There have two trials I have been recently watching in the UK. The first is the trial of the News of the World editors and journalists over the voice-mail hacking scandal – and the second is the trial of publicity agent Max Clifford for offences of indecency.
You cannot watch these trials and not know that there is a massive overlap. The change in the structure of the newsroom in the News of the World – just prior to the Wapping Industrial dispute was something to behold – and definitely not for the newspaper’s good.
The news editor was the much respected Bob Warren, a former Naval Officer, who while a little mischievous, was solid as a rock and a man of integrity.
The paper, then broadsheet, was meant to be mischievous. But amongst stories of Vicars running off with housekeepers some of the best investigations were carried out targeting the likes of Scotland Yard’s Flying Squad – the Sweeney.
The newspaper had sent me to become a Nazi, one of the ‘Children of God’, a scaffolder on a North Sea oil rig, the list goes on – and around the world.
But when a new editor David Montgomery took over I decided it was time to go.
Max Clifford was the second reason. I had been asked to go to his office in Covent Garden to write a story. It involved a bimbette and some show biz personality.
The story was patently untrue. And I refused to write it. Or rather I wrote it in such a way that no way was it going to make the newspaper.
That was the last straw. I quit the newspaper during the Wapping Industrial dispute against Murdoch in London went on around the world trip for Channel 4 television, joined the Observer- and somehow ended up in South East Asia.
Max Clifford was and remains to me a total hypocrite. He started off selling false stories and ended up trying to protect his clients from true stories. He had the instincts of a barrow boy, with apologies to barrow boys.
And more recently he has been on the campaign trail of ethics in journalism. But now the hands that fed him are clawing at his throat.
Probably the most thorough drubbing he has got has come from the ‘Daily Mail’ which thoroughly tore apart Clifford after he was convicted of multiple counts of indecent assault.
It may have been unfair. But I am afraid to say that for once I let my Christian charity slip felt I was knitting by the guillotine and enjoying the spectacle. Clifford lived by the sword.
Having moved to Asia while conducting enquiries in Pattaya I had to talk to a guy called Stan Fry – a notorious cheat and fraud who ran an estate agency and go-go bar there and kept the local police entertained. ‘You must know Max Clifford. He’s my mate. We used to go shagging together”.
Yes. It all made sense. But its not nice knitting here.
Apologies for the short silence here. There is a reason.