On The Eye our Editor Phil Parry has described how he was helped to break into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and making clear that the ‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.
He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Wales TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off.
Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of ‘history’ is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.
After disclosing why investigative journalism is required now more than ever although others have different views, here he shows how the spotlight has been thrown once again on that kind of journalism after news there are now moves to deny a leading politician a peerage after he wrongly backed claims of a VIP paedophile ring which did not exist…
Evidently the former deputy leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson, didn’t do this when he supported the nonsensical allegations of fantasist Carl Beech, that there was a bizarre paedophile ring at the very top of society, which involved children being murdered, and he has now been recommended for a peerage.
Obviously this terrible mistake pales into insignificance when set against those that have been made during the current coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, but it is still hugely important.
Mr Watson warned MPs in 2012 there was “clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10″.
Let me quote from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA): “There is no evidence to support the most sensational of the various allegations of child sexual abuse made over recent years that there has been a powerful paedophile network operating within Westminster”.
After a 12-week trial, Beech was sentenced in the Summer to 18 years in prison, having been found guilty of 12 counts of perverting the course of justice, one of fraud, and several child sexual offences.
He claimed that he and others had been victims of sexual abuse by a “VIP ring” in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and that he had witnessed three child murders by members of the same group.
The paedophile ring supposedly involved MPs, Generals as well as senior figures in the intelligence services, including Lords Brittan and Bramall, and the former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath.
And Mr Watson believed him.
Today there are attempts to block his elevation to the House of Lords, which have possibly been made more potent by the decision of the former Liberal leader and peer David Steel to leave Parliament after being accused in the IICSA report of having “abdicated his responsibility” when recommending Cyril Smith, an MP facing child sexual abuse allegations, for a knighthood.
The inquiry into child sexual abuse said that Mr Watson’s 2012 claim in parliament of the network at the heart of political life, had been a significant factor in the then Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to set up the investigation.
After “an extensive evidence-gathering process” the inquiry, which has run for six years and cost £120 million, said that there was nothing to suggest the existence of the ring and no credibility to claims of a cover-up by police and the intelligence services.
Mr Watson had also exerted influence on police examination of the case, including Operation Midland, which pursued those false claims against the perfectly innocent public figures, and cost millions of pounds.
The main conclusion of the 172-page report into Beech’s ridiculous allegations of abuse at Westminster, pointedly used Mr Watson’s own words to reject his headline-grabbing central claim.
There was also strong criticism of one-time leading figures in the Council for Civil Liberties, now called Liberty, who included the former Labour ministers Patricia Hewitt and Harriet Harman, for giving “spurious legitimacy” to the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE).
PIE was a pro-paedophile activist group that campaigned for the abolition of the age of consent.
Surely claims of children being murdered in a top-level paedophile ring which involved high-profile members of the establishment should have been treated with extreme caution.
Yet it seems Mr Watson did not do this, and he has been nominated for a peerage by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, but is now likely to be called before a committee of the House of Commons.
If the attempts to deny him a peerage fail, perhaps others could be tempted to follow in his footsteps and support the claims of a man now serving a long jail sentence for perverting the course of justice, and whose allegations have been rubbished in an official report.
But before they do they should CHECK FACTS.
Tomorrow – why back in the news are a Welsh airport which has cost the taxpayer millions of pounds, and the controversial link-up with a state-run airline whose country has been accused of supporting terrorism.
Phil’s memories of his extraordinary 36-year award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major new book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now! The picture doubles as a cut-and-paste poster!