Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Trust us, we're the BBC. Shurely Shome Mishtake

By no means is this intended to be a political piece. That it features Ronnie Flanagan, Jim Gamble's old boss, adds a bit of interest it must be said. If you are unfamiliar with Flanagan you can read a little about his exploits in this post, and a few new CEOP teeshirts I might add, where he features both in the article and in the footnotes, as does the the Irish Mail front page seen here.

Although the articles in question are centred on Flanagan's collusion with the Loyalist death squads, collusion being a polite word for conspiracy to murder it must be said, it is not that involvement that is crux of this particular article. The essential part of this post is the BBC, or more precisely, it's manner of reporting, and it is that manner of reporting that interests us.

That the once mighty broadcasting corporation, renowned as the beacon of truth for its unbiased and honest reporting, (forgive me) that the BBC is ethically bankrupt, it's worth now equal to that of the rest of the main stream media, is epitomised in this shameful example below.

Little wonder then that this reporter for IndyMedia* is pissed, mightily so in fact. So firstly let us read what Shane O'Curry has to say, and then move on to the article that causes him so much offence.

BBC off to a flying start on Flanagan's evidence to Rosemary Nelson Inquiry

by Shane O'Curry

The information branch of the British State does an excellent job

It reads more like the adoring parish gazette piece about the bell ringer retiring after 30 years of good Christian service, than objective reporting about the significant, and highly unusual development of a Chief Constable being called to give evidence before an Inquiry into the murder of a solicitor in circumstances that are suggestive of a security force cover-up, if not actual collusion in the murder. It is hard to imagine how anyone could have heaped more praise onto the north of Ireland's former security top-dog.

This was the second murder of a high profile solicitor while Sir Ronnie was a senior officer in the paramilitary Royal Ulster Constabulary. The first, that of Pat Finucane, was when he was in charge of Special Branch, whose finger prints are all over the latter's murder. It is also umpteenth case where there are allegations of outright RUC collusion, criminal neglect of duty and cover-up involving some of Northern Ireland's most heinous terrorist crimes.

Yet the piece only makes the most oblique of references to one these other cases, that of Omagh, and buries these references in one of the most highly-polished and sycophantic hagiographies seen in modern western journalism. Here, journalist Mark Simpson's blind assertion that "He did not even know that Special Branch had a file on [Rosemary Nelson]" makes one wonder whether he did his journalistic training in Albania, pre-1989. As for the rest of the piece, Sir Ronnie's PR team couldn't have written a better piece about him.

 at the Rosemary Nelson Inquiry, Mark Simpson deserves a Pulitzer prize for fiction for his coverage of it. Sir Ronnie is moving-on to greener fields as security adviser to the Interior Minister at the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, things are really progressing in the north of Ireland.

And the offending piece who's style we are so becoming accustomed to in other matters.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan faces inquiry

By Mark Simpson
BBC Ireland correspondent

As Sir Ronnie Flanagan gives evidence at the public inquiry into the controversial killing of solicitor Rosemary Nelson, what is the background of the former Northern Ireland Chief Constable?

Like all experienced police officers, Sir Ronnie Flanagan is more used to asking the questions than answering them.

He spent more than 30 years at the sharp end of policing in Northern Ireland, before moving to England to the prestigious job as head of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.

He went back to Belfast to answer a series of questions about the death of solicitor Rosemary Nelson.

His evidence was summed up in one sentence from his detailed statement: "My impressions at the time were that Rosemary Nelson was a lawyer doing her job."

He insisted he did not regard her as a terrorist sympathiser, and rejected claims that the police deliberately failed to protect her from attack.

In charge

Rosemary Nelson was killed just before St Patrick's Day in 1999, when an under-car booby-trap bomb exploded as she was driving her car. The loyalist terror group, the Red Hand Defenders, later said they were behind the attack.

Ms Nelson's legal clients included a number of republicans, and her friends and family suspect that elements of the security forces colluded with loyalist paramilitaries in her death.

They also believe that police could have done more to ensure her personal security in the months before she was murdered.

At the time, Sir Ronnie was the man in charge of policing in Northern Ireland.

Although he was seen by some as a "hands on" chief constable, he told the inquiry he was not involved in day-to-day matters surrounding Ms Nelson.

He did not even know that Special Branch had a file on her.

He has already faced four hours of questioning about exactly what he knew - and what he didn't know. Two more days have been set aside for his evidence.

Although he is being asked to remember events from 10 years ago in precise detail, and his every word is being scrutinised, Sir Ronnie has appeared calm and measured throughout.

It is all part of the legacy of the Troubles for the former chief constable, even though he has moved on to other duties outside the UK.

Communication skills

He recently landed a major policing post in the Middle East, as strategic adviser to the Minister of Interior of the United Arab Emirates.

His name was initially mentioned as a possible candidate for the top job at the Metropolitan Police after Sir Ian Blair announced his intention to step down, but it all came too late for Sir Ronnie, 59.

Although he is held in the highest esteem in Downing Street and beyond, his time in Northern Ireland was not without controversy, most notably over his handling of the Omagh bomb investigation.

He was severely criticised in an independent report into the matter.

He rejected the criticism by saying that if he believed it was true: "I would not only resign - I would go and publicly commit suicide."

It was an uncharacteristically extreme outburst by a man whose communication skills are usually second to none.

Having spent so much time in the media spotlight, his appearance at the Rosemary Nelson inquiry has attracted a large amount of interest.

The police have always denied any wrongdoing in the Nelson case, and this has been repeated in person by Sir Ronnie.

Nonetheless, exactly what he says is significant, especially as it is all being said in public.

Numerous allegations and accusations have been made against the police about what they did before and after the murder in 1999.

Now the man who was in charge of the force is having his say.

Seems like a nice man, don't you think?

From, to borrow a phrase, The information branch of the British State

Mind you it ain't just the BBC is it? in the immortal words of George Orwell, Once a Journo, always a whore. Shurely shome mishtake? (bottom of the page)

*IndyMedia From around the world in many languages, and always a good alternative to the main stream press.

And while I'm recommending resources, when I used to blog on US/global matters, I found this an excellent source for both news and articles. Information Clearing House
Apart from the big names there, Chomsky, Pilger etc, I took a shine to Paul Graig Roberts for US domestic affairs, a sample here, and for South America/global, Pepe Escobar scratched a decent article. A little about the man and a few links.