Freedom to Issue Writs or the Freedom to Write?
A Defining Matter for the NUJ
Previously: Response to the initial complaint lodged by the Irish News chapel
See also: NUJ Wiki-Dump
30 September 2013
Re: NUJ Rule 24 Complaint
BY EMAIL (READ RECEIPT REQUESTED)
Belfast and District Branch
National Union of Journalists
Dear Mr. Carson,
I am writing in response to your email dated 29 September 2013, informing me of the latest addition to the Irish News Chapel Rule 24 Complaint on behalf of Allison Morris, dated 26 September.
My position remains the same as previous: I object to this on a number of grounds, not least because it is frivolous and vexatious, is sub judice, and arises as a result of criticism of Ms. Morris’s own pattern of unethical behaviour. Additionally, it has already been dealt with in substance by the NUJ Appeals Tribunal and found to be without merit.
After a considered reading of the latest broadside from the Irish News Chapel, I find nothing but one long, tortured whinge that is merely a retread of the same ground already thrown out by the NUJ Appeals Tribunal. I see no reason why this complaint should continue wasting anyone’s time.
As stated in my last letter, Ms Morris herself could not be bothered to attend the Appeals Tribunal hearing of her first complaint, opting instead to attend a football match; why are we here now?
I will reiterate: I am repeatedly being put to the task of having to defend an action which has already failed. All of this is highly unfair and against the principles of natural justice. The Belfast and District Branch should dismiss the Complaint.
Please find enclosed a more detailed response to the additional material submitted by the Irish News chapel.
Anthony McIntyre Response to Additional Material Filed by Irish News Chapel on behalf of Allison Morris (ADDMATRES30913.pdf)
Irish News Editor Noel Doran Article on Letters Blogatory
Irish News Editor Noel Doran Correspondence with NUJ Member Ed Moloney, The Broken Elbow
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary
Anthony McIntyre Response
Additional material filed by Irish News Chapel
Additional material filed by Irish News Chapel
“When one writer tries to silence another, he silences every writer
― and in the end he also silences himself.” ― David Leavitt
― and in the end he also silences himself.” ― David Leavitt
The Rule 24 Complaint filed on behalf of Allison Morris by the Irish News Chapel is frivolous and vexatious, is sub judice, and arises as a result of criticism of Ms. Morris’s own pattern of unethical behavior. Additionally, it has already been dealt with in substance by the NUJ Appeals Tribunal and found to be without merit. Mr. McIntyre is now being put to the task of having to defend an action which has already failed. The Belfast and District Branch should dismiss the Complaint.
Additional Complaint material has been lodged by the Irish News chapel on behalf of Allison Morris. This material was received by the Branch Secretary on Thursday, 26 September, 2013, the day before the Belfast and District Branch NUJ subcommittee was to meet. On Friday, 27 September, 2013 the subcommittee met as planned to consider the written depositions requested from the Branch Secretary, and adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, October 1, 2013. On Sunday evening, 29 September, 2013, Mr McIntyre was asked to respond to the new material filed by the Irish News chapel.
Mr McIntyre’s objections to the Irish News chapel complaint on behalf of Ms Morris remain:
- Sub Judice: The issue in question is sub judice. The NUJ, whether it is the Belfast and District Branch, Ethics Council, or NEC, cannot do anything about this complaint while the threat of legal proceedings is concurrent;
- Natural Justice: The substance of this second complaint has already been dealt with by the NUJ and failed. This second complaint does not contain anything new, or certainly nothing which could possibly lead the Appeals Tribunal to make a different finding;
- Ethics: The material in question, which the Complainant seeks to suppress on behalf of Ms Morris, had itself raised questions regarding journalistic ethics. The response of the NUJ to this succession of censorious complaints is a defining matter for the Union.
This should not be an issue for the NUJ whatsoever. Imagine if every journalist made Rule 24 Complaints every time their work ethics were questioned? Is that the purpose of the NUJ?
If so, no wonder contemporary journalism is in the state it is. This whole process, from the Ethics Council’s abysmal handling of the initial complaints of Allison Morris and Ciaran Barnes, to the Editor of the Irish News making a fool out of himself acting as Ms Morris’s legal bully-boy and water-carrier, and the Irish News chapel’s warped sense of what is important to journalism, is an indictment of the media and all its failings.
Surely the NUJ is better than this.
As it is, please find the main points of the Irish News chapel complaint addressed below.
Prior Contact and Right of Reply
Mr McIntyre has not made any attempt to substantiate his claims, either by contact with Ms Morris, the news desk, or the editor of The Irish News.
Previously submitted to the NUJ is the correspondence with Irish News editor Noel Doran, Ms Morris’s published position on speaking with bloggers such as Mr McIntyre, and both Mr Doran’s and Ms Morris’s own public comments on the issues.
The positions of Ms. Morris, Mr. Doran, and the Irish News are matters of public record and a Right of Reply has been repeatedly offered. That they have not availed of it is beyond the control of Mr McIntyre, and not a problem for Mr McIntyre alone.
Earlier this month, Ed Moloney contacted Noel Doran prior to re-publishing the Paul Campbell piece on his blog, The Broken Elbow, seeking comment. He allowed for more than enough time for a response from Mr Doran, who, when Mr Moloney followed up on the lack of response, claimed he had not received Mr Moloney’s email request. Mr Moloney replied to Mr Doran extending the date of publication to allow Mr Doran further time for a considered reply, which Mr Doran did not avail of. (Correspondence published on The Broken Elbow attached)
He has urged others to disseminate his false claims. Indeed his articles have been posted on extreme loyalist websites and social media with links to the UVF, including the PUP website, Ulster News, `Loyalist Banter’ Facebook, and `Loyalist Peaceful Protest Updater’ Facebook.
And so? Heaven forbid that people read the internet. Many people of a variety of political opinions across the world read and share Mr McIntyre’s articles. As they also do with the articles published in the Irish News.
The article published by him on the Pensive Quill which appeared under the by-line of Paul Campbell implicitly linked Ms Morris with dissident republicans.
What in the article was not correct? Are people not to write about what people themselves freely post on Facebook?
Working as a security correspondent in Northern Ireland where rival sectarian groups are still very much in existence, this clearly puts her safety and that of her family in danger from loyalist.
It is the nature of Ms Morris’s work that puts her in danger, not anything Mr McIntyre does or does not write.
Mr McIntyre has been wilfully dismissive about the genuine threats to her life which she has received and have been documented and verified by the PSNI. He made no attempt to establish the veracity of his claims before publishing allegations that they did not exist.
This is untrue and misconstrues Mr McIntyre’s position. Ms Morris made allegations to the NUJ that a specific article published on The Pensive Quill resulted in direct threats made to her life. Mr McIntyre disputes this. He does not dispute that in the course of her work Ms Morris comes across threats. What is at issue is her allegation that any threats have arisen as a result of The Pensive Quill, specifically the article she objected to in her complaint. That allegation is baseless and indeed laughable, and that is what was referred to in Paul Campbell’s article.
- From `What Price Justice’ (sic), August 4:
“While she, like many others, will find it difficult to believe what flows from her pen, I will hardly complain to the Ethics Council about it or lift the phone to a libel lawyer in a bid to silence her. I will, however, write what I like and call things as I see them.
“Or does she just lie to everyone, whenever and wherever it suits her at any given moment?”
“Can anyone believe anything Allison Morris writes anymore?”
Mr McIntyre is accusing Ms Morris of repeatedly peddling falsehoods - comments seriously damaging to a journalist’s reputation and hence her livelihood.
In Ms Morris’s comment on Letters Blogatory she published at least two falsehoods: that she had been working at the time of the Appeals Tribunal hearing when in fact she was attending a football match; that Mr McIntyre had interviewed Dolours Price along with Ed Moloney. Mr McIntyre did not interview Dolours Price. Mr Moloney, who did, will confirm this on request.
What Price Justice was based on a lie Ms Morris was caught in. Her complaints to the NUJ have also contained falsehoods. It is a fair question to ask.
It is also detrimental to the profession of journalism to starkly state `I will, however, write what I like and call things as I see them.’
That is a matter of opinion – Mr McIntyre subscribes to a different view on what is detrimental to the profession of journalism, believing that, on the contrary, censorship, the suppression of information and ideas, the silencing of alternative viewpoints and voices, and the tendency to opt for ‘public relations’ or massaging the truth as opposed to speaking frankly and honestly is what is detrimental to the profession of journalism. No amount of complaints to the NUJ will change that strongly held viewpoint.
No call or other contact was ever made to Ms Morris to check the veracity of any articles before publication. The chapel contend that this shows that the member clearly has no interest in whether what he writes is fair or accurate – the cornerstone of good journalistic practice promoted by the NUJ.
Are Ms Morris’s NUJ complaints, freely published tweets, Facebook postings, and Irish News articles untrue? Those are what the articles have been based on. Would Ms Morris’s position be different if she were contacted in private versus what she has published in public?
In fact it is clear that he wilfully ignores the basics of journalism such as checking facts and abiding by libel laws.
This is something Ms Morris is culpable of. Recently she described Councillor Angela Nelson as a former IRA prisoner. Ms Nelson is a former republican prisoner, having been an internee and a remand prisoner. Ms Nelson states that does not describe herself as a former IRA prisoner and will confirm upon request that Ms Morris failed to fact check this with her prior to publication.
- From `The Weird World of an Irish News Journalist’ [by `Paul Campbell’], August 7
Our contention is that `Paul Campbell’ is merely a pseudonym for Mr McIntyre himself, a practice which he explicitly condemned in his previous publication `The Blanket’.
Mr McIntyre is not the author of the article. Given the number of articles he has written criticising Allison Morris it would be strange were he to opt for a pen name. Why there and nowhere else?
The Blanket did not encourage the use of pseudonyms, and refused to publish anything submitted anonymously. However, The Blanket’s policy which has continued in The Pensive Quill was always that if Mr McIntyre and the Editor knew who the author was, and the author used a consistent pen-name, if there were reasons where a pen-name were regarded as legitimately needed or reasonable to use – for example, to protect one’s employment or safety – then work would be published with an agreed pseudonym. In agreeing this, The Blanket and The Pensive Quill stand behind the work published. The Irish News chapel can think what it likes – it is merely doing here what it accuses Mr McIntyre of doing, spouting off speculation without checking facts.
One of those named in the article has confirmed to two separate people within the Irish News that he only spoke to Mr McIntyre about this matter and has never heard of `Paul Campbell’.
Both Noel Doran and Allison Morris at the Irish News spoke with Hugh Jordan of the Sunday World. Mr McIntyre has no issue with Mr Jordan confirming anything regarding the article about the threats made against him and the chorus of intimidation Ms Morris’s partner, Mr Fernando Murphy, participated in. Mr McIntyre has never denied speaking to Mr Jordan at any stage. Furthermore, Mr Jordan is in no doubt that Mr McIntyre is not the author of the article, and thought the piece was ‘superb’. (full quote can be supplied upon request)
It should be noted here that Noel Doran and the Irish News Chapel are again singing from the exact same hymn sheet, as evidenced from Noel Doran’s article for Letters Blogatory on 30 September, 2013, which made the exact same points. (Letters Blogatory material attached)
“Irish News journalist Allison Morris is some chancer. While having a brass neck is no bad thing for a journalist, Allison’s professional practices would make even the most unscrupulous tabloid hack blush.
“The Irish News’ journalist hardly covered herself in glory when she interviewed Dolours Price at a time when Price was undergoing psychiatric care at a Dublin hospital. Allison refused the family’s request to end the interview because of Dolours’ medical condition.
“The family then spoke to Irish News management. When the newspaper reached an agreement with them – understandably excercising caution in how it treated the story and only printing parts of it – Allison took the tapes/story to her friend and former Andersonstown News colleague, Ciaran Barnes of the Sunday Life, who published an unrestrained account.“As both a journalist and a human being, this was hardly an example of ethical behaviour. Allison’s actions ended up setting in motion the whole Boston College saga which has seriously damaged source protection and oral history.“But the Irish News journalist learned no lesson from it all and has continued in her own inimitable bulldozing style.“After her journalistic practices previously drew criticism on The Pensive Quill, Allison went to the NUJ with a seemingly wholly made up claim that the criticism had placed her life in danger from dissident republicans.“She produced no proof of this whatsoever. Indeed, the claim was so baseless that it was laughable. While Allison was claiming grave threats to her life, anyone taking an even cursory glance at the Irish News could see she was in no danger.
“She was interviewing both grassroots and senior dissident republicans and she was on the ground covering dissident republican riots and protests. No-one was refusing to talk to her, let alone threatening her life. Allison’s actions led the NUJ to initially suspend Anthony McIntyre.”
We contend its entire content and tone fails to treat Ms Morris with consideration and respect and clearly threatens her livelihood and working conditions.
The Irish News can object to tone and content failing to treat Ms Morris with consideration and respect all it likes; the facts stand as they are, and it is noted that it not what is being objected to here.
Ms Morris hardly treated Ms Price or her family with consideration and respect when she gave the tape of her interview to her colleague, Mr Barnes.
Ms Morris did receive verbal abuse and threats from republicans while out covering stories.
That is a hazard of her job as a senior security correspondent. To claim this is a result of Mr McIntyre is stretching things and makes a mockery out of the very real threat reporters in the north face day in and day out.
Both Ms Morris and her editor have failed to produce any evidence to show that she has been put in danger as a result of anything that has appeared on Mr McIntyre’s blog.
She has also lost contacts as a consequence of his false claims – people were refusing to talk to her, contrary to his speculative claim - which obviously has an impact on her livelihood.
Mr McIntyre can no more force people to talk to Ms Morris than he can force them not to speak with her. Nor is it his responsibility or remit to facilitate Ms Morris’ work. Obviously, given her consistent work output, people are speaking to her. That is hardly speculation; one only need look regularly at the front page of the Irish News to see this. Whatever impact she imagines Mr McIntyre has had on her work appears to be negligible. Not only is she also branching out as a food critic, she recently appeared on the BBC’s Stormont Today, in addition to continuing her regular duties and output at the Irish News as their senior security correspondent. Additionally, it is apparent from this complaint and the legal threats issued to Mr McIntyre that Ms Morris enjoys the full support of her Editor and her colleagues which would indicate that her livelihood and working conditions are not under any threat whatsoever.
Ms Morris’s interview with Dolours Price
The allegations about her interview with republican icon Dolours Price can only be designed to drive a wedge between Ms Morris and her republican contacts.
Ms Morris’s handling of her interview with Dolours Price led directly to the subpoenaing of the Boston College archive. That is the heart of the issue, and that is what is important to Mr McIntyre. He has had to fight the subpoenas of the archive for over two years both legally and politically in order to protect the confidentiality of his interviewees – a case which the NUJ has supported as source protection is a vital issue for journalists. Mr McIntyre genuinely has no interest in Ms Morris’ republican contacts; he is only interested in getting to the truth of the matter of the issuance of the subpoenas of the oral history archive. Ms Morris’s handling of her interview with Dolours Price is the lynchpin.
Mr McIntyre at no stage contacted Ms Morris or the Irish News to establish the facts of the matter.
Again, Ms Morris and the Irish News are on record with their views. Presumably they are consistent. Ms Morris claims to hit the delete button when bloggers contact her. Mr McIntyre has relied on the information of Dolours Price and her family as to the events. The same claim has been made in sworn affidavits and was the subject of an online exchange between the editor of the Irish News and Ed Moloney.
These are that Dolours Price contacted the Irish News newsdesk to request an interview with the paper, which the newsdesk sent Ms Morris, as the main security reporter, to carry out.
We can supply witness statements to verify this.
This has never been an issue. It is what transpired after the interview that has always been at issue.
Neither Ms Morris not the Irish News has ever received a complaint from the late Dolours Price or her family about the article, nor was any claim submitted to the Press Complaints Commission.
It was never claimed that the Price family submitted anything to the PCC nor made any formal complaint; it is acknowledged that the Price family did contact the Irish News to object to the interview. If the Irish News position is now that no formal complaint was made, that is irrelevant, and does not absolve Ms Morris of handing her interview to Mr Barnes. Surely Mr Doran would not need a formal complaint or prodding from the PCC to do the right thing? Is that what the Irish News claim they are waiting for?
Ms Price subsequently participated in interviews with other outlets about this subject, which we contend illustrates her willingness to talk about the matter. Mr McIntyre has not singled out journalists from CBS, The Sunday Telegraph, or The Daily Mail for such scurrilous allegations.
The issue was never about Ms Price being interviewed; the issue is that Ms Morris, when her editor restricted her story due to objections from the Prices, and when she was under the impression Ms Price was going to be interviewed by Mr Ed Moloney, gave the tapes of her interview with Ms Price to Mr Barnes, who then published the full account from Ms Price in the Sunday Life. That action led directly to the issuance of the subpoenas of the Boston College oral history archives. The interviews referred to, CBS, The Sunday Telegraph, et al, took place long after the subpoenas were issued, and did not contribute to the undermining of confidentiality or source protection, no matter how unethical they may have been given Ms Price’s obvious mental state at the time.
Dolours Price made no claim to Mr McIntyre in respect of the above outlets. She claimed in respect of the Sunday Life that certain information contained in that publication had been revealed to only two people – Ms Morris and Mr McIntyre. She spoke to Ms Morris about these matters a matter of days prior to the Sunday Life publishing. The events of that week, not what CBS, The Sunday Telegraph, or The Daily Mail did, are what preceded the issuing of the subpoena aimed at seizing Mr McIntyre’s research at Boston College. This is a matter of court record.
Mr McIntyre is famous as an opponent of the Good Friday Agreement and as such his blog is read by dissident republicans, among others.
He is also well aware that loyalists both read and contribute to his blog and has links with a loyalist blog as detailed above.
We wish to point out that Ms Morris did not claim that her life had been under threat from dissident republicans. She has made it known – and has been verified by police and accepted by the NUJ - that she had been under death threat from loyalists.
And what has that to do with Mr McIntyre? Whatever threats she has been under have not been a result of anything published by Mr McIntyre. It is ludicrous for Ms Morris to suggest that the threats she faces has anything to do with Mr McIntyre. It can only be concluded that this is an attempt on Ms Morris’s part, as she has no real substantial grounds for her complaint, to emotionally manipulate in her bid to have Mr McIntyre censored.
That Ms Morris might be under threat is not in dispute. What is at issue is that she has presented no evidence to show that she is under threat as a result of anything that has featured on Mr McIntyre’s blog.
This was not a “baseless” or a “wholly made up claim”. The Irish News Chapel, which has supported her during this difficult time, do not find the threat to the life of one of our colleagues “laughable”.
Once again, the claim that Ms Morris faced physical harm as a result of Mr McGregor’s article on The Pensive Quill is indeed baseless, laughable, and wholly made up. The fact that Ms Morris faces threats during the course of her work from any number of quarters for any number of reasons is not at issue here and never was. What is at issue is what Ms Morris made an issue in her complaint to the NUJ, that she faced threats as a direct result of Mr McGregor’s article on The Pensive Quill. This is not true and never has been true.
We contend that as a former republican prisoner and opponent of the Good Friday Agreement, Mr McIntyre is also well aware that publishing an article which described Ms Morris as `The PSNI’s favourite journalist’ put her life in danger from paramilitary elements, both loyalist and republican.
This was already dealt with at the Appeals Tribunal which found that Mr McIntyre had no case to answer. If Ms Morris wants this addressed she should have skipped the Celtic match and went to London on the day instead. As she abandoned her complaint it is completely inappropriate for the Irish News to attempt to re-tread the same ground here. As stated at both previous NUJ hearings, Mr McIntyre harbours no belief that Ms Morris would pass information to the security forces.
A selection of choice phrases from this piece, which display absolutely no `consideration and respect’ to Ms Morris, include:
We contend that the NUJ membership responsibilities preclude publishing material describing any one, never mind another member, in such terms.
Mrs McIntyre is not a member of the NUJ and stands by every single word in that article; her only regret is that she didn’t say more. “Ms Morris and her bullshit complaints are a completely obnoxious nightmare of harassment issued by a deceitful woman who refuses to take responsibility for her actions, instead seeking to blame everyone else for her failings and silence anyone who questions her bad behaviour. These complaints and legal threats are an incomprehensible insult to people’s intelligence, and it is astounding that the NUJ is even giving them the time of day AGAIN. I am beyond outraged over this nonsense. I cannot believe we are still dealing with this crap – and you can quote me on that,” says Mrs McIntyre.
Mr McIntyre has no issues with publishing the views of Mrs McIntyre. The Irish News chapel needs to grow up. Recently the Independent featured an article in which the members of the House of Commons were referred to as ‘wankers.’ Bodies such as the NUJ and the House of Commons, as well as newspapers and journalists, should be robust enough for frank talk.
We wish to stress at this stage that Ms Morris has never engaged with the member or his wife, but has continued to do her job in a professional manner and conduct herself as befits an NUJ member.
Mrs McIntyre distinctly remembers engaging with Ms Morris during a break at the January NUJ hearing in Belfast, at which Ms Morris spent all day engaging with Mr McIntyre. Mrs McIntyre and Mr McIntyre’s solicitor, who was denied the right to represent Mr McIntyre at the Ethics Council hearing, spent the day in the corridor outside the hearing.
The Irish News also overlooks Ms Morris calling Mrs McIntyre ‘fatty’ on her Twitter account.
Censorship and Legal Threats
The chapel complaint relates to Ms Morris alone, she cannot bear responsibility for the conduct of others and does not because she does not act as a publisher in any way.
If Ms Morris wishes to speak at Amnesty International events and wax concerned about the threats to journalists one would imagine that the person she turned up with at the NIPPA awards (pictured together in the Ulster Tatler) would not have been spared her wrath. This irony did not escape Paul Campbell.
Further, it is clearly `detrimental to the interests of the union’ for Mr McIntyre to describe the Ethics Council of the NUJ in such terms.
How Mr McIntyre views the Ethics Council is not the subject of the complaint. Does the Irish News chapel now wish Mr McIntyre investigated for thought crime?
‘it should again be noted that neither Ms Morris nor the chapel has written anything about Mr McIntyre or Carrie Twomey ...
Just ‘fatty’ and falsehoods on Letters Blogatory.
The chapel supports Ms Morris as our member is merely trying to protect herself from continued libels and abuse and preserve her reputation.
There is no proven libel. Ms Morris is only trying to use the NUJ and threats of legal action to silence any criticism of her. “Frankly, she should man up,” says Mrs McIntyre.
Ms Morris’s reputation will be judged on merit which will be shaped by alternative views of her behaviour. People should be free to talk to her. They should also be free to read a different opinion of her than the one presented by the Irish News chapel. No one should be free to threaten violence against her. Mr McIntyre, whatever his differences with Ms Morris, will never condone any threat towards her. He is adamant that she must be protected from violence but not from an adverse opinion. He is also adamant that neither she nor the Irish News can use the alleged threat of violence as a means to silence voices it does not approve.
She is not and has not been following `a malicious agenda’ or engaging in `unethical journalistic practice’. These are baseless accusations and it should again be noted that neither Ms Morris nor the chapel has written anything about Mr McIntyre or Carrie Twomey to prompt such personal abuse.
She has twice used her editor to issue legal threats on her behalf, with the most recent threat resulting in a letter of action from Johnsons Solicitors, and she has now twice had vexatious complaints filed with the NUJ against Mr McIntyre, all the while Mr McIntyre has been fighting the subpoenas that arose as a result of Ms Morris’s actions. Ms Morris is not an innocent bystander.
To make such claims about a journalist is clearly intended to do damage to her reputation and threaten her livelihood and working conditions by making people reluctant to talk to her or threaten violence towards her.
No, the intention is to express the outrage felt at the actions of Ms Morris and the impact those actions have had on the lives of Mrs McIntyre and her children.
The chapel contends that the line about `an ethics based approach’ is another blatant attack on Ms Morris’s integrity, as is calling her a `chancer’.
Ms Morris was ‘chancing’ her arm on Letters Blogatory.
Again, to claim that `Allison Morris will become a byword for censorship’ is another attack on her journalistic integrity, which threatens her livelihood. She has a right to complain about libellous remarks directed at her.
Mr McIntyre firmly believes that Ms Morris is seeking to censor him. He has argued this from the outset. Libel is something courts decide, not the Irish News chapel.
Regarding the suggestion that “All either Barnes or Morris, or indeed anyone who has a problem or concern with The Pensive Quill, need do is contact Anthony to discuss it – as was shown when Kevin Cooper initially contacted him over a year ago about Allison’s concerns.”
The Irish News contacted Mr McIntyre to express its concerns about the earlier libel on Ms Morris.
There was no libel against Ms Morris. Her claim that Mr McIntyre behaved unethically was rejected by the NUJ Appeals Tribunal. The Irish News contacted Mr McIntyre for the purpose of trying the heavy hand with reference to legal action.
Mr McIntyre was extremely reluctant to remove the offending article and took quite some time to do so – even after the original host site had removed it. It was the Irish News Chapel who contacted the branch which triggered the involvement of Mr Cooper and Mr McIntyre has indicated in correspondence that the removal of the offending article was being done with extremely bad grace.
As was stated by a member of the Appeals Tribunal, this type of charge amounted to nothing other than Mr McIntyre not thinking the way Ms Morris thinks he should think. The original host site removed it under pain of a legal threat from a censor lawyer acting on behalf of Ms Morris, not because the author thought it wrong or defamatory.
In an email sent to Irish News editor Noel Doran on May 29, 2012, which Mr McIntyre has published on his own website’s `wiki dump’, he wrote:
All of this was dealt with and thrown out by the NUJ Appeals Tribunal.“Given his financial situation, Mark is in no position to engage in a protacted legal battle. He has removed the piece from his website due to the threat of legal action from your representatives, and he has requested that we also remove his article. As such, we have obliged Mark by removing his article from the blog, and we trust that should resolve your concerns.
“However, we do so in reliance upon your undertaking not to wax triumphal by publishing the removal of the article from our site in the pages of the Irish News, or causing that fact to be published anywhere else. If that happens, we will be compelled to defend robustly our original publication, which would only serve to defeat the object of your threat of legal proceedings.”
It is factually inaccurate to claim that “no attempt at conciliation whatsoever was made before going for the nuclear option”.
We are happy to provide witness statements confirming that both parties were left together for an hour-long discussion between Allison and Mr McIntyre on the day of the hearing in Belfast, during which she repeatedly asked him to publicise on his website Ed Moloney’s affidavit re his March 2010 interview of Dolours Price, an interview conducted around the same time as Allison had interviewed Dolours Price. Mr McIntyre absolutely refused to publicise this affidavit.
Which precisely proves the point: The first, and only, attempt at conciliation should not have happened some four hours into an Ethics Council hearing! The hearing was the nuclear option: instead of attempting to mediate, the Ethics Council decided that, without even informing Mr McIntyre or seeking his opinion on the matter, the complaints of Mr Barnes and Ms Morris should be conflated, and should proceed straight to a hearing.
Secondly, Ms Morris is being economical with the truth: it was demanded that Mr McIntyre remove an article by Mr Moloney, replace it with his affidavit, and close it to comments. It was also demanded the affidavit be published with comments closed in contrary to how all articles on The Pensive Quill are published. It was not that Mr McIntyre refused to publish Mr Moloney’s affidavit – Mr McIntyre has re-published a range of Mr Moloney’s material – it was the conditions being demanded that Mr McIntyre objected to.
Mr McIntyre recollects that he, Ms Morris and Mr Barnes spoke for 20 minutes in private, not an hour, not that this is significant. Mr McIntyre’s solicitor and wife will confirm this upon request.
Mr McIntyre did not refuse to publish the affidavit. It was already in the public domain. Ms Morris wanted the affidavit published in place of an article already on Mr McIntyre’s blog by Ed Moloney. She wanted Ed Moloney’s original piece pulled.
Mr McIntyre was also asked not to allow any comments to appear in response to the affidavit or associated article from Mr Barnes that might be carried on Mr McIntyre’s blog. Mr McIntyre cannot confirm if Ms Morris, Mr Barnes or both requested no comments.
Mr McIntyre is more than happy to carry the Moloney Affidavit but not as a replacement for Mr Moloney’s original piece. Comments will be permitted. Ms Morris has always been free to submit Mr Moloney’s affidavit to the blog herself accompanied by a standfirst from her. She has yet to do so.
Additionally, this is yet another attempt by the Irish News chapel to re-try Ms Morris’s original and failed complaint.
Mr Moloney’s interview with Dolours Price was not published
We believe this is because it would fatally undermine the claimed justification of Mr McIntyre’s vociferous condemnation of Ms Morris for interviewing Dolours Price in the full knowledge that his friend and colleague Mr Moloney also interviewed her shortly afterwards.
What Ms Morris doesn’t seem to grasp about the significance of Mr Moloney’s interview with Dolours Price is that he didn’t publish it. His interview with Ms Price was never intended to be published while she was living, and it was presumed at the time she would be living for a very long time. Mr Moloney’s interview with Ms Price was done as a result of Ms Morris’s, in order to give Ms Price a safe outlet to speak to that would not damage her as it would not be published until well after her death, if ever. Mr Moloney’s affidavit, helpfully supplied by the Irish News chapel, affirms this (emphasis added):
ED MOLONEY’S AFFIDAVIT:
Case 1:11-mc-91078-RGS Document 5-5 Filed 06/07/11 Page 11 of 16
- 12 -35. In or around March 2010, I re-interviewed Dolours Price, giving her, orally, the same assurances of confidentiality that had applied to her earlier interviews with Anthony McIntyre, and telling her that the interviews would be stored at Boston College under the same terms of confidentiality that had applied to those earlier interviews. I always understood that additional material could be added to interviewees’ files and that they would also be covered by the original confidentiality agreements. I then passed these interview materials to Robert O’Neill at the Burns Library, with instructions to lodge them in her file. He accepted the materials. Signed under the pains and penalties of perjury. Dated: June 2, 2011 /s/ Ed Moloney Ed Moloney
Case 1:11-mc-91078-RGS Document 5-5 Filed 06/07/11 Page 12 of 16
The terms of confidentiality referred to are that the material was never to be published while the interviewee was alive, without express written permission from the interviewee:
“Access to the tapes and transcripts shall be restricted until after my death except in those cases where I have provided prior written approval for their use following consultation with The Burns Librarian. Due to the sensitivity of the content, the ultimate power of release shall rest with me.”Ms Morris believed that Dolours Price withdrew consent for her interview because Mr Moloney was going to interview her. Ms Morris expressed this belief to Mrs McIntyre at the NUJ hearing in January, in the corridor in front of the elevators, in the presence of Mr McIntyre, his solicitor, and Mr Barnes. This belief, combined with the restrictions laid by her editor after contact with the Price family, led Ms Morris to give her interview to her colleague Mr Barnes, in order to evade her editor’s constraints and scoop what she believed would be Mr Moloney’s story, which she viewed as hers. The problem for Ms Morris is that Mr Moloney interviewed Ms Price in order to protect her, and never intended to publish his interview.
– Hughes Agreement
We again point out that Ms Morris has not written anything about the other member, Mr McIntyre.
Read Ms Morris on Letters Blogatory. The falsehood written there by Ms Morris has been the catalyst for the critique of Ms Morris.
It has been made clear to Mr McIntyre that his version of events is incorrect and he has no proof for his claims, yet he continues to denigrate Allison’s working practices and those of The Irish News, which has more than 80 per cent union membership.
What relevance does the Irish News chapel union membership have to this complaint? That smacks of a blatant appeal to numerical supremacy: as Mr McIntyre is only one member of the union, should his position and viewpoint be given less consideration?
“I no more have to respect Allison Morris than she has to respect me. Unlike the supine NUJ chapel at the Irish News, I don’t happen to think that is some sort of journalistic crime for which a member of the union should be sanctioned. Then again my views on ethics and those of the people at the Irish News would seem to be radically different and now seem to clash frequently enough. While I have a consistent ‘put up with’ attitude to its views they seem to take a ‘shut up’ response to mine. Not a very rewarding experience trying to shut me up.”
Contrary to Mr McIntyre’s stated position, the NUJ rulebook states that `members are expected to treat other members of the union and union staff, with consideration and respect…’
This does not mean NUJ members are above critical examination, nor was it ever intended to be used as a method for journalists and reporters to escape criticism, as the Irish News chapel is attempting here on behalf of Ms Morris. It is an insult to journalists everywhere to think that the NUJ exists as a medium to protect them from critical examination and opinion.
It is also contrary to the principle of a free press, and in violation of the first rule of the NUJ’s own Code of Conduct, which apparently bears repeating: A journalist at all times upholds and defends the principle of media freedom, the right of freedom of expression and the right of the public to be informed.
We wish to draw the NUJ’s attention to this message on Mr McIntyre’s own site:
• Libelous comments will not be published. Do not abuse the Anonymous facility or your posts will no longer be published
The chapel contends that this message, along with Mr McIntyre’s long membership of the NUJ, including a stint on the Ethics Council, shows that the member is fully aware of his responsibilities and is not merely mistakenly writing and publishing what can perhaps best be described as bile. Indeed he is doing this in full awareness of what is expected from those who enjoy the privileges that come with membership of the NUJ.
In conclusion, much of the content in his series of articles about Allison Morris and The Irish News is in breach of the NUJ’s membership responsibilities and detrimental to the interests of the union and the profession of journalism.
The substance of this complaint has already been dealt with, and thrown out by, the NUJ Appeals Tribunal and should not be re-tried at Branch level.
As is obvious by the use of language in this submission by the Irish News chapel, and by the letter of action sent by Johnsons Solicitors on behalf of Allison Morris, the issue in question is sub judice. The NUJ, whether it is the Belfast and District Branch, Ethics Council, or NEC, cannot do anything about this complaint while the threat of legal proceedings is concurrent.
The NUJ cannot make any determination or judgement regarding the alleged libellous or defamatory nature of Mr. McIntyre’s blog. Furthermore, the NUJ cannot just accept at face value the Irish News Chapel’s or Ms. Morris’s allegations that Mr. McIntyre’s blog is defamatory in the absence of a High Court decision.
To be clear:
- Ms. Morris claims legal proceedings are involved – it has not been established if they are ongoing, or if they have ended, or whether the complainants intend to commence proceedings at a later point before the statute of limitations runs out;
- It is inappropriate for the NUJ to be used as a vehicle to make a ruling on whether or not content from Mr. McIntyre’s blog is defamatory, when legal proceedings have been threatened;
- The Respondent finds it offensive that the Complainant and Ms. Morris allege unethical behaviour, while simultaneously seeking to restrict free speech contrary to Rule 1 of the Code of Conduct which states that a journalist “At all times upholds and defends the principle of media freedom, the right of freedom of expression and the right of the public to be informed.”
ATTACHMENTS: Additional MaterialNoel Doran article on Letters Blogatory
Noel Doran Correspondence with Ed Moloney, The Broken Elbow
Previously: Response to the initial complaint lodged by the Irish News chapel
See also: NUJ Wiki-Dump
See also: NUJ Wiki-Dump