Monday, October 22, 2007

The Observer - news editor helped sex up Iraq dossier?

My thanks to Liz for drawing my attention to a new book coming out which claims that the outgoing Observer news editor Kamal Ahmed helped Alistair Campbell "sex up" the dodgy dossier on Iraq. The book is Flat Earth News written by Nick Davies - a Guardian writer who is said to be close to the editor Alan Rusbridger. This may explain the tensions between the sister papers in recent weeks: Ahmed is known to be very close to Alton and the Observer took a pro-Iraq War line while the Guardian was and is hostile.

The Mail reports: "According to publishing sources, the book will claim that Mr Ahmed and Mr Campbell worked on the dossier in February 2003 – a critical point in the diplomatic build-up to war – when Mr Ahmed was The Observer's political editor and Mr Campbell was Mr Blair's director of communications.

"It alleges that Mr Campbell asked Mr Ahmed to help write the anti-Saddam presentation when they were flying to a Blair-Bush summit.

"The dossier, which was later pushed under the hotel doors of journalists covering the trip, made a number of claims about Iraq's evasion of weapons inspections."

Ahmed denies these allegations, as does Alton - but I don't believe them. Click here for full story. And follow Arcati labels for the story on Ahmed's resignation from the Observer to take up a six-figure salaried job on a government quango - a timely appointment.

For some time now I have said that Alton is the wrong editor for the Observer - he is a right-winger with no real sympathy for the paper's natural leftish-liberal tendency. Why the Scott Trust appointed him in the first place is a complete mystery to me.


Liz said...

The best bit is how Campbell would allegedly be read the paper's newslist ahead of publication.

Newslists are the biggest work of fiction since Shakespeare.

Madame Arcati said...

I soooooooo agree Liz. At the Sunday Times the early news list is called the wish list. Stories angles are created to suit the editor and his puppeteer, Murdoch - eg the Euro referundum poll campaign - something that obsesses the old bastard and his ginger minger at the Sun but no one else.

Liz said...

....Only bettered by features' forward planning meetings where my favourite writer once excused himself from offering next to nothing with the line: "They're all on the back burner".

When an alternative was suggested he replied: "I'm afraid that one is nailed to the starting blocks."

This went on for years and he made an excellent living out of it.

Anonymous said...

Roger can't write for toffee and gives the impression that he's half Roger Mellie and half Tim nice-but-dim, but he Gets Things Done and gets people to Get Things Done.Usually very well. Write him off at your peril.