Back Issues 18.11.05

Maxwell ‘plunderer’ allegations Press Gazette was running
accusations that Robert Maxwell was plundering the MGN pension fund –
six years before he died. A piece by former Mirror journalist Joe
Grizzard began: “A group of senior Mirror pensioners is exploring what
form of legal action may be open to them to halt what they describe as
‘the rape of the MGN Pension Fund’.” One of the pensioners told
Grizzard: “Robert Maxwell seems to have arranged with the MGN staff
representatives to take more than £30m from the fund’s surplus of at
least £75m to backfund pensions for people that he would like to retire
early.” Shortly after Maxwell died it was revealed that he had looted
the MGN pension fund of £400m.

Hot stuff for The Sun Sun reporter
Paul Hooper was given the task of disposing of more than 800 copies of
the portrait of the Crying Boy sent in by readers who blamed the
painting for strange experiences that had happened to them. The Sun had
run a story about how the portrait was believed to be jinxed after
firefighters had found them untouched at the scene of a series of house
blazes. This prompted Sun readers to contact the paper with their own
tales of disaster. Hooper took the “boys” to Berkshire and made a
bonfire out of them.

Wilson in at The Times Charles Wilson had
been named as the new editor of The Times. He had a reputation as a bit
of a head-banger, which, according to one former colleague, was
literally true. Clive Sandgrond, who worked with Wilson on the Sunday
Standard, told Press Gazette: “We were having an argument – it was with
me and a couple of others – about some matter when he said: ‘What do I
have to do to get this idea into your thick skulls?’ With that he went
up to the wall and started to bang his head against it. On the third
bang his head went through the wall.” Sandground did add, however: “It
was less a testament to his hard head than to the jerrybuilding of the
Standard office.”

‘Royal father in the SS’ The Daily Mirror’s
revelation that Princess Michael of Kent’s father had been in the SS
was a matter of legitimate public interest, but its treatment of the
story went beyond what was reasonable, the Press Council ruled. In
particular, the Press Council objected to the “manner and vehement
language” used by the Mirror, which referred to the story as the
“Princess Michael scandal” and headlined a comment column “This bloody
disgrace”.

No cameras in parliament MPs had voted against letting
TV cameras into Parliament. It was thought to be the opposition of
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that had swung the ‘no’ vote. The
debate gave MPs the chance to bash the press for the way it was
covering Parliament. Former PM Ted Heath complained that Times
sketch-writer Frank Johnson had told him that his sole purpose was to
“do in” politicians. “He declared this openly,” a shocked Heath told
the House. “He told me so. I said in the process he ran the risk of
destroying Parliament as well.”

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