Friday, March 02, 2007

Top class investigative reporting on Newsquest website!

So, a local authority with its eyes on a major development scheme sets up a 'steering group' of local worthies, including a senior representative of a major local business, to look into options for an improved concert hall.

The group then reports back to the local authority strongly backing a development which will lead to the acquisition of a major property - owned, interestingly enough, by the very company of which the panel member is an official!

A nice little earner for the firm as £4m is earmarked for the purchase - but it stinks and the public has a right to know all the details.

So well done to the Telegraph and Argus in Bradford for allowing visitors to its website to learn the facts of the case. But there the praise ends, because there's a sting in this particular tale...

...The company is, of course, Newsquest, the senior offical is T&A editor Perry Austin-Clarke and the investigator is a poster on their website forum and local blogger who, fortunately, has documents which appear to demonstrate the facts of the case - always a help.

Of course there's nothing illegal here, but I can't help but recalling what Charles Kennedy, amongst others, called the Private Eye test for probity in public life;

"If it appeared in Private Eye, would you be embarrassed by it? If so, you should not be doing it in the first place."

Replace Private Eye with the front page of his own newspaper and I wonder what Mr Austin-Clarke (who I actually have some time for, although his staff detest him) would say to that.

And what are Newsquest/Gannett going to do with their haul? Are they going to reinvest it or are they going to pilfer £4 million in public cash from a deprived community and hand it over to wealthy shareholders in the USA? Now that's a scandal...

1 comment:

Emilia said...

Good for people to know.