City Journalism is No 1 journalism university in UK says CUG.

Absolutely thrilled that @cityjournalism has become number 1 in the UK for the study of media and communications! We have jumped 35 places in a year. A testament to the hard work & success of amazing staff and students, especially during Covid. Our students get good jobs in the industry. Out of 97 Universities.

City University has now entered Top 40. Jumped up from 54th University.

Communication & Media Studies Subject League Table 2023

Following up our Observer expose from Sunday – “The US, UK and Australia cannot lecture the world about human rights until they come clean about the purge”

The West’s role in the 1960s massacre of Indonesian communists . From the National News, Abu Dhabi

The Foreign Office’s nasty, sneaky part in the Indonesian massacres of 1965-66 – new evidence

Thanks to The Observer for letting Nick, James and I follow up and produce this story. Please share for impact.

Arron Banks’s lawsuit against reporter a freedom of speech matter, court hears

Carole Cadwalladr’s team sets out defence in first day of libel trial brought by Leave.EU funder

PL message: I’ve donated to the fund – can you? Click Here

Carole Cadwalladr at Ted talk 2019

Andrew Jennings RIP. Investigative Journalist extraordinaire.

I am sorry to report the death of Andrew Jennings, a friend and colleague for forty years. He was a truly extraordinary journalist and we shared many an adventure together. My condolences to his partner Clare and the children Rosie, Henry and Sophie.

Andrew Jennings and I at World in Action, Golden Square, London W1 1991

Andrew was never one to let things go. He will be bouncing around the afterworld to doorstep the corrupt Swiss sports administrator Sepp Blatter (FIFA) and the Spanish fascist Juan Antonio Samaranch (IOC) and ask them about taking bribes and the damage they did to sport. There are a few old ‘bad men’ there he will be wanting a word with.

Meeting KGB defector Boris Karpichkov

I was reminded of the this exclusive story from 22 years ago I did with Kim Sengupta at The Independent. Recall meeting Karpichkov and then shortly after he was on hunger strike in Brixton prison. But he survived and has done many interviews since I note.

Spy who exposed money launderers faces death

Paul Lashmar, Kim Sengupta Monday 08 November 1999

FOR THE past two weeks Boris Karpichkov, a former KGB major, has been on hunger strike in Brixton prison, south London. His story, if true, is one of intrigue, greed and violence. And it may cost him his life.

Mr Karpichkov, a Latvian, is facing extradition accused of stealing $500,000 (pounds 310,000) from a failed bank in Riga, Bank Olympia. He denies this, saying the real reason he is wanted is that he uncovered corrupt links between senior figures in the Latvian government and the Russian mafia. Mr Karpichkov says that if he is sent home he will be killed. He says the mafia has taken out a $800,000 contract on him and his family.

Sixteen months ago he fled to Britain with his wife and two sons aged 13 and 16, claiming political asylum. They used false passports issued by the Latvian secret service.about:blank

A week after arriving in Britain he was arrested by Scotland Yard at the request of the Latvian government and has been held on remand. He has gone on hunger strike toraise awareness of his case.

The former major, who has limited English, said: “My family and I can’t go back to Latvia or Russia ever again. If we will return, it would mean for us only death. We lost all our property, everything we had in Latvia. We do not receive in Great Britain any help or benefits because British authorities refused us.”

Mr Karpichkov said he was given details about the mafia contract. “They have approached former officers of the KGB’s top secret unit Alfa, who specialised in assassination. At the present time these people are looking for our family everywhere and sooner or later will find us in Britain,” he said.

Mr Karpichkov, of Russian extraction and nationality, was recruited by the regional KGB in 1981 when Latvia was part of the Soviet Union. He said he was trained in the Higher Secret Services School in 1985 and as a special forces operative during the war in Afghanistan.

In early 1990, after the Cold War ended, he was assigned to the new Russian intelligence service, the FSB. It was sensitive work investigating corruption in Latvia involving prominent political figures and key people in the Russian and local mafias.

From 1993 he worked undercover running a commercial information agency. But Mr Karpichkov was actually gathering information on money laundering through Latvia’s biggest commercial banks, including Bank Olympia. The bank handled a number of International Monetary Fund credits worth millions of dollars intended for the country’s industrial and agricultural development. Mr Karpichkov said that in this period he gathered an “explosive” dossier, with tape recordings, about “the close connections between highest level officials of the Latvian state with leaders of organised crime”.

Mr Karpichkov said he passed some of this information to his bosses in Russia’s secret services. At this point, he said, they betrayed him and told the Latvian police about his work. He said this led to his arrest by the Latvian police and later by the Russian police. He said he was tortured and beaten.

When Olympia Bank failed in 1995, questions were asked about where large sums of money had gone. Although he was not seen as a central figure, Mr Karpichkov was accused of involvement with theft. He denies the allegations. He met the attorney-general of Latvia, Janis Skarstins, in 1996 and was offered a deal under which he would have been treated as a special witness in return for handing over evidence.

Although Mr Karpichkov handed over documents and tapes, the deal fell through and he was placed under house arrest. But he escaped from his sixth-floor apartment by climbing down a rope made from knotted-together clothes, and fled with his family to Cyprus. Later they flew to Russia, and after meeting problems there they sought asylum in Britain.

Mr Karpichkov said he explained his predicament to the Home Office as part of his asylum claim, which was being processed normally until his arrest. The family were found housing by a local authority. They appear to live in poverty, dependent on hand-outs.

“The Latvian authorities only asked for extradition after I gave interviews to the Latvian press on the phone,” said Mr Karpichkov. He believes they only want to extradite him to stop him publishing information abroad on corruption in Latvia.

Establishing the truth of Mr Karpichkov’s claims is difficult. There is no doubt that much of his story is true, and a great deal of it is supported by Latvian and Russian newspaper articles. But whether he has defrauded a Latvian bank or incurred the wrath of his country’s officials is harder to determine.

Latvia has an extradition agreement with Britain, but it does have problems with mafia corruption at a high level. Mr Karpichkov’s case reflects the difficulties the Home Office faces in uncovering the truth of the many East European asylum cases in the years since the Berlin Wall came down.

Paris Police 1900 – The story behind the character Bertillon – the father of French forensic science

Watching Paris Police 1900, I was fascinated to see one of the characters was Bertillon. He was a real figure. Alphonse Bertillon was a French police officer and biometrics researcher who created anthropometry, an identification system based on physical measurements. Anthropometry was the first scientific system used by police to identify criminals. I first came across him when I wrote a monograph on the history of the mugshot. Bertillon was the inventor of the mugshot, as we now know it. He was keen to apply science to policing and that he knew that the only way, at the time, to identify a criminal was their name, personal identification or they had been preserved in the newly developed art of photography. The catalyst for my taking on this research was the release of poignant if much more relaxed pictures of ‘criminals’ taken in Dorchester in the early Victorian period and that predate the Bertillon system. Here are three examples.

The Juvenile Offender: Luther Gosney 10 years old. In 1876 he was committed to Dorset County Gaol charged with stealing two tin horns valued at 8d.  It was his first offence and he was sentenced him to twenty one days in gaol followed by five years in Reformatory.
George Scammell tried 4 July 1883 found guilty of obtaining money by false pretences.  Aged 56 years – sentenced to 12 months hard labour and two years police supervision.
Juvenile Offender: Priscilla Penfold. 12 years old.  She was charged with stealing a cloak valued at 25s.  She was sentenced to one month in gaol and five years in Reformatory for her first offence. 

I was struck by the difference between that an mugshots I have used to illustrate articles as journalist like Winston Silcott and Myra Hindley’s.

Bertillon systematised the photograph as a means of identification, the front and side phot and fitted it into his card record system. In my paper I argue that the mugshot’s simplicity of framing and purpose is deceptive. The mugshot genre has come to carry, sometimes on a case by case basis, an extraordinary array of meaning: spectacle, punitive, shaming, power, desire, cultural, surveillance, psychoanalytical, philosophical, psychoanalytic, criminological, colonialism, historic, transgression, deviance and art.

The mugshot is one of the simplest forms of the photograph: a rectangle, a head and shoulders image of a human being. It is planned, posed but deliberately decontextualized. The photographer is required by the judicial authorities to capture the best detailed image of the suspect that is allowed in the circumstances. Its purpose is functional and bureaucratic primarily for future registration, identification and classification. The modalities of the mugshot are deliberately limited.

I also discussed whether the systematic approach made it easier to the extend the immediate recognistion of the mugshot as casting the individual as a criminal but that was used by the Nazis to criminalise jewish people, as with the infamous Auschwitz photos. If you would like to see the original article it will be through the journal Social Semiotics (only through academic systems) or through the Brunel University open access system. The grisly Paris Police 1900 series can be seen on BBC iPlayer.

Paul Lashmar