H A R D C O P Y
Tuesday 23 May 1995
Will Michael Foot's libel lawyers get Rupert Murdoch into the dock over the Sunday Times's allegations that the KGB regarded the former Labour leader as an agent of influence during the Sixties? The paper's legal team is furiously arguing that its editors operate independently of proprietorial influence. Why, then, did Mr Murdoch give the News of the World editor, Piers Morgan, such a public and humiliating dressing down over the paper's intrusion into Lady Spencer's private life?
Channel 4's annual report shows that its dependency on American imports, chiefly sitcoms, is increasing. C4 transmitted 1,442 hours of US material in 1994, compared with 1,308 in 1993. Films are also on the rise: 1,244 hours compared with 1,103. The channel's chief executive, Michael Grade, ever quick to the draw, said he would be happy to replace American repeats with vibrant new home-produced ones, if only he could keep all the money (pounds 57m for 1994) his station is required to hand over to ITV in return for a financial safety net.
Thin isn't in
Our hearts sank at news that the Ryvita Company is about to launch a new ad campaign plugging its desert-dry crispbreads. This is, after all, the company that exposed Britain to the horrors of the "inch war". But what's this? A new campaign, the makers say, that "allows women to be more adventurous and self-indulgent, reflecting the current trends to healthy eating and self-fulfilment". One execution shows oodles of double cream and raspberries sandwiched between Ryvita millefeuille-style, next to the slogan: "Forget your F-plan, Go for the F*** it Plan."
Spot the exclusive
On 13 May the Guardian's Weekend section gave five pages to an "exclusive" story about the alleged baby killer Caroline Beale. Which came as news to Daniel Jeffreys, who had already done two extensive interviews with Ms Beale for the Independent, the first of which appeared on, ahem, 2 February.
To explain: Jeffreys is a correspondent for BBC World Service Television. Julie Wheelwright, the freelancer who wrote the Guardian article, sometimes works for BBC radio's Woman's Hour. Jeffreys says Wheelwright used the BBC connection to get access to his tapes and sources without telling him she was working on a story for a rival newspaper. Jeffreys was told his interviews would be used for a Woman's Hour piece planned for June.
Jeffreys complained to the Guardian. The Weekend editor, Deborah Orr, says: "I can't leap to Julie Wheelwright's defence. She was under intense pressure to meet our deadline ... she clearly did not tell the whole truth."
Wheelwright claims that her commission from the Guardian came after she first approached Jeffreys with a request for material. "I didn't use his tapes," she asserts. Come, come, says Jeffreys. "For instance, there's exact quotes and extensive paraphrasing of psychiatrist Meg Spinelli and prosecuting counsel Marjory Fisher. I went back to Fisher and asked if she had spoken to Wheelwright. Fisher said she spent about a minute on the phone with her."
So next time you read a Guardian Weekend exclusive, remember: you probably read it here first ...
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