Friday, 4 October 2013

Anti-Censorship Series, Vol.9: Reporting to London

This final article of the series originally published on the Pensive Quill blog concerns the quaint fulminations of a certain "agent of influence" in Belfast.

Back in March a person describing themselves as ‘a former director of publicity for Sinn Fein’ filed a report to someone in London.

It seems the writer unilaterally took it upon himself to function as the NUJ Ethics Council’s Belfast agent, tasked with filing reports to London. I cannot say for certain that his letter was merely the latest in a line of reports to people in the British capital, although the balance of probability would tend towards the writer having previous form.

The Belfast agent complained that I had suggested on this blog that he was a snitch. I’ll not criticise him too harshly for that. What I found strange is that he tried to show Sarah Kavanagh of the NUJ that he was most definitely no such thing by ...  snitching on me. Sarah, Sarah, I’m not a snitch and I’m snitching here to prove it.  The logic sort of escapes me, and if Sarah has any cop-on it will have escaped her too. What it does do is reinforce the 'lions led by donkeys' characterisation of the relationship between some Provo leaders and the volunteers on the ground. 

Perhaps it is just my imagination but am I wrong to sniff the scent of collusion between the actions of the NUJ chapel at the Irish News who tattled to Dear Sarah, and the ‘former director of publicity for Sinn Fein’ who also went a-squealing to her? Both letters were written on the same day; the former publicity director's in the morning followed by the chapel's a few hours later. Both were eager to point out to Sarah how I had said ghastly things about either her or the Ethics Council. And both praised the same council for having taken action against me. Coordination, collaboration, or coincidence?

Not that I care in the slightest about the content of their Miss, Miss, he’s pulling faces ... again letters. It is what curtain-twitchers do.  But it seems they want to stand behind their curtains out of view so that they can avail of the cover of confidentiality while lifting the phone about those they take umbrage at, much like those trying to catch a guy leaving home in the morning to do the double. At all times nobody is to know the source of tales being carried to London. 
Their actions would have been more palatable had secrecy been vital on some grounds not yet spelt out: public interest, personal safety or whatever. It is doubtful that anybody reading the ratting letters would arrive at the conclusion that any of these extenuating factors applied here. They were sneakily penned with a view to underhanded lobbying, meant never to see the light of day: For London’s Eyes Only.

The ‘former director of publicity for Sinn Fein’ has his own website where he maintains a diary of things he did on a lot of his days. He appears to leave out the days that he is reporting to London. We know he reports because we have caught him  but he never writes about it on his website.  A reader would never know that the NUJ’s self-appointed Belfast agent might have a penchant for reporting to London. He doesn’t record that type of thing. On the 29th of March this year, although he was with practiced hand scribbling a report to London, he failed to disclose it to his readers.  Anyone taking a look at his website for that date will find no entry in it; he didn’t write, ‘Today I reported to someone in London about Mackers.’

If readers don’t take my word for it, they can view a copy of the letter he hoped would secretly fortify the case against me so as to hobble my appeal. Fortunately, the Ethics Council was in no position to stand over that secrecy so it provided me with a copy of his letter. Even it has not yet signed up to the secret evidence clause of the British courts; but for that I would not be able to share it with the readers. And share it I shall. If anyone thinks they are going to submit secret evidence against me in the hope of producing a Diplock type verdict, and expect me to share the secret, then I am going to disappoint them. So here you go.

Click Image to Enlarge & Read

Now, think what we will about the chapel in the Irish News, it can plausibly claim to at least have a dog in the fight. They decided to stick by one of their own. I don’t think it made the right call and feel its behaviour was far from salutary and detrimental to journalism, but c’est la vie. But what was the Belfast agent’s agenda? 

In my view, he was hoping that he could erode the credibility of the defence being mounted against the PSNI raid on the Boston College archive. He did so in private because he didn’t want the public to know, otherwise he would have recorded it on his web diary as he does for many of his other activities. I think he does a lot of things in private that he does not want you to know about. He tried shutting Richard O’Rawe up over another sordid action of his, and about which he wanted nothing in the public domain. He failed then as well, just as he has failed here. 

Ultimately, in my view we are drawing inexorably closer to the truth about the instigation ofthe NUJ case against me.

One of the journalists who took the complaint called for the Boston College material to be handed over to British authorities. He too thought he could operate in secret but it was his misfortune to get caught out.

The ‘former director of publicity for Sinn Fein’ has long sought to influence the public debate around the Boston College archive in favour of the British state’s perspective. On discovering the existence of the archive he asked the college to view its contents. At whose behest I am not sure, but what the time line does show is that following his failed attempt to gain access to the archive, the British moved overtly and the subpoena was subsequently issued. 

What we can establish is this: two of the people involved in lobbying the NUJ to sanction me, at a time when I was fighting a source protection case backed by the NUJ leadership, were working in clandestine fashion to compromise the vital confidentiality of the archive.

Now as these strands all weave closer together a picture is emerging to suggest that there is something rotten in the state of Danmark. We are on the trail of something sordid. When we find it, as we will because we are good at this sort of thing  55 Hoursand all that  we will share it with you; just as we shared the Belfast agent’s secret report to London with you.

Watch this space. 

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