Common Purpose is a Charity, based in Great Britain, which creates ‘Future Leaders’ of society. CP selects individuals and “trains” them to learn how society works, who pulls the “levers of power” and how CP “alumni” can use this knowledge to lead “Outside Authority” and pervert the demographic process.
It is a crypto Marxist organisation that trains bureaucrats funded by local authorities on how to covertly infitrate the Frankfurt ethos (see 2012 – 025 & 2014 – 013) into UK institutions. It maintains its influence by ensuring that its alumni are given positions of unaccountable authority with gold plated salaries, pensions and perks so long as they stay ‘on message’. If ever they make a complete and even dangerous mess of their job they will not be sacked – only moved sideways to a similar job or even promoted.
For more information Google Common Purpose Exposed. http://www.cpexposed.com/contact
Leveson Inquiry has momentous implications for free speech. But Mail dossier raises disturbing questions about the influence of ‘people who know best’
SPECIAL INVESTIGATION By Richard Pendlebury
PUBLISHED: 00:03, 16 November 2012 | UPDATED: 14:32, 16 November 2012
This has been an extraordinary week for the BBC as it tears itself apart over one of the most catastrophic journalistic errors of modern times.
False allegations of paedophilia against an elderly Tory Party grandee have led to the resignation of the Director-General, the possible demise of the flagship Newsnight programme, the paying out of substantial libel damages and, worst of all, perhaps a shattering blow to BBC News’s reputation for integrity.
How could this happen? Why did no one carry out ‘basic journalistic checking’ of facts? Why weren’t those ‘facts’ put to the other side — the first rule of journalism?
We don’t know, but we do know that behind this farrago is the work of a self-regarding body which calls itself the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), the organisation that took their ‘McAlpine exclusive’ to the BBC and whose managing editor resigned after gleefully tweeting about being ready to out a politician who was a paedophile.
In its recent submission to the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press, the BIJ declared that its ‘output and editorial processes’ would ‘be a masterclass, a gold standard for evidence-based journalism … journalism of an outstanding kind.’
- Disturbing questions over Leveson’s key adviser: Special Investigation into a central figure in the McAlpine scandal and judicial inquiry into the press
- Solved, the mystery of the money chest: How David Bell sits on the charity bankrolling his own campaign
- State controls on Press would be a green light to tyrants, says top MP
- Peer’s revenge over Twitter slurs: McAlpine will sue internet gossips as BBC pays him £185,000 damages following Newsnight report
- Adviser to Leveson press inquiry is a trustee of the self-styled investigative bureau behind McAlpine Newsnight fiasco
- The people who know best: Dark arts and links with the Masters of Spin…
- What a very small world: Why are so many figures in the Leveson Inquiry connected to New Labour’s favourite media quango Ofcom?
To describe this as hubris would be an understatement.
And at the centre of the story is an obscure but immensely well-connected member of Britain’s liberal Establishment, Sir David Bell, one of five BIJ trustees.
As we shall see in this Special Mail Investigation, Bell’s campaign, which began almost a decade ago, to control Britain’s raucous popular press and, in the process, promote what he regards as ethical journalism, has had momentous consequences.
One evening in January 2005 at the central London headquarters of Pearson Group — owner of the Financial Times — an extraordinary working dinner took place.
The host was Julia Middleton, a friend of David Bell’s and a brilliant networker, and the guests were a select group, drawn from the New-Labour-era Establishment. We know this thanks to an account of the event written for the left-of-centre New Statesman magazine by one of the attendees, the financial journalist Robert Peston, now the BBC’s Business Editor.
Peston described ‘a debate on media standards — with two editors, another BBC executive, an investment banker, a Bank of England luminary, academics and a bishop, inter alia — (which) was more practical than most. We’d been summoned to dinner … by Julia Middleton, the unrecognised toiler for the rehabilitation of the concerned, engaged citizen.
‘One of Middleton’s great skills is to persuade police constables, youth group organisers, permanent secretaries, FTSE chief executives and head teachers that they can learn from each other and could even cure some of society’s ills. However, almost all her meetings end up with a collective wail about the irresponsibility and excessive power of the media.
‘So she herded us into Pearson’s art-deco palace on the Strand in the hope that we could find an answer or two. Something may come of the proposals that were offered. Meanwhile, the discovery of the evening for me was that Pearson’s executive washroom is unisex, a la Ally McBeal. What is Marjorie Scardino, Pearson’s personable chief executive, thinking of?’
Peston was unnervingly prescient about one thing.
Something has come of that soiree seven years ago.
That something is the Leveson Inquiry into Britain’s beleaguered newspaper industry. Its conclusions, which are to be published imminently, could have huge implications for a press that has been free of government control for 300 years, and for freedom of speech itself.
Sir David Bell’s certainly a very busy bee. A greying, dishevelled figure in an ill-fitting suit, he appears to have been by far the most assiduous of the six ‘assessors’ appointed by the government to advise Lord Justice Leveson and his Inquiry.
Bell is an ideological bedmate of the aforesaid Julia Middleton — another very busy bee who has been described as the best-connected woman you’ve never heard of.
There are serious questions about the impact Bell’s had on the Inquiry’s neutrality
But while some of the Leveson assessors have patchy attendance records at the Inquiry, Sir David — whose unbridled eagerness to join the judge in his private rooms when the sittings rise has been remarked upon by observers — seems to have barely missed a day of the public hearings that began almost a year ago.
Public-spirited you may say. Except that an investigation by the Daily Mail raises serious questions about the suitability of Bell as an assessor and the impact this may have had on the objectivity and neutrality of the Inquiry itself.
- Bell is a trustee and a former chairman of a leadership training organisation called Common Purpose, whose thousands of ‘graduates’ have been described as the ‘Left’s answer to the old boys’ network.’ (though not all share the same political views). Their identities are well protected.
- Founded by Ms Middleton and registered as a charity, Common Purpose boasts a ‘considerable reach’ throughout senior positions in public life. Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money have been spent on sending public servants on its courses.
- Three of the six Leveson assessors have Common Purpose connections, either through direct participation or through senior colleagues within the organisations they lead or have led.
- Bell and Middleton set up the Media Standards Trust, a lobby group which presented a huge amount of evidence to the Inquiry. The Media Standards Trust, whose chairman was Bell, gave its ‘prestigious’ Orwell Prize for political writing to a journalist who turned out to have made up parts of his ‘award-winning’ articles.
- The Media Standards Trust established Hacked Off, the virulently anti-popular-press campaign group which has boasted of its role in significantly increasing the Inquiry’s terms of reference. The Media Standards Trust shared the same headquarters address as Common Purpose. It then shared an address with Hacked Off, whose funding it controlled.
- Many of those who provided the most hostile anti-press evidence to Leveson are linked to senior figures at the Media Standards Trust and Hacked Off.
- The Media Standards Trust has strong links with Ofcom, the statutory media regulator which, despite its denials, some suspect has ambitions to regulate Britain’s free press. Ofcom’s ex-chairman Lord Currie is a Leveson assessor.
- Much of the financing of the Media Standards Trust comes from a charity of which Bell is a trustee — a practice that, while legal, would seem to many to be inappropriate.
- Despite being formed by the Media Standards Trust, which is campaigning for ‘transparency and accountability in the news’, Hacked Off refuses to make explicit the sources of its own funding.
- And, of course, Bell is a trustee of the now notorious Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has wreaked such damage on the BBC.
Indeed, like some giant octopus, Common Purpose’s tentacles appear to reach into every cranny of the inner sanctums of Westminster, Whitehall and academia — bodies that often view Britain’s unruly, disruptive press with disdain and distrust.
Lord Justice Leveson has already said that he hoped his report would be based on ‘unanimity’ of thought between him and his half dozen assessors, none of whom have ever worked in the popular press.
It should be stressed that there is absolutely no suggestion that Leveson — who did not choose his assessors — has any connection to Common Purpose nor that he isn’t a man of integrity who has conducted his inquiry with impartiality.
Like a giant octopus, its tentacles reach into every cranny of the Establishment
But imagine the public outcry if it emerged during a criminal trial that half of the jurors, and many of the witnesses, were linked to bodies that had ‘wailed’ about the defendant, against whom they had a powerful shared antipathy.
That is the case with the Leveson Inquiry, as we shall show in this investigation into the Bell and Middleton network of influence. We will also be raising questions about their charity’s own behaviour. For we can reveal that …
- Common Purpose almost certainly breached the Data Protection Act (which guards the confidentiality of digitally stored information), the very charge levelled by the Leveson Inquiry against virtually all newspapers.
- Common Purpose is connected to some of Britain’s most powerful lobby and PR groups, whose influence on British politics has provoked continuing controversy.
- Common Purpose linked figures have a significant influence on the appointments process in Whitehall. Until last year, Common Purpose’s David Bell sat on the committee that appointed Britain’s ‘Top 200’ civil servants.
As we shall now show, Hacked Off, one of the lobby groups created by Sir David Bell (who stepped down as chairman of the Media Standards Trust only when he was appointed a Leveson assessor) and Julia Middleton’s network played a significant role in creating and shaping the Leveson Inquiry, which will cost the taxpayer almost £6 million.
That is their campaign’s proud boast. And, as we shall see in this investigation, it is hard to dispute.
In Julia Middleton’s book Beyond Authority, which sets out Common Purpose’s leadership philosophy, she describes how she was told by a ‘group of peers’ the way in which to ‘force’ issues on to the agenda at Westminster.
It required: ‘A small committed and co-ordinated group of people producing pressure from the outside. Two or three determined fifth columnists on the inside. And the stamina from both groups to keep on and on and on putting them on the agenda until they eventually had to be discussed …’
In another passage she wrote: ‘I spoke to a friend recently who described how she had set someone up. Using all her charm and flattery, she had drawn him in and then installed him as a convenient useful idiot … My friend’s intention was to get him to produce a report which she knew full well would be a perfect smokescreen for her own activities …
‘Have I ever done this? Yes … it was certainly useful to produce the distraction of creating a sub-committee, led by someone who did not really understand the big picture, to look into an issue in depth, with no timetable, so we could get on with what we saw as important issues.’
In the past year, a firestorm has swept British journalism. The initial spark was the Guardian’s revelations that individuals employed by the News of the World had illegally hacked the voicemail messages of mobile phones of hundreds of celebrities and people in the news, including murder victim Milly Dowler.
Phone hacking is illegal. Currently dozens of journalists are under arrest in relation to such offences or making illegal payments to public officials.
But it was the claim that the News of the World had deleted Milly’s phone messages that provoked Prime Minister David Cameron — who against the advice of many had persisted in retaining former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his press spokesman — to set up an inquiry into the British press, led by the respected Lord Justice Leveson.
No matter that the Guardian’s crucial allegation — that the News of the World had deleted voicemails from Milly’s phone which caused her parents to have had false hopes that she was alive — turned out almost certainly not to be true.
By the time that terrible error was revealed last December, the News of the World had been closed and the Inquiry widened to envelop the whole of the British press.
That is the triumph of those who, like Bell, have striven for years towards restraining what they see as the ‘excessive power’ of the British press. Yet, far from representing the ‘general public’ and the ‘people’ — both terms which they frequently appropriate — those people who know best are drawn from a narrow and powerful section of the liberal Establishment that has come into increasing conflict with much of Britain’s newspaper industry.
Significantly, among the leadership of Common Purpose, the Media Standards Trust and Hacked Off, vested interests intertwine. Many, but by no means all, of the most prominent activists are politically left of centre. Some are involved in the quangos that the New Labour project created.
As such, they are representative of a new elite.
Bodies such as the BBC, the London School of Economics and, as noted, Financial Times owner Pearson Group are conspicuously over-represented.
‘Big money’ in the form of senior executives from some multinational banks and financial institutions most culpable in the global financial crisis of 2008 (and the resulting multi-billion-pound public bailouts) is also a notable presence.
No friends of the popular press, which has savaged City greed, are these. And at the heart of this matrix stand David Bell and Julia Middleton.
Lib Dem donor and one-time SDP activist Bell is a former chairman of the Financial Times, at the time Fleet Street’s most zealous supporter of the European Union. Bell is also a former director of the FT’s parent company Pearson, which was a financial backer of New Labour.
Mother-of-five Middleton is the founder, chief executive and presiding guru of Common Purpose. She has been described as ‘messianic’ in her crusade to improve standards in corporate and public life.
The question, of course, is why do so many of her soirees end in ‘a collective wail’ about the irresponsibility of the media?
A clue can perhaps be found in a speech made to the LSE in 2004 by Geoff Mulgan, with whom Middleton had founded the New Labour think-tank Demos, described by the Pearson-owned Economist magazine — of which David Bell is still a non-executive director — as ‘Britain’s most influential think-tank’.
A Guardian report of the Mulgan speech was headlined ‘The media’s lies poison our system: The ethic of searching for truth has gone; now there’s just cynicism.’
Mulgan, who with Peter Mandelson was an intellectual founding father of New Labour and later became Blair’s Head of Policy at No 10, thundered:
‘Problematic, however, is the lack of a strong ethic of searching for the truth in much of the media … For from Europe to migrants, there is a wide gap between what the public believes and the facts … For many [newspapers] it doesn’t much matter whether what they print is true.
‘The net result is that the public are left with systematically incorrect perspectives on the world, on issues ranging from Europe and migrants to public services … Journalists who used to dine with politicians now dine on them.’
It seemed what really concerned Mulgan — described as ‘the ultimate New Labourite’ — was the conservative press’s antipathy to the EU, mass immigration and incompetent public services.
There can be little doubt that he was referring to newspapers like The Sun, Express, Mail and Telegraph — papers read by the majority. It is they who were the most critical of New Labour’s policies on the EU and mass immigration.
It was they, we can surmise, who provoked Ms Middleton’s wails.
Common Purpose has claimed more than 35,000 people have ‘graduated’ from its courses in the UK and across the world. As well as firms in the private sector, government departments, local authorities, quangos, charities and police forces have all sent staff on Common Purpose’s leadership programmes. A week long ’20:20′ course in advanced leadership costs almost £5,000.
Common Purpose ‘alumni’ are encouraged to network and assist each other, though a full list of their identities is not publicly available.
They have a private website, which requires a password to log in. Members who disclose information from this site face expulsion. Meetings are held under the so-called Chatham House rules, under which no one can be quoted by name. So much for the ‘transparency’ in public life that is being called for by the Media Standards Trust and Hacked Off lobbyists.
However, the public area of the Common Purpose website, Middleton’s book Beyond Authority and other sources do reveal the identity of a number of prominent officials, ‘graduates’, course lecturers or those associates whom Middleton considers to be her ‘inspirational leaders’.
Sir Bob Kerslake, the recently appointed head of the Home Civil Service and Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government, is a Common Purpose graduate, according to the organisation’s website. Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, has a full-page profile on the Common Purpose International website’s ‘who we are’ section.
Jon Williams, the BBC’s World News Editor since 2006, is also a graduate of Common Purpose London.
Professor Richard Sambrook, who was the BBC’s Head of News and director of the World Service, is quoted praising Common Purpose on the website. He spoke at a Common Purpose event but has denied being otherwise involved.
The BBC has told the Mail that, in a five-year period, it spent more than £126,000 on Common Purpose courses.
But it is Leveson assessor Lord Currie who (as we show later in fuller detail) illustrates the incestuous relationships that intertwine throughout this Inquiry.
He was the first chairman of the media regulator Ofcom, where former colleagues there included the ex-BBC executive Richard Hooper. Mr Hooper was a member of a review panel for Sir David Bell’s Media Standards Trust, while fellow Ofcom board member Ian Hargreaves was another founder of Labour think-tank Demos along with Julia Middleton. Hargreaves is also now a Hacked Off supporter and Leveson witness.
During Currie’s tenure, Ofcom sent members of its staff on Common Purpose courses, although he is not personally a member of Common Purpose.
Another Common Purpose luminary is Chris Bryant MP — exposed by the press for posing in his underpants on internet dating sites. Bryant, who has led the charge against Rupert Murdoch in the Commons and was a Leveson witness, was Common Purpose’s London manager for two years.
Among the senior police officers who are also Common Purpose graduates is Cressida Dick, who was savaged by the press for her leading role in the 2005 shooting of the innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes in a London Underground carriage.
It was Assistant Commissioner Dick who personally chose Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers to head the investigation into phone hacking and payments to police at News International.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Akers was in charge of the child protection team in Islington when the Evening Standard exposed a long-standing paedophile sex ring in the borough’s children’s homes.
Ms Akers was also in charge of the Met’s North West protection team in the months leading up to the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie, who was tortured and murdered by her guardians. This episode, which again triggered a firestorm of media criticism and resulted in a public inquiry, led to her receiving ‘words of advice’ — the police equivalent of a reprimand. Neither episode figures prominently in her official profiles. Indeed, none of this was mentioned when Ms Akers told the Leveson Inquiry that News International’s transgressions could not be defended as being in the public interest — a claim vigorously rebutted by News International’s lawyers, who asked how Ms Akers was qualified to define the public interest.
In all, Ms Akers appeared before the Leveson inquiry three times — more than any other witness.
Lord Blair, Cressida Dick’s boss at the Met, was another Leveson witness. Under Blair’s leadership, the Met spent tens of thousands of pounds on Common Purpose courses. The Met reviewed its training requirements in 2009.
Since the year Blair stepped down (2008-09), the Met says, no money has been spent on Common Purpose courses.
This week, Lord Blair said: ‘I support Common Purpose, as do the vast majority of leaders of major private and public organisations.’
One of the most lucrative connections between Common Purpose and the police involves the West Midlands force. Sir Paul Scott-Lee, the former West Midlands’ Chief Constable — now a consultant — is a Leveson assessor.
Using Freedom of Information requests, the Mail has established that 27 West Midlands officers, including one Assistant Chief Constable, went on Common Purpose courses under Sir Paul’s leadership.
It appears that the West Midlands expenditure on such courses during this period was significantly more than that of the far larger Metropolitan force.
For a number of years Common Purpose has attracted the obsessive attention of the more outré internet conspiracy theorists such as David Icke, as well as bloggers on the far Right. This has provided a convenient smokescreen against a more rational investigation.
But a number of credible parties have also sought to discover more about the charity’s presence within public bodies. In 2007, for example, Tory MP Philip Davies — concerned at the then New Labour government’s apparent close links with the organisation — lodged written questions to a number of secretaries of state about how much their departments had spent on sending civil servants on Common Purpose courses.
The answers, which weren’t widely publicised but can be found on official parliamentary records, showed a total spend over a handful of years of more than £1 million.
Davies was told that the Department of Work and Pensions had spent almost £240,000 in five years, on courses which had ‘helped foster valuable partnerships in the local community which can be used to improve the service offered to our customers’. The Ministry of Defence had spent more than £300,000 over the same period.
While Common Purpose could do little about this kind of scrutiny, we now come to perhaps the most serious charge against this body: the suppressing and smearing of individual citizens who had lodged Freedom of Information questions about its activities.
On the specious basis that FoI legislation was being abused, causing damage to the charity’s reputation, Common Purpose compiled a ‘blacklist’ of the individuals concerned. Common Purpose officials sent private, personal details of these people to public bodies around the country, with the warning that new FoI requests about the charity from those listed should be treated as ‘vexatious’.
In other words, Common Purpose tried to block the legal rights of those individuals and prevent their freedom of expression.
The privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), investigated the affair, following complaints by five of those on the blacklist.
Blunders over a child sex scandal and a police chief with no love for the press
In response to a Freedom of Information request from this newspaper, a spokeswoman for the ICO said: ‘As far as we are aware, 18 individuals had their personal details disclosed by Common Purpose by way of the list provided to various public bodies.’
She said these details could ‘contain their name, and if known, also their address and/or phone number’.
In late 2009, the ICO ruled that Common Purpose was ‘unlikely to have complied with provisions in the Data Protection Act 1998 on processing data’. Their spokeswoman confirmed to the Mail: ‘In this case, the Act was probably breached.’
The ICO decided not to take ‘further action’ against Common Purpose ‘after the charity confirmed that it no longer distributed the list’ and Julia Middleton issued a statement in which she said: ‘As an organisation we made a genuine mistake in this instance. But it was in a very rapidly changing legal context …’
Now let’s put this mitigation into the context of the Leveson Inquiry and those Common Purpose-linked organisations, the Media Standards Trust and Hacked Off.
Operation Motorman was a 2003 investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office into alleged breaches of the Data Protection Act by virtually all newspapers including the Mail and other media organisations, who had used a Hampshire private detective agency to obtain anything from addresses and phone numbers to, in some instances, licence plate owners and criminal records.
This was a time when the full implications of the Act were by no means clear. No journalist was ever prosecuted as a result of Motorman.
But Hacked Off and the Media Standards Trust have pushed ever harder for the Motorman files to be made public, and individual journalists named.
One is minded of Middleton’s explanation that Common Purpose had erred because of ‘a very rapidly changing legal context’. Yet the charity’s own data protection breaches were committed a full five years after Operation Motorman.
This episode provides a telling insight into the ‘don’t do as we do but do as we say’ mindset of Common Purpose’s leadership.
And yet who is the ultra-busy assessor helping Lord Justice Leveson write his report that could shape the future of the hitherto free press and the right to freedom of expression? Common Purpose trustee and former chairman Sir David Bell, creator of the Media Standards Trust and supporter of Hacked Off.
In his declaration of interests to the Inquiry, Bell explains away the blacklist episode like this: ‘Common Purpose has had several dealings in the past few years with the ICO in connection with comments that have been made repeatedly about it on the web without, in Common Purpose’s view, any foundation at all.’
With what can only be described as rank disingenuousness, there is no mention of breaching the law. When Bell’s participation as a Leveson assessor was announced last year, a Michael White, who had been on Common Purpose’s Freedom of Information blacklist, pointed out the contradiction.
Mr White, from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, was reported in the Sunday Telegraph as saying of Common Purpose: ‘My private address was in their blacklist and I was described as a vexatious and harassing individual.
‘I felt sick to think that Common Purpose had passed this around half the public authorities in the country. They got this data from their contacts in councils. The hypocrisy is stunning. These people quite rightly condemn invasions of privacy by the press while invading people’s privacy themselves.
‘They demand transparency for other people and fight it for themselves.’
Critics of Common Purpose can also be found among public figures who have had first-hand experience of its methods and networking.
David Gilbertson, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and Assistant Inspector of HM Constabulary, told us: ‘I was invited to join Common Purpose some years ago. I went to six or eight training sessions. I had just been promoted to Commander …
‘I dropped out half way through the course. I thought it was a waste of my time and public money. The fees were being paid by the Met.
‘Some there clearly wanted to network … I know people use Common Purpose to do deals, because one person on the course turned up at my office in Scotland Yard with someone else pitching for an IT contract. I said I didn’t do contracts. It certainly wasn’t an application through the normal system.
‘People do see it as a way of getting on. On promotion forms, police officers are giving membership of Common Purpose as evidence of their ability to “negotiate”. Or their competence.
‘When I dropped out, I got a hard time from them. I was phoned by an organiser who told me I couldn’t call myself a Common Purpose graduate if I left. “You’ve got to finish,” he warned me.’
We need transparency – not this modern version of a freemason’s handshake
Perhaps the final word on Common Purpose should go to Demetrious Panton, 44, an employment law advisor who has worked as an equalities consultant for many local authorities and national government bodies including John Prescott’s Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, for which he co-authored a report on race.
‘It’s a new old boys’ network,’ he explains ‘but the Left’s version of it — and I don’t like secretive deal-making and “group think” of any kind.
‘What is interesting is that the same people appear in the same jobs, in different places, as if through a revolving door. They work for local authorities, leave, then come back as freelance “consultants” with huge, inflated fees. They are often mediocre and there is no evidence of how or why they were chosen.
‘They can leave a council with a terrible reputation yet pop up next minute as head of a regulatory body and as a trustee of numerous bodies. It is a real money-spinner.
‘I got a visit from a Common Purpose group in 1998. I then worked for Coventry Council as Area Co-ordinator for all its services in North Coventry, a very poor area. My boss David Galliers organised the visit. He was openly a member of Common Purpose.
‘Common Purpose was a big thing at Coventry Council, it was the thing to be. About 20 members of Common Purpose locally visited my office as part of their training and I was required to talk to them about my work. They also went on a tour of the very poor estates I served, and met top local government officers. The area I worked for was very deprived, yet I had to put on a spread for these people. They came and they ate and they drank and they looked at the poor people.
‘I had an office that over-looked a particularly poor estate, and they looked at it through my windows and briefly visited it and I remember thinking that it was like a jamboree, an outing. I felt embarrassed by it, and uncomfortable for the residents that they were coming to look at. I didn’t want to be part of it.
‘It was like the visit at Christmas from the aunt that no one wanted. None of the individuals seemed to understand the real issues facing poor, working-class areas. I felt they were patronising and superficial, and that they were doing this to be in the fashion, rather than because they were really interested.
‘People in employment interviews should ask: “What networks do you belong to?” If you apply now for a job in local government, you have to state your relationship to any local politicians. So why not also to Common Purpose?
‘We need transparency in local government, not this modern version of the freemasons’ handshake.’
A prestige award for a liar and the McAlpine debacle
The Orwell Prize, which advertises itself as ‘Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing’, was first awarded in 1994.
In 2007, the Common Purpose offshoot, the Media Standards Trust (MST), became the lead partner in running the prize. The Orwell no doubt chimed with the Leftish political leanings of the MST’s founders and would be a beacon for the journalistic excellence and integrity that they espoused.
For the 2008 prize — the first to be awarded under David Bell’s MST’s auspices — the three judges were Annalena McAfee, novelist and formerly a journalist on the Financial Times and The Guardian, former BBC executive Sir John Tusa and Albert Scardino, Guardian journalist, MST trustee and husband of Marjorie Scardino, boss of the Labour-donating Pearson Group, friend of Common Purpose’s founder Julia Middleton and financial backer of the Media Standards Trust.
Their award of the prize to Independent journalist Johann Hari was the start of a farce that was to badly compromise both the MST and Britain’s most high-minded paper.
A youthful, Left-wing polemicist with a taste for grandstanding, Hari was seemingly the perfect fit for the MST’s first foray into journalism awards. (Hari’s admiring boss Simon Kelner would be invited by the MST to join its ‘non-partisan’ review panel later that year.)
Hari’s award was given in spite of serious and long-standing concerns about the integrity of his work. Private Eye ran a long piece in early 2003, which identified several Hari reportage pieces for The Guardian and Independent in which he had simply invented his eyewitness accounts.
But Hari’s offences against journalism were much wider than simply making up ‘facts’.
Plagiarism, the use of old quotes as if they were new in interviews, alteration of Wikipedia biographies of enemies and ‘sock puppetry’ — the use of false identities to attack people on the internet — were also part of his modus operandi.
By June 2011 the evidence against him became so overwhelming, that the MST had to act and instructed the Orwell Prize council to launch an inquiry into the allegations.
Within a month the Orwell Prize issued a statement, in which it said: ‘No allegations have been made against Johann Hari’s 2008 Orwell Prize-winning pieces.’
Given the clear evidence of Hari’s dishonesty, this was disingenuous. In any event, both Private Eye and the Telegraph brought new allegations that Hari had made up parts of one of the Orwell Prize-winning pieces, about atrocities in the Congo.
In September 2011, Johann Hari announced that, though he stood by the articles which had won the Orwell Prize, he would be returning it as an act of contrition for the errors he had made elsewhere.
The Council later confirmed that he would have been stripped of the prize because of evidence of wrongdoing in one of his articles. The result? A bitter blow to the journalistic integrity of Britain’s so-called quality Press. But also to the credibility of the organisation which has given itself the role of determining the way the free Press is regulated.
Worse, much worse, was to follow with another of Sir David Bell’s journalism-improving projects.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism was launched in 2010, funded by a £2 million grant from Psion computer millionaire and Labour donor David Potter and his David and Elaine Potter Foundation. Sir David Bell, champion of what he regards as an ethical Press, became a trustee. The BIJ was run out of London’s City University, which three years earlier had awarded Sir David an honorary degree.
As we have reported, the BIJ proclaimed itself as the ‘gold standard’ by which other journalism could be measured. Its output and reportage ‘should be as close to incontrovertible as is possible’.
There were a number of experienced journalists with good track records on board. But while the BIJ won acclaim in some quarters, there was also criticism.
Six months after launch, the BIJ was working with The Guardian and other news organisations in preparing the WikiLeaks release of classified American military documents. But in giving an interview to an American magazine, BIJ managing editor Iain Overton leaked ‘major details’ which, The Guardian said this weekend, ‘put the entire project in jeopardy’.
An investigation of the Help for Heroes charity was also described by its subject as ‘misleading’.
Earlier this year, one of the Bureau’s staff confided that the original seed money had almost run out and the BIJ needed to secure new revenue sources. They have even turned to very unlikely benefactors such as Oxfam. But there was an ever greater need to find paid work at relatively wealthy channels such as the BBC.
Which is how they came to be working with Newsnight on a child abuse investigation.
The subsequent disaster was heralded by Overton’s now infamous tweet: ‘If all goes well, we’ve got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile.’
On Tuesday, Bell and his fellow BIJ trustees had a letter published in The Times. The tone was defiant rather than chastened.
‘The BBC required and had full editorial control throughout the production of the Newsnight programme,’ they said.
And they further qualified the Bureau’s role in the scandal: ‘We regret that a tweet by the Bureau’s managing editor in advance of the programme helped to feed inaccurate speculation about the identity of a political figure.’
The letter ended: ‘The Bureau’s work has won awards by disclosing important information in the public interest and, with only this recent exception, by maintaining high standards of journalism. The Bureau remains absolutely committed to that aim.’
Whether the Bureau — of which Leveson assessor Bell is a trustee — will survive to maintain those ‘high standards’ is a matter of some considerable doubt.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2233681/Leveson-Inquiry-Mail-dossier-raises-disturbing-questions-influence-quasi-masonic-nexus-people-know-best.html#ixzz2GnxYi1ht
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To: Michael Clayton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: FW: Professor Muriel Robinson (Common Purpose, Lincolnshire)
honoured by Queen!
Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2013 15:36:36 +0000
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 01 Jan 2013 15:36:36.0643 (UTC) FILETIME=[C8FB3730:01CDE835]3rd Attempt!!! sorry for any duplication.Happy New Year and all that.Some of you may find the following information interesting:I have been on the case of Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln for many years now because it is the headquarters to Common Purpose, Lincolnshire, although if you do a search on their website for common purpose nothing comes up – funny that! I heard yesterday that the vice chancellor was recently honoured with an OBE so I did a search and sure enough I found the following:Professor Muriel Anita Robinson. Vice-Chancellor, Bishop Grosseteste University. For services to Higher Education. (Lincoln, Lincolnshire) http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/dec/30/new-year-honours-list-2013You can see her on this link http://www.bishopg.ac.uk/?_id=10148So why does the Queen honour people who are helping to regionalise and destroy britain or is this part of the new greater germanic Holy Roman Empire?This lady and key player was also well in with the unelected, unaccountable Lincolnshire Assembly that used to host CP meetings etc, sometimes at Lincolnshire County Council, paid for by the taxpayers of Lincolnshire. The ex chairman of this quango (that gets funding via the EU, region development agency etc and many other charities, that lead to DEMOS) was none other than Bishop John who will be familiar to those in Lincolnshire – Rt Reverend John Saxbee with whom I used to do battle with, even though the local rag used to highly edit my letters. Interestingly when I made a lot of FOI requests all the minutes were taken off of the Lincolnshire Assembly website, but luckily someone managed to download them all first 😉 – very very interesting they are too!This has clearly been the EU devolving power down to unelected assemblies, bypassing all politics/democracy (ha) etc and these are the real powers pulling the strings – all being paid for by us.I will expose this further when I get a minute or two. Whilst on, I have just read that Lincolnshire County Council due to cuts (that need not happen!!!!) are looking to impose 150% council tax on all properties that are left derelict for 2 years or greater. Those in the know will appreciate this is ultimately the UN’s Agenda 21’s land grab.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Wednesday, 28 November 2012 (1 month ago) • GCR 100 – 13th Edition
Once again Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer retains its position at the top of the Global Elite table.
1. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
|John Davies, Martin Klusmann
|United Kingdom, Germany
|Total size of firm:
|No. of competition specialists:
|Percentage of competition specialists:
|Who’s Who Legal nominees:
|Percentage of partners in Who’s Who Legal:
|Counsel and consultants:
|No. of lateral partner hires:
|No. of partner departures:
|No. of internal promotions:
One need only look at the number of its partners that are nominated to The International Who’s Who of Competition Lawyers and Economists to understand why Freshfields tops the list: an astonishing 40 lawyers, more than twice its nearest rival and seven more than last year. Freshfields’ percentage of Who’s Who Legal nominated partners has leapt from 61 per cent to 77 per cent, one of the highest in global elite. The firm has 13 offices globally, which include almost every major competition jurisdiction. It continues to grow, with counsels Hein Hobbelen, Till Steinvorth and Margaret Wang all promoted in the last year. Maria Trabucchi and Simon Priddis were nominated to this year’s “40 under 40”.
Freshfields has been involved in many of the highest-profile matters of the past year. The merger control practice has been busy advising Xstrata in its US$90 billion tie-up with Glencore, Synthes in its US$21 billion acquisition by Johnson & Johnson, and EMI in the £1.2 billion sale of its recorded music business to rival Universal Music. Freshfields also represented stainless steel company Inoxum’s €2.7 billion acquisition by Outokumpu, cleared with conditions at Phase II, and continues to act for courier company UPS in its merger with TNT. Other Phase II deals include advising paper company UPM Kymmene in its purchase of rival Myllykoski and ED&F MAN’s takeover by Sudzücker.
On the behavioural front, Freshfields is heavily involved in the prominent investigations of the e-books sector in the UK, US and EU, advising publishers Bertelsmann, Hachette and Pearson. The firm also successfully defended Chiquita Brands in EU cartel and multi-jurisdictional leniency proceedings, and advising Deutsche Bahn-owned Schenker in the global investigation of the freight forwarding sector. Freshfields continues to advise ThyssenKrupp and Emirates in follow-on damages actions regarding the elevator and air cargo cartel investigations.
State aid work is also steady, with Freshfields representing ING bank in its successful EU General Court appeal against a ruling of illegal state aid. The firm is also advising the Greek government on several state aid matters.
Partner and Who’s Who Legal nominee Axel Reidlinger leads the competition team at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. He works alongside six senior associates. The team may be small, but it punches well above its weight.
This year, Reidlinger and his team advised Sberbank of Russia on its acquisition of Volksbank International, the joint CEE banking operations of the Volksbanken group. It also advised Hutchison on its planned acquisition of rival mobile telecoms company Orange Austria. The transaction still requires merger control and regulatory approval from the European Commission and from Austria’s national authorities.
The firm also advised rubber and plastic manufacturer Semperit on its production joint venture with an Asian manufacturer, and Styria Media Group and Moser Holding with respect to their proposed merger to bring the activities of their subsidiaries in the regional magazine business into a newly formed company.
On the behavioural side, the group represented a major Austrian brewery, which was subject to an antitrust investigation by the country’s Federal Competition Authority.
Other clients include Deutsche Bahn Group, Interseroh, Ringier, RWE and ThyssenKrupp Group.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer compliments its elite Brussels EU presence with a leading Belgian competition law practice.
Practice co-chairs and Who’s Who Legal nominees Laurent Garzaniti and Thomas Janssens lead the work in this area. Along with a team of four associates, they advise on an impressive proportion of cases launched by the Belgium Competition Council and have acted in behavioural matters in sectors as diverse as retail, building, travel and energy.
“You encounter them working on most cases,” says a lawyer from another firm. “They are very visible.”
Recently, Garzaniti successfully represented food retailer Delhaize/Food Lion in the authority’s investigation of the chocolate and confectionery sector, and continues to act for the company in the authority’s investigation of the health care and home brands sectors.
The firm also acted for Soufflet/Ceres, one of Europe’s leading flour producers, in a probe of the industry, and for an unnamed port services operator in the authority’s recently announced investigation into alleged anti-competitive
conduct in the Belgian travel sector.
Belgian international companies, including Anheuser-Busch InBev and chemical giant Solvay, are regular clients. The team has advised Blue Sky – a consortium of some of the largest industrial and antitrust aspects of a joint investment with Electrabel and Brussels Airport Company – on various competition issues.
Janssens describes the Belgian practice as “fully integrated with an international dimension”. Global firms, including PepsiCo, Carlson Wagonlit and RTL, frequently turn to the firm for antitrust advice when working in Belgium.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has Brussels’ second elite practice. Led by partner David Broomhall, Freshfields’ competition team boasts a size and capability that few firms in the city can match. With 11 partners (all of whom are Who’s Who Legal nominees, including practice head John Davies who also works in the London office), one counsel and 37 associates, the Freshfields team dwarfs most of its rivals.
The team remains busy, despite challenging times for European economies. Freshfields describes the abundance of work as a “flight to quality”: businesses operating in tough conditions look to work with the best firms to ensure they get optimum results.
The firm’s recent case load is testament to this, not least the fact that in the past year the team has advised clients directly involved in five Phase II merger investigations by the European Commission. Freshfields Brussels has worked on many of the past year’s most complex and best-known merger control cases, both in the European Union and globally.
Freshfields is advising EMI on the sale of its recorded music business to Universal – the Commission launched its in-depth investigation in March. The firm has also been selected to advise ED & F Man, Hutchison 3G, Synthes and UPM-Kymmene on their Phase II merger control cases. Other notable merger matters include advising Anheuser-Busch InBev (outside the US) of its acquisition of Mexico’s Grupo Modelo for US$20.1 billion and Xstrata on the global merger control aspects of its US$90 billion merger with Glencore.
But it’s not all about mergers. Behavioural work is high on the agenda too, with Freshfields working for numerous high-profile clients in some of the most notable EU-level cartel matters. The firm advised Asahi Glass Company on its settlement with the European Commission following the DG Comp’s investigation of the cathode ray tubes (CRT) glass industry. The firm is advising Deutsche Bahn-owned Schenker in relation to the global investigation of the freight forwarding sector.
Following applications to the General Court, Freshfields’ Brussels team also obtained revocation in full by the European Commission of fines of over €68 million imposed on Ciba (part of BASF) and more than €23 million imposed on Elementis in the European Commission’s heat stabilisers cartel decision.
Solvay and ThyssenKrupp are also clients of Freshfields’ cartel practice.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer continues to impress under the leadership of Who’s Who Legal nominee Jérôme Philippe. Partner Maria Trabucchi is also highly thought of, and they are supported by two counsel and eight associates.
The group has handled a series of high-profile multi-jurisdictional mergers over the last year, including advising Wolseley in its takeover by Saint-Gobain and representing EADS in its €960 million purchase of Vizada from private equity firm Apax Partners. The firm also acted for LVMH in its €4.3 billion acquisition of Bulgari.
On the behavioural front, the firm is representing Hewlett-Packard in its abuse of dominance dispute with Oracle. After filing complaints with DG Comp and the US authorities over Oracle’s alleged exclusion of HP from the market for high-end corporate servers, HP brought its case to France. Freshfields also advised Laboratoires Pierre Fabre in a landmark litigation at the ECJ regarding the legality of refusing online sales of its products.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s renowned competition practice is the largest in Germany and boasts an unparalleled 62 antitrust lawyers divided among offices in Berlin, Cologne and Düsseldorf. Düsseldorf-based partner Martin Klusmann is global co-head of the firm’s antitrust, competition and trade practice group. He is just one of Freshfields’ 10 partners who practise in Germany, all of whom are Who’s Who Legal nominees. The team includes four counsel, five senior consultants, 13 senior associates and 30 associates.
The team managed a mix of complex merger control and behavioural cases, and defends clients in numerous court proceedings. Last year, it advised multinational cable company Liberty Global in its €3.16 billion acquisition of rival Kabel Baden-Württemberg, which was cleared by the German authority with far-reaching commitments and is now under appeal. Liberty Global had retained Freshfields’ after the firm helped the company complete another €3.5 billion German cable company acquisition two years ago. Klusmann counselled ThyssenKrupp in the company’s €2.7 billion sale of its stainless steel business unit Inoxum to Outokumpu, a deal that faced heavy scrutiny by the European Commission.
Partners Gerhard Wiedemann and Tobias Klose represented E.ON Ruhrgas in an EU appeal against a DG Comp decision alleging a market sharing agreement with Gaz de France. The company won a fine reduction of about €230 million, one of the largest ever. ThyssenKrupp also turned to Freshfields for advice in a complex investigation by the cartel office and the state prosecutor regarding collusion in the railway material sector. Part of the allegations were settled for €124 million, while partner Uta Itzen continues to work on the remaining case and on follow-on claims brought by customers such as Deutsche Bahn. Solvay also relies on Freshfields for advice in follow-on lawsuits.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has the strongest competition practice of any international law firm in Italy aside from Cleary Gottlieb. Its head Tommaso Salonico and its second partner Gian Luca Zampa, both former authority officials, are Who’s Who Legal nominees. Freshfields is also the go-to firm for energy companies that require antitrust advice, many say. Competitors describe Salonico as an “energy guru” and “quasi-monopolist among energy clients”. He splits his time between regulatory and antitrust work. The Rome-based team is completed by 11 associates, including Roberto Amore, who is due to open an antitrust outpost in Milan. This year, Freshfields lost experienced senior associate Alessandro Greco to Eversheds.
The group advised 2iGas and E.ON in an investigation of alleged bid rigging in the gas distribution market and defended utility A2A and energy company Iren from separate allegations of abuse of dominance and price fixing. The team represented Deutsche Bahn and its subsidiary Schenker in the freight forwarding cartel investigation and following appeal – which set an important precedent in the interpretation of Italy’s leniency policy. It advised Siemens in its successful appeal against the authority’s bid-rigging decision regarding magnetic resonance equipment. On the merger side, the group advised retailer Billa in a Phase II acquisition.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is among the best firms in the world for competition and the firm’s Tokyo practice is no exception. The team includes special counsel and Who’s Who Legal nominee Akinori Uesugi, who is the former secretary general of the JFTC. He works alongside partners Takeshi Nakao and Kazuki Okada and five associates. Okada is also part of the firm’s litigation practice.
Like most of Japan’s international firms, Freshfields’ antitrust team has a raft of major clients from around the world that keep it busy, but it can also count numerous high-profile domestic companies among its client base: Asahi Glass, JX Nippon Oil & Energy, Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Chemical to name a few.
The team recently advised Mitsubishi Chemical on multi-jurisdictional merger control filings for a Korean joint venture with Posco Chemtech and Mitsubishi Corporation and Bristol-Myers Squibb on the antitrust aspects of its strategic alliance with Ono Pharmaceutical to co-develop and co-commercialise an anti-rheumatoid arthritis therapy in Japan.
The team also handled a third-party complaint in relation to a potential unilateral conduct case in the technology industry.
Merger work has kept the team busy, not least representing Essent, the Netherlands’ largest utility, in its €9.3 billion acquisition by German rival RWE. Freshfields is also handling the acquisition of TNT Post by UPS.
The firm’s cartel practice is equally busy. Freshfields is acting for Ceres in its appeal against fines imposed by the NMa on baking flour producers and is extensively involved in many of the cartel follow-on damage claim proceedings that are being brought in the Netherlands. The firm is also continuing to advise ABN Amro in relation to its continuing integration with Fortis Bank, and in state aid matters.
Freshfields is also acting for Dutch insurance company ING in its appeal before the European Courts in state aid proceedings, after a European Commission decision was set aside by the EU General Court, because it had determined the size of the support in an incorrect manner. The European Commission will now have to make a new judgment.
Who’s Who Legal nominee Alexander Viktorov is now the sole head of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Moscow competition group, which he has co-led since 2005. Supporting Viktorov are an associate and a paralegal who work full-time on competition matters.
The team has worked on several high-profile global deals over the past year or so, including advising UPS on its acquisition of TNT Express, acting for industrial manufacturer Terex on its bid for Demag Cranes, and advising power and automation company ABB in its merger filings before the FAS. Other regular clients include Barclays Bank, Solvay and Russian Railways.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s strong Spanish competition practice is led by partner Francisco Cantos, a nominee to The International Who’s Who of Competition Lawyers and Economists. He works together with partner Álvaro Iza, three senior associates and six associates in the Madrid and Barcelona offices, respectively. Last year, the firm hired associate Carolina Luna, previously at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in Brussels.
One of the first international law firms to gain a strong foothold in the Spanish market, Freshfields has had a presence in some of the highest profile cases of the year. Cantos advised Hewlett-Packard in its abuse of dominance complaint against Oracle, an international case spanning across multiple jurisdictions. He also worked for telecoms company Abertis, which was investigated for alleged margin squeeze by the CNC and over state aid measures by the European Commission. Iza defended media group Mediapro against multiple abuse of dominance allegations regarding football broadcasting rights. He also advised another media company, Imagina, in the acquisition of control of TV channel La Sexta, and later in its merger with rival broadcaster Antena 3.
The antitrust team advised ferry company Balearia, in two cartel investigations in the maritime transportation market. The company applied for leniency and obtained a fine reduction, and later also appealed against the decision at the Audiencia Nacional, the first instance appeals court. Freshfields also helped Linpac Group obtaining immunity from a €8.5 million fine in a fruit and vegetable package cartel.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s antitrust, competition and trade practice is one of the very best in Europe, if not the world. The team, which includes 16 partners, one consultant, eight senior associates and 28 associates, is led by Rod Carlton. No fewer than eight of the firm’s London partners are nominees to The International Who’s Who of Competition Lawyers and Economists, including competition litigation head, Jon Lawrence.
Despite a continuing slowdown in merger activity, Freshfields has had a busy year – both in deal work and behavioural matters. Most notably, perhaps, the firm represented the London Stock Exchange as a third party on the antitrust and merger control issues arising from the ultimately blocked merger between Deutsche Börse and NYSE/Euronext, and on the UK Competition Commission’s inquiry into the proposed BATS Trading/Chi-X Europe merger.
The Freshfields team also represented water company South Staffordshire on the Competition Commission reference following its acquisition of Cambridge Water. This was the first water to water merger in the UK provisionally cleared unconditionally by the commission in May 2012.
The firm is advising Deloitte on the Competition Commission’s “Big Four” investigation of the UK auditing market and publisher Pearson on the investigations by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the European Commission of horizontal and vertical issues around the use of agency agreements in the e-books sector.
Finally, Freshfields is advising ABB in its defence of a £230 million claim by National Grid Electricity Transmission against the European participants in the gas insulated switchgear cartel.
United States: Government Antitrust
After helping put the final touches on United Airlines’ 2010 merger with rival Continental, the US practice at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has again secured major work on headline cases in the US and globally. Led by Who’s Who Legal nominee Paul Yde, the team this year advised EMI Group in the sale of its recorded music business to a consortium that included Sony, and it has taken the lead for publisher Hachette Book Group in the DoJ’s investigation of the e-books industry. Other major clients include Hewlett-Packard, PepsiCo and its subsidiary, Frito-Lay.
by James Corbett
February 5, 2013
Catchphrases and overused hype terms are constantly being generated by the political class. Often they are used to focus the public’s attention on a given topic or to distract that same public from more pressing concerns. Witness, for example, the sudden onset of the “fiscal cliff” fixation in the mainstream financial media at the end of last year.
Other times, as former President George W. Bush insightfully pointed out, these catchphrases are employed as a way to break down the public’s intellectual defences and “catapult the propaganda.”
In the case of “common purpose,” we find not just a meaningless catchphrase but the calling card of an emerging political organization.
That organization is called, simply enough, Common Purpose, and was originally established as a charitable trust in the UK in 1989. According to its own website, Common Purpose is an organization promoting:
“[..]the advancement of education for the public benefit and in particular but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing to educate men and women an young people of school age, from a broad range of geographical, political, ethnic, institutional, social and economic backgrounds in constitutional, civic, economic and social studies with special emphasis on civil and social awareness and responsibility in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.”
The group has now expanded internationally and provides training courses in leadership for up-and-coming politicians, businessmen, NGO workers, organizers, and others who wield or will one day wield power in society. Those who complete a Common Purpose leadership seminar are said to be “graduates” of the program. Prominent supporters of the program include BBC News Business Editor Robert Peston and Cressida Dick, the most senior police officer in the disgraced London Metropolitan Police office.
By its own admission, the group concentrates on the space that “lies between the individual and the state, between the immediate responsibilities facing each individual and the institutional responsibilities of the government.” Common Purpose aims to influence those individuals, businesses, and political parties that can directly act in that space.
Naturally, such an aim is only laudable if the agenda behind that influence is in the interest of society. Remarkably enough for a publicly registered charity that does receive public funds, however, Common Purpose – as its chief critic, retired British naval officer Brian Gerrish, notes – is remarkably opaque, conducting many of its meetings and seminars under cover of the Chatham House Rule. As viewers of this Eye-opener series will remember, the Chatham House Rule is the convention defined by the Royal Institute of International Affairs wherein meeting participants not to disclose the details of individuals or their statements.
What is possible to identify about this group, its founder, and its connections, however, is disturbing enough. The group was officially started in 1989 by Julia Middleton, a civil society campaigner who was also a co-founder of Demos, an influential think tank, and Deputy Chair of the Media Standards Trust Board.
The Media Standards Trust Board is another registered charity that says it “aims to foster high standards in news media on behalf of the public.” Serving with Julia Middleton on the board of the trust are the likes of Charles Manby of Goldman Sachs, Anthony Salz of NM Rothschild and David Loyn of the BBC. Also on that board was Sir David Bell, who stepped down to assume a position on the Leveson Inquiry which was set up to review media standards in Britain following the Murdoch hacking scandal. The MSTB submitted a report to the inquiry recommending reform to the existing regime of media self-regulation, a report that was largely adopted by the inquiry. Sir David is also a trustee of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism which caused the most recent BBC scandal, the airing of a report incorrectly labelling the former Tory Party treasurer as a paedophile, an error that cost the BBC nearly 200,000 pounds in damages.
Demos, meanwhile, is an organization that has made news in recent years for its attempts to warn against the dangers of the free and open internet. Co-founded by Common Purpose UK CEO Julia Middleton, it originally boasted Stephen Heintz as its president. Heintz is currently president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
In 2011, Demos launched an awareness campaign amongst British school children designed to protect them against the dangers of conspiracy theorizing on the internet.
Unlike many of the other groups that we have outlined so far in this series, it is difficult to say directly what effect the group has had on civil society in the UK or indeed around the world. It has been estimated that over 300,000 decision makers from industry, finance, politics and the NGO community have “graduated” from their programs, with 3000 more graduating each year, but knowledge of the precise ways this network of graduates is wielding the influence they have to achieve the aims of “Common Purpose” is hampered by the group’s secretive nature. Much speculation takes place online about the group’s true intent, and the connections between Julia Middleton and some of the more ominous groups in the UK political landscape certainly mesh with those speculations.
Even if Common Purpose by itself were the most benign organization imaginable, though, it is difficult to justify the secretive nature of this public charity which receives funding and support from various public agencies. The question once again becomes: to what extent is the public comfortable having an organization of questionable aims and means training the next generation of world leaders in secretive seminars, largely at taxpayer’s expense. And, to the extent that the public is uncomfortable with the influence that groups like this have over the political and business world, what precisely can they do about it?
COMMON PURPOSE UK EXPOSED
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Tuesday, 20 August 2013
THE SILENT MAJORITY!
Press row: PM faces questions over link to charity
David Cameron officially declares that he is patron of an initiative run by Common Purpose, a charity linked to the campaign for tougher regulation of the Press
David Cameron is facing questions over his ties to a charity linked to the campaign for tougher regulation of the Press.
The Prime Minister officially declared in a newly published register of ministerial interests that he is patron of an initiative run by Common Purpose, a leadership organisation whose founders set up one of the most vocal lobbying groups for media regulation.
The initiative, Dishaa Venture, aims to build links between India and Britain and was launched in Bangalore by the Prime Minister in July 2010. He addresses participants in its programme each year.
However, Mr Cameron failed to declare the post for at least two years despite two opportunities to do so in official registers.
The disclosure comes days after the approval of a controversial cross-party charter introducing a system of Press regulation underpinned by statute and is likely to raise questions about why Mr Cameron did not register the link to a group closely associated with efforts to regulate the Press until last week.
A Downing Street spokesman said the omission in the previous registers of ministers’ interests, published in February and December 2011, was due to an “administrative oversight”.
However, Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, said that, although Mr Cameron’s failure to declare the connection was likely to have been a simple mistake, the Prime Minister should not associate himself with Common Purpose.
“I would always advise caution when it comes to being involved with any organisation that has close links with Common Purpose,” Mr Davies, a member of the Commons media select committee, said.
“Common Purpose is a very secretive organisation which I think the Prime Minister would do well to be wary of.
“They are trying to get their tentacles into every nook and cranny of the Establishment to pursue their Leftist, pro-European political agenda.
“Of course, Common Purpose don’t want a free Press because a free Press exposes what they are up to.”
Common Purpose has attracted controversy over the links between it and the Hacked Off campaign, fronted by Steve Coogan and Hugh Grant, the actors, which has called for greater regulation of the press.
In 2006, two key figures in Common Purpose – Julia Middleton, its founder and chief executive, and Sir David Bell, a trustee and former chairman – set up the Media Standards Trust.
The two groups shared offices, with the trust claiming to campaign for higher standards in newspapers and broadcasting.
In 2011, in the aftermath of disclosures that staff at the News of the World had hacked the telephone of Milly Dowler, the murdered schoolgirl from Surrey, the trust’s director, Martin Moore, helped to found Hacked Off.
This new group campaigned vociferously for greater media controls during Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into press standards.
Sir David was made one of the assessors to the Leveson panel.
Hacked Off was present at secretive late-night talks with ministers in the Labour leader Ed Miliband’s office which brokered a deal to set up a system of regulation of the Press underpinned by statute.
In July 2011, after Mr Cameron set up the inquiry, this newspaper highlighted Sir David’s chairmanship of Common Purpose, which had been reprimanded by the Information Commissioner in 2009 for six probable breaches of the Data Protection Act.
It fell foul of data protection laws after trying to block campaigners, who believe it has a pro-European Union agenda, from investigating its finances using the Freedom of Information Act, sending a list of home addresses and telephone numbers to some of its clients in the public sector, and warning that the individuals were “vexatious”.
Mr Moore later said it was “nonsense” to suggest that the MST’s agenda was driven by Miss Middleton or Common Purpose. “[The trust] is an independent, registered charity.
“No board member has, or could, direct the activities of the trust.”
Dishaa was launched by Mr Cameron in July 2010 on a trip to Bangalore, India, when he attended a conference at a venue owned by Tata, the Indian industrial conglomerate, of “young Indian leaders”.
Others who attended the conference in southern India included Lord Patten of Barnes, who is also chairman of the BBC Trust.
The BBC is among a series of public bodies to have paid Common Purpose to train its staff in leadership skills.
The venture aims to “expand, enrich and energise relations” between the UK and India by developing leaders in both countries.
The Common Purpose website says that it is working with the Foreign Office in India to help deliver the Dishaa initiative.
In January 2011 the Prime Minister recorded a video for Dishaa students, saying: “If the relationship between our countries is made up only by the politicians, the diplomats and entrepreneurs it will not last.”
A spokesman for Common Purpose, which insists it is independent and “always balanced”, said on Saturday night: “Common Purpose has no involvement in the campaign for greater regulation for the Press.
“Nobody from Common Purpose has had any discussions with Mr Cameron about the Leveson Inquiry, regulation of the Press, or the Information Commissioner, and nor would there have been any reason for them to do so.”
The Ministerial Code is the official Whitehall rule book setting out the standards of behaviour expected of members of the Government.
According to the code, ministers should “not normally” accept invitations to act as patrons of pressure groups or organisations dependent on Government funding.
There is usually “less objection” to a minister associating with a charity, the Ministerial Code states.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “The charity was launched in 2010 to build links between the UK and India.
“A simple administrative oversight meant it was declared in the latest register instead of the one before.”