The Good, the Bad, and the VERY Ugly in Journalism

A free press is one of the foundations on which modern ‘liberal’ democracy rests.
“ Freedom of speech ” has long been recognized as important “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” George Washington

We have become used to reading and hearing, and more recently actually seeing, proceedings in Parliament. Our Parliament. It was not always so.

Hansard, which publishes a verbatim but edited record of proceedings in the House, was founded only in 1771. Before that date only decisions had been reported, not the content of the debate, and to attempt to do so was punishable by both Houses. A commentary at the time refers to "the difficulties faced by independent newspapermen who . . . in varying degrees, attempted to educate the populace to the shortcomings of their rulers.” Hansard we know today began only in 1909.          

We have also become accustomed to access to a range of newspapers. We accept that each will have its own political agenda reflected in the leader article or evidenced by the general tone of the editorial and commentary.

There was a time when journalism was a respected profession. It was referred to as the 4th Estate, with a mission to hold the Establishment to account by reporting the truth and by fearlessly exposing corruption and deceit.

Thomas Carlyle attributed the origin of the term to Edmund Burke, who used it in a parliamentary debate in 1787 on the opening up of press reporting of the House of Commons of Great Britain
     "Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all”

Relatively quickly however, that importance and power began to corrupt. As Lord Acton observed in 1887 “Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely”

Oscar Wilde wrote in his 1891 pamphlet The Soul of Man under Socialism:
     "In old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralising. Somebody — was it Burke? — called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time no doubt. But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism."

Though he was also scathing about its purpose: “There is much to be said in favour of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.“ 
What are the gradations, the categories of truth and of truth telling?
Is truth indivisible? Can it have context or nuance?
Can you have your personal “version of the truth”?
Can it be placed onto a scale according to some level or quantum of truth or mendacity, or by assessing the spectrum of damage caused to individuals and to the freedom of us all?
And when that truth is reported, what then?
I have tried to fit it into a scale here.

(I use the word Truth to mean objective and provable fact, and I use Mendacity to mean deliberate, calculated falsehood, as opposed to error, mistake, misunderstanding, or misinterpretation.)

You may observe that I include a category not normally associated with Journalism, but I believe intimately concerned with Truth and Mendacity and able to influence freedom of speech. Libel Lawyers.

Let me try to develop this

At the origin of the curve is -
Investigative journalists do not simply report what they see or are told. They go deeper and further. They ask questions, they research, they compare and contrast the stories; they check and double-check their facts. They challenge everything they are told, seek proper references for every statement they make. They look at events from different points of view, before coming to a synthesis.
They have their minds open to new evidence, and are always ready to reassess, re-write; to correct and to apologise for inadvertent error.
Independent, courageous, honest and decent investigative journalists spend enormous amounts of time and effort to reveal the truth.

In the US the term ‘muckraker’ is sometimes used of investigative journalists, usually pejoratively by those who are the victims of the revelations of the truth about corruption. The term, in fact derived from Bunyan, became popular in the Progressive era between 1880 and 1920.

Perhaps the best known in the UK is the late Paul Foot, after whom a prize is named. He exposed the corruption of architect John Poulson; was instrumental in overturning the verdicts of the Birmingham 6; and campaigned against the miscarriage of justice in the conviction of al-Magrahi for the Lockerbie bombing. He won awards including Journalist of the Year (twice), Campaigning Journalist of the Year, The George Orwell Award and many others. He was among the founders of Private Eye.

Investigative journalists Robert Winnett and Christopher Hope on the staff of The Daily Telegraph exposed the MPs’ expenses scandal in 2008, which indirectly brought down a government.

As a result a new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was established, but as The Guardian observes:
     “Now, anyone can check how much their MP gets, and what they are spending it on – petrol costs, hotels, rent, and so on. MPs are no longer claiming money for birdhouses, or to have their moats cleaned out. That’s mainly because of IPSA’s new rules, but partly it is thanks to the fear of being caught out by the press.” [my emphases] 

It was Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, two young reporters on The Washington Post staff, who by their tenacity and boldness in the Watergate saga brought down a President.

Private Eye tried long and hard to expose Saville and Smith as disgusting perverts, only to find both were protected by the Establishment and libel lawyers.
Their current editor, Ian Hislop, is referred to as the most sued man in history.
Others might place him among the bravest journalists of the modern age.

Truly investigative journalists will sometimes go so far as to put their lives at risk.

Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana, was assassinated when it became clear she was going to expose governmental corruption. Despite intimidation and threats, libel suits, and arrest on two occasions she continued with her investigations into Maltese politicians and their links with the Panama Papers scandal. 
And today her work is being continued by Juliette Garside, an investigative journalist for The Guardian. 

The murder, dismemberment and disposal of the body of the Saudi Arabian journalist in the Consulate in Turkey is another such example.
Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi dissident, a journalist for The Washington Post, and former general manager and editor-in-chief of the Al-Arab News Channel. Khashoggi wrote in his last, posthumously published column, that he was of the opinion that "What the Arab world needs most is free expression”. It is thought he was getting ‘too close’ to members of the Saudi royal family
Unusually, a Saudi court sentenced five defendants to death; sentenced three defendants to prison terms, and acquitted three others. Coincidentally the Crown Prince deemed responsible by the CIA for ordering the murder was not included. 

To counter this and ensure that the assassination or murder, imprisonment or silencing of an investigative journalist shall never succeed, a group known as Forbidden Stories has formed.
All around the world, journalists face threats, arrest, and murder.
There are stories that corporations, organised crime groups and governments don’t want to see published. 
Forbidden Stories has a mission:
bypassing any form of censorship by publishing these stories. . .
even if you succeed in stopping a single messenger,
you will not stop the message  
The comments from around the world from the general public are telling:
     “Even if Forbidden Stories rescues just a handful of investigations that fall into a sort of limbo each time a journalist is jailed or killed, it will already be a great victory for citizens.”

The people understand the vital importance of decency, honesty and truth, and yearn for the freedom from tyranny supported by good, bold, and honest journalism.


At the other end of the curve is the deliberate and malign control of the media in general by rich and powerful people, and eventually total control by the State. This is easier than we might think.

The UK's national newspapers and Media outlets are mainly owned and therefore controlled by just six people, or companies controlled by them.
We remember with a sense of increasing nausea Labour MP Robert Maxwell, who was owner of The Mirror until his death. His media empire is now largely Reach plc
Reach plc                                                           Mirror, Express, Star, Record, People
Richard Murdoch,                                            News Int. / Corp., Times, Sun, News of the World, Sky, Fox,
Barclay Brothers,                                             Telegraph, Spectator, Scotsman
Jonathan Harmsworth (Lord Rothermere). (DMGT). Mail, ‘i’, Metro,
Guardian group                                                 Guardian, Observer.
Nikkei                                                                  FT
It is clear that parties and governments select media outlets to “put across their message” in the way they wish it to be seen.
On 11 April 1992 The Sun blazed across its headlines "It's The Sun Wot Won It" [sic], making no pretence that it was taking personal responsibility for the election result which saw John Major (Tory) defeat Neil Kinnock (Labour), and become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

The Sun is part of the media empire owned and controlled by Rupert Murdoch. An Australian.


Next up the graph is:  

Journalists report what they see, hear, or are told. They often do so uncritically, perhaps lacking the time, the inclination, critical faculties, or the intelligence to probe more deeply.
The danger is that a small misinterpretation of fact combined with that same lack of research may allow unintentional error to proliferate.

Journalists operate under a loose professional code and have their own professional bodies, but these are largely toothless, in that they can only advise and reprimand, and have no ultimate coercive power.

An example is the judgment from the journalists’ professional body in Spain against Jon Clarke, the owner and editor of The Olive Press. It amounts to little more than fine words, and there is no evidence of any change in behaviour since it was handed down. Indeed the demonstration of their lack of ‘teeth’ seems perversely to have emboldened him.
[App 2]


At some point that lack of research can be added to sometimes accurate facts which can then focus on irrelevant peripheral detail.

Here we enter the zone of

In the UK the term “The Gutter Press” is used for Tabloid red top papers which thrive on scandal, rumour, and sensationalism. They concentrate on stories about crime and sex, the lives of celebrities – however defined – and put a sensationalist twist or ‘spin’ on anything they report.

One of their favourite tactics is to find an entirely spurious link to another story.

A particularly nasty example was The Sun publishing an article about an English cricket player, but including full details of the murder of half-siblings on the far side of the world some 31 years before. The distress this caused to the surviving relatives can only be imagined.
On that occasion other parts of the press openly criticised the decision to publish partly, but only partly, because of the damage it did to the standing of the profession as a whole.
 [10] [App 1]

Another frequent tactic was to seek out a distant relative, who may have once been, or been the partner of, a Police officer. This became so ridiculed that now, mercifully, it is seen more rarely.

In the US it is known as Yellow Journalism, with its emphasis on treating news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.
Characteristics which typify Yellow Journalism
1.      scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news
2.      lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings
 3.     use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudoscience, and a parade of false
         learning from so-called experts
4.      dramatic sympathy with the "underdog" against the system.
Interestingly the term is also in use in Spain, (amarillismo), and was specifically used in the judgment by the professional body FAPE against Jon Clarke and the Olive Press.
[11, App 2]

More recently, and particularly noticeable with the expansion of the internet we have a new phenomenon, known by the neologism

Material is simply ‘copied and pasted’ from other sources, usually unnamed, never checked or referenced. It is simply “Churned”. Very rarely is the copy edited or re-written, so the same spelling errors, sloppy grammar and syntax, poor punctuation, factual inaccuracies and even photo images can be tracked across the web.

The danger here lies with the way in which the error or misinterpretation referred to above under Journalism, and Gutter Journalism, not to mention outright falsehood, can be spread so quickly, and as in the parlour game of Chinese Whispers, gets altered, edited, amended and added to.
A recent example, again involving the egregious Olive Press, was the ludicrous development of the story of The Rock in the Road.

This relatively harmless story about a rock on a road, accompanied by a perfectly adequate photo, was ‘developed’ with increasingly hyperbolic language, and then after some days and out of the blue irrelevant, wholly absurd and scientifically impossible weights and measurements were added.
There in turn were ‘churned’, further developed and manipulated until the result was a bold statement, again by The Reliably Mendacious Olive Press, that the ‘weight’ was 5 tonnes.
A simple calculation showed that the rock, which took two weeks to remove, would have been less dense than balsa wood.


So far we have considered reporting which has not usually attempted deliberately to mislead, even though it may inadvertently have done so.
So to move to the next item is a big step.

This is the point on this progression at which someone, some organisation or entity, acts deliberately to suppress a fact or facts, an opinion or a point of view. It is the point at which a decision is made that they alone shall be allowed to know the truth, but that no one else shall.

We should not confuse this with the wholly respectable ‘Précis, or Editing’, which may seem to be achieving the same ends, selecting some things and cutting out others to achieve a finished product.

A commentator put the difference neatly -
     Editing is soliciting, selecting and polishing the best material you can get for your publication.
     Censorship is when you use your position of power – any power – to shut people up and/or to control the information that other people can access. 

Editing is seen as a benign activity. Helpful, and respectable.
Censorship – as malign and controlling
The Portuguese investigative journalist, Paulo Reis has examined the available evidence, and is currently of the opinion that the British Media were subject to some form of censorship and control throughout their reporting of the McCann case.


And now, somewhere beyond the mid-point of the curve we come to

IN MY HUMBLE OPINION [!] libel lawyers are at a critical point on the Truth – Mendacity spectrum,
but well beyond the tipping point on the Danger scale
– A short diversion on the English legal system – 
The UK has a common law based “accusatorial” legal system, in direct contrast to the continental “Inquisitorial” systems. 
Both in the criminal and the civil systems one side, the Crown or the Plaintiff, makes the accusation, the other defends or responds. 
The judgment is made on the evidence adduced and the arguments put forward. In both cases the Facts may or may not come into it. Astonishing as that may sound we have to understand the concepts of Legal Guilt and Factual Guilt in the criminal world. 

Factual Guilt.      You are factually guilty if you did the act,. Whether or not anyone knows this or believes it is irrelevant 
Legal Guilt.         You are legally guilty if a court decides you did the act. Whether you did or not is similarly irrelevant 

Concomitant with this are the concepts of Factual Innocence, and Legal Innocence. Factually innocent if you did not do the act; Legally innocent if a court decides you did not. Or, in the accusatorial system, Legally Innocent if the proof of guilt or responsibility falls even very slightly short of the required standard. If the two concepts overlap then that is a bonus, but it is not a necessary feature of the system
Lawyers in general perform a vital function. They give voice to the voiceless, they speak for the inarticulate, they interpret the rules for those who are unable to do so.
In an accusatorial system it is vital that anyone accused should be represented by one as educated and articulate as the accuser. It is also vital that this representative should not judge. That is not the lawyer’s function, which is to give the best advice given the strength of the opposing argument and the details of the evidence – so far as they know them.

Libel Lawyers however operate on a different plane.
The tort of Defamation (slander and libel) is concerned with reputation, not necessarily with objective facts.
The facts are immaterial, what matters is whether “the statement serves to undermine the reputation in the eyes of right thinking members of society generally, by exposing the victim to hatred, contempt or ridicule.“
However if I may quote
     Truth provides a full defence to an action of defamation. It requires the defendant to show that that the imputation conveyed by the statement complained of is substantially true. Therefore the onus is on the defendant.

The danger is apparent. If the matter goes to trial and the defendant is allowed to rehearse the ‘facts’ in open court, and they can not be adequately refuted, then not only might the case fail, but the plaintiff may become liable for civil suit or criminal prosecution for the acts alleged.
The two notorious cases of Archer and Aitken who were both allowed to give evidence during their proceedings, and who both subsequently went to prison for perjury make the point.
 [15] [16]

For this reason Libel Lawyers keep their clients away from court proceedings, and specialise in procedural tactics to achieve this.
The most feared and arguably the best Libel Lawyers in the world, Carter-Ruck, boasted openly about this strategy, and in a previous iteration of their web-site gave details of how they had used it in a string of cases. (It has since been altered, or ‘edited’.) But what is still clear is how many cases are never allowed near a court.

It is for this reason, the deliberate and calculated concealment of the truth and of the facts, that I place them so high on the chart.

A list of the people who have been successfully represented by the three major firms in the UK includes murderous dictators, predatory sexual perverts, companies which cause immense and irreparable harm to the environment and to people. One notorious case under the guise of the recently invented “super-injunction” involved an attempt to stifle the reporting of Parliament itself. All this may prompt right-thinking people to wonder whether Libel lawyers should not be somewhat further along the Danger axis.


At the far end of both scales we see
Tyrants of all sorts, and radical or repressive regimes throughout history always seek to control information.
The first thing that any coup does is to take control of the radio and television broadcasting. Across the world even now several regimes of different persuasions are attempting to control the internet, with varying results.

George Orwell [Eric Blair] spelled out in great detail how it works in his book 1984.
There the protagonist Winston Smith works in the Ministry of Truth – MiniTru – doing the exact opposite of what his title suggests. He is involved in altering or destroying stories and accounts which conflict with the current dictate of the Party and the Supreme Leader, Big Brother. He is changing truth into Fiction, which then becomes the NewTruth.
Chillingly these dictates themselves can change, and the process has to be repeated.

Orwell was drawing on the real experience in the Soviet Union when photos were crudely altered to delete people who had been ‘eliminated’ by the new regime. A search on Google images will find several examples of before and after purge photos with Trotsky, Malchenko and Yezhov.

More recently North Korea has adopted the same photoshop or selective cropping policy for executed party members. In this case Kim Jong-un’s uncle, Chang Song-thaek

The dangers in this are apparent. As Orwell predicted it leads to the mere having of a vague memory becoming punishable.


Just below this on both scales I place

By this I mean that the State allows allegedly and officially ‘free’ media to report, but controls the content in a way which benefits only the ruling hierarchy.

There are of course good reasons why this might be done by a benevolent leader for the greater good of the people. We think of war-time censorship, where the morale of the Nation is paramount. Reports of military disasters are phrased to look like minor set-backs, set-backs are reported as strategic success, and small successes are inflated out of all proportion.
The full story of the 1944 Slapton Sands disaster for example was not released until long after the war. The 750 casualties were quietly included in those for Operation Overlord D-Day, two months later.

But in peacetime the ability of Government to censor journalism and news is highly questionable.

I also include the State’s controlling the way in which events are subsequently investigated and reported.
Within the past two decades we have seen the highly questionable enquiries and subsequent reports on the deaths of Dr Kelly and Chief Constable Mike Todd. Both were very possibly – [-Libel lawyers-] ‘suicided ’ because they simply knew too much, and their revelations would have caused embarrassment and worse to leading politicians of the time, and probably to others on both sides of the Atlantic.


Which leaves one more entry on my Chart. That of

By this I mean the journalism which places in the public domain, and therefore in the public mind, stories and accounts which are not mistaken, not misinterpretation, not unavoidably in error, but are demonstrably and deliberately false.
In plain English – they are lies.

The danger here, and the reason this activity is placed so high on both scales is that it undermines the profession of journalism; and in so doing it attacks the foundation of our world. Our freedom.

It is not a question of finding a mistake in a report or not agreeing with the editor’s point of view or his politics. That is expected, and a normal challenge to our intellect.

But if we start by taking at face value a reporter who states he was in a particular place at a particular time, and witnessed first hand a particular event, and if we then see and understand from other incontrovertible evidence that what he said or wrote was and is a simple LIE, then his professional standing is destroyed, the organ for which he writes or on which he appears is tarnished, and we find ourselves even less likely to believe not only him, but also by extension anyone else in the same ‘profession’.

It is that which makes a Mendacious Journalist so pernicious; so egregious; so dangerous.

And the damage they have done to the profession is incalculable.
Use of the term "fourth estate" to describe the modern media, though, is somewhat outdated unless it is with irony, given the public's mistrust of journalists and news coverage in general. Only 41% of news consumers said they trust the media in 2019, according to the Gallup organization

A recent example is that of Jon Clarke, a self-styled Investigative Journalist, who now owns and edits a small free English language tabloid paper in the South of Spain. It is mostly to be found at supermarket check-outs, and is widely used for wrapping frozen food and wine bottles for the journey home. His organ is The Olive Press mentioned - supra - in “Churnalism

We can perhaps overlook and ignore the general shoddy and uncritical journalism and the ‘churning’ of the tiny stories, some only two short sentences, which separate the adverts from which the revenue is necessarily generated.

But when Clarke makes bold statements that he was alone as a journalist in a particular place at a particular time when contemporaneous video recordings in the public domain show him to have been there at another time, and as part of a large group;
• when Clarke describes in detail the physical conditions of an important part of a story, when the same contemporaneous video shows that it was simply and obviously not so;
• when he makes a long list of other demonstrably mendacious statements;
• when we then realise that he has had 12 years in which to modify or moderate or subtly alter his story, but that he has never done so – then –
• we are entitled to say –
and to place him and his paper in the ‘despised and rejected‘ category of
Mendacious Journalist
[Isiah 53:3]

[Fuller details may be found in chapters 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, and 34 of the e-book. The videos proving his mendacity are on line, and may also be seen in the Netflix “Documentary”]


Back then to the start of this short essay

In Praise of Investigative Journalists

Investigative journalists have a huge advantage over police and detectives – if they choose to search for the objective truth.

• They are not legally bound by formal rules in the way the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 binds the hands of investigators.
• They do not have to interview people under “caution”.
• They are not specifically prevented from being ‘economical with the truth’ when they introduce themselves, or when they imply the extent of the knowledge they already have.
• They may sometimes employ various means of obtaining evidence not open to others, even though some of those are themselves unlawful.

The English legal system does not automatically exclude evidence unlawfully obtained. It prefers always to weigh the ‘probative value against the prejudicial value”

Covert recordings, for example, were specifically allowed in Singh v Singh.
In R v Sang the House of Lords stated that a judge was able to exclude evidence, but not to exclude relevant admissible evidence solely for the reason that it was obtained unfairly.
Diplock LJ stated “What is unfair, what is trickery in the context of the detection and prevention of crime, are questions which are liable to attract highly subjective answers.”

For those familiar with this story, there is a particularly egregious example of this in operation, when it was freely admitted in the High Court that the evidence against the respondent had been obtained by deception, by entrapment, by blatant dishonesty and by lying.
The Plaintiffs and their solicitors [inevitably Carter Ruck] apparently felt no shame in using the evidence in this unscrupulous, but it must be emphasized legal, way. Morality and law are not comparable.

Investigative journalists may wish to argue that since they are not directly involved in the ‘detection’ of crime, they may be therefore outside any delicate considerations of this sort.

One would surely expect an investigator, whether police or journalist, at the scene of an alleged crime at least to go through the motions, follow the route, attempt to open the relevant doors and windows, measure distances and times, and so on, to establish that at least there is a comprehensible modus operandi; that at least the story as first reported is credible; even that it is remotely possible.

In the case of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann it appears that very few of the journalists at the initial scene, or indeed subsequently, undertook any such responsibility. A Portuguese investigative reporter referred to above wrote a detailed piece about this aspect of their work, which may be read separately.


To conclude

There is arguably at least, a sense in which the mendacious journalist is the worst of all these categories.

We trust and believe investigative journalists in the full knowledge that they will correct mistakes. We are fully aware that journalists and hack reporters will do what they do and we condemn and ridicule the gutter press and “Churnalism”.

We understand that censorship happens, and have to accept that Libel Lawyers, if paid adequately, have a duty to do what they do to the best of their professional ability.
Full state control of the media and state censorship are seen everywhere we look in the modern world. We can do little, except recognise it for what it is.

But uniquely the mendacious journalist is doing something else.
He presents himself as honourable and his work as truth, but is simultaneously trying to hide his mendacity, his lies, in a way the gutter press rarely bothers to.
He is trying to represent himself as a respected professional working to implied universal standards of decency and probity to impart some gravitas to the published work, but the reality is a double web of deceit. On the one hand the lies are being published or told, and on the other the fact that they are lies is being cunningly concealed.
This makes it twice as hard to do. To stick with the lies whilst concealing the depths of the deceit.

And so occasionally – very occasionally – they are caught out. Der Spiegel sacked one of its award winning reporters when other journalists back-checked on his work.
It deserves a wider audience, so that no one is in any doubt about what is going on.
The German news magazine Der Spiegel has been plunged into chaos after revealing that one of its top reporters had falsified stories over several years.

The media world was stunned by the revelations that the award-winning journalist Claas Relotius had, according to the weekly, “made up stories and invented protagonists” in at least 14 out of 60 articles that appeared in its print and online editions, warning that other outlets could also be affected.

Relotius, 33, resigned after admitting to the scam. He had written for the magazine for seven years and won numerous awards for his investigative journalism, including CNN Journalist of the Year in 2014.

Earlier this month, he won Germany’s Reporterpreis (Reporter of the Year) for his story about a young Syrian boy, which the jurors praised for its “lightness, poetry and relevance”. It has since emerged that all the sources for his reportage were at best hazy, and much of what he wrote was made up.

The falsification came to light after a colleague who worked with him on a story along the US-Mexican border raised suspicions about some of the details in Relotius’s reporting, having harboured doubts about him for some time.
I recommend reading the full article, and reflecting on how it might relate to The Olive Press, Jon Clarke, and the revelations in the Netflix documentary.
[24] [Appendix 3]

Readers may also care to consider these sentences.
“Moreno, who has worked for the magazine since 2007, risked his own job when he confronted other colleagues with his suspicions, [my bold] many of whom did not want to believe him. For several weeks, the magazine said, Relotius was even considered to be the victim of a cunning plot by Moreno.
The issue is clear. We all still want to hold journalism in high regard.
Even people within the profession find it difficult to accept that one of their own lacks the moral rectitude, integrity and honour to act decently and honestly.

But like a corrupt politician, a dishonest lawyer or a bent copper, every mendacious journalist damages the entire profession and reduces its standing in the world.
In a lengthy article, Spiegel, which sells about 725,000 print copies a week and has an online readership of more than 6.5 million, said it was “shocked” by the discovery and apologised to its readers and to anyone who may have been the subject of “fraudulent quotes, made-up personal details or invented scenes at fictitious places”.
“fraudulent quotes, made-up personal details or invented scenes at fictitious places”?

Oh dear.
Hypothetical Case History. 

Suppose that you have done something very wrong, and are going to be exposed. What can you do ?

It is said that the best form of defence is attack. A pre-emptive strike.

You concoct a narrative which covers the core issue, but which conceals all the surrounding circumstances. You have neither control of the media nor power of censorship to prevent the reporting of the facts So you must get your story into the public domain BEFORE they are reported in any detail.

• You enlist the help of PR specialists
• They contact a Mendacious Journalist who publishes your story
• The Gutter Press embellish this with the usual irrelevance, diverting attention from the facts
Churnalism now takes over and within a very short time – measured in hours – the story has gone ‘viral’ round the entire world, and by its constant repetition on media outlets, each reinforcing the next, becomes the accepted Version of the Truth ©

• People now wish to challenge this version with facts, with scientific and forensic examination of the real and documentary evidence; with more research and analysis.
Clearly you cannot retaliate by production of the facts on which you relied to create the initial narrative, because, as explained above those there are speak against you.
You cannot rely on logic because, again, the initial narrative was not based on fact or logic.

But they cannot be allowed to put forward their theses, still less to publish them. They must be silenced, and the publications halted.
Your recourse is simple.

 • You engage Libel Lawyers. They cannot permit you to appear in court and risk cross examination, and they have no direct power of censorship, but by employing the intricate – and wholly legal – system of Injunctions, Super-injunctions, threats of financial ruin, and coerced written undertakings, they are able to achieve exactly the same ends.

* * * * * * 

Now insert the names from any case you may have studied recently
As a random example this one :
PR                              Bell Pottinger, Hanover, McGuinness, Woolfall, Mitchell,
Mendax Scriptor     Clarke, Lazzeri, Kandohla
Gutter Press             Sun, Olive Press, Mirror, Express, Mail, Sky
Churnalism               Star, Record, plus all the above, web and Blog sites across
                                   the globe
Person B                   Bennett, Amaral, Leyland, Brown
Libel Lawyers           Carter Ruck, Tudor, Martorell,

Is there a pattern? If so, it must be completely coincidental. Obviously.
See chapters 29 to 34 inclusive
To access the Netflix documentary go to
and enter 'The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann’

21 Singh v Singh [2016] EWHC 1432

22 R v Sang [1980] AC 402. H.L.

A Guerra os McCann, (The McCann’s War), Paulo Reis, 2019, Guerra & Paz
Paulo Reis’ book about the way in which the British press appear to have been traduced and manipulated within a relatively short time, and showing how anyone who spoke against or questioned the “official’ story was either silenced, expunged or “whooshed’ from the record, is in the course of printing.The English translation is in the process of final proof-reading.



From time to time even journalists turn on each other, either as ”dogs returning to their own vomit” or sometimes, as in this example, because they realise the damage to their own profession if one bad apple starts to rot.

The Sun published an article. The Yorkshire Evening Post criticised the decision to do so.

On balance, rightly.

Yesterday, the England vice captain castigated the paper for “low and despicable behaviour, disguised as journalism” after it splashed on the story about the shooting of his half-brother and half-sister in New Zealand more than 30 years ago.

And Mitchinson, who is also currently serving as interim editor of The Yorkshire Evening Post, took to Twitter to criticise the tabloid.

It is decisions like these by editors unlike me that heap shame upon our profession,” he wrote. “It kills the trust we work so hard to build. It gives every journalist a bad name and legitimises those who seek to discredit the Fourth Estate. I am sorry you have been treated this way, Ben.”

Mitchinson later wrote an editor's comment on the issue.

"I cannot for the life of me understand how any editor, any individual, could countenance what they did today and come to the conclusion that it was a right and proper thing to do," he wrote.

"It wasn’t, and I don’t care how they dress up their excuses for having done so."

Stokes, who was born in New Zealand and moved to the Cumbrian town of Cockermouth with his family as a child, released a statement on Tuesday expressing his hurt about the story:
Today The Sun has seen fit to publish extremely painful, sensitive and personal details concerning events in the private lives of my family, going back more than 31 years.

It is hard to find words that adequately describe such low and despicable behaviour, disguised as journalism. I cannot conceive of anything more immoral, heartless or contemptuous to the feelings and circumstances of my family.

To use my name as an excuse to shatter the privacy and private lives of – in particular – my parents is utterly disgusting. I am aware that my public profile brings with it consequences for me that I accept entirely. But I will not allow my public profile to be used as an excuse to invade the rights of my parents, my wife, my children or other family members.

They are entitled to a private life of their own. The decision to publish these details has grave and lifelong consequences for my mum in particular.”

Irrelevant Observation.

Jon Clarke, owner and editor of the Olive Press wrote articles for, and was paid by, The Sun.


FAPE Judgment against Olive Press 2013/82

The judgment continues [my translation]. “In the reasoning of this resolution it states that the journalist has acted with remarkable flippancy and published a scandalous story based on very flimsy material. The information published in "The Olive Press" is an example of irresponsible sensationalism to attract the attention of the prospective reader. Its content is pure charlatanry, "gossip" in the language in which it has been written and in journalistic language “amarillismo", [sensationalist journalism] always reprehensible but much more when an innocent subject of the information can be endangered”

amarillismo translates as Yellow Journalism


The German news magazine Der Spiegel has been plunged into chaos after revealing that one of its top reporters had falsified stories over several years.

The media world was stunned by the revelations that the award-winning journalist Claas Relotius had, according to the weekly, “made up stories and invented protagonists” in at least 14 out of 60 articles that appeared in its print and online editions, warning that other outlets could also be affected.

Relotius, 33, resigned after admitting to the scam. He had written for the magazine for seven years and won numerous awards for his investigative journalism, including CNN Journalist of the Year in 2014.

Earlier this month, he won Germany’s Reporterpreis (Reporter of the Year) for his story about a young Syrian boy, which the jurors praised for its “lightness, poetry and relevance”. It has since emerged that all the sources for his reportage were at best hazy, and much of what he wrote was made up.

The falsification came to light after a colleague who worked with him on a story along the US-Mexican border raised suspicions about some of the details in Relotius’s reporting, having harboured doubts about him for some time.

The colleague, Juan Moreno, eventually tracked down two alleged sources quoted extensively by Relotius in the article, which was published in November. Both said they had never met Relotius. Relotius had also lied about seeing a hand-painted sign that read “Mexicans keep out”, a subsequent investigation found.

Other fraudulent stories included one about a Yemeni prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, and one about the American football star Colin Kaepernick.

In a lengthy article, Spiegel, which sells about 725,000 print copies a week and has an online readership of more than 6.5 million, said it was “shocked” by the discovery and apologised to its readers and to anyone who may have been the subject of “fraudulent quotes, made-up personal details or invented scenes at fictitious places”.

The Hamburg-based magazine, which was founded in 1947 and is renowned for its in-depth investigative pieces, said Relotius had committed journalistic fraud “on a grand scale”. It described the episode as “a low point in Spiegel’s 70-year history”. An in-house commission has been set up to examine all of Relotius’ work for the weekly.

The reporter also wrote for a string of other well-known outlets, including the German newspapers taz, Welt and the Frankfurter Allgemeine’s Sunday edition. Die Welt tweeted on Wednesday: “He abused his talent”.

Relotius told Spiegel he regretted his actions and was deeply ashamed, the magazine said. “I am sick and I need to get help,” he was quoted as saying.

Moreno, who has worked for the magazine since 2007, risked his own job when he confronted other colleagues with his suspicions, [my bold] many of whom did not want to believe him. “For three to four weeks Moreno went through hell because colleagues and those senior to him did not want to believe his accusations at first,” Der Spiegel wrote in an apology to its readers. For several weeks, the magazine said, Relotius was even considered to be the victim of a cunning plot by Moreno.

Relotius cleverly rebuffed all the attacks, all of Moreno’s well-researched pieces of evidence … until there came a point when that didn’t work any more, until he finally couldn’t sleep any more, hunted by the fear of being discovered,” the magazine wrote.

Relotius, it added, finally gave himself up last week after being confronted by a senior editor.

In his confession to his employer, he said: “It wasn’t because of the next big thing. It was fear of failing. My pressure to not be able to fail got ever bigger the more successful I became.”

The magazine, which is one of Germany’s most prominent news organisations, is now trying to rescue its reputation amid fears a magazine already challenged by the problems in the German newspaper industry will struggle to recover.
All [his] colleagues are deeply shattered,” the magazine wrote. In particular, it said, in the Society department, where he worked, “[his] colleagues are astounded and sad … the affair feels like a death in the family.”