7 May, 2022 INDEX
Notes on a scandal
In 2006 I went to what should have been an extended piss up but in the course of events something extraordinary happened. Market moving information was imparted to a group of journalist including myself, on a confidential basis.

I drove back to London and wrote the extended puff that I was expected to write (in exchange for the hospitality) but I made a mistake. The feature was fine. It was exactly what was expected.

But in one of the picture captions I mentioned a product or a company name I should not have mentioned, since it obliquely referred to the market moving information I had been given.

But you would have to know the story in order to see the importance of the slip.

The company I was writing about, had a system of putting a label on the front of magazines with a lot of key names and when this edition of my magazine got there, it dutifully trundled round the with names ticked off as it went. No-one said anything.

At my office I got a call from a city slicker, a broker or someone of the sort. Believe me, people like that do not ring up magazine editors all the time. It never happens.

This guy wanted to know what happened at the press event. I said I couldn't help him but offered to send him a copy of the feature. This I did and all hell broke lose.

Now he couldn't possibly have guessed the story from my feature. The information simply wasn't there. But if, whoever had given him my name had also told him the story, he probably got some sort of confirmation from the name I had wrongly used.

A while later I got a message that my magazine was going to be sued for libel. Sueing for libel over a puff, is unusual but it's probably happened before.

When I contacted the company's pr I was told that there was no way we were going to be sued but matters had moved on. The man who gave the information was leaving the company.

A few days later I got the first of a long series of disciplinary letters and was invited to the first of (I think) 13 disciplinary hearings.

It took about a year but eventually they sacked me for not clocking in 9-5. Editors don't clock in partly because the job involves a lot of travelling and attending events outside normal working hours. My contract explicitly stated that I did not get paid overtime.

I was never criticised for the job I did. In fact my publisher said he loved the magazine while he was disciplining me. I had transformed a very lacklustre performer into the number one in a very crowded market, launching two new titles that made a profit from issue one, and making enough money from colour seps to more than cover editorial salaries. Any one of those three would be regarded as a major achievement. To notch up all three is remarkable.

When I was sacked I took the matter to the National Union of Journalists who promised to consider whether they could support me with legal assistance at an industrial tribunal. They continued to promise they were reviewing my case until about a fortnight before the time limit to take an action was due to expire.

Given the complexity of the case and the huge volume of documents getting a solicitor to take it on, on a no win no fee basis right at the last moment was impossible. I had been stuffed by my union.

Not long after that my £3,000 Mac, which I was using to create a business as a video technician, was hacked and crashed. I had to effectively rebuild the hard drive.

I have never felt able to put my Macs online since then but have used a series of sheep dip computers for email and social media. Every one has been destroyed (though quite often I have been able to replace the hard drive). Even so I must have got through a couple of dozen machines in that time.

I'm told this is just capitalism. Well maybe, but I think my taxes are being used to abuse me. See what Sir John Sawers had to say about spooks disrupting people's lives.

My belief is that someone used what was public knowledge anyway (in my small circle) that when I was a Constituency Labour Party secretary I had helped propel through Labour Party Conference a resolution supporting the Iranian Mojahedin. At the time this organisation was very much favoured by the Americans since they were being persecuted by the Muhallahs, though I doubt if this aspect was much stressed.
Jonathan Brind
7 May, 2022