Thursday 08 October 2015

Mark Thatcher - 30 years on the story still percolates

I was fascinated to see this reprise of Mark Thatcher and Oman story that David Leigh and I broke thirty years ago. From the Guardian on Monday.

Mark Thatcher 'exiled' from UK over business dealings, book claims

Biography of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher says her son was in effect forced to leave Britain because he was damaging her reputation
Margaret Thatcher’s son Mark was in effect forbidden to live in Britain after being repeatedly warned that he was damaging his mother’s reputation, according to her new biography. Senior Whitehall mandarins believed Sir Mark Thatcher’s business dealings were “driven by greed” and his mother’s attitude towards them “conveyed a whiff of corruption”. The former Conservative prime minister even asked her principal private secretary Sir Clive Whitmore to tell Mark that he had to stop “trying to exploit his mother’s name” in his Middle East oil deals, but he refused. Whitmore said: “Mark was driven by greed and reluctant to pass up any opportunity.”
Robin Butler, who also served as Lady Thatcher’s principal private secretary when the Observer broke a story in 1984 about Mark and his mother’s involvement in a Cementation construction deal in Oman, was more severe. Other bidders for the contract had complained that Thatcher used her influence with the Sultan of Oman to get the contract for the firm Mark was working for. Butler said: “He thought that Mrs Thatcher’s behaviour in Oman had conveyed a whiff of corruption, though she might not have regarded it as such. She had wanted to see Mark right. She sought the deal for Mark. She excluded everyone from her talks with the Sultan. Mark was dealing with Brigadier Landon, who was the Sultan’s go-between. She behaved in the most peculiar way. I suspected the worse.”

After the Cementation story appeared, it was decided by Denis Thatcher that it would be best for all concerned if Mark were to leave the country. Thatcher had “an air of resignation about it all, but was indulgent to Mark”, Whitmore said. “The rational prime minister knew well what he was up to, but the mother found it difficult to be tough with him.” oct/05/mark-thatcher-business-dealings- leave-uk-margaret-thatcher-biography

Friday 02 October 2015

PL joins Journalism at Sussex University

I am delighted to say that on Thursday (1st Oct) I joined the University of Sussex as a Senior Lecturer in Journalism. Everybody at the Falmer Campus has been extremely friendly and welcoming especially Prof Ivor Gaber who has organised a welcome buffet for me this weekend. Journalism is a developing subject at Sussex and I look forward to helping to create an exciting and dynamic environment for our students. I already understand that the regional media are very supportive and I look forward to giving a talk to Brighton editors, NCTJ team at BJW and our students on Monday afternoon about my favorite subject - investigative journalism. I will miss the colleagues, students and alumni from Brunel many of whom I had developed good working relationships over the last six years.  But it was time to move on.
Thanks for the bottle of Laphroaig. I wish my former colleagues Rachel Sharp and Jacquie Hughes the best of luck with their MA and PhD respectively. Everyone knows where to find me and I am continuing to run my Facebook investigative page so can also be contacted through that. I'm looking to see some great journalism come out of Falmer.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

PL in Conversation with Fergus Byrne at Bridport Literary Festival


Fergus Byrne

More Lives Than One
The Extraordinary Life of Felix Dennis

Canny, infuriating, cynical and generous by turns, Felix Dennis was a true polymath whose astonishing story of relative rags to phenomenal riches is told with insight and sensitivity by Fergus Byrne, publisher and editorial director of The Marshwood Vale Magazine. Byrne had regular access to Dennis and his personal archive for this authorised biography and got to know him well. The early rebellious years started with Dennis as a grammar school drop-out, playing in a rock n’ roll band and being charged with obscenity relating to the infamous ‘schoolkids’ issue of the Sixties underground magazine: Oz. Then he founded Dennis Publishing which became a pioneering publisher of computer, hobbyist and lifestyle magazines and subsequently the flagship brand The Week. Dennis survived a self destructive phase to become an industrious businessman and generous philanthropist, planting trees, writing poetry and creating a magnificent home in Warwickshire where he died in June 2014.
In conversation with Paul Lashmar

Friday 13 November 2015 Time: 6.30 pm

Tickets: £10

Sponsored by: Anonymously

For further information click here

Saturday 12 September 2015

PL 's article in British Journalism Review

I have an article in the BJR "Spies in The Observer" which riffs off Stephen Dorril's excellent paper on the 1968 Soviet release of MI6 documents.

Lashmar, P. (2015) "Spies at The Observer", British Journalism Review, Vol. 26 No 3 September 2015, pp 60-65.
My article is not online yet but the reference can be found here.

Stephen Dorril - “Russia Accuses Fleet Street”: Journalists and MI6 during the Cold War. The International Journal of Press/Politics, April 2015 vol. 20 no. 2 204-227

Thursday 30 July 2015

Assistance request from anyone interested in Intelligence-Media relations

Major exposes of British Intelligence failures by UK news media.
I’m drawing up an indicative timeline and would appreciate any improvements you might suggest. It is very much a work in progress. It can be found:…/200222-media-intelligence-exposes

The criteria

This timeline should show:
All Major exposes of British Intelligence (in the broadest sense MI6, MI5, GCHQ and security forces) malpractice (illegality, incompetence, corruption, anti-democratic or immoral acts) primarily by UK news media. 1909 – present day.

Only the breaking story not the follow ups. No op-ed.

It will inevitably be, to some extent, subjective as there are a number of criteria that are hard to define (e.g. difference between major and lesser expose).

I am usually looking for the first exclusive publication or broadcast.

While the emphasis is on revelation it can include an expose that comes when a major scandal is being investigated publicly, for example in a trial or tribunal, where the reporter finds a unique revelation.

It can be a news report based on the publication of a book with a major revelation.

It cannot be a report of malpractice revealed elsewhere.

I have tried not to rely too heavily on my own work. Nonetheless there are examples I use as I know my own work best.
Please feel fit to make suggestions for additions and corrections.
Any help appreciated please email: paul.lashmar1@btinternet,com

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