The Messham Intervention

Rebecca Television covers the whole of the UK but includes a built-in bias to issues concerning Wales. It’s independent, does not accept advertising or sponsorship and depends on donations to cover its costs.

The Editor is the Irish-born journalist Paddy French. He was a current affairs producer on the ITV Wales current affairs strand Wales This Week for nearly ten years. He left ITV in 2008 and now lives in France.

STEPHEN MESSHAM

STEPHEN MESSHAM
Photographed in 2000 holding a copy of the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal report, Messham was described in its pages as “severely damaged psychologically”.  Photo: Phil Noble / PA

HOW WAS it that Stephen Messham — a “severely damaged psychologically” man —  was allowed to accuse a senior Tory politician of child abuse on a  national current affairs programme when those same allegations had been dismissed as unreliable twenty years earlier?

Messham, the 49-year-old former resident of the Bryn Estyn children’s home near Wrexham, was the key witness in the BBC’s now notorious early November edition of Newsnight about child abuse in North Wales.

Messham claimed he’d been sexually abused by a senior Tory politician while he was in care.

Newsnight did not identify the man but a frenzy of speculation on the internet meant that Lord McAlpine was quickly — and falsely — “outed” as the alleged abuser.

A week later Messham saw a photograph of Lord McAlpine and declared he was not the man who had abused him.

The media firestorm that followed this disastrous broadcast forced the BBC’s newly-appointed Director General, former Newsnight editor George Entwistle, to resign.

It also cost the editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Iain Overton, his job.

It was the Bureau’s lead reporter Angus Stickler, a former BBC journalist, who came up with the idea for Newsnight and he presented the item.

On the morning of the broadcast, Overton tweeted:

“If all goes well we’ve got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile”.

The night before Overton had attended an Oxford University Union debate where Channel 4 News reporter Michael Crick, himself a former Newsnight journalist, asked him if the unidentified politician was McAlpine.

The Observer quotes Overton as saying: “Well, you said it.”

On the day of the broadcast, Michael Crick spoke to Lord McAlpine who denied that he was involved in child abuse — and said he would sue if he was named.

Newsnight did not contact the politician because it decided not to name him.

So why did Stickler, an experienced reporter who won the Sony Radio Academy Award for the best news journalist in 2006, make such an elementary mistake?

Much more at Rebecca Television

11 Comments

Filed under Abuse, News, Pallial

11 responses to “The Messham Intervention

  1. nuggy

    why was mesham apologizing to a man he had never named publicly.

  2. nuggy

    and why do the press and all the writers about this subect concentrate on mesham like he was the only witness.

    and why did Webster feel the need change meshams hes name wasnt a secret.

    was that to cover Webster in a possible libel action because what he was saying wasn’t true.

  3. nuggy

    sory that sorry why did webster feel the need to change meshams name.

  4. green

    http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-news/6226-the-curious-case-of-newsnight-and-steve-messham
    “Known to almost every journalist who cares to take a look at the case was Mr Messham’s testimony at the original Waterhouse Tribunal held in 1997:
    Gerard Elias QC: “Does the name McAlpine mean anything to you.”
    Steven Messham: “Yes, sir.”
    Elias: “In what context?”
    Messham: “I was also abused by him sexually.”
    Sir Ronald Waterhouse: “Is the person you referred to alive or dead?”
    Messham: “I believe he is dead.””

  5. Because it was such an obvious stitch up to prevent any more discussion/enquiry, i mean how did he walk away with £185000 within a couple of weeks?, simply astonishing.
    And then finding out about his reworking of The Prince and the comments on how to play the state, no no nothing to see here, move along please.
    Andy

  6. nuggy

    well if it was a stitch up mesham or stickler must of been involved.

  7. Someone stitched up someone. The real question is why.

    Wonder if lord mcalpine is spending his cash on any more photo collections?

  8. nuggy

    stickler had been working on this story so i cant see how he could such a mistake be accident.

  9. Mark Hunt

    I often wonder what could have motivated Scofield to participate in this affair.
    As some may recall, he lives in the small village of Fawley near McAlpine’s older brother (also a Lord McAlpine) and was a regular celebrity visitor at his estate’s charity events. He was also named as a patron of the Chiltern Centre charity which Lady McAlpine is involved with. Mrs S was off on a fundraising walk for the Chilterns around the time of the broadcast.
    Considering this, it seems rather clumsy to have become embroiled in libelling his mate’s brother in the company of the PM on live television.
    One would presume he has not been invited up to Fawley Hill since.

  10. tazzdevil

    GOOD JOB HE DID MENTION SUCH A HIGH FIGURE NAME >>>>>>WHY…because the perverse with the white shirts would still be abusing there power .BUT BECAUSE OF A MISTAKE AND IT TOOK A MISTAKE TO BE DONE… GIVEN SUCH SENSITIVE ISSUES WITH SENSITIVE DAMAGED ADULTS TO KEEP SHOUTING AND BE LISTENED TOO TO GET THESE POWER PERV SICK,S OUTED.BY HOME SECRETARY TERESA MAY…PLEASE WHAT WOULD OF HAPPENED IF US VICTIMS DIDN’T SHOUT OUT ..TIMES LIKE THIS I AM GLAD WE HAVE MEDIA SPECULATION WITH REGARDS TO GOVERNMENT AND SICKOS

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