Tuesday, May 15, 2012

#McCann #Leveson: #Murdoch's Suicide Kids


Murdoch’s minions reject the inconvenient facts of climate chaos and attack the greens as “a threat to the prosperity and well-being” of the world (The Australian September 02, 2004). Whereas a real threat to the well-being of the world and its people is Rupert Murdoch, as I first discovered long ago.

These days, Murdoch’s war-mongering is compulsive and his disregard for human wreckage is both calculated and global; but in the beginning, what marked his output was a casual (and sometimes fatal) disregard for the frailties of humans.

Murdoch’s rise to power took off in Sydney in 1964, when he acquired an afternoon tabloid, the Daily Mirror. On March 12, the Mirror front paged a report on “promiscuity” among the pupils of a city high school, which was based on the contents of a young girl’s diary. The resulting uproar led to the diarist and a fellow student being expelled from school. A job well done.

That’s where the story ended as far the Mirror was concerned, though not for those involved. The 13 year old schoolboy named in the diary, Digby Bamford, was found hanging from his backyard clothesline, having committed suicide. This news was “cordoned off” from public consumption. Even rival papers kept the secret, until a disgruntled Murdoch journalist tipped off an independent magazine. The author of the “school sex” diary was examined by a doctor from the Child Welfare Department and found to be a virgin.

During an interview years later, I reminded Murdoch of this event and his reaction was sharp: “Don’t you ever make mistakes?” Of course I do. Many. After acquiring the News of the World in London in 1971, Rupert discovered another diary, while he was campaigning against a popular BBC TV show, Top of the Pops. His paper accused its stars of “promiscuity” with young dancers in the audience. One of these was Samantha MacAlpine, aged 15, whose “leatherette bound book”, according Murdoch’s news desk, “could well blow wide open the scandal at the BBC”. The day after this report, Samantha MacAlpine committed suicide.

The News of the World tried to cover itself with the headline, THIS GIRL WAS A VICTIM … NOW SHE IS DEAD, but the coroner stated that Samantha’s diary was “pure fantasy…. unconnected with reality”, (like much Murdoch journalism). A Scotland Yard officer accused the paper of being “ludicrous and irresponsible”. As is the Murdoch style, the evidence from the inquest was kept from the readers. Also suppressed was the statement of the forensic pathologist, that in his opinion, Samantha had died a virgin.



Glen McMullan News of The World, admits he is the reason Jennifer Elliott  killed herself.

McMullan: "There was no wrongdoing here at all. There was just someone who had fallen on hard times and actually was very fragile."

Paul McMullan's story about Jennifer Elliott alleged she was begging outside a London Tube station, and was working on occasions as a prostitute. Mr. McMullan told me the paper had acted on information it received as a result of a payment one of his colleagues made to a police officer.

McM: "The going rate for that kind of thing might have been two to five hundred pounds, and that would have been authorised, and he would have been paid, and that's one policeman kept happy, and he would have been on the lookout for another story, because, you know, money is money."

"Do you know for sure that this story came from a policeman? Do you know for sure that he was paid for the information?"

McM: "Yes, that's what I was told. I was put on the story, saying 'this has come from a policeman who has told us that this is really the person, go and find her'".

The reason why Paul McMullan was particularly concerned about this story, and why it was playing on his conscience is because of what happened next:

McM: "There was a few stories about her over the coming years about how she was still struggling with drugs and then I remember the last one, which was reporting on her suicide, and ... err ... yep."

"She took her own life?"

McM: "She did, yeah."

"Do you think what you wrote had any effect on that? Do you think that decision had anything to do with what you wrote and what you did?"

McM: "Yeah, I'd totally humiliated and destroyed her. It wasn't necessary. She didn't deserve it. She was having a bad time after her own dad had died, and, yeah, I went a step too far. And it was based on, now, a criminal act, so you've got to question in some cases, criminal acts perpetrated by journalists aren't always justified and in this case it was not. Not only was it not justified ,it was downright wrong - I sincerely regret it, and again, if there was anyone to apologise to, I would, but they're all dead - mother's dead, she's dead, father's dead. So in any way seeking atonement, I can at least say in this case we were wrong."