Sussex journalism MA wins award for excellence

Dr Paul Lashmar (second left) and Paula O’Shea receive the NCTJ’s 2015 Award for Excellence for the University of Sussex MA in Journalism, the “best performing HE postgraduate course”.

The national organisation that oversees the training of UK journalists has declared the University of Sussex’s MA in Journalism to be the “best performing HE postgraduate course for 2014-15”.

Dr Paul Lashmar, who leads the University’s growing journalism team, was at the Library of Birmingham on Thursday (26 November) to receive a 2015 Award for Excellence from the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), which accredits the Sussex degree.

He was joined by Paula O’Shea, managing director of the University’s partner institution, Brighton Journalist Works (BJW), whose experienced journalists teach elements of the postgraduate MA course.

This hands-on training is framed within the academic and intellectual agenda delivered at Sussex – the highest-ranking university in the UK to offer an NCTJ-accredited qualification in journalism.

Dr Lashmar said: “This prestigious award shows we not only meet the rigorous standards that are required by the news industry but we are up there with the best. It is all about our students getting the jobs they want in journalism.

“This is a tribute to the University of Sussex relationship with Brighton Journalism Works.”

Sussex has a BA and four MAs in Journalism and the number of journalism students is increasing year on year, with 100 now on campus.

“There is a real demand for the best minds to be recruited into the media,” added Dr Lashmar. “Journalism is a developing subject at Sussex and we are committed to high-quality and radically questioning journalism.”


My part in Thatchergate

I stumbled over the National Archive documents on ‘Thatchergate’ online including the correspondence from No10 and found reference to my exclusive. Not seen it before.

This was way back around 1983 and a tape was released mysteriously that some thought was a copy of an intercepted international phone call between Reagan and Thatcher colluding over the Falklands. Others thought is was a KGB plant. It went worldwide and was dubbed Thatchergate. I was tipped that it was a fake made by the anarchist punk band Crass. I went off to their Essex – yes Essex – farmhouse and met with Penny Rimbaud and fellow anarchos. Continue reading

Mark Thatcher – 30 years on the story still percolates

I was fascinated to see this reprise of Mark Thatcher and Oman story that David Leigh and I broke 30 years ago.

From the Guardian on Monday.

Mark Thatcher ‘exiled’ from UK over business dealings, book claims

Biography of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher says her son was in effect forced to leave Britain because he was damaging her reputation
Alan Travis Home affairs editor

Last modified on Tuesday 6 October 2015 00.00 BST

Sir-Mark-Thatcher-arrives-008Margaret Thatcher’s son Mark was in effect forbidden to live in Britain after being repeatedly warned that he was damaging his mother’s reputation, according to her new biography. Senior Whitehall mandarins believed Sir Mark Thatcher’s business dealings were “driven by greed” and his mother’s attitude towards them “conveyed a whiff of corruption”.

The former Conservative prime minister even asked her principal private secretary Sir Clive Whitmore to tell Mark that he had to stop “trying to exploit his mother’s name” in his Middle East oil deals, but he refused. Whitmore said: “Mark was driven by greed and reluctant to pass up any opportunity.”

The life and times of Mark Thatcher

Robin Butler, who also served as Lady Thatcher’s principal private secretary when the Observer broke a story in 1984 about Mark and his mother’s involvement in a Cementation construction deal in Oman, was more severe. Other bidders for the contract had complained that Thatcher used her influence with the Sultan of Oman to get the contract for the firm Mark was working for.

Butler said: “He thought that Mrs Thatcher’s behaviour in Oman had conveyed a whiff of corruption, though she might not have regarded it as such. She had wanted to see Mark right. She sought the deal for Mark. She excluded everyone from her talks with the Sultan. Mark was dealing with Brigadier Landon, who was the Sultan’s go-between. She behaved in the most peculiar way. I suspected the worse.”

After the Cementation story appeared, it was decided by Denis Thatcher that it would be best for all concerned if Mark were to leave the country. Thatcher had “an air of resignation about it all, but was indulgent to Mark”, Whitmore said. “The rational prime minister knew well what he was up to, but the mother found it difficult to be tough with him.”

Source: oct/05/mark-thatcher-business-dealings- leave-uk-margaret-thatcher-biography

Lord Acton and me

When I was a student one of my lecturers, Richard Fletcher, quoted Lord Acton’s dictum:

“Power tends to corrupt, absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely” and told me it was the journalist’ job to bring the powerful to account.

This has been my life’s work and it continues to this day underpinning my teaching.

MI5 vetting of the BBC – 30th anniversary

The story keeps popping up. It’s 30th anniversary is in August but I find there is still interest in the story David Leigh and I wrote, ably assisted by Mark Hollingsworth, revealing how MI5 vetted the BBC staff.

Mostly recently Michael Rosen mentioned it in a letter to the London Review of Books. He had been blacklisted as a result of vetting. Jean Seaton has suggested it was good thing in her latest official history of the the BBC!


Continue reading