11 APRIL 1998, Page 24


Six sound reasons for writing The Black Book of the Guardian


Some readers may think that I write too often about the wrongdoings of the Guardian, though I hasten to say I have not received any complaints. I dislike doing it myself for the simple reason that no man wishes to take periodic dips in a sewer if he can possibly avoid it. Moreover, there are other matters, and much more congenial and joyful ones, which I wish to deal with. There is a great deal of beauty and happi- ness in the world which I want to celebrate, and much goodness to be applauded. For all these reasons, I have deckled to quaran- tine this page, for the time being, from the Guardian and its moral plagues. That does not mean I intend to neglect my duty to expose this horrible institution (as it now is) and the half dozen or so repellent peo- ple who are dragging it so low. On the con- trary, I intend to take some time off from my current book, Creators, and write anoth- er one, to be entitled The Black Book of the Guardian. The subtitle will be: Its Sleaze, Lies and Crimes.

The book will be about 150 pages and will be published this autumn. I have already accumulated masses of relevant papers, including many hundreds of pages of sworn statements and other legal docu- ments, and I have begun to conduct inter- views with witnesses and informants of all kinds. More material is coming in by almost every post. Anyone who feels they have something to contribute is welcome to send it to me, or come to see me at my house, 29 Newton Road, London W2 5JR. My phone number is 0171 229 3859 and my fax num- ber is 0171 792 1676. Those with material defending or justifying the Guardian are also welcome to contact me. I am an open- minded person.

It may be asked, why should an old sol- dier like myself (I shall be 70 on 2 Novem- ber) take on such a disagreeable task, which will involve sorting through thou- sands of pages of documents and talking to a great many people who are deeply upset, vengeful, bitter — and, in the case of cer- tain Guardian journalists, all these things and, in addition, thoroughly unpleasant? There are six main reasons. First, and most important, I am anxious that the Guardian should become a decent, serious, truthful and responsible paper again — the kind of paper it was when I first began to read it regularly in the 1950s — instead of a daily Private Eye, dedicated to hatred and malice, where the news is something you pour in to fill the spaces between the gossip columns.

Second, I want to aid my old friend and walking companion, Jonathan Aitken, who has been brutally and unjustly victimised by a mendacious and successful Guardian vendetta and now, as a result of pressure on the police from its editor, Alan Rus- bridger, is in danger of going to prison. I believe that Aitken is 95 per cent innocent of the charges made against him, including all the really serious ones, and I want to see him vindicated.

Third, I also want to vindicate Neil Hamilton. He is not a particular friend of mine, though I rather like him — I agree with his old headmaster who told me, That lad will always be in some kind of trouble, but he is basically a good boy.' I am now convinced that Mohamed Fayed's main charge against him, that he accepted cash in brown envelopes, is a complete inven- tion, and I intend to prove it.

Fourth, I want to get Mohamed Fayed out of this country. I believe him to be a man who corrupts everything he touches and who has done an immense amount of harm to Britain as well as to those unfortu- nate individuals who have found them- selves, often quite by accident, on his 'ene- mies list'. Various people are compiling books about him. They include Tom Bower, the first man to expose Maxwell in full, who has acquired a mass of material, some of which (I understand) is absolutely hair-raising. But I want to make my own lit- tle contribution to getting the Fayed poison out of our national bloodstream.

Fifth, I want to expose, for all to see, the iniquities of certain journalists, who have I tell you, they're silicone implants.' created a vicious new style of unscrupulous reporting, which serves no public purpose and often shatters the lives of those people against whom it is directed. I am particular- ly anxious to do this because journalism of this kind, in effect, killed my old parish priest, Father Michael Hollings, a saintly man who was crucified by the News of the World. It was also directed against Jonathan Aitken by the Daily Mirror and was then exploited by the Guardian in its merciless vendetta. There are two individu- als in particular whom I have in my sights and I shall not rest until I have hunted down both.

There are dangers in undertaking this task. Fayed, for instance, is believed to employ about 40 security men, some of whom are experts at getting access to peo- ple's private affairs. I understand that Fayed, for instance, has already secured from BT (no doubt without their knowl- edge) logs of Tom Bower's phone calls. I can expect similar treatment and worse, both from Fayed and from the Guardian. Jonathan Hunt, who has compiled a report about Guardian malfeasance in the Hamil- ton Affair, had already had people nosing into his tax records and dealings with Cus- toms & Excise over VAT. One Guardian man recently threatened, 'If you persist, we will destroy you.' Hunt says he will not be intimidated, and nor will I. The Guardian has already published scores of false and defamatory statements about me, some of them, I am sorry to say, barefaced lies, and no doubt I must expect more from their many gossip columnists. But I find that my friends do not believe what they read about me in the Guardian, and they are the only people I really care about. Indeed, anyone who accepts anything he reads in that sheet at its face value must be pretty naive.

The Guardian, next to the News of the World and the Daily Mirror, is now Britain's most degraded newspaper (though to be fair, the Mirror, since Kelvin MacKenzie, a real journalist, took over, is much improved). And behind its particular iniq- uities lies the general depravity of Britain's awful press. I propose, as a general princi- ple, a version of Dunning's Motion: The viciousness of the press has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished.' My Black Book will end with specific and prac- tical proposals for bringing this desirable end about, and that is my sixth reason for writing it.