Thursday 20 May 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From families condemn News of the World for paying 'Babes in the Wood' murderer to mapping the newsiest town in Britain

The families of murdered schoolgirls Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway in a statement released by Sussex Police after Jennifer Johnson, ex-girlfriend of convicted Babes in the Wood killer Russell Bishop, was found guilty of lying at his 1987 trial in which he was acquitted: “The now defunct ‘News of the World’ also provided encouragement for Johnson to lie. As a key witness in Bishop’s 1987 trial, she lied knowing that there would be a huge financial reward if Bishop received two acquittals for the double child murders. He did indeed receive the wrongful acquittals. The News of the World got their stories. The perpetrators got their payday. Our two families were devastated again after those verdicts, yet on the same evening, Johnson and the Bishops celebrated with a funded champagne dinner at the Hilton Hotel. They should all hang their heads in shame. They all had their part to play. They all have blood on their hands."
  • During the trial, the prosecution claimed Johnson stood to benefit from Bishop selling his story as "an innocent man" to the News of the World for £15,000. The Court of Appeal quashed the 1987 acquittals and Bishop was found guilty of murdering the girls after a second trial at the Old Bailey in 2018. Bishop was already in prison. He was jailed for attacking a seven-year-old girl three years after the acquittals. Johnson was jailed for six years for perjury and perverting the course of justice.

Lord Dyson in his report into Martin Bashir's Panorama interview with Princess Diana criticises the way the BBC investigated allegations that fake documents were used: "The investigation conducted by Lord Hall and Mrs Sloman was flawed and woefully ineffective... The answers given by the BBC to specific questions by the press were evasive. And by failing to mention on any news programme the fact that it had investigated what Mr Bashir had done and the outcome of the investigations, the BBC fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark."

BBC director general Tim Davie said in a statement: "Although the report states that Diana, Princess of Wales, was keen on the idea of an interview with the BBC, it is clear that the process for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect. We are very sorry for this. Lord Dyson has identified clear failings."

Prince William in a statement:
 "It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others. It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her. But what saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived. She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions."

Bashir, who quit the BBC on health grounds before the publication of the investigation, said in a statement, reported by the Evening Standard: "This is the second time that I have willingly fully co-operated with an investigation into events more than 25 years ago. I apologised then, and I do so again now, over the fact that I asked for bank statements to be mocked up. It was a stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret. But I absolutely stand by the evidence I gave a quarter of a century ago, and again more recently. I also reiterate that the bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview."

BBC News media editor Amol Rajan: "This report will not just injure the BBC, but scar it. And it should be granted that though it shows the historic failures of BBC journalists, it also shows the power and merit of journalism. It is thanks to determined reporters, not least at the Daily Mail group and the Sunday Times, that we today have the first full account of the real story behind the most remarkable - and arguably consequential - interview in television history."

The Committee to Protect Journalists' Middle East representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado in a statement, after Israeli planes destroyed the Al-Jawhara building in Gaza which housed the offices of more than a dozen media outlets, including AP and Al Jazeera:
“It is utterly unacceptable for Israel to bomb and destroy the offices of media outlets and endanger the lives of journalists, especially since Israeli authorities know where those media outlets are housed. Israeli authorities must ensure that journalists can do their jobs safely without fear of being injured or killed.”

Alan Rusbridger on Twitter: "Sometimes, when Prince Harry says sensible things (eg this morning about parenting), it would be nice if journalists discussed what he said rather than whether he has pissed off the Royals or Meghan put him up to it."

New Yorker
journalist Patrick Radden Keefe asked in an Observer interview if he had been intimidated by dozens of letters and emails from lawyers representing some of the Sackler family while writing Empire of Pain, his new book about the opioid scandal in the US:
 "Of course, it was in the back of my mind, it had to be. But I wasn’t intimidated. On the contrary, I was emboldened to be honest with you. In part, because they don’t do that sort of thing unless you’re on the right track. I thought a little bit about my colleague, Ronan Farrow, who had a similar experience when he tried to write about Harvey Weinstein. These are the sort of tactics these types of people employ. And they work until they don’t. And with Weinstein, they worked for a long time until they didn’t work any more. And the truth caught up with him."

BBC's Jon Sopel on covering the U.S. after Trump, in an interview with Press Gazette:
 “If you’re a journalist, and you need your daily heroin fix of being on the news, Joe Biden ain’t great. Because a lot of it is just the smooth whirring of the machine of government. It’s pretty dull. Whereas with Donald Trump, it was fireworks every day. So from that point of view, it seems a much quieter, stiller place.”

Matt Dathan in The Times [£]: "Spreading fake news on behalf of a hostile state like Russia or China could become a crime under government plans to overhaul the Official Secrets Act. Priti Patel, the home secretary, has published proposals to create a number of new offences to modernise Britain’s 'outdated' laws to combat evolving threats. The changes would also increase prison sentences for breaches of the Official Secrets Act."

Kevin Bradford on Twitter: "A map of nowhere - but somewhere only #news stories happen."

Paul Wiltshire on Twitter: "I do love a map. Particularly if it's of the newsiest town in the land. Happy memories of covering it - and training other people to cover it."


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