Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Nicholas Hellen's blackmail letter

The letter below is purportedly from Nicholas Hellen, the (now) deputy news editor of the Sunday Times, to an anonymous blog writer who became rather well known after the paper outed her against her wishes. I publish it without further comment. For more on the backstory go to Girl With A One Track Mind.

Aug 5, 2006 11:08 AM

Dear Miss [my name],

We intend to publish a prominent news story in this weekend's paper, revealing your identity as the author of the book, Girl With a One Track Mind.

We have matched up the dates of films you have worked on - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Batman Begins and Lara Croft Tomb Raider - and it is clear that they correlate to your blog. We have obtained your birth certificate, and details about where you went to school and college.

We propose to publish the fact that you are 33 and live in [my address] -London, and that your mother, [her name], is a [her address] -based [her profession]. The article includes extracts from your book and blog, relevant to your career in the film industry. We also have a picture of you, taken outside your flat.

Unfortunately, the picture is not particularly flattering and might undermine the image that has been built up around your persona as Abby Lee. I think it would be helpful to both sides if you agreed to a photo shoot today so that we can publish a more attractive image.

We are proposing to assign you our senior portrait photographer, Francesco Guidicini, and would arrange everything to your convenience, including a car to pick you up. We would expect you to provide your own clothes and make up. As the story will be on a colour page, we would prefer the outfit to be one of colourful eveningwear.

We did put this proposal to you yesterday, but heard nothing back. Clearly this is now a matter of urgency, and I would appreciate you contacting me as soon as possible. To avoid any doubt we will, of course, publish the story as it is if we do not hear from you.

Yours sincerely,
Nicholas Hellen


gezabelle said...


Anonymous said...

Seems there's an outing epidemic running wild in the blogosphere. Robin Tamblin, then Zoe Margolis... Who's next ? Why not madame Arcati, hmmm ?

Anonymous said...

I notice the latest Private Eye has nothing to say about the big media story - the blogosphere's war on Nick Hellen. Perhaps he's one of their sources.

Anonymous said...

It's a storm in a teacup, and this outing is old news. I suspect miss Zoe of desperately trying to relaunch the buzz about it. The sales of her book must be falling.

The good people of Biffin Bridge said...

Madame Arcarti’s previous article about this “nasty little jackboot bully” is prototypical of what real journalism should be about and serves as an excellent appendage to use on “Mr Hell” once his veil has been lifted.

Much love,


Anonymous said...

Excuse me - old story? So how old is the Lord Levy/Lambton/Mail website story in the new Private Eye? I read it a week before in Press Gazette/Axe Grinder.

The Eye regularly covers up media stories where their sources maybe embarrassed. Meanwhile the blogosphere seethes at this cunt Hellen, his cunting editor (who's just sold his London home for £4.5m) and the other public school cunts there who happily steal/make up stories and lift each other's bylines. Go fuck yourself.

The good people of Biffin Bridge said...

Oh it’s finally come to this! Private Eye was at its best when they did hatchet jobs on their friends, I guess we’re living in different times…

Anonymous said...

< Excuse me - old story? >

Yes, indeed. The Girl (i.e. Zoe Margolis) was outed in august 2006. See there :

Jeez, that poor thing looks like a tearful widow !...

The good people of Biffin Bridge said...

Swift reminds us " that no man ever made an ill figure who understood his own talents, nor a good one who mistook them." Every day brings with it fresh illustrations of this weighty saying; but the best commentary that we remember of 2006 is the history of Nicholas Hellen. *

*Adapted from the dairy and letters of Madame D'arblay January 1843

Arcati said...

I think the story in question is that of Nicholas Hellen and the blogosphere, not the "unmasking" of Zoe as such.

The Blogo-Hell story is really a very contemporary phenomenon: internet writers hitting back at an abusive hack who personifies the low values of a supposedly high-cachet newspaper. The blogosphere is helping to articulate a well-grounded reaction to the daily and weekly misconduct of factory media - the Sunday Times being but one notorious example.

I can understand the reluctance of established media to acknowledge this: poor old Prof Greenslade tries his best, but you have to remember, once a Fleet St editor always a Fleet St editor. His first love is the culture of the factory newspaper.

But Blogo-Hell will grow and grow and there's nothing the Sunday Times can do about it. It beats voodoo.

Anonymous said...

< The Blogo-Hell story is really a very contemporary phenomenon: internet writers hitting back at an abusive hack who personifies the low values of a supposedly high-cachet newspaper. >

Oh, that's beautiful ! But I have to confess I'm still looking for the high values madame Arcati promotes on this blog.

Arcati said...

That's because you're not looking at all, my sweet.
I haven't sent blackmailing letters to anyone, and I only hide behind this modest mask, not behind some fat corporate newspaper that's trading on a reputation acquired in happier times, now expired.

Anonymous said...

< I haven't sent blackmailing letters to anyone >

Excuse me, but… I can’t see any blackmail in Hellen’s letter. I agree he speaks to Margolis in a cynical and brutal way (the usual private journalistic attitude, I guess), but he doesn’t ask for money, nor for a special favour in exchange for his silence, does he ? Since he gives her no choice and just asks her to join the ‘outing game’ in her own interest, the deal is clear, although dishonest and quite shocking. Therefore, Zoe Margolis wrongly uses the word ‘blackmail’, and by parroting it you give a poor opinion of your critical capacities.
Regarding your own innocence, ahem…. What would you call the way you regularly threaten to reveal tasty details about the private life and most intimate habits of your victims ? Hellen’s methods and yours are not so different, objectively, but under the protection of your “modest mask” you’re even less courageous than he is. Nothing to boast about, indeed.

Arcati said...

Excuse me, but try to get your nose out of Hellen's arse for a moment.

One definition of blackmail is: "to force or coerce into a particular action."

In telling Zoe that a particular picture of her was unattractive and that its publication might undermine her image, he was attempting to coerce her into cooperating with the story. He knew she did not seek personal exposure but played on a presumed fear that the picture could damage her - so she might as well play ball.

To her credit she did not.

Anonymous said...

< Excuse me, but try to get your nose out of Hellen's arse for a moment. >

LOL ! Did I give that impression ?

< One definition of blackmail is: "to force or coerce into a particular action." >

Oh, really ? I rather suspect a journalistic misuse of the term, that's such a common tendency nowadays ! :-)

duralex said...

One thing that really puzzles me is the reason why the Girl seems so upset by the fact of being unmasked. Having a curious mind (in all the meanings of the expression), I caught a glimpse of her erotic diary, expecting hard sex, rape, SM, incest, bestiality, all that dirty stuff a self-respecting lady shouldn’t even have heard of. A female version of Sade’s “120 Days of Sodom”, as it were. What I found instead is a collection of nicely put college girl fantasies, the most daring of which is a soft threesome with two male lovers (please, tell me if I missed anything more shameless). Nothing to make such a fuss about, actually. On the contrary !

After a while, I seriously started suspecting that the ‘outing’ of Zoe Margolis might be a clever manipulation, a carefully prepared advertising plot. The clues she left in her articles clearly reveal her desire to be caught, don’t they ? And I notice that this ‘disturbing’ event didn’t stop her publishing regularly her tasteful thoughts on her blog…

By the way, I particularly recommend a significant little piece entitled ‘Smell’ (01/15/07). It’s – unwillingly – a true jewel of post-modern sexual sociology. The Girl wants sex, oh yes, but please, deodored, clean, sterilized, healthy, in one word : standard supermarket sex. Brave New World !
Not that I want to play the devil’s advocate here, but if Margolis’ blog and book are as successful as they are said to be, I’m afraid there’s much to worry about for the future of sexual freedom and diversity.

the genuine duralex said...

Tabernak, which is the f...g b...d who stole my avatar so he (she?) could freely talk about sex ? Hey, Zork, don't try to fool us, I recognize your style !!!

zork said...

Don't be angry with me, Duralex. It was just a little demonstration of what happens when you organise your own outing. I won't do it again, I swear !

duralex said...

Damn it, I'm screwed ! It's so funny that I forgive you. But i'll have my revenge some day ! ;-)