Interview: Paul Lashmar on UK: “They want to close down journalistic access to intelligence and security sources”

17.03.2017

Interview for The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom

by Jane Whyatt

In light of the UK Law Commission’s proposal for legislation that would treat whistleblowers as foreign spies and put convicted reporters in prison possibly for 14 years – among other rights violations – the ECPMF has interviewed University of Sussex’s Paul Lashmar at length.

After a successful career as an investigative reporter and news producer, Lashmar obtained his PhD from Brunel University. His research has dealt with the relationship between the media and secret (state) intelligence.

ECPMF: As an investigative journalist, what are your main concerns about what is proposed?

I work from the simple premise that a free inquiring press (news media) is vital for democracy. This is an untidy process but it sort of works better than any other model, a bit like democracy. As I have often said the news media have been the only effective oversight mechanism for intelligence. This is historically proven.

 

to read the full interview

 

Secret Offshore accounts – all the interest reminds me of this story from ten years ago

Offshore havens ‘declare war’ on honest taxpayers; EVASION_’Abuses’ cost billions each year

By Paul Lashmar

The Independent on Sunday  September 24, 2006 Sunday

NEWS; Pg. 1

The US Senate has accused the Isle of Man, the Cayman Islands and other offshore havens of facilitating tax evasion that costs other countries billions of pounds every year.

The accusations are made in a report by Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He said: “I believe the findings are explosive: the report blows the lid off tax haven abuses that make use of sham trusts, shell corporations and fake economic transactions to help some people dodge taxes.”

Senator Levin added that tax havens have “in effect declared war” on honest taxpayers.

The report, Tax Haven Abuses: The Enablers, The Tools and Secrecy – the result of a yearlong investigation – criticises the Isle of Man and other offshore jurisdictions for their secrecy and lack of regulation.

One of Britain’s leading tax experts, Richard Murphy of the University of Nottingham, said Senator Levin’s attack was the latest in a growing number of complaints over offshore territories and the British Government’s attitude towards them.

“Levin has highlighted what is really happening in the UK’s tax havens and it’s not pretty,” he said. “They sell secrecy and sham that let people evade taxes that they would clearly owe but for the charade the haven provides.

“It’s obvious the US has had enough of this, and it’s going to be a serious embarrassment to the UK if we do nothing about it.”

But a Treasury spokesman said: “The Government has effectively tackled both corporate and personal tax avoidance structures time and again. To suggest otherwise is misleading and inaccurate. On an international level the Government has consistently worked for greater openness and transparency in tax.”

The Levin report also makes a series of recommendations aimed at making it harder for US citizens to use offshore accounts.

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.”


 

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!

leigh_lashmar_revealed_how_mi5_vets_bbc_staff_ob

Continue reading

Lashmar on Hatton Garden and its sinister side

Lashmar on Hatton Garden and its sinister side – in the Independent – a blast from the past

Paul Lashmar
The Independent, Tuesday 11 August 1998

Jewellery and junk

For centuries Hatton Garden has been London’s quarter for jewellers and goldsmiths, not to mention fencers and fraudsters. But now the drug money launderers have moved in. And things are turning ugly

Hatton Garden is famous as London’s gold and jewellery quarter. Here, Oasis’s Liam Gallagher came with Patsy Kensit to buy a wedding ring. In January, the Foreign Secretary Robin Cook bought his girlfriend Gaynor Regan an ornate, 18-carat ring with diamonds, for £600. Continue reading

PL has article on the intelligence lobby in The Conversation

The rise of an intelligence lobby threatens the rights of lawyers, journalists – and all of us

The conversation27 January 2015

A powerful intelligence lobby made up of former defence ministers, police chiefs and intelligence commissioners has emerged in British politics, determined to push for greater powers and resources for the police and intelligence agencies.

The attempt to pass a “Snooper’s Charter” via an amendment to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill as it passes through the House of Lords – the same provisions as the Communications Data Bill that were twice rejected by parliament – shows how keen they are to win greater powers before the general election. The old military-industrial complex is being replaced by a powerful political-intelligence technocracy.

Read the full article