Hacking scandal scoop journalist Nick Davies has hit back after journalist Stephen Glover denounced him as “a destructive figure, consumed by unreasonable hatreds”.
In a three-page piece which appeared in the Daily Mail on Saturday, and in the New Statesman on Friday, regular Daily Mail columnist Glover questioned Davies’s “sense of fairness and accuracy” – particularly with regards to his books Flat Earth News (about journalism) and Hack Attack (on how he exposed the News of the World hacking scandal).
The Mail Online headline described Davies, who has won numerous major awards for his hacking coverage, as a “discredited reporter” (this has now been changed).
Glover wrote: “Nick Davies is one of the most influential journalists of our age. Without his stamina and forensic skills, the hacking scandal at the News of the World would never have been exposed…
“I see him in many ways as a destructive figure, consumed by unreasonable hatreds, whose motivation was not only to expose malpractice at the NoW but also to weaken much of the British Press, in which task he has succeeded pretty well…
“Davies, so eager to judge the tabloids deficient in their working practices, continually relies on unnamed sources who obligingly attack his enemies. It is as though he and his paper can do no wrong because they are engaged in God’s work — discrediting Murdoch and the rest of the commercial press.”
Responding to the Glover piece, Davies told Press Gazette: “What Stephen Glover does not tell his readers is that he personally was nailed by Hack Attack.
“The book describes how Glover reacted to the Guardian's first story about illegal acts at the News of the World by denouncing it as old stuff.
“’The Guardian does not suggest they still go on’, he wrote. And then the book points out that, a few months later, falling into line with a false claim from the old Press Complaints Commission, he denounced the same story with a completely contradictory claim. ‘The Guardian's reporter Nick Davies suggested such practices were still widespread,’he wrote.
“The point here is not simply that Glover fails to admit this to his readers, nor even that he fails to address it. The more worrying point is that in his long attack on me, he engages in the same habit of dreaming up facts that happen to suit him.
“Repeatedly, he describes my inner thoughts – my motives, my hatreds, my feelings. This man has never spoken to me. This is pure imagination (and he happens to have got every single claim wrong).
“In the same way, he complains that past work of mine which has upset him is based on feeble research. He doesn't know what research I did. Imagination again, and wrong again. He is wrong even on simple background facts.
“He says I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq: anybody who knows me will tell you that (rightly or wrongly) I supported it as a way of getting rid of a murderous dictator. Glover just imagines that I opposed it, which suits his imaginary account of my work.
“There is one subject on which he has a potentially valid point, which is the vexed business of the deletion of Milly Dowler's voicemail. But even there he lets his dreams overtake reality. Those who are interested might like to read this
“So it goes. Mail readers must have been bewildered to see three full pages of their paper devoted to an attack on somebody they will scarcely have heard of. It is worth asking whether the Mail were engaged in legitimate journalism or simply trying to punish somebody who has made life difficult for them.”