Evans gate

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‘I hope I’m not arrested, or WORSE for doing this story!’

During the 40 year journalistic career of our Editor Phil Parry he has visited alleged murderers at home, been given security advice, and had his house wired for intruders, but all of this pales into insignificance compared with the dangers facing reporters in other countries, and it is now underlined by the appearance of one in a Russian court after his detention for over a year, with a shaven head surrounded by guards.

 

Methods which the authorities sometimes do not like can be seen as providing a gateway to securing facts.

Over the years I have kept a whirring tape recorder in my bag, gone to the home of a man I was effectively accusing of multiple murder, and had my house wired for intruders with panic buttons in the hall as well as at my bedside.

Needless to say this completely freaked out my wife!

Yet none of this compares with the risks run by other journalists around the world.

Journalist Evan Gershkovich has been arrested for over a year

I salute, for instance, Evan Gershkovich who has just appeared in a secure glass box before the start of his behind-closed-doors trial in Russia accused of spying, looking gaunt, with shaven head and surrounded by guards.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter was first arrested and detained in March 2023 after Russia claimed he had been “gathering secret information” on orders from the CIA – he has been behind bars in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo jail, and faces 20 years in prison if found guilty.

“Journalism is not a crime”

Mr Gershkovich has been accused of seeking details about Uralvagonzavod, a facility that produces and repairs military equipment.

But his employer, and the US Government strongly deny the claims, with Washington designating him wrongfully detained.

“Evan has done nothing wrong. He should never have been arrested in the first place. Journalism is not a crime”, the US State Department’s Matthew Miller has declared.

Jeff German was working on a story when he was killed

Hear hear!

But sadly Mr Gershkovic is not alone in his plight, and it has been even worse for others.

The investigative reporter, Jeff German, was found stabbed to death at his home, and Robert Telles, was detained by armed police officers, before being prosecuted for the crime.

Mr Telles appeared in front of a judge smirking, according to media reports, as he was told when his next court appearance would be. Mr German was working on a story about Mr Telles the week he was killed, according to his former newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Our motto is almost the same

The paper’s editorial cartoonist published an illustrated tribute to Mr German, calling him, “one of the finest investigative reporters in the country. His job was to shine the light on the darkness”.

This is an uncanny echo of the slogan in Welsh and English on The Eye, which I edit: “Finding Light in Darkness”.

Mr Telles has said of Mr German in the past “He’s a bully” and “he’s obsessed with me”, which are identical to phrases which have been hurled at me as I have attempted to do my job. This is disconcerting to say the least.

They don’t like journalists doing their job

Apparently endorsing what has happened, in April 2023 the annual report from the Council of Europe Platform on media freedom in Europe, showed that physical attacks on journalists increased dramatically over 2021.

Their publication (Defending Press Freedom in Times of Tension and Conflict), revealed that the number of cases involving concern about the safety and physical integrity of journalists jumped by 51 per cent year-on-year, with many of the attacks taking place during public protests.

The rise in assaults on journalists makes Phil angry…

Over the years we have seen a relentless rise in assaults on journalists, as they have tried to report the truth of events.

From 2016 to the end of 2020, UNESCO recorded 400 killings of journalists, while the global rate of impunity for those doing them is worryingly high: nine times out of 10, the case remains unresolved.

Although what I have had to put up with is not in the same league, the steady stream of abuse I am forced to endure is still worth noting.

Marc Winchester said he was a multi-millionaire, but ran a convenience store

A Marc Winchester said on Twitter/X, in a tweet which has since been deleted:  “I’ll whack him (me), and the definition of the verb ‘to whack’ in the Urban Dictionary is:  “to murder someone”.

This was described as a ‘joke’ but was still reported to the police.

My Wikipedia entry has been vandalised to include the words ‘tool’ and ‘knob head’, and I have been compared on Twitter/X to the comedy broadcaster Alan Partridge.

In the past I have been accused online (incorrectly) of being a “bastard” (many times), an “anti-devolutionist wanker”, “pure scum”, a “liar” (also many times) a “little git”, and (correctly) a “nosey git”“irritating”, or a “nuisance”. But these remarks come amid many others. Too many, in fact, to mention.

Daran Hill was an abuser of journalists and paedophile

Then there is the extraordinary case of the Welsh former political lobbyist Daran Hill.

After I had had the audacity to write a story about a woman, he used Twitter/X to accuse me of being “bitter”, and a “misogynist”.

I was forced to take legal action after which a fulsome apology was forthcoming, and Hill is now in prison after being exposed as a paedophile.

Phil had to resort to the law after Daran Hill’s comments

He was found with 62 indecent images, among them eight in the most serious category after being arrested by the National Crime Agency (NCA) in 2021.

But sadly exposing people like Hill is an uphill task, and figures show that spurious arrests of journalists who try to do these things are increasing, as Mr Gershkovich knows only too well…

 

‘BUY MY BOOK!’

Some of the stories Phil has covered over the years (when risks were ignored), as he was gripped by the rare neurological condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP)have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!

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

Smallest?

Tomorrow – why on polling day, many journalists are in ‘purdah’, and do extremely boring stories about things like the ‘smallest’ or most ‘remote’ polling booth in the UK.