News Shorts & Other Busyness
Brent Council Bent Truths
Squall 6, Spring 1994, pg. 35.
“A Council housing officer is alleged to have lost her temper and tried to grab the camera off a press photographer,” claimed the Willesden and Brent Chronicle after an incident outside the Rutland Park Mansions Squat at the end of last year.
“He (the photographer) claimed the housing officer lunged forward and tried to grab his camera but he swayed back. The leads to the flashgun were ripped off,” the article continued.
What makes the words “alleged” and “claimed” such polite journalism is the fact that the photographer was none other than Willesden and Brent Chronicle’s own Damien Horan.
So, why so much reservation from the newspaper, when a member of their own staff was an eyewitness/victim of the assault?
Ken Livingston (MP-Brent East) recently submitted a complaint to the House of Commons alleging that Brent Council had threatened the Chronicle’s sister paper, The Kilburn Times, with the withdrawal of advertising revenue if it published articles hostile to the Council.
Livingstone’s claim was further substantiated when his complaint went completely unreported in The Kilburn Times. As a local MP, Livingstone’s words usually command assured coverage in the Times.
The story goes that the Chronicle’s photographer was actually kicked by the Council official, who reportedly mistook him for a squatter.
Both the Chronicle and The Kilburn Times are owned by Capital Newspapers, which in turn is part owned by businessman Ray Tyndall. Mr Tyndall is known to be a contributor to Tory party coffers, last year to the tune of £100,000. Whether this had any bearing on the Chronicle’s watered account is of course not provable. But a combination of this and Bent Council’s undercover blackmail ensured the story remained very much a suppressed tale.
When SQUALL attempted to get the horses-mouth story from Damien Horan himself, we were told: “He doesn’t want to speak to you, he doesn’t like talking to reporters.” Which for a staff photographer on a newspaper has to rate as a suspect excuse.