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By Mark Watts
Investigative journalist Kevin Cahill today revealed what he describes as “hanky panky” in the election for a new editor of the Journalist magazine.
Miles Barter, the campaigns and communications officer of the national union of journalists, who was elected onto the “steering committee” of the far-left faction, “NUJ Left”, last May, was also outed as involving himself in Cahill’s complaint that a comment of his to the union’s website was adulterated.
Cahill was quoted in an article on this website as endorsing me in the election and referred to himself as being “an NUJ member for 36 years”. He went on to warn of the dangers to the NUJ of political factions.
Writing on MediaGuardian, Cahill says: “There was a good bit more hanky panky going on than Mark has yet revealed. Someone at Headland House [NUJ headquarters] inserted a comment in my blog entry there, making it appear that I had said I wasn’t a member of the NUJ: I made no such comment.
“When I queried what was going on, that was amended to, Kevin Cahill is not a member of the NUJ. In fact both were wrong. My sub had accident-ally been sent to a colleague’s account, rectified on the spot by membership as soon as discovered. The point being that someone at Headland House was both using internal information and amending blog entries in order to discredit supporters of Mark Watts.
“Now that goes a good bit beyond what Mark has reported. My blog entry and another by another party, querying the corrupting of my entry, was not posted.”
Tim Gopsill, the retiring editor of the Journalist, writes a few hours later: “Twas I as editor (not Miles Barter if that's what you're inferring [sic]) that amended your comment on the NUJ site.”
“It was nothing to do with discrediting Mark Watts supporters.”
“Kevin sent two posts at the same time one beginning, ‘I am an NUJ member...’ Naturally, I looked him up on the computer, and he had been lapsed for arrears of subs in 2006. Tricky one. I suppose I should have posted his comments and then a separate one from myself pointing out he was not a member, but, lazily, I guess, I just posted the second one and added the parenthesis at the end (the membership or not of supporters being an issue at the time).
“Within an hour or so there must have been some contact with the membership department because his membership was restored after the discovery of some error in the allocation of his subs and the second this was drawn to my attention... I took it off (to be accused by Miles of ‘wimping out under pressure from Mark Watts’). Apology to Kevin for the brief slur.”
Gopsill files a further post less than an hour later: “I must apologise to Miles Barter for quoting his e-mail to me in my earlier posting. He tells me that when he sent it he had not known that Kevin Cahill's membership had been restored and thought I had removed the addendum to his posting simply because of pressure from the Mark Watts camp. I accept this and say, sorry, Miles.”
Mark Watts – freelance journalist, broadcaster and FOIA Centre co-ordinator – is standing in the election on the basis that the new editor of the Journalist should be an independent journalist at heart – not a politicised activist. He is not a member of any political party or group.
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