For those who have the same warped sense of humour this Letter can also be had in French.
(Complaints can be addressed to the Blog Council, your nearest newspaper, radio or TV station and when you leave this blog remember to pull the chain)
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The British media, that upholder of justice,
freedom of speech and all that jazz,
has one rule for everybody else and a very different, shocking one for itself.
This takes the Pulitzer prize or whatever theBritish equivalent is if there is one,
for deplorable double standards worthy of the best expose`.
With a clear conscience it is happily
maintaining that old maxim that a cornered journalist is no different fromanybody else when
it comes to covering up - he is 10
Fortunately I was able to get the inside
story by hiring a retired reporter who had honed his hacking skills on the News
of the World that was brought down by the kind of morality that is being
fostered by Britain’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Of course I can’t reveal the
information he got for me – that would be telling.
But I can disclose how the NUJ, which claims to be the largest union
of its kind in the world with 38 000 members in England,
Wales, Scotland, Ireland
and the Channel Islands, protects its own
rotten eggs. And as they are the main purveyors of the news they have been
able to keep this scandal well and truly under wraps.
Not even a whiff
has leaked out until now. The stink, however, is pretty overwhelming.
The NUJ’s website is full of moral wisdom as well as a code of conduct that stipulates how
members should behave when dealing with the public.
Her are some
strive to ensure information disseminated is honestly conveyed, accurate and
differentiate between fact and fiction.
And anybody looking at its website must agree not to impersonate
another person or use a false name to try to mislead others as to the origin of
Publish or post
or abuse others.
reasonable to assume that it requires all its members to abide by all these
In reality this is just window dressing.
This is what happened when I complained
that Ian le
Sueur a freelance photographer and Murray Norton
a BBC radio presenter in the Channel Island of Jersey had relentlessly
cyber-bullied my son Simon on social media. He died prematurely of a heart
attack aged 47 (See my posts DID CYBER-BULLIES KILL SIMON ABBOTT? CYBER WOLVES HUNTING
They made him out to be a con man who
was pocketing money collected for a charity he started when there was no
evidence to support these allegations. Simon was trying to raise money for women with post natal depression after his sister committed suicide while suffering from this problem.
Le Sueureven admitted in an email that he hid behind a false
name to do his dirty work.
An internet item showed that Le Sueur
was a freelance member of the NUJ, but I could find nothing that indicated Norton
was a member although it does accept broadcasters and he claimed to write for
newspapers and magazines.
However the Union is a secret
society. I was told they could not confirm or deny that either of these two
were members. And the punch line was the union does not take complaints from
became even more laughable when I persisted. It was only then that I was told to
submit my complaint against Le Sueur while they still refused to say whether or not he was
a member.Under protest this is what I
Weeks later when I asked what progress
had been made I was told that as they only considered complaints
from members mine had been passed
down to the level of Le Sueur’s chapel to see if a member would sponsor
it, but surprise, surprise nobody was prepared to do this. In my limited
experience the people in the chapel would be the ones most likely to be his
friends, making this even more of a charade.
On my own initiative I contacted Professor Chris
Frost head of the Journalism Department at Liverpool’s JohnMooresUniversity. He chairs the NUJ’sEthics
Council and is a National Executive Council member.
I told him that
having been an NUJ
member many years ago I was appalled to learn that the NUJ will only takecomplaints about
an NUJ member from another member.
That’s like saying nobody can complain
about police brutality, corruption etc unless it comes
from another policeman,I went on. It’s a protection racket that hardlygoes with the media’s image of upholding justice, free
speech etc. It makes nonsense of your code of conduct.
He then made this astounding admission: I’m afraid wedon’t have the resources, financial or human, to deal
with complaints from the public. During the eighties we did take complaints, but the number soon headed into the
hundreds and became impossible to manage.
Its remedy was a laughable pretence at
policing that would no doubt be the perfect answer to virtually eliminate complaints from
the public in any organisation.
We put in place the filter of complaints
only coming from
members,the Professor explained.We do pass them tobranches or deal with them ourselves as the Ethics Council
on occasion as this gives us the opportunity to take cases of significance.
members have been prepared to join the popularity queue by lodging a complaint again a fellow member I wonder?
more the decision to effectively ignore the rogue members in its ranks doesn’t comply with the NUJ’s own rules.
Rule 17states:Ethics Council:
There shall be an EthicsCouncil charged withthe responsibility
for the promotion and enforcement of
the professional ethical standards of theunion, with particular reference to the
enforcement of the union’s code of conduct and with research and debating
ethical issues on media freedom and
This Ethics Council has the following duties.
1.To promote the unions
code of conduct among the general public and to publicise its own work on
ethical matters(How can it possibly be doing this if it doesn’t take
the public and doesn’t mention this on its website or as far as I could see in
2.To promote high ethical
standards among the membership(Ha! Ha! Ha!).
3.To hear complaints
against members under the code of conduct(Only the very few if any that get through its own
recent court case in Scotland
the Union got good publicity by proclaiming
that it has
pledged to continue its campaign against online bullying of journalists.
Its double standards were showing once again
when it gave me a hard time trying to lodge my complaint
against one or more of its members for doing something
In that case
David Limond a football supporting yobo called Glasgow reporter Angela Haggerty Taig(a
derogatory term for a Catholic or Irish nationalist)of the day because of her Irish heritage
andscum ofthe dayon social media. He also encouraged
other people to abuse her on Twitter. This was evidently because of her
coverage of the financial collapse of the Rangers club.
had many similarities to the way Le Sueur and Nortonattacked my son. But Scotland dealt with it a lot more efficiently
than the authorities in Jersey. Limond got
sent to jail for six months while the Jersey Police decided, after taking legal
advice, that no offences had been committed.
DAVID every girl's dream
In any event
Jersey’s Data Protection law appears to be reserved for convicting and
imprisoning people the Island’s hierarchy
doesn’t like, not to stop the average person from
being slandered on the internet.
Here are quotes from the NUJ’s website and two of its most prominent members that make what it is doing on its ethics
side look even more ridiculous. My comments
are in brackets.
We need firmer regulation from
a body that is there to protect press freedom,
press standards and ethics by listening to the public …. Professor Frost talking about proposals to change
the way the Press is regulated in Britain.
The Union does not back
statutory regulation of the press. We support an independent system of
regulation – independent from the
industry and, crucially, from
wonder when the Union can’t even regulate
itself properly). For long years the Union
has campaigned fora more accountable press and
for high standards of journalism(Yet it sets a virtually
non-existent standard when it comes
to disciplining its own members) .... Michelle Stanistreet the Union’s General Secretary.
at its best uncovers the truth, secret courts hide evidence. The open Justice
Project has teamed up with the Union to offer training on the Justice and
Security Act, a law that conceals information from
the public, denies independent media scrutiny and insulates the government from scandal( Doesn’t refusing to take complaints
from the public insulate the Union
from scandal?) …. Union’s website.
Not all is lost as far as my complaint is concerned. The NUJjust
might redeem itself, but it looks as though it is a very big MIGHT.
lastemail I received from it I was told the Council will have another look at it at our next
meeting, but I’m afraid you should not assume from
that that the Council will agree to pursue the complaint
Now I know what it’s like being the mouse in a game of
cat and mouse.
That meeting is on 20 January so we will see what happens.