Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tabloid Fabricated Heathrow Plot

The 2007 Camp for Clmate Action was a huge success with widespread media coverage. One blemmish in this overwhelmingly positive coverage was a fabricated story by the Evening Standard. The press complaints comission has just issued its verdict on this hackery.

===

Evening Standard condemned by press watchdog for coverage of the Camp for
Climate Action's Heathrow protest. Claim of fabrication upheld.

details and documents at: http://www.climatecamp.org.uk/esfabrication.php

In a much awaited ruling the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) issued a
stinging rebuke against the Evening Standard today. The usually mild-
mannered PCC slammed the Standard's coverage of last summer's Camp for
Climate Action at Heathrow as 'materially misleading' and 'alarmist'. The
Evening Standard will be forced to carry the ruling with due-prominence
today.

On 13 August last year, the Standard ran a front page story headlined
'Militants will hit Heathrow' the day before a climate change protest camp
near Heathrow airport opened.
Chief reporter Robert Mendick said he had
uncovered a plot to paralyse the airport via invading runways and placing
suspect packages. The story was subsequently echoed in several media
outlets, all of which ran the false claims believing them to be true. The
Camp for Climate Action immediately wrote to the PCC declaring that the
article was "fabricated". The PCC adjudicated the complaint as "upheld".

The PCC gave the strongest possible reprimand in its powers, finding that
the article was a 'serious breach' of the PCC code of journalistic
standards. They found that "adequate care had not been taken" by the
Standard, despite the Standard's claim that their reporting was the result
of an 'extensive operation organised by an extremely experienced team of
executives and senior reporters'[Doug Wills, Letter to PCC, February 12,
2007].

The rare PCC ruling comes after seven months' worth of submissions, in
which the story's authorship, sources and credibility are all called into
question. Alexandra Harvey, one of the team responsible for pulling apart
the Standard's story, said today:

"This was a political hit job of the worst kind. There was no plot, and
the Standard's ever changing claims throughout this process show that this
was a fiction created for political ends - to stop the growth of a mass
movement taking action on climate change"
.

Chief reporter Robert Mendick has previously denied writing the very
article he authored and the PCC condemned. The Standard subsequently
claimed the story was the work of a different junior journalist, Rashid
Razaq, working undercover.

Mr Razaq has a history of being accused of fabrications which the Standard
has ignored. Last year Mr Razaq wrote a story falsely alleging the showing
of films sympathetic to terrorists at the Freud Museum. The alleged
interviewee said the interview Mr Razaq reported in the article never took
place. A complaint by the museum's director and curator was never
answered. An undercover story by Mr Razaq about his work at Barnet
Hospital as a cleaner was called into question when the Hospital stated
that he was in fact employed as a porter, and had misreported significant
facts.

"This is a disturbing pattern, and the Standard ought to examine
why Mr Razaq was allowed to continue writing these stories for so long,"


said Ms Harvey.

Natasha Edlemann said,


"This summer will see increased direct action aimed  at stopping climate change.  This growing movement expects and deserves scrutiny from the media, but we need to draw a line under dangerous propaganda by those who claim to care about climate change while seeking
to destroy the reputations of the people who are actually doing something about it."

This year's Camp for Climate Action will take place 4 to 11 August at
Kingsnorth power station in Kent. Everyone is invited to join in.

For all the documents and more details, visit Anatomy of a fabrication
http://www.climatecamp.org.uk/anatomyofafabrication.php

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