Brilliant University of Sussex trip to BBC, meeting top editors and watching BBC1’s One Show transmitted live.

NBH trip 1 May 2016

Twenty University of Sussex journalists from the MA and BA courses visited New Broadcasting House on Friday (27 May). They had a tour of world’s most famous media building with its state of the art studios. Then three top BBC editors took time to talk to the group – thanks to Nick Sutton, Hugh Pym and Diana Martin for giving their time up. The tour group then saw the Radio 4 News PM Show being broadcast. The final highlight was to be studio guests on the BBC1 One Show where presenter Gyles Brandreth joined Alex Jones to talk to Elaine Paige and Russell T Davies.

Shamim Parveez Zakaria, an MA International Journalism student, said: “Walking through the BBC studious, interacting with some of the great minds and experience the ambience of this news world was a life time opportunity”.

Cosmo Sanderson from MA Journalism said: “The building was really impressive and it was interesting hearing from some of the most senior BBC journalists.


The group would also like to thank the legendary BBC foreign correspondent Stuart Hughes for sponsoring the visit. Thanks also to John Mair and Professor Ivor Gaber for leading the tour.

Journalism Lead at Sussex, Dr Paul Lashmar, said: “At Sussex we want our journalism students to get every opportunity to engage with professional journalists and media organisations as we believe this helps our graduates to become even more employable.”


Impact of Snowden revelations on investigative journalists and their sources – PL’s paper published

No More Sources paper published in Journalism Practice.


From June 2013, documents leaked by the National Security Agency (NSA) dissident Edward Snowden revealed that Western intelligence agencies are capable of bulk collection of electronic communications flowing through global telecommunication systems. Surveillance data shared by the “Five Eyes” eavesdropping agencies of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand include journalist’s communications. In the wake of the Snowden leak, Zygmunt Bauman and colleagues called for a systematic assessment of the scale, reach and character of contemporary surveillance practices. This paper explores a specific part of Bauman’s task by assessing the impact of the Snowden revelations on confidential source-based journalism. Interviews were conducted with a range of investigative journalists who have experience of covering national security in Five Eyes countries. All expressed serious concern over the intelligence agencies’ greatly enhanced capability to track journalists and to identify and neutralise their sources. The paper concludes that there is clear evidence of a paradigmatic shift in journalist–source relations as those interviewed regard Five Eyes mass surveillance as a most serious threat to the fourth estate model of journalism as practised in Western democratic countries.

Snowden and Drake were right about the NSA internal whistleblower protection scheme – it was a ‘trap’

The Guardian has an article today responding to the emergence of a whistleblower from the team who investigated ‘in secret’ whistleblower claims within NSA. This whistleblower, quoted extensively in the Guardian, says that NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake  was set up. This had been suspected and correlates with Thomas Drake’s account of how they came after him. You can hear this podcast from last year which gives an excellent account from Drake himself here of his motives and then what happened to him.

Snowden’s claim that he did not become an internal whistleblower because he had seen what happened to Drake and others look rather justified.

Prediction: Afro Celt new album ‘Sources’ will be the hit of the Festival season

ACSS Sources (2)ACSS sources 2

Went walking with Simon Emmerson on Maiden Castle yesterday and realised I should let friends know about the new Afro Celt album “Sources”.

I’ve been watching and listening to Simon’s music going back to Working Week – I recall a particularly great gig in Deptford many years ago. I’ve known him for over a decade and saw some great early ‘Imagined Village’ gigs in Bridport and elsewhere. The Afro Celt Sound System, which has been going some twenty years or more have reassembled for what might be their best ever album.  While world music fusions are not as innovative or novel, nor the sound of the kora or uillean pipes as rare, as they were in the 1990s this takes the integration of African and Celtic music to new highs. It now melds so effortlessly that you could believe this is anchored in the traditional indigenous music of a single nation. Yet every track has a different flavour as one element or another emerges to drive the tune.

If Simon has always tended to be the ringmaster in the past, he has stepped back and both Johnny Kalsi and N’Faly Kouyate are now equal partners with new and outstanding songwriting contributions. The production is now so confident and brings together complex themes and instrumentation in a seamless whole. The spoken word is a risky addition to  a music track but the words from Pal O Siadhail mellifluous Celtic voice add mystery and a different timbre. The whole of Sources is much more than the sum of the parts.  There are echoes of early ACSS with Davy Spillane’s instruments and  Johnny Kalsi’s explosive drums. I can hear the echo of Baaba Maal too. But there is something new and confident here too. The highlight has to be Cascades which is also the album taster on YouTube  and will blow you away.

Simon’s great love is ornithology (thanks to him I now know what a Corn Bunting looks like and how to recognise its song) and the album ends appropriately with an unearthly call of a great bird in flight.


Congratulations to blacklisted workers winning righteous compensation. PL will not need to give evidence now.

I’m delighted to see that the Blacklisted workers have won their cases and will get some serious and righteous compensation. I will not need to give evidence in the High Court now next week. Documents David Leigh and I had got at The Observer back in 1989 when  we exposed the Economic League were going to play an important part of the case linking the employers much more closely to the blacklisting system.

Among the papers were memos on Services Group headed notepaper which lawyers argued demonstrated that it was an entity separate to the League. I also had lists of meetings and attendees which the lawyers believe demonstrated the extent of the same companies involvement i.e. not just as consumers of a service.

Although the industry defendants did not directly admit their involvement in the operation of the Services Group the lawyers were in this way able to get from them compensation for the period prior to the creation of the Consulting Association i.e. on behalf of men who had been blacklisted earlier than 1994 by the League. Without the additional evidence companies that used the blacklist may have maintained their stance that they were only liable for damage done after 1994.

Masterclass: Duncan Campbell & William Binney on NSA, GCHQ, Stellarwind and much more

From University of Sussex. Chaired by PL

Published on 6 May 2016

SHL Masterclass – Duncan Campbell & William Binney

@ Digital Humanities Lab, University of Sussex, 8th March 2016

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.