Tuesday, December 12, 2006

EXCLUSIVE: Ashcroft FOI Request Reveals Full Extent of Newspaper Sleaze

Those of you who have read Michael Ashcroft's Dirty Politics, Dirty Times will know the lengths some newspapers go to to obtain information illegally. The News of the World Clive Goodman case is just the tip of a very sleazy iceberg. Lord Ashcroft has now gone a stage further in his endeavours to expose the sleazy operations of some journalists and publications and used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain even more startling information on this.

Essentially, Ashcroft has uncovered via the Information Commissioner's Office that 305 journalists used one specific agency in Hampshire to obtain illegal information from the Police National Computer, the DVLA and telephone companies. These 305 journalists worked for a total of 20 national newspapers (ie most of them) and 11 magazines. A staggering 58 worked for one newspaper, 50 for another, 45 for another and 33 for another. The laws of libel prevent me from speculating which newspapers they were, but you can probably guess just as well as I can. In total, 40 lines of enquiry were commissioned by journalists working for magazines, but half of these journalists worked for just one magazine.

Read Lord Ashcroft's full report HERE (it's five pages long).

Isn't it strange that the original ICO report titled 'What Price Privacy?' received hardly any press coverage? I wonder why that was... Well if the newspapers won't cover this new revelation I am sure Lord Ashcroft would encourage my fellow bloggers to...


Anonymous said...

Ashcroft is a very interesting individual, if occasionally disingenuous. His 'I am led to believe that in the days of Fleet Street this sort of thing rarely
occurred' being remarkably touching.

Of course he's altogether shrewder than that. When you meet him next, Iain, ask him about ADT and Florida. He'll certainly have some interesting tales to tell.

But at least he's bankrolled the Conservative Party for a while, and actually I'm quite pleased by that.

Anonymous said...

Here's another press scandal you could publicise. Why not expose it on 18DoughtyStreet?


Anonymous said...

Do I need to get someone to break into a computer in order to find out which newspapers and journalists are the worst offenders?

Anonymous said...

The villainous character of some members of the media is truely ghastly. Corruption, sleaze, mud-slinging, all but a few of the hallmarks of the modern press.

At the same time, let's not sleepwalk into anti-free press legislation. Let's instead work to ensure the privacy of citizens so they don't become victims of some of the more predatory journalists in the country.

Anonymous said...

Chaps and chapesses - regarding the poll on the left of the monitor, I don't live in Britain so don't see most of these programmes. But I've still got a vote, so which programme should I vote for?

Anonymous said...


Sad to say they are all left-wing crap

Henry Krinkle said...

As revealed in Private Eye a month ago

Anonymous said...

Sehr geEhrter Iain

Once again, we see the Libel Laws preventing the Truth from being told & supporting mis-conduct & deceit

For years, the late Mr Maxwell used libel writs to protect his obnoxious conduct

The rich & famous have effective rights to large damages, even when the Truth is being told (eg the late Liberace)

These rights do not benefit the ordinary citizen, whose freedom of speech is curtailed but who cannot afford defemation litigation, which is prohibitively expensive

Isn't the answer to abolish the Laws of Libel, which do not benefit honest ordinary folk, but do so often benefit the "unworthy"

Your obedient servant etc


Anonymous said...

As I said last night, Ian, it is a sad case of newspapers doing that which they condemn in others - invading privacy etc. A horrible business that will do yet more to ensure that only the least interesting people will are go into public life.

Unknown said...

The raid by the Data Commissioner's people also spawned some interesting litigation in the High Court as the firm in question was a subcontractor for a more reputable firm of investigators, who in turn were acting for Mischon's - the solicitors. The report is on Balii.org:


Anonymous said...

@gordon-bennett: I'd say slinging mud at the left is not helpful, just the left name-calling at the right isn't helpful either.

As someone who comes from a leftish position himself, I am curious about guardianlies.com. But the website does itself no credit by suggesting that the media is 'Guardian driven', a ridiculous assertion in light of how significantly the reach of the liberal press is dwarfed by conservative media. It's all very well to suggest cover-up at the Guardian, but would Murdoch have played along at the time? I somehow doubt it.

Will have a read nevertheless, though :)

old_Punk said...


The Daily Mail won with 952