PL article on the last print edition of the Indie

The Independent’s final edition summed up all that is powerful about newsprint.


A strong investigative front-page story alleging that a UK-based Saudi dissident was connected with a plot to kill a Saudi king allowed the last print edition of The Independent to exit with the panache and impact with which it arrived some 30 years ago.

Also making the final front page a memorable one was the strong photographic image of Brussels commuters beating a hasty retreat from an anti-terror operation at a tram station. This caught the dour mood of a week dominated by terror. And while other papers went with a picture of a wounded terror suspect at the scene, The Independent’s choice reflected its overarching concern about the impact of world events on ordinary people. click above to read full article.

First article on the Vindolanda writing by PL 30 years ago

Watching Alice Roberts (BBC4) on the archaeology of Roman Britain reminded me that I wrote for the Observer what I think was the first news media article anywhere on the amazing writing tablets found at the Roman fort  of Vindolanda. They still c0ntinue to be found and have given extraordinary insight into the daily life of Romans on the northernmost border of the Roman Empire.

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The evil of the blacklisters – how the Economic League was exposed

All the current interest in blacklisting with campaigners and victims successfully taking blacklisting companies to court reminded me of the work David Leigh and I did over the profoundly immoral  Economic League. These victims were people secretly prevented from working because they were trade unionists or political active. It is worth noting that Jon McDonnell has been a major supporter of the campaign against blacklisting.

Here’s our front page story in The Observer from 4th September 1988. We worked with an excellent team from Granada TV’s World In Action team. (Sorry about the scans – broadsheets are hard get into a page).

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Great session with for NSAer Bill Binney and Duncan Campbell on Snowden yesterday.

We are delighted to announce that William Binney, former senior US National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence officer and whistleblower, will be joining Duncan Campbell at the Sussex Humanities Lab Masterclass:


4pm Tuesday 8th March 
Digital Humanities Lab, Silverstone Building (2nd Floor), University of Sussex

Pioneering investigative journalist and author Duncan Campbell and former senior US National Security Agency (NSA) intelligence officer William Binney will explore the lack of parliamentary and public oversight of the proposed UK Investigatory Powers Bill (aka The Snoopers’ Charter), which is intended to confirm and consolidate GCHQs expansive powers and resources, asking what this means for our understanding of mass surveillance in contemporary society.

Based on extensive research of the classified US and UK documents revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and 40 years of analysis, Campbell and Binney offer a unique insight into the United Kingdom’s signals intelligence agency (GCHQ) and the rationale for the surveillance that silently permeates our daily lives.

Chaired by Dr Paul Lashmar, this Masterclass will examine what roles civil society actors, such as academics and journalists, should play in effectively analysing and critiquing mass surveillance culture in the Twenty-First Century? Binney and Duncan will debate GCHQ’s capabilities, strategy and ambitions and suggest how future research can help frame issues of public interest on matters of surveillance.

In the 1970s Duncan Campbell was the first journalist to publicly reveal the activities of GCHQ, leading to his arrest and trial in the famous ABC Case. In the 1980s, as a result of Duncan’s investigation for TV of the secret Zircon satellite programme, the BBC was raided by Special Branch. Brighton based, and a Sussex postgraduate alumnus, Duncan remains a prominent analyst of GCHQ’s activities and is recognised as a knowledgeable and engaged critic by the intelligence community itself.

William Binney is a 30-year veteran of the NSA and prominent whistleblower. Described as one of the best analysts in the NSA’s history, Binney was a high-profile critic of his former employers during the George W. Bush administration and accused both of violating the US constitution. He has been consistently critical of bulk collection by intelligence agencies and believes that it is ineffective in identifying terrorists.  Binney recently gave evidence to the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill and opposed GCHQ’s bulk collection methodology.

Invitation - Duncan Campbell & William Binney Masterclass

“Rhythm Pals” Realistic Orchestra Homage to Loose Tubes Yoshis SF July 2011

I was reminded that my San Francisco pal Bill Evans commissioned Realistic Orchestra  to write this homage to Loose Tubes in honour of our music exploration days in the 1980s. I had the pleasure of seeing its debut at Yoshis in SF in July 2011.

To listen click here