Author Archives: Andy Halls

Jon Snow receives degree 40 years after expulsion

Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow returned to university today to receive a degree 40 years after being expelled.

Snow studied law at Liverpool University from 1968 to 1970, but was kicked out after a rooftop protest against the university’s investment in South Africa during apartheid.

The protesting students demanded the removal of Liverpool University’s chancellor Lord Salisbury who they accused of sympathising with white regimes in South Africa and what was then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

Snow – who went straight from volunteering in Africa to university – was one of hundreds of students who occupied the institution’s Senate House.

The infamous newsreader says that he is glad he was expelled, as it prevented him from becoming an “extremely mediocre and wonky” lawyer.

He wrote today:

To this day, I have not had a degree. I was studying law. Academe had not been an easy path for me, but my studies were going well. Whilst in some ways eviction served me well in that I didn’t become a fifth-rate lawyer, in other ways it left me questioning whether I would ever have got the degree.

But today Liverpool University and I buried the hatchet. I had the honour of hearing the pro vice-chancellor read out a eulogy about me – or rather, about a man I didn’t really seem to recognise, some character who reported for Channel 4.

From henceforth, no more ‘Mr’ Snow. I am Dr Snow, honorary Doctor of Laws (Liverpool University). Coming back on the train, I had relished the experience. But Somalia beckoned, the Murdoch mayhem beckoned. Another day, another dollar.

The full post is at this link.

Select committees: Reaction to appearances by police, the Murdochs and Brooks

The focus on Twitter seemed to be entirely on the appearance of Murdoch and son, Rebekah Brooks and two senior Metropolitan police officers at two parliament select committees yesterday (19 July).

Sir Paul Stephenson and John Yates appeared before the home affairs select committee, before Rupert and James Murdoch – and then Rebekah Brooks – came before the culture, media and sport committee.

Below is a Storify to show some of the reaction on Twitter to MPs’ questions and the responses MPs received.

Hunt favours individual stations for local television plan

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has backtracked on his plans to introduce a local TV network.

Hunt originally wanted a single network channel – based around a ‘national spine’ – before changing to a more locally run approach.

After a consultation, the culture secretary changed the proposals, and has now settled on a final published framework.

Hunt‘s original plans would have seen a centralised national channel with syndicated programming, which would act as the hub which local channels could feed.

Instead, the final plan favours a network of individual TV stations.

Hunt said he planned to provide bidders with a digital terrestrial TV spectrum, managed by a new licensed multiplex company.

The next task for Hunt is to, in his words, “secure prominence” for the network on Freeview and other electronic programme guides.

In a written ministerial statement, Hunt said: “The proposals include three statutory instruments: the first, to reserve sufficient local, low-cost spectrum for carrying the local TV services; the second to create a proportionate and targeted licensing regime for the spectrum and local TV service operators; and the third, to secure appropriate prominence for the licensed local services in television electronic programme guides.”

“Local TV will provide news and other content for local audiences helping to hold local institutions to account and providing proper local perspectives. This framework offers the right incentives to the market to develop innovative business models; provides greater certainty and reduced risk for investors; and encourages new market opportunities and growth,” he added.

“It is expected the first local television licences will be awarded by Ofcom from summer 2012.”

The infrastructure costs will be met from £25 million allocated as part of the BBC licence fee settlement.

Voluntary redundancies as Future Publishing focuses on digital

Magazine publisher Future PLC is to cut around 100 jobs based in the UK and worldwide – in a move favouring digital over print.

The job losses are expected due to “restructuring” in the company, following a 5 per cent circulation revenue fall in the past nine months.

In a statement, it said the websites were performing well and the main problems were in America.

In an email to staff, Future Publishing UK CEO, Mark Wood, said restructure would be likely to result in about 10 per cent of the firm’s workforce being made redundant. This however, would mostly be through voluntary redundancies.

The company – which publishes around 80 magazines and has 1,000 staff in Bath – said advertising revenue from its websites has offset a decline in print-related income.

The business is executing its operational review of geography and function, to accelerate the move of the US business to one that is a primarily digital business model, simultaneously reducing volatility associated with print data flows, and to reorganise the UK business, re-calibrating it to ensure faster adaptation to digital and more efficient execution of print.

The benefit of these steps will be to improve efficiency, reduce headcount, reduce property requirements, and help accelerate the most promising areas of digital product development.

John Yates resignation statement

Metropolitan police assistant commissioner John Yates resigned yesterday (18 July), after being told he would be suspended.

Yates becomes the second casualty in the Metropolitan police in the wake of phone-hacking allegations, after Britain’s top cop Sir Paul Stephenson resigned on Sunday.

The former assistant commissioner yesterday spoke to the media, paying tribute to the staff he served with:

It is with great regret that I make this decision after nearly 30 years as a police officer.

I wish to pay tribute to the many fine officers and police staff with whom I have served. I will miss them hugely, but I know that they will continue to do their utmost to protect the public and, of course, this great capital city.

Yates said that police, especially those in the “difficult” jobs, must be accountable:

When we get things wrong, we say so and try and put them right. As I have said very recently, it is a matter of great personal regret that those potentially affected by phone hacking were not dealt with appropriately.

He added that with the upcoming Olympic games, he could not allow the “situation” continue, claiming that a “huge amount of inaccurate, ill-informed, and malicious gossip” had been published about him.

I have acted with complete integrity and my conscience is clear. I look forward to the future Judge-led inquiry where my role will be examined in a proper and calmer environment and where my actions will be judged on the evidence rather than on innuendo and speculation as they are at present.

News International sites targeted by hackers

Lulzsec's faked Sun website featuring the false story about Rupert Murdoch

Hackers last night (July 18) targeted the Sun’s website and put up a false story announcing the death of Rupert Murdoch.

The group behind the attack, Lulzsec, also redirected all traffic to its Twitter feed.

Visitors to the site were greeted by the headline ‘Media moguls (sic) body discovered’ – a story that alleged Murdoch had ‘ingested a large quantity’ of radioactive palladium, before ‘stumbling into his topiary garden’.

On Twitter, LulzSec also claimed to have hacked into email accounts and began posting what appeared to be passwords to individual email addresses as well as mobile numbers for editorial staff.

People trying to access the Sun website were directed to new-times.co.uk, a News International-owned domain.

The group gloated of their success last night, tweeting: “The Sun’s homepage now redirects to the Murdoch death story on the recently-owned New Times website. Can you spell success, gentlemen?”

The hackers did not explicitly say why they hacked the site, but various tweets suggested it was linked to the phone hacking scandal.

It remains to be seen whether this will be the last of the action after the group tweeted: “…expect the lulz to flow in coming days.”

Reactions to John Yates’ resignation

As the world of journalism waited with bated breath for Boris Johnson to get his 2pm press conference underway the rumours of a John Yates departure were confirmed.

The assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police resigned after the Metropolitan Police Authority decided to suspend him pending a referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Yates’ resignation comes after questions were raised about his relationship with Neil Wallis, the former executive editor of the News of the World.

Wallis was arrested last week by officers investigating allegations of phone hacking.

London’s mayor was questioned by a number of journalists at the press conference at City Hall, London, and some of his responses are below.

Did you demand Sir Paul Stephenson’s resignation?

In an ideal world Paul Stephenson would still be commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service… The trouble was that he had been caught up in a series of decisions relating to the Met’s handing of the News of the World which were going to be extremely distracting.

What Paul really couldn’t face was the idea of this protracted inquiry… at a time when he wanted to concentrate on policing in London.

Of course I was reluctant … but I accept the force of that argument.

Do you regret praising Rupert Murdoch around the time the Milly Dowler relevations first broke?

Well, clearly what the News of the World did was absolutely loathsome and I condemn it – I’m very glad that this gives everybody the opp to get to the bottom of practices across Fleet Street.

Should David Cameron walk over the hiring of Andy Coulson?

I’m not here to discuss government appointments. Those questions you must address to government. I don’t think there’s a very clear read across” [from Sir Paul Stephenson hiring Neil Wallis to Mr Cameron hiring Andy Coulson]. This is a matter you must address to No 10 Downing Street.

Twitter was in a frenzy before Yates’ resignation was announced. Below is a Storify of the immediate reaction.

Phone hacking: Rebekah Brooks’ lawyer’s statement

Rebekah Brooks’ laywer has apparently released a statement this afternoon claiming she is ‘not guilty of any criminal offence’.

The statement follows Brooks’ arrest yesterday, as part of the Metropolitan Police investigations into phone hacking and corruption.

The position of Rebekah Brooks can be simply stated. She is not guilty of any criminal offence. The position of the Metropolitan Police is less easy to understand. Despite arresting her yesterday and conducting an interview process lasting nine hours, they put no allegations to her, and showed her no documents connecting her with any crime.

They will in due course have to give an account of their actions, and in particular their decision to arrest her, with the enormous reputational damage that this has involved.

In the meantime,  Mrs Brooks has an appointment with the culture, media and sport select committee tomorrow. She remains willing to attend and to answer questions. It is a matter for Parliament to decide what issues to put to her and whether her appointment should place at a later date.

(Hat-tip to Channel 4 News’ home affairs producer Marcus Edward.)