of the things. Some choose Android phones; others go for the supposedly stylish iPhone. And it is the latter that Bozo claims is taxing him beyond the limits of his memory. Sadly, instead of the press doing a little of that proper journalism that they claim to be into, most of them have merely repeated his claims.

What has allegedly taxed Bozo can be put directly: the WhatsApp messages on his old iPhone have yet to be ponied up to the Covid Inquiry. This was the device that had to be switched off in 2021 due to an alleged security breach. The deadline given is now several days into the past. But we are supposed to believe that Bozo missed the deadline because he forgot the passcode.

Hence Sky News reportingBoris Johnson has been unable to handover WhatsApp messages from his old mobile phone to the COVID inquiry because he has forgotten the password to it … The Times said it had been told the former prime minister could not ‘with 100% confidence’ remember the code for the device he used up until May 2021”. Do go on.

There were fears the Apple iPhone could erase the messages if the wrong digits were entered too many times … Mr Johnson's spokesperson did not deny the claims to Sky News, instead saying government-appointed ‘technical experts’ were continuing to work ‘to recover material safely from the device’”. And to that I call bullshit. Bozo is lying once again.

But give us the rest. “[Bozo] had switched phones and claimed to have been instructed not to switch the device back on again … His spokesperson said the phone was currently with his lawyers, adding: ‘As previously stated, Mr Johnson will cooperate fully with the inquiry. He wants to disclose any relevant material which is why he is fully cooperating with this process’”.

Having just switched SIMs between iPhones, or more precisely got a helpful person from my network provider to do it for me, the bullshit detector clanged into action as soon as that lame excuse was offered. This one is somewhere between “A big boy did it and ran away” and “I could be arguing in my spare time”. You just put the SIM in another iPhone and away you go.

You think I jest? Here’s Andrew Whaley, senior technical director at Promon (they’re an app security company) giving his assessment of Bozo’s latest stalling tactic: “This is a pretty lame excuse. Providing Boris’s WhatsApp is backed up, accessing the data would take minutes”. And how, pray?

You can simply take out the SIM card, put it in another device and install WhatsApp using SMS verification to get access to all your old messages. As this is a diplomatic phone, the security measures may well be different, but even still, it’s not an impossible task by any means. This is likely not a case of Johnson being unable to access his phone, but rather a tactic to try and further evade the release of messages relevant to the inquiry”. POINT.

Another clue as to Bozo’s honesty (or lack thereof) is provided by the Tweeter known as My Sweet Landlord, who notesWhen Lord Geidt was doing #wallpapergate he wanted access. He was told phone could not be accessed. After he reported he was told phone had been accessed for something else. This is the second bit of subterfuge involving Boris Johnson's iPhone”.

Some have noted that Bozo claimed to have had IT lessons from Jennifer Arcuri (ho ho ho) and so should know his way round an iPhone. Alternatively, as Brian Moore has suggested, “If they can't access Johnson's messages, they should give the phone to Piers Morgan. He'll have them in a trice”. But Bozo long ago ceased being funny. He’s lying. And stalling. Again.

Never take what that SOB says without a second source. That is all.

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Thursday 13 July 2023

Time For The Sun To Set

In the end, it was his wife who identified the “BBC Presenter” pursued for the past week by the Murdoch Sun: Vicky Flind told the worldIn light of the recent reporting regarding the 'BBC Presenter' I am making this statement on behalf of my husband Huw Edwards, after what have been five extremely difficult days for our family. I am doing this primarily out of concern for his mental well-being and to protect our children”. There was more.

Huw is suffering from serious mental health issues. As is well documented, he has been treated for severe depression in recent years. The events of the last few days have greatly worsened matters, he has suffered another serious episode and is now receiving in-patient hospital care where he'll stay for the foreseeable future”. Thus the motivation for the Murdoch mafiosi came clear.

And what was laid bare, not that many in and around our free and fearless press want to admit it, was a sick and cruel mindset, a media empire prepared to drive someone they knew had issues with depression over the edge if need be, so that the hated BBC could be irretrievably damaged.

The inmates of the Baby Shard bunker got wind of Edwards’ complicated private life. This in itself did not justify publication. But the temptation was too great: Huw Edwards was for so many the face of the BBC. By damaging him, the Murdoch goons would damage the Corporation, and possibly gain great favour from Don Rupioni himself. The end would justify the means.

But how could the paper justify its pursuit? There was no public interest defence - until the Sun claimed that the law could have been broken, and this they duly did. Last Sunday, in an article that is still live on the paper’s website as I type, came the claim “Top BBC star who ‘paid child for sex pictures’ could be charged by cops and face years in prison, expert says”.

Otherwise, the story depended on “concerned parents”, despite the young person at the centre of the claims, who had allegedly been paid by Edwards for sexually explicit images, putting out a statement via their lawyers saying the Sun’s story was “rubbish”. The paper stood by its single source story.

Why would they do this? Ah well. This is where it becomes seriously sick: those directing the story, such as Sun editor Victoria Newton, and her boss Rebekah Brooks, knew they were pursuing a depressive. Just imagine the mindset at work: ratchet up the pressure bit by bit, day by day, front page splash by front page splash, until he breaks. That was the Sun’s game. They ratcheted up the pressure bit by bit, and their target duly broke.

This is, after all, the same paper that went after Caroline Flack and duly drove her over the edge, blaming everyone else in the aftermath of her death. Now they have their target effectively on suicide watch. Worse, this is not an isolated occurrence of recent tabloid pursuit of the vulnerable.

Chris Godfrey of the Guardian had been watching Gary Neville interviewing Dele Alli. “A small detail from this which chimes with what we’ve seen this week: early on in this interview Dele Alli tells Neville that he’s been in rehab and got out three weeks ago. While he was there he said the tabloids kept contacting his team to let them know they knew where he was”.

I’m sure the Sun will claim it was absent from that pack and therefore totally innocent. Past form, as the Tweeter known as Sun Apologies reminded us, suggests otherwise: “Just remembered that time when The Sun spent a large part of 2016 waging a hate campaign against Chris Evans for getting the Top Gear job. Hounding him and following him around until he broke. Then they pretended they cared once they'd finished him”. All heart, the Sun.

Worse, the BBC itself does not emerge from this episode looking as pure as the driven snow, with some of its own staff running news items claiming they have found more bad behaviour from Edwards. Nothing quite like trying to “both sides” the whole business and join the Sun in the sewer, is there? Meanwhile, the real news, as Andrew Marr observed, is crowded out.

The solution for BBC News is, as I’ve told previously, straightforward: remove the likes of Robbie Gibb from the Corporation permanently, whether he was involved this time or no. And remove former fizzy pop salesman and occasional Tory Tim Davie. Get a DG with some cojones instead.

For the Murdoch media empire, Leveson changed nothing. The Huw Edwards saga has proved that beyond all doubt, the Baldwin paradox exemplified in all its seedy, sick, sadistic, creepy, cruel nastiness: power without responsibility indeed. Worse, this is power without accountability: with press regulation in the hands of sham regulator IPSO, the press can do as it pleases.

The Sun has enjoyed a malign influence over our country, its politicians, its institutions, and most importantly its place in the world, for far too long. We don’t need Rupert Murdoch and his mafiosi sticking their bugle in, gaslighting us, all too often into making calamitously bad choices. What we do need is elected representatives and other public figures to stand up to the SOB.

The time has come for the Sun to set for good. Close it down, Rupe. NOW.

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Wednesday 12 July 2023

Sun Admits No Public Interest

When John Whittingdale was found to have been dating a known sex worker, that in itself was not a story: what was a story was the potential for him to be compromised, blackmailed. Likewise disgraced former alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson attending Bunga Bunga parties at the Lebedev’s place in Italy wasn’t a story. The potential for Kompromat was.

Victoria Newton - the invisible editor

That was the public interest justification for running those stories. Another would be if the law was being broken, and here we come to the Sun’s pursuit of an as yet unnamed BBC presenter, which is still being flogged half to death at the same time as the Murdoch press’ hero, Bozo, has failed to pony up his WhatsApp messages to the Covid Inquiry. Which is breaking the law.

The problem for the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker, and especially those on the thirteenth floor, is that, as the law stands, the presenter’s privacy, and lack of public interest, leaves them in one of those very difficult positions. So, all along, the inference has been that illegality took place, with the latest throw of the Murdoch dice being a possible breach of lockdown laws.

That’s because the Sun has now backed away from alleging the presenter previously broke the law: “Sources at the Sun are now distancing themselves from this line and claiming the story was not really about potential criminal activity. Instead, they suggest it was more about concerned parents trying to stop payments to a vulnerable child with a drug habittells the Guardian.

Hence the paper now scratching around trying to stand up a claim that the presenter may have broken lockdown law. It looks increasingly as if the Sun is trying to secure a public interest defence before the lawsuits hit. The Murdoch goons have effectively admitted that they did not bother to contact the young person (or “vulnerable child”) directly before publishing.

The Guardian again: “The 20-year-old’s lawyer has said the Sun’s story is ‘rubbish’, alleged they were not approached for comment prior to publication, and insisted they told the Sun last week that the story was wrong … A Sun spokesperson did not return a request for comment on whether the newspaper had made any direct contact with the young person - or whether they had attempted to do so”. Single source, selective source use.

Could it get worse? But you know what’s coming: “It is unclear whether the Sun has seen the underlying evidence relating to the payments or the explicit material … it is not clear whether the reporters have seen the bank statements”. A half-competent editor would have spiked this on the spot.

So why have Victoria Newton, and her team, and indeed the paper’s lawyers, not just run the initial story, but splashed it all over the front pages of the Sun and Sun on Sunday for several days now? They have not yet ponied up a credible public interest defence. They failed to contact all those involved. They may not even have seen the evidence on which the story depends.

All the Murdoch mafiosi can manage is blame-shifting: “We have reported a story about two very concerned parents who made a complaint to the BBC about the behaviour of a presenter and the welfare of their child. Their complaint was not acted upon by the BBC. We have seen evidence that supports their concerns. It’s now for the BBC to properly investigate”.

True or bluff? And where is Ms Newton? As Professor Brian Cathcart has asked today, “Where is Victoria Newton, the editor of The Sun? She has lots of questions to answer right now. If she were an executive in any other walk of life and involved in something like this, the Sun and the other papers would now be demanding she account for the Sun's actions”. So they would.

But what the Murdoch goons do have is a constant crowd of hacks and snappers outside New Broadcasting House. They have their tanks on the Beeb’s lawn. The Corporation is on the back foot. It is the subject of constant negative publicity. And that was always the intention: the Sun doesn’t give a rat’s arse about two “concerned parents”. It just wants to break the BBC.

Rupert Murdoch doesn’t just want to ruin every country in the English speaking world that will let him set up shop there - the malign influence of his empire in Australia, the UK and USA while New Zealand didn’t let him in and has benefited as a result - he wants to ruin the BBC. Destroy it. Wipe it off the face of the earth. That is why the Sun is running this story.

There never was any public interest. But you knew that anyway.

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