Back Issues 29.07.05

JULY 2000
 
BY JON SLATTERY
 
Controversial campaign

News of the World editor Rebekah Wade stood by her decision to name
and shame paedophiles – despite running into a storm of criticism.
There were fears that the campaign, prompted by the murder of
eight-year-old Sarah Payne, was sparking vigilante attacks and forcing
known paedophiles to go underground where they could not be tracked by
police and care organisations. Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore
accused Wade of instigating a “rabble-rousing witch hunt”. Wade told
Press Gazette: “I want people to realise it was my decision alone to do
this and my decision to continue doing it. I feel extremely strongly
about it.” The NoW editor wanted a US-style Megan’s Law introduced that
would give parents access to the names, pictures and details of every
paedophile listed on the national sex offenders’ register.

Smashing the glass ceiling

Press Gazette published a feature on four deputy editors of national
newspapers who were women. The article, by Noreen Taylor, questioned
whether a glass ceiling remained, which would stop women getting the
top jobs in Fleet Street. The four deputies interviewed in the feature
were Sarah Sands, of The Daily Telegraph, Georgina Henry of The
Guardian, Tina Weaver of The Mirror and Veronica Wadley of the Daily
Mail. Five years on, three of the four are editors of national titles.
Sands was recently installed at The Sunday Telegraph, Weaver edits the
Sunday Mirror and Wadley has taken the reins at London’s Evening
Standard. In the feature, Tina Weaver passed on some advice she was
given by Marje Proops on how to handle men in the office: “Smile
sweetly, dear, and if that doesn’t work, use the F-word.”

Standard got Blair scoop

The jaw-dropping story was that Euan Blair had been picked up by the
police after collapsing drunk in Leicester Square. The Sun and The
Times had got the story too late to publish, so it was the Evening
Standard that got the scoop. Guidance was sought from the PCC to see if
the story broke the Editors’ Code guidelines on publishing stories
about children of the famous. However, PCC chairman Lord Wakeham ruled
that Euan was fair game as he was over 16, not in school, was found
drunk and incapable and taken into police custody.

Shayler ruling victory

Journalist Martin Bright along with The Guardian and The Observer
was celebrating a court ruling seen as a victory for the press. Lord
Justice Judge had ruled in the Appeal Court that Special Branch should
not be allowed access to material held by Bright and the two
newspapers, relating to former MI5 officer David Shayler. Bright said
afterwards: “It is a feeling of total relief that this action, that’s
been hanging over my head so long, is over. Without the support of
fellow journalists, the union and the newspapers it would have been
impossible to take such a stand.” Shayler had alleged that MI6 was
involved in a plot to kill Libyan leader Colonel Gadafi. Mr Justice
Judge said that if Shayler’s claim was true it was a matter of public
importance. He added that as “the eyes and ears of the public”,
journalists were entitled to investigate and report the facts.

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