Guido blogger attacks 'unhealthy', 'closed' Lobby system

Political blogger Paul Staines, the man behind the Guido Fawkes website, used his appearance at the Leveson Inquiry to attack the Westminster Lobby system, claiming that 'senior politicians, editors and proprietors mix freely all too easily".

Staines said it was an 'unhealthy and closed system lacking in transparency conducted behind closed doors'and called for Lobby briefings to be televised.

The 'implicit rules of the club'discouraged Lobby journalists from 'rocking the boat too much'and encouraged a 'trade in favours", he said in his written evidence.

Do you think social media companies are doing a good job or a bad job in combating the spread of fake news and conspiracy theories on Covid-19?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

'A client media has developed whereby journalists who recycle the party line are encouraged and rewarded with titbits and exclusives, with interviews granted to journalists who please party spin doctors.

'The Lobby system is effectively an obedience school where the political class brings journalists to heel."

He added: 'The failings of the Lobby system were well illustrated during the expenses scandal, a story which exploded because of the catalytic efforts of a Freedom of Information campaigner, Heather Brooke, in the courts.

'Lobby journalists who were embedded in the Westminster system would later claim to well know about the ongoing abuse of expenses over decades, yet they did nothing to expose the scandal.

'That was a monumental failure by those journalists specifically charged with the responsibility of holding those in power to account.

'They failed to report on an issue that fundamentally exposed the lack of integrity of our political class.

'The natural venality of the political class was unchecked by their client media until an outsider rocked the boat and sunk the duck houses."

Staines told the inquiry that his website had stepped up its coverage of the media, claiming that 'editors, pundits and journalists are surprisingly thin skinned and there is much sport to be had in teasing and taunting prominent media figures".

With no physical assets in the UK, its servers based in the USA and with a foreign corporation as its publisher, Staines said it was a 'simple matter of fact that the UK courts have no effective jurisdiction over a publisher based overseas with no bricks and mortar in the UK".

'None of the many threatened legal actions against the website in the UK has ever succeeded in the UK courts,'he said.

'We have regular communications from most of the leading London legal firms specialising in media law. We have repeatedly ignored injunctions and orders issued in the UK courts with no adverse consequences.'

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7336 5327 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk




Our free daily round-up of the biggest news about the world of news

No comments to display

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

sixteen − five =