MI6 planned to assassinate Nasser using nerve gas, according to Peter Wright.

On the question of using nerve gas for assassination I quote from Spycatcher (Wright 1987, 16). “At the beginning of the Suez Crisis, MI6 developed a plan through the London station, to assassinate Nasser using nerve gas. Eden (the PM)  initially gave his approval to the operation, but later rescinded it when he got agreement from the French and Israelis to engage in joint military action.” When that invasion failed the plan was resurrected but according to Peter Wright then failed ‘lamentably’.

PL has article on spies who worked at The Observer in new BJR revealing new names see “Nest of Spies”.

PL has a piece published in the latest British Journalism Review (BJR) on those from The Observer who worked as spies or acted as MI6 assets. It is a follow up  of my BJR piece from 2015 and is based on new material in Donald Trelford’s biographical account “Shouting in the Street” (Biteback 2017). He outs himself for helping MI6 as a young editor and then names some of former colleagues who had told him that they worked for MI6.  Trelford was the editor throughout my eleven years at the paper.

It can be found here for those with a subscription to BJR.



The EU strikes at heart of UK’s post-Brexit FS strategy

This a very important story in the Leave debacle. Post Brexit our financial services sector will need to further develop, because it will be dependent in part, on its ability to move dirty money through to being clean money via the network of offshores. But the EU is wise to this and this is part of the counterattack.

“The Taxe 3 inquiry marks a further threat from the EU to the UK’s network of offshore tax havens following the EU referendum. The terms of reference specifically promise that “particular attention shall be given to the crown dependencies and overseas territories”.


With thousands of patients being held in ambulances at A&E, Maitlis holds Hunt’s feet to the fire – a masterclass

Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis interview with Jeremy Hunt last night on the winter crisis in hospitals was a masterclass in political interviewing. Completely on top of the brief she was measured, balanced, clear, precise and she got the tone exactly right. I might have said surgical if it wasn’t an item on the NHS. Hunt was left with a platitudinous line of defence even citing health service pressures in Australia to suggest the current mess was not exceptional. Most ridiculously he would not admit there is a crisis though anyone who has contact with NHS in the last week or so knows there is one. Hunt really does not have the gravitas expected of a Secretary of State for Health. The whole Newsnight report on the NHS was excellent. Well done BBC. That is what journalism is there for.

Interview after 19.00 mins in

Newsnight – 03/01/2018
With Emily Maitlis.

Here comes a judge…British Journalism Awards

Fresh back from British Journalism Awards. Delighted to present Gareth Browne from The Times with ‘New Journalist of the Year’ award for his coverage of ISIS. Grenfell Fire was the big domestic story and the tiny Inside Housing team rightly picked up ‘News organisation of the year’ beating their much larger Fleet Street rivals. IH reported extensively on fire safety in Tower Blocks including Grenfell before the fire. It was a pleasure to see so much good reporting and some old friends including Geoff Lean who as environment correspondent of The Observer successfully campaigned to have lead taken out of petrol.

Journalism awards

PL quoted: BBC News – Washington Post uncovers fake Roy Moore story ‘sting’

The Washington Post says it has uncovered a failed “sting operation” by a group trying to peddle a sensational but false story to its journalists. A source told the newspaper she had been impregnated as a teenager by US politician Roy Moore………..

Dr Paul Lashmar, a journalism lecturer at London’s City University with a background in investigative journalism, said both groups have a valid stance.
With its “clearly political rather than journalistic agenda”, an organisation like Project Veritas is only beholden to its own ethical standards, he said, and for journalists, “it’s a very useful process, to know there are people out there ready to embarrass you if you don’t check out your story.”
Equally, he thinks it is “perfectly reasonable” of the Washington Post to release the details of off-the-record conversations – so long as it is done with care.
But “if someone is trying to entrap you, then it removes any duty of protection for that source,” he said.

The Washington Post says it has uncovered a failed “sting operation” by a group trying to peddle a sensational but false story to its journalists.

A source told the newspaper she had been impregnated as a teenager by US politician Roy Moore.