Kamal Ahmed, the outgoing pompously titled Observer's Executive editor, News, is fast turning into an Arcati suspect figure. Over the years he rocketed up the Scott Trust career ladder from the Guardian’s media editorship, having first arrived at the paper as its general reporter and royal correspondent. He now leaves under a cloud – slow coaches will have to follow labels to catch up – accused of helping to sex up the government’s dodgy Iraq dossier with the notorious bully, alcoholic hysteric and potential suicide case (I would recommend therapy NOW), Alastair Campbell.
A female freelance writer (name withheld by request) undertook commissioned work for Ahmed years ago and sheds further unfavourable light on him.
She tells me: “Kamal was not the most straightforward of editors. He published a few of my pieces but on a number of occasions he commissioned 800 words, didn't run them and then never offered me a kill fee. Because I needed to maintain good relations with the paper I never pushed it - but he showed how ruthless and illiberal he was.
"On three occasions he worked me for a day and a half on the off-chance that he had an extra option for his paper and then just let me stew - he didn’t even have the decency to give me advance warning so that I could have placed time-sensitive stories in other papers. This happens on some other papers but you don’t expect it on a paper owned by the fine upstanding Scott Trust.
"Basically he's a shit and he deserves to suffer, but probably not for treating freelancers like pond life. More for helping hundreds of thousands of people die in Iraq – I truly believe he helped Alastair Campbell write that dossier. A lot of hacks on the Observer believe this too. He was so close to the Blair government – no wonder [Observer editor] Roger Alton praises Ahmed for strengthening its political coverage.”