Stealth editing becomes stealth censorship

Airbrushed from history?  Words that were never written?  Did it not happen?  Was that the intention? We should be told.

News media around the globe, from the US to Australia, from India to the Gulf States, reported the story that the Guardian’s investigations executive editor, David Leigh, had admitted to engaging in phone hacking yet denied it when asked about it by the Guido Fawkes blog.  One of the most senior journalists at the paper which pursued the ‘phone hacking’ story so vigorously had himself been pressing * and # keys to listen to another person’s voicemails. Around the world the Leigh hacking story was deemed worthy of coverage.

But there is a bigger story to this that every UK citizen needs to know about.  It concerns the nefarious activities of a number of Britain’s journalists to collude with each other in an attempt to ‘walk back’ a story to remove it from public record.

As a bit of context, this blog has already previously pointed out the BBC, the world’s largest news gathering organisation whose stories have a global reach, ignored the story.  Completely.  Since the story re-emerged this month, because the BBC referred to Leigh’s hacking in a piece by Torin Douglas back in April,  it has published not a single word of the case against David Leigh, a case which underpins the gross hypocrisy of the Guardian’s position and criminal actions of its staff.  So interwoven are the left wing Guardian and left wing BBC, neither will do anything that harms the other, even if that means leaving their respective audiences in ignorance of an important story.

Elsewhere, although some UK newspapers ran the story on the back of the Guido Fawkes blog post, efforts to find reports of the story on the wire service run by the UK based Press Association turn up a blank too.  The PA, often accused of leftist bias, turned a blind eye to the Leigh story despite its substantial reporting of the phone hacking story.

But far worse than all this are efforts by some media outlets that have already run the story to delete their report in an attempt to airbrush it from history.  Let us be clear, this is not a retraction of the story.  This is not an open correction of an error.  It is a conscious effort to forever scrape from that outlet’s own virtual record any trace of their report in order to rewrite history.  It seems the UK audience is being denied news and information from the UK involving British journalists, because some British journalists will close ranks to shield each other.

Which paper has done this?  Is it a left wing rag?  The Mirror or the Star perhaps?  No.  This was the action of a supposedly truth seeking, supposedly conservative newspaper.

The Daily Mail.

Without explanation the Daily Mail has deleted the David Leigh phone hacking story.  A search to see if only the story’s title or location had changed shows it has not been moved or altered, simply deleted.  The only sign it ever existed is the Google search result thrown up when looking for stories about David Leigh and phone hacking.

Why is this important?  Because in months and years to come, when people look back to research a piece and see what had been reported at the time, the Daily Mail’s official digital archive and archive discs will not contain any trace of the story.  It is tantamount to telling a lie.  It is an effort to remove a story from history.  And no justification has been provided for it.  If you missed the now deleted article, here is a screengrab of it.

The Daily Mail should explain why the story has been deleted barely 10 days after it was published.  This is how history can be manipulated and managed by people with an agenda to conceal something.  And it should be of concern to everyone who cherishes the idea of an open and transparent news media.

How farcial it is that the record of this British story about the honesty or otherwise of the media in this country will be confined to a few mid-circulation papers such as the Express.  In contrast a large number of overseas titles, which saw the significance of the story and felt it important enough to report to their own domestic audiences, will be the source British researchers will need to rely on.

Again we see the dark underside of a self serving and manipulative element in the British media that is content to conceal facts inconvenient to their friends despite an obvious public interest significance.  The incestuous relationships between supposedly competing stables in the UK and the desire of too many journalists to put future career opportunities before a fearless pursuit of the truth, ill serves the British public and keeps many in a state of engineered ignorance.

If they can do it with the David Leigh story, what else are they choosing not to report to the British public?

19 Responses to “Stealth editing becomes stealth censorship”

  1. 1 Techno Mystic 16/08/2011 at 6:09 pm

    Leigh threatened a libel action I expect. Unfortunately, British libels laws are so bad that just the threat can cause a story to be withdrawn.

    The Daily Mail is probably well funded enough to fight a libel action. Perhaps they decided this one wasn’t worth fighting.

  2. 2 Dominic Allkins 16/08/2011 at 6:14 pm

    “Who controls history, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls history.”

    George Orwell (for those that don’t know)

    I’m not normally one for big conspiracy theories but the ongoing and continuous removal of stories in this way does begin to suggest that something ‘bigger’ is going on behind the scenes.

  3. 3 microdave 16/08/2011 at 6:28 pm

    It’s getting to the stage where we need to keep local copies of everything we view on the web…

  4. 4 Sinjun 16/08/2011 at 7:09 pm

    Well done AM! I do a lot of research online and continually finding dead links is frustrating. Two tools that I use are:


    Keeping local copies of screenshots etc.always helps though!

  5. 5 Span Ows 16/08/2011 at 7:54 pm

    To add to Dominic and microdave’s points I suggested the same thing myself o the Biased BBC blog, that someone with the time and money could take screenshots of as many stories as possible, or help grow the excellent Newssniffer ( that can only do so many stories at a time. Stealth edits are almost daily occurrences: we are not talking about updates where the original info stays, we are talking changed stories.

  6. 6 Brian H 17/08/2011 at 9:21 am

    Lies, damned lies, and the BBC-Grauniad News.

  7. 7 A K Haart 17/08/2011 at 5:20 pm

    Great post – keep at it.

  8. 8 Anthony Watts 17/08/2011 at 9:28 pm

    Confirmed, not a server bug, they really did disappear it.

    Fortunately there are dozens of copies about. The Streisand effect will kick in.

  9. 9 ZT 17/08/2011 at 10:14 pm

    Leigh presumably simply indicated to the Mail that he would shortly be revealing what he knows about the Mail’s hacks, unless he got his way.

    If lawyers had been involved – or if there was anything incorrect – a retraction would have been published.

  10. 10 omnologos 17/08/2011 at 11:20 pm

    a supposedly truth seeking, supposedly conservative newspaper. The Daily Mail.

    Hello? Hello? The Daily Mail is to truth seeking what strawberries are to pepperoni pizza.

  11. 11 kim 18/08/2011 at 7:41 am

    All I know is what I read in the pepperoni and what I see with my own eyes as I wander through the strawberry patch.

  12. 12 Dead Dog Bounce 18/08/2011 at 9:43 am

    It suddenly strikes me that Mail lawyers COULD have pulled the story on the grounds that it might prejudice a police investigation.

    I don’t know how plausible that might be, but it hasn’t been raised in the comments thread yet.

  13. 13 Jan v J 18/08/2011 at 11:29 am


    You owe me a new keyboard!
    Oh, and a mug of tea – milk, one sugar.

  14. 14 Fred Streeter 18/08/2011 at 12:54 pm

    … the Guardian’s investigations executive editor, David Leigh, had admitted to engaging in phone hacking yet denied it when asked about it by the Guido Fawkes blog.

    Semantic Antics

    A definition: Safe Cracker – a thief who breaks into a safe by skillfully determining the combination.

    ‘Fingers’ Maguire accesses private correspondence by listening to the tumblers drop into place. This is a criminal act for which he is jailed.

    Daisy Lea, ace girl reporter of the ‘Custodian’, admits that she once accessed private correspondence by entering a combination obtained from a print-out. All she had to do was open the safe door. She also admits that it is an act similar to that of ‘Fingers’ (i.e. criminal).

    Gelded Fox, the political blogger (, alleges that Daisy’s act was one of Safe Cracking, and that she is teaching her journalism students about Safe Cracking.

    Would ‘Fingers’ agree with Gelded Fox’s definition of Daisy’s act? Would he consider her capable of teaching Safe Cracking? Certainly not, he is a professional and proud of his craft.

    So it all depends upon one’s interpretation of Safe Cracking as to whether Daisy is a liar, or Fox is just another ordure-flinger.

  15. 15 Fred Streeter 18/08/2011 at 1:51 pm

    … this blog has already previously pointed out the BBC, the world’s largest news gathering organisation whose stories have a global reach, ignored the story. Completely. To date it has published not a single word of the case against David Leigh, a case which underpins the gross hypocrisy of the Guardian’s position and criminal actions of its staff.

    Really? From the BBC: News of the World apology ‘opens legal can of worms’ -15 April 2011. An article that laid bare the criminality of the Guardian’s staff, four months ago.


    Ironically, one of the few newspapers to admit to phone-hacking is the Guardian, which exposed the News of the World’s illegal activities.

    Its investigative reporter David Leigh wrote in the Guardian …:
    “I, too, once listened to the mobile phone messages of a corrupt arms company executive – the crime similar to that for which Goodman now faces the prospect of jail. … the businessman in question had inadvertently left his pin code on a print-out and all that was needed was to dial straight into his voicemail.

    I was looking for evidence of bribery and corruption.

    That is my defence …”

    It may be a defence under the Data Protection Act, but not under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000. Caroline Kean, of the law firm Wiggin, says: “It is an offence under section 1 of the RIPA to intercept any communication in the course of its transmission without lawful authority. There is no public interest defence.”


    Hypocrisy? Probably, but a vice common to all the media.

  16. 16 Autonomous Mind 18/08/2011 at 4:23 pm

    Good find Fred. The search of the BBC site and Google for reference to the story about Leigh when it finally gained traction was limited to a one month history, hence why there was no result.

    What hasn’t changed is how the BBC have left the story alone since Leigh denied he had ever hacked a phone – despite evidence to the contrary.

    It’s surprising the BBC didn’t dust off Douglas’ article and show Leigh had already admitted it. There remains the suggestion that they wanted to play this down.

    What is also interesting is Rusbridger, having slated the Press Complaints Commission and declared it unfit for purpose, falling back on the commission’s code to justify ‘underhand’ techniques.

  1. 1 Of Climategate, constabularies and Copenhagen: coincidences worth considering (Part 1) « The View From Here Trackback on 17/08/2011 at 9:47 am
  2. 2 Two hacks and a shark | Calling England Trackback on 17/08/2011 at 10:22 am
  3. 3 Did Bureau of Investigative Journalism pals network get the David Leigh story pulled? « Autonomous Mind Trackback on 11/11/2012 at 3:35 pm
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