Clean hands

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‘The corruption in this story is unbelievable!’

During 40 years in journalism, knowledge of corruption in key institutions by our Editor Phil Parry was ever-present, but almost NEVER pursued because proving it was so difficult, and now this is emphasised by evidence starting to emerge only slowly about graft many years ago.

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.


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.


It usually came with information from whistle blowers.

I often knew about a corrupt official taking bribes, but proving it was another matter altogether.

Phil on BBC Panorama – sometimes he had to go undercover to expose the truth

Unless you had video footage of money passing hands, an email trail, or a host of reliable witnesses who were prepared to stand up in court saying that they saw it taking place, there was, frankly, little you could do.

I have worn a hidden camera in my tie, kept a whirring tape recorder in a bag, secretly recorded people on the telephone (for which you needed permission), and posed as someone I wasn’t, in order to gain information – but I have rarely exposed bribery.

It usually took the form of brown envelopes stuffed with untraceable cash, or ‘bungs’ as they were known in football.

An inquiry found that George Graham took money

The former Arsenal manager George Graham became known for his fondness of them, and in 1995 he was found guilty of receiving money as part of a transfer deal by a Football Association (FA) inquiry.

He had taken over £400,000 in illegal payments from Norwegian agent Rune Hauge to sign players Pal Lydersen and John Jensen.

Money was given in brown envelopes

Other football mangers were thought to have been involved in similar things, although it was never proved.

There is often corruption, too, in securing lucrative contracts.

Voters in Brazil have been left reeling by the details of what has been exposed

For example only now is some of the punishment being handed down after the huge ‘operation car wash’ (Lava Jeto) bribery scandal in Brazil, and THAT investigation started TEN YEARS AGO!

The shocking details that have been exposed in the country, provoked enormous protests.

As far as we can tell (and figures are, of course, notoriously unreliable), the problem with corruption around the world seems to be getting worse not better.

Brazil fell 10 places in the league table of perceived corruption, Peru plunged by 20, and most Latin American countries did worse than their development suggests they should have done.

Transparency International have an excellent description on their website: We define corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.

If people knew about the things that go on around the world, they might be shocked!

“Corruption erodes trust, weakens democracy, hampers economic development and further exacerbates inequality, poverty, social division and the environmental crisis.

“Exposing corruption and holding the corrupt to account can only happen if we understand the way corruption works and the systems that enable it.”

In organisations terrible things happen

I couldn’t have put it better myself – even if it is difficult to prove!


The memories of Phil’s extraordinary decades long award-winning career in journalism (when exposing corruption was seldom done) as he was gripped by the rare neurological disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A Good Story’. Order it now


Another book, though, has not been published because it was to have included names.