Friday, February 29, 2008

News Blackouts, Princes and Kings

The story of Prince Harry serving in Afghanistan under a news blackout has, naturally, generated a great deal of discussion. It has a personal interest connection in that something I was involved in, as well as myself, to a very large extent, has also been the subject of a news blackout. The difference was that, unlike Prince Harry. I was not party to it, or involved in any way. In fact I would have preferred everything to be in the open. The other difference is that there is nothing illegal in Prince Harry’s situation, while there is everything illegal about the situation connected with me, though nothing to do with any of my actions, mine were totally above board.

As Jon Williams, BBC World News Editor, put it, in his Blog of 29th February 2008 (News black-out):
At its simplest, journalism is about telling people things they don't know. So when the Ministry of Defence approached the BBC - along with other parts of the UK media - to ask us not to tell our audiences about a possible deployment of Prince Harry to Afghanistan, it was something we thought long and hard about.”

He goes on to write that:
A news black-out is unusual, but not unique. An agreement exists between the police and the media over the reporting of kidnaps - the police have the right to request that media organisations don't report an abduction while negotiations are under way, in case it makes the release of the hostage more difficult; in return, they accept the responsibility to update the media regularly and reveal the full story, on camera, once the situation has been resolved. When lives are at risk, it's not always helpful to have things played out in the glare of publicity.”

The local situation had nothing whatever to do with kidnaps, or anything remotely similar. It had everything to do with major fraud perpetrated by local public officials.

The actual offence was misappropriation of European Funds by false accounting, deception and fraud. The money had to be paid back to avoid prosecution. Government Bodies do not, usually, bother to prosecute unless the money is not paid back, or the sums involved are several, many millions of Pounds; as confirmed by a friend who is Financial Director of a major company. Even so, the sums involved were in the hundreds of thousands of Pounds, quite possibly a million Pounds, or more, at 2008 values. To pay the monies back the local residents and taxpayers were defrauded and have been kept in the dark about it ever since.

A reporter said I should let them know when I wanted to go public. When I expanded on what was involved in terms of work and time for the reporter the encouraging response was, “As long as it takes”.

Soon afterwards the reporter was moved to another office. The responses from a main office reporter and a local replacement was completely different to the original, positive, helpful, expected, professional approach. A reporter at the main office who I contacted after he wrote and published a short, very incomplete report was,
You will say one thing and the Council will say another, and our readers will not be interested.”
I would have thought they would have been extremely interested at the time, let alone the alter information I received to confirm that it was fraud and on a scale far greater than even I knew about.
When, also just after the original events, I had a conversation with yet another reporter, adding that there was an additional matter of professional qualifications that claimed by a public employee who was heavily involved being false, the response was,
I’m sure you must be disappointed … and took it no further.

Some months later I ‘phoned the main office in relation to a completely unconnected matter and found myself talking to the original reporter; we recognised each others voices. Without me even asking about the major fraud investigation on which that reporter was prepared to embark, it was quickly brought up anyway,
On the other matter; there was a high level meeting and it was decided we could not help you.”

It seemed odd from the start. My non-physical side with its unique connection would normally be worth a story in its own right, even if only to take, or attempt to take, the proverbial. Major public sector fraud is normally a front page story; even, possibly, a national one, at least on that scale, particularly with the connections involved. Even though I was a victim of the fraud rather than the perpetrator, one person was involved in both stories, yet even the combination was not enough. No wonder other media professionals thought it odd. Quite apart from me being worthy of “a high level meeting at which the decision was made, or conveyed after already having been made.

A radio presenter, who was a former reporter, whom I spoke to on a radio ‘phone in reacted to the non-reporting story I told him, in general terms, by saying,
Very strange.”
Not long afterwards, in a conversation with a regional BBC reporter my story elicited the same exactly the same response,
Very strange.”

Years later
The Well-Wisher”, who had seen it all from the inside, described the relationship as “neighbours and very close friends”, in addition to having already confirmed that the fraud was very real, was a major one and indicating that the repayment money had been taken from local resources. I was also told that I was why I was being slandered behind my back, which I had heard about anyway, to dissuade officers and others from responding to me, to discriminate against me. The jigsaw was close to completion.

The Well-Wisher” also thought my computer problems of late 2006 might have been due to an attack, as there are very good computer people within the organisation working against me, though I am not sure. However, should my Web Sites and Blogs disappear, or anything else untoward happen, I would not be surprised. There are not many people who are anxious to have a free “holiday” courtesy of Prince Harry’s Grandmother, let alone a group of them.

As the BBC’s Jon William’s said, “journalism is abo
ut telling people things they don’t know”. Clearly, some journalists are prepared to help others prevent people knowing what they wish to keep from them.

Unfortunately, I only outrank Prince Harry in name, otherwise matters would have been different.

Thanks to me being read about, around the world, in Barbara Ford-Hammond’s book
Past Life Tourism - Gateway to Bridging Your Past and Future), a change is at least beginning to happen. Quite apart from my Web Sites and Blogs, as well as other Internet contributions, people around the World are getting to know more about Havant, Hampshire, U.K.