This week’s Private Eye includes extracts from Guardian writer Nick Davies’ book Flat Earth News in which he makes allegations about “falshehood, distortion and propoganda” in the global media.
In it he claims that the Observer at times included copy in leaders which journalists believe had come straight from Downing Street spokesman Alastair Campbell’s email messages to the paper.
He also claims that in January 2003, then Observer political editor Kamal Ahmed was called to the front of a plane on a Downing Street-organised press trip by Campbell and consulted on how best to use the now notorious “dodgy dossier” on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction as a media story. Davies said Ahmed later denied emphatically that he had given Campbell any advice on the dossier.
Davies says that tabloidd reporters he has spoken to have admitted that they have bribed police officers and civil servants.
He also claims in the Private Eye extract that the Sunday Telegraph obtained a print-out of David Kelly’s phone bill five hours after his body was found on the morning of Friday, 18 July, 2003.
A longer extract from Nick Davies’ book Flat Earth News appears in next week’s edition of Press Gazette in which Davies exposes what he says are “some fundamental changes which have afflicted our profession in the last 20 or 30 years with the result that even the best, most honest, decent and hard-working journalists now find themselves working in a kind of cage.”