Like A Circle in A Circle, Like A Wheel Within A Wheel 88

Hat-tip to Mary for pointing me in the right direction.

For those of us who experienced a surge of naive hope that News International have been referred to Ofcom for a ruling on the “Fit and Proper Persons” test, here is a bucket of cold water. Rather than being disinterested public servants, the Board of Ofcom represent the political and financial establishments which are so irreversibly penetrated by the spores of News International. Many of them hold directorships of companies – like banks and insurance companies – which have a direct interest in seeing no further plunge in News Corp/News International share price. They are also beneficiaries of the policies Murdoch has championed – private equity firms and privatised utilities, for example.

Bluntly, there is no chance that a body of which the Chairman, Colette Bowe, is a Director of Morgan Stanley and of Electra Private Equity is going to pull the rug on News Corp.

Here is but a selection of some of the Directorships held by Ofcom board members:

Morgan Stanley
Electra Private Equity
Thames Water
Betfair Group
JJB Sports
Pace Plc – supplier of set top boxes to Murdoch’s Sky
Nujira Ltd – defence contractors to US military
Standard Life

That is just a selection. In addition, the Chairman is a director of the Wincott Foundation, a “charity” whose purpose is to spread the far right economic doctrines of Milton Friedman in Eastern Europe – to the benefit, ultimate if incidental, of Morgan Stanley and Electra Private Equity, in which she also holds directorships.

She is most unlikely to find the Murdoch influence pernicious, wouldn’t you say?

How on earth did we come to have a regulatory body for the communications industry composed of these kind of parasites? Why is it so overpacked with businessmen and so devoid of intellectuals? Again, to put that simply, why the Chairman of JJB Sports and no Eric Hobsbawm?

Our entire fabric of government is a sick fucking joke.

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88 thoughts on “Like A Circle in A Circle, Like A Wheel Within A Wheel

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  • Frazer

    Off Topic…I will be in London next weekend and am thinking about popping down to stay with you on Sat and a spare room ? Promise to arrive with a decent vino and some steaks for a BBQ.

  • Phil

    From the Ofcom website-

    * Mike McTighe (Appointed 1 September 2007) is the Non-executive Director of Pace plc which, among its other activities, supplies set top boxes to Ofcom-regulated companies.

    In line with the Board’s Conflicts of Interests policy, Mike McTighe will not see papers on or take part in Board discussions in relation to those companies or any other matter which could reasonably be expected to affect the share price of Pace plc.

  • johnm

    I’d be happy for this whole affair to be investigated by a jury backed up by a couple of qcs, some seconded detectives and with george galloway or similar persona non grata in the chair. With a similar set up for the pcc anytime an issue arises they could just select a jury from any jury pool to decide the issue, and consequences. Cheap and cheerful.

  • craig Post author


    Yes, but what is he doing on the board in thefirst place with such a staggering conflict of interests?

  • mike cobley

    Thats a shocker – must take a closer look at the all the senior regulatory bodies.

  • Phil

    Indeed Craig, it looks very off.

    I would say though if they did just wave this deal through, the public and media outcry would be so great as to makwe their positions completely untenable anyway and the organisation dead in the water. it would be like turkeys voting for Xmas

  • Tom Welsh

    As you said, Craig, government has increasingly shuffled off its responsibilities onto a horde of anonymous, secretive quangos – and many of those are penetrated and even led by members of the industries they are supposed to be regulating.

    This is very close to the textbook dictionary of fascism: an all-powerful state closely cooperating with huge powerful corporations. The difference is that, whereas Mussolini and Hitler trumpeted their fascism and marched through the streets flying flags and banging drums, modern fascism has learned to be silent, disguise itself meticulously, and be shocked – shocked! – at any mention of its true name.

  • Jonangus Mackay

    Largely forgotten factor in toxically cosy relations between Murdoch satraps & Tory twosome:

    NB: Craig et al:
    Don’t wish to seem like a crank, but this is my fourth attempt across 24 hours to post here the above (nothing special about them) links. Had similar mysterious experience, if you recall, in immediate run-up to the disgraceful self-promotional New Statesman ‘Whistleblower’ Fest at Kensington Town a few months back, from which you were suddenly disinvited ~ still unexplained & in which, some suggested at the time, the long arm of the FCO may have been involved. Anyway, as I say, fourth time of trying.
    [Moderator’s note: more than one link in a comment always leads to it being held for moderation. To post more than one link, remove the h t t p : / / , or I think enclosing the links in curly brackets works, too.]

  • AndyP

    “which have a direct interest in seeing no further plunge in News Corp/News International share price.”

    Although I wouldn’t put a spot of short selling past these arseholes.

  • Anon

    Lets all the face the terrible truth about not just this, but about EVERY facet of the power that rules us all, it is a cancer on the body of our very being. We can blog till the end of time about it, it won`t stop it. There must and has to be an alternative, if there is not then one must be found, or the cancer will turn out to be…Terminal.

  • Trance Devil

    Time to stir up situation a bit more. Isn’t blackmailing the politician the same as terrorism. A great method for an organization such as al-Qaeda, then they get sharia law in place. Clearly a more effective form of terrorism than IRA. That the situation I see News International in. Hugh Grant on Question Time such all the politician are terrified of Murdock empire.

  • Alaric

    Q. How long till the Public Inquiry starts?

    A. The time it takes for NotW to get rid of the evidence.

    I am not surprised by many of these revelations or the way the government has handled it, lacking lustre.

    I am interested to what extent the police can accept bribes and still get away with it!

    But still, it is all quite sickening how the system is a rotten, politicians entertaining media moguls, vice versa.

    And another thing, appointing Rebbeca Brooks to head an investigation into phone hacking, at the newspaper, she was editor (and ultimately responsible for) of at the time of the alledged offences!

    Have you ever tried to bite your own teeth?
    Social media and the internet have given us the ability to quickly spread ideas and messages, we can react and collectively ‘speak with our feet’ or “fingertips” for instance a quick search on google brought me to a page where I could automatically send twitter messages to companies that advertise with NotW, in a few mintes I was able to send them all messages to ask them to think twice.

  • Azra

    I cannot see how the investigation or anyone can claim that they “have got rid of evidence”. As far as I was aware ISP (internet Service Providers), are obliged to keep copies of emails and texts for years. Yes it might be a bit difficult to sift through billions of deleted emails, but there are surely methods to filter all the emails from NoW.. I cannot believe the technology is not capable, it is whether the investigators are willing! and that is the million dollar question.

  • Jonangus Mackay

    Hugh Grant, in his admirable Question Time pugilistic stance, did in fact characterize Murdoch’s UK ~ one hesitates to say British ~ tabloid operation as ‘a protection racket.’ Other pundits, I note, have referred to his sustained & repeated use of ‘blackmail’ to bend Government Ministers to his will.
    Most brazenly spectacular instance, perhaps, concerns bag-carrier Rebekah ‘Gorgon’ Brooks’ refusal to appear before a Commons Select Committee. She reportedly conveyed to them the intelligence that, should they persist in their attempts, their personal lives would be ‘destroyed.’
    Would David Cameron & old school chum George conceivably wish, particularly once in office, to suffer a fate similar to that of, say, Chris Bryant MP? Obviously not.
    Rupert Murdoch is, despite his years, both fit & proper. By the exacting standards of Tony Soprano.

  • mary

    @Jonangus – the use of cocaine seems to be all pervasive in the Notting Hill and the Chipping Norton sets.
    Matthew Freud, son of Clement, brother of Emma and married to Elisabeth Murdoch (second marriage for both) is described here as having been familiar with the substance!
    His ex wife Caroline has recently married Princess Diana’s brother btw. There is a meld of links to show business, business, politics, PR, and royalty all connected to Murdoch in some way.
    This rather long rambling piece in the Guardian goes into details about the social life of the ‘players’. There is also much about Blair and Wade/Brooks a deux.
    Again many connections.
    ……..According to those who know Freud and Murdoch, it is their talent for hosting high-powered get-togethers that underpins their bond with Blair. “He parties with Liz and Matthew,” says one source who has observed Blair at close quarters. “When Cherie’s out of town, he often turns up in his jeans, often with Rebekah Wade, to their house in Notting Hill and the house they’ve got in Oxfordshire.” Blair tends to go solo, says this source, for two reasons. “It’s partly that (I think he means Cherie here)she’s a less welcome guest; she’s less liked by that crowd. And it’s partly that when she’s away, he finds himself at a loose end.” For Blair, apparently, part of the attraction of the Freud-Murdoch milieu is simple: “He just loves hanging out with celebs.
    “A Freud-Murdoch soiree held in 2006 provides glorious proof of this, complete with Blair in jeans, and the Wade connection. Back then, Freud was working with the Texan billionaire Philip Anschutz and South African casino magnate Sol Kerzner (who created the infamous apartheid-era resort Sun City). The pair had teamed up to try and win approval for a giant gambling venue at the Millennium Dome. There had already been a flurry of headlines when Freud had apparently used a private dinner to introduce the then culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, to Anschutz, but on September 20 2006, his jockeying on their behalf entered the realms of the absurd.
    That evening, Blair had been having dinner with Wade at Cecconi’s restaurant in Mayfair, owned by the Freud client Nick Jones. Wade apparently convinced Blair to come with her to a house party thrown by Freud to promote another of his clients: the Red credit card, launched by U2 singer Bono and American Express, and aimed at raising money to fight disease in Africa. With a year to go until he left office, Blair was – to quote one insider – “at the stage of ‘Why not?'”, and the pair duly arrived at Freud and Murdoch’s west London home. “You go first and I’ll follow,” he told Wade, whereupon the pair entered a throng that included Bono, 50 Cent, Claudia Schiffer, Alicia Keys – and Kerzner. The story was, said one PR industry high-up, “classic Freud”. “In one hit he publicises the restaurant and shows Kerzner rubbing shoulders with the prime minister. Blair was used.” ………

    A good dose of Harpic is needed or else call for Dyno-Rod.

  • deepgreenpuddock

    Out of curiosity-how are the members of Ofcom and other boards selected? I assume some kind of political appointment-by the Home secretary? PM?

    Well, whatever method exists it is assuredly to be politically motivated. It can only mean that the people were chosen by the Labour government-people like David Blunkett or Tony Blair or Gordon Brown-assuming there has been no major overhaul since the arrival of Cameron.

    I actually remember Gordon Brown from his Constituency Labour Party days- even pre-university, and what he used to say and presumably think and believe-(my cousin was a contemporary, and was actually a better scholar than Brown)

    Blunkett’s labour party past in Sheffield has the same qualities- of outspoken radicalism, speaking out about the iniquities of power, seeking a change.

    Now I am not naive enough to think that one maintains youthful zeal and energy indefinitely, or that compromise, adjustment and accommodation of opposing views are a necessary part of any political career, as well as many other careers.
    But there is not a single politician of any value who does not realise how critical communication, and the technology of communication, are to politics. it is the very essence of politics.

    Realpolitik may dictate that one has to accommodate different perspectives or competing interests, when confronted by the business of setting up some kind of industry regulating body.

    However my intuition on such a matter suggests to me that one might want to achieve some kind of balance of interests-partly to provoke powerful debate of difficult issues, in order to tease out the intricacies and meanings and consequences of any course of action. The casting vote or chair’s role is (intuitively) best located in some figure who has no particular connections or interests. One might choose an intellectual-perhaps an academic of some standing accustomed to the weighing of arguments.

    Strangely,there is no appearance here of any attempt to develop such a balance or neutrality and since we must assume that people like Blunkett and Brown and Blair were responsible for overseeing such appointments, it seems as if there has been the most extraordinary volte-face of what they have repeatedly professed a belief in-plurality,democratic principles, and balanced open debate, and a distaste for cronyism, and power/influence hungry cliques and hidden influence.

    I was moderated off the Guardian for a comment about the NI scandal, for asking the question-Just what is it that someone like David Blunkett needs to discuss with Rebekah Brooks late at night, immediately after important parliamentary or government ‘events’?
    I suggested( alleged) that it was very possible to infer quite reasonably, that Blunkett may well have been party to the culture of hacking, and had actual knowledge of it. One can even imagine that he might participate in the activity-the ‘game’ of manipulating public opinion and obscuring important information.

    I notice that Marina Hyde has come in with an article saying more or less the same thing, that the real issue is collusion between politicians and Murdoch- (the MET plods taking money is cheap and squalid and ‘important’, but not the central issue.

    In other words there is such a compelling sense of an entrenched, deeply improper, unaccountable, unreported, secret connections to the media.

    We have to then ask questions such as why senior politicians appear to have ‘neglected’ their duties in trying to achieve balance and plurality in such important functions of state as regulating communication.

    What would very close attention to the reasons for certain appointments reveal?

    Basically there is a very strong case that the connections between politicians and the media have been actually corrupt in some way-(not just corrupt in a vague sense of institutionally corrupt, or there being an undetectable drift of standards in the absence of guidance).

    Politicians are really not naive. They understand perfectly the importance of these relationships and entering and promoting such relationships cannot be ‘naive’.

    We really are facing a serious challenge to start some process of change which will correct this endemic corruption. It would mean that people like Brown and Blair and Blunkett would be called to account for specific decisions and actions such as why they permitted such unbalanced structures in important quangos.
    I think the devil in these three B’s is probably deep down in the detail.
    That doesn’t mean it can’t still be dug up.

  • Anon

    “Time to stir up situation a bit more. Isn’t blackmailing the politician the same as terrorism. A great method for an organization such as al-Qaeda, then they get sharia law in place. Clearly a more effective form of terrorism than IRA. That the situation I see News International in. Hugh Grant on Question Time such all the politician are terrified of Murdock empire.”
    Trance Devil, More to the point, what kind of people are we electing to power who do things that can leave them open to “blackmailing”. From what we see it must mean that most of our politicians are rotten to the core, taken Murdoch out of the picture will not solve the problem, not even dent it!.

  • Anon

    “Like A Circle in A Circle, Like A Wheel Within A Wheel”
    “Never ending or beginning, on an ever-spinning reel”…The gravy train never runs out of track for those who wield power.

  • mary

    Everybody seems to be away today or perhaps they are feeling disillusioned knowing full well what is going on at Wapping this weekend.

    My post (just below Jonangus Mackay’s second post) is about the dinners à deux of Blair and Wade when he was in power and about Matthew Freud’s influence on Blair is awaiting moderation.

  • mary

    Some retaliation from NI.
    Tom Baldwin was a journalist with The Times. He named Dr Kelly and is a friend of Campbell.
    ‘Baldwin was the Times journalist who named the weapons expert as the secret source behind the BBC’s claim that the Blair government had ‘sexed up’ a dossier about Iraq’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’ to justify going to war against Saddam Hussein.’

  • mary

    Ostensibly Brown and Burnham shooed in Bowe but most probably it was Mandelslime.
    She was chosen following a recruitment process handled by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
    “I am delighted to announce that Colette Bowe is our choice for chairman of Ofcom,” said the culture secretary, Andy Burnham. “Colette has the right mix of skills and experience for this role and I’m confident she also has the vision necessary to take Ofcom forward and tackle its future challenges.”
    The business secretary, Peter Mandelson, added: “The communications industries have huge significance for our economy during these challenging times, and Colette’s knowledge and experience across business, regulation and Whitehall will be invaluable at Ofcom in helping deliver greater choice and innovation across the sector.”

  • mary

    Andy Hayman in the Times April 2010. He works for NI.
    In this technological age criminals use state-of-the-art methods to commit and conceal crimes. Most investigations combine conventional methods to gather evidence from witnesses alongside contemporary specialisms. These new skills involve scrutinising and analysing pages of telephone call data, terabytes of computer hard drives and days of closed-circuit television images to identify criminal associations, to detect suspicious spending patterns or decode complex financial statements.
    Well I never.

    Ge works f

  • The Slog


    It’d be good to think you’re wrong, but of course you’re right.
    The only thing going for us in this case is that Ofcom members are probably aware that the lamp post rope beckons if they give the BSkyB deal the go-ahead.
    Also remember that the BSkyB big cheeses themselves almost certainly see Murdoch now as too toxic to taken on board. Plus, his share price is falling, and theirs is rising.
    There is a Christian part of me feeling sympathy for Rupe. But it is hidden so deeply in the inner recesses of my low-technology brain parts, I can’t find it.

  • Jonangus Mackay

    Mogul Murdoch’s nemesis ~ though I’m sure he wouldn’t think of himself as such ~ is finally starting to get proper credit. Without efforts for years by apparently fearless reporter Nick Davies, none of this would be happening: Coulson would still be in post & Murdoch himself would still be operating his Westminster/Whitehall/Scotland Yard protection racket with utter impunity.

    BBC Radio 4 runs a profile of the author of ‘Flat Earth News’ at 7:pm this evening (Saturday).

    Davies was given a year off from the Guardian, where he’s technically a freelance, to write the volume that blows the whistle on Britain’s Press ~ on the understanding that the paper would in exchange get the serial rights.

    In the event, Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian’s editor, reneged on the deal. Why? Chapter 7: The Dark Arts, on phone hacking, police bribes etc. And, in particular, Chapter 9: The Blinded Observer, exposing the Guardian’s stable-mate. Lord Gnome, as a consequence, had to pick up the baton. No other paper would dare. The only time in its history I can recall Private Eye buying serial rights to a book. It ran a double-page spread of excerpts.

    Tory political commentator Peter Oborne said of the volume when it appeared: ‘Nick Davies has amassed an overwhelming weight of evidence that the British media lies, distorts the facts & routinely breaks the law. It is hypnotically readable, commands attention right to the end & has troubled me profoundly ever since . . . His book should be read by every reporter, editor & proprietor as well as newspaper readers. Its real importance goes well beyond journalism.’

    Note Oborne’s final sentence. BBC Newsnight economics correspondent Paul Mason on Thursday morning tweeted towards the end of Cameron’s self-delusory press conference on the crisis ~ sparked in truth by Davies’s efforts: ‘Cameron’s closing bit signals systematic crisis of the Brit establishment: cops, press, executive power ~ like a nightmare scripted by Chomsky.’

    In the penultimate paragraph of his chapter on wholesale deployment of private private detectives by Britain’s national tabloids, interception of phone messages & bribing of police, Davies writes:

    ‘The truth is that what was once the occasional indulgence of a few shifty crime correspondents has become the regular habit of most news organisations. The hypocrisy is wonderful to behold. These organisations exist to tell the truth and yet routinely they lie about themselves. Many of these organisations have been the loudest voices in the law-and-order lobby, calling for tougher penalties against villains, tougher action against anti-social behaviour, even while they themselves indulge in bribery, corruption & the theft of confidential information.’

    The News of the World is (was) known to be merely fifth, in fact, in Fleet Street’s Premier League of big spenders on the Dark Arts. Topping the table is the Daily Mail. This may surprise newspaper readers, but it’s no surprise to anyone working in Britain’s national news organisations.

    Would-be Hackgate buffs who’ve not done so already might do worse than bookmark Davies’s online archive. I suspect they may find it increasingly handy for reference purposes as Ukania’s institutional mudslide widens.

    Very short notice, I know: should you miss tonight’s broadcast, you can hear it for the next seven days via the BBC iPlayer.

    PS: Davies’s Dark Arts chapter includes specific mention of Tom Baldwin, the former Murdoch reporter chosen by hapless Opposition leader Ed Milliband, dirty tricks or no, to be his chief spin doctor.

  • derek

    Azra said :
    [quote]I cannot see how the investigation or anyone can claim that they “have got rid of evidence”. As far as I was aware ISP (internet Service Providers), are obliged to keep copies of emails and texts for years. Yes it might be a bit difficult to sift through billions of deleted emails, but there are surely methods to filter all the emails from NoW.. I cannot believe the technology is not capable, it is whether the investigators are willing! and that is the million dollar question.[/quote]

    ISPs are only obliged to keep copies of emails originating/destined to their own mail servers. A company like NI will be operating their own mail servers. Any mail from one NI employee to another would travel entirely in house and never reach their ISP.

    ISPs do not keep copies of emails which are merely transiting their network. The technology exists, they could do it, but it would be expensive and since most email is spam anyway it would be pointless. Having said that the Echelon network operated by the CIA does intercept emails from all over the world but it would be ridiculous to suggest that even Echelon is capable of archiving every email sent.

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