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‘These details are UNBELIEVABLE in this day and age!’

During 23 years with the BBC, and 40 years in journalism, our Editor Welshman Phil Parry has often had to go undercover to expose serious misdeeds, and this is now underlined by the growing row about The Garrick Club, which only admits male members.

Earlier he described how he was assisted in breaking 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 made 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.

‘COME OUT AND TELL ME WHY YOU THINK THIS IS ACCEPTABLE IN THE MODERN WORLD!’

He has disclosed as well why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, how the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown played havoc with media schedules, and the importance of the hugely lower average age of some political leaders compared with when he started reporting.

 

I have worn hidden cameras, kept a tape recorder in my bag, and secretly recorded people on the telephone (for which permission was rarely granted), in order to expose wrongs.

Phil on BBC Panorama, sometimes certain methods must be used to get at the truth

All of this has been put centre stage by the current row about The Garrick Club only admitting male members – many of them high-ranking government officials, well-known media personalities, or prominent executives in the classical music world.

For all I know the same techniques were used by journalists in revealing this terrible practice (although why it took them so long is beyond me), I remember that I have had to do so in looking at a similar club in the UK.

Vick Bain, a campaigner for gender equality in music, has declared: “The fact that so many of the chairs and CEOs of our finest music organisations are members of such a club should ring alarm bells as to their true beliefs and attitudes towards gender equality”.

Men only at The Garrick Club…

Matthew Dunster, the co-chair of Stage Directors UK, has said: “It is depressing that people in the arts would want to be members of such a club”.

A spokesperson for Her Ensemble, an organisation that campaigns for equality in classical music, has proclaimed: “It ultimately undermines a lot of the progress that the industry is making and encourages inequality”.

Some of the male establishment members of the Garrick Club

These comments came after The Guardian disclosed The Garrick Club’s closely guarded members list, the first time in the organisation’s history that it has been exposed.

Politicians, senior civil servants and legal professionals are joined on the list by the actors Brian Cox, Matthew Macfadyen, Hugh Bonneville, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Suchet and Damian Lewis.

Gabriella Di Laccio said there needed to be action

The chair of the Royal Ballet school, Christopher Rodrigues, his counterpart at the English National Opera (ENO) Harry Brünjes, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Royal Opera House (ROH), Alex Beard, and the artistic director of the Wigmore Hall, John Gilhooly, are also members.

Gabriella Di Laccio, the soprano and founder of Donne: Women in Music, a charitable foundation dedicated to gender equality in the music industry, has said: “Real change requires tangible actions that dismantle these outdated structures … this moment should serve as a call to action for everyone in society to lead by example”.

Jennifer Tuckett says The Garrick Club is making a problem worse

Jennifer Tuckett, an academic who has just finished a five-year research project looking at equality in British theatre, has said: “Gender inequality is not being addressed with the seriousness that is needed in the arts…a problem which approaches like the Garrick Club would exacerbate”.

News reports about high-profile figures in the arts had “led to gnashing of teeth and rolling of eyes among many of the women of West End theatre”, stated one senior stage producer.

Did Richard Moore and Simon Case resign because of the bad publicity?

But mounting pressure about the controversial situation has prompted the resignations of the MI6 chief Richard MooreUK cabinet secretary Simon Case, as well as the head of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) Robert Chote.

You can’t help thinking, though, that they must have known about this men-only rule all along, so they actually quit because of the fuss it has now caused.

Charlotte Ivers had no interest in being a member of The Garrick Club

Yesterday The Sunday Times columnist Charlotte Ivers defended the right of The Garrick Club to exist, but was damning with faint praise.

She wrote: “Like an inverse Groucho Marx, I have no interest in being a member of a club that doesn’t want me”.

Meanwhile the resignations have been condemned by none other than the former Garrick Club member and one-time Prime Minister (PM) Boris Johnson.

‘Come on guys’

Writing in the Daily Mail he announced: “Come on, guys, what happened to you? It’s always sad when people give in to bullies, but there was something particularly tragic about the Garrick Three”.

However in fairness he has acknowledged the case for admitting female members to the all-male club.

Perhaps The Garrick Club should be renamed…

I wonder if they had to go undercover like I was forced to, in order to get these details.

But it has taken them a long time – The Garrick Club was founded in 1831!

 

The memories of Phil’s decades-long award-winning career in journalism (including details of how he had to use hidden cameras) as he was gripped by the rare disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!

‘BUY MY BOOK!’

Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.

Tomorrow – how news that London’s Royal Court is to stage a ‘highlight’ play exploring the anti-Semitism of Roald Dahl, shines the spotlight on growing concern that he has been honoured by the Welsh capital.