Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kamal Ahmed: 'Shit treatment of a freelance'

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.”

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

this is a very silly tale. really, really...imagine a freelance being treated slightly poorly on Fleet Street. The guy's clearly a crook.

Anonymous said...

V interesting - and so depressing how those who bang on about how liberal they are usually the biggest self-serving shits.... Especially on newspapers. No doubt he was paid a huge salary and so why would he bother about saving the Scott Trust a couple of hundred quid? I had this experience as a freelancer at the Indy... The Obs is such an embarrasement these days....

Madame Arcati said...

The first anon sounds very defeated - very "let's just carry on as we are". Go launder your Y-fronts, daddy. Get nice 'n' fresh for a new age, you lazy spirited repeat machine.

Anonymous said...

Oh, sorry, Madame... I didn't realise you were a campaigning website for better treatment of the poor and underpaid among our hardworking number. I shall look out for more of this commendable spirit in future on your site.

Madame Arcati said...

I always like to keep an eye on the treatment of freelances. We don't want overpaid PAYE scum bigging themselves up at the expense of the hired hands - Nick Hellen also please note.

Anonymous said...

to be fair the Observer's treatment of freelancers is generally better than that of their sister paper. The Guardian frequently behaved towards freelancers in the way Ahmed is alleged to (stringing them along, no kill fees, poor and late pay etc) albeit without also getting involved with dodgy dossiers. I do find the idea that they are somehow morally superior to the Observer somewhat laughable.

Duralex said...

Madame as a defender of the oppressed and a working class heroine ? Quel chiqué ! (what a put-on)

As s/he said a couple of days ago, "a legs-in-the-air belly laugh is a rare thing". Let's enjoy it, my buddies. :-)))

Madame Arcati said...

In my naivety I used to think liberals and lefties morally superior, in the way writers must be superior. Now I know they are no better, often worse. Oooh, up go my legs again ...