Friday, June 1, 2012

A Tabloid Fiasco

I was upstairs, steam ironing at work, when a shout came up the stairwell for me to pop down to the shop floor. It took no time at all to spot the two screws lurking at the checkout. My first instinct was to scan their hands - if this was a bad situation then clocking a pair of dangling handcuffs would nail it.

No cuffs. But "we have to take you back to the prison, the Governor wants to see you". I pondered all of my possible misdeeds but damned if I could think of anything that could warrant being lifted in such a way.

It turned out that I had done bugger all. The Daily Star had lifted a piece from the blog and in their malign way twisted it nicely to have a pop at me. Ho bloody hum, I thought, lazy journalism was hardly my fault.

Having persuaded the security governor that I hadn't prompted the story, and that the picture they used was blatantly stolen from Inside Time (where does Levenson stand on such outright copyright violation?), the discussion then moved on to the legality of my blogging at all.

Haven't we been down this path often enough in the past? Until the matter was resolved, my Licence to leave the nick was "suspended". Or, as the files show, I had actually been Grounded. It took me hours to trawl through dozens of box files of papers to find the original paperwork generated from the battle in 2009, revealing that the Ministry of Justice and prison service had surrendered and accepted that my blogging was legal and unstoppable. It was fortunate that I did find them, or my home leave would have vanished and my progress to release scuppered.

Such is the casual nature of malign journalism. And such is the nature of Governors that they react with such a spasm at such a petty little story.


  1. So in 1997 Howard was grilled by Paxman over political interference in the day to day operation of the prison service. In 2012 the prison service are still scared of the same interference.

  2. Authority hates being wrong - it undermines their authority, of course. They need some way in which they are right - which is to say, some way they get to lay the slap on you. They will find it, if only by blunt force trauma showing they are still the au-thora-tay/guys who put the slap out, not the guys who take the slap!

    When dealing with such dinosaurs, it's probably best to direct their slap to something your relatively okay with happening. So as to appease their dominant male needs (which shows how weak they are on the inside, of course), without it screwing over what really matters to you.

    Actually that advice goes well for outside prisons as well! >:) And make a photocopy of that document, for goodness sake!

  3. I second Callan S. - get some back up copies of that paperwork tucked away where they can't be 'lost'!

  4. I’m finding it hard to ignore the sinister undertones of this story.

    I’m also finding it hard to believe, that it was *really* necessary to drag Ben out of his place of work (on the strength of a Daily Star ‘story’) - as opposed to just waiting for him to return to the nick as normal.

    If *anyone* involved had a smattering of interest in Bens progression, I believe this sorry saga could/would have been handled more sensibly/sympathetically.

    More significantly, I find it hard to believe that the security governor/department wasn’t aware of (or at least, have to hand on file!) the 'legal status' concerning the blog and its author,*before* he was allowed out to work for the *first* time.

    But for the evidence held by Ben, his situation would have changed dramatically for the worse.

  5. No one should take any notice of the Daily Star. A friend of mine was in Bronzefield,a few years ago. My friend was looking after the birds in the avery. Another con came to the area and asked which was the budgie belonging to Rose West, coz she wanted to kill it. My Friend told her to clear off,as she wasn't going to kill anything. Few days later, the daily star reports that my frind has become Rose Wests body-guard. When the truth was she has only seen her once, and they hadn't ever spoken. People say oh tomorrow it will be chip wraping, but i knw form experiance that it's not nice when it is happening to you.


    I notice a stock picture now resides there despite the caption referring to a picture of Ben, hohum...

  7. I agree with Darby, surely the security governor must have known about Ben's blogging, not knowing something that is so open is very worrying and a sign of incompetency.

    PS what is a security governor?

  8. Rehabilitation - this sounds ridiculous. Why could the matter not have been dealt with when Ben returned to the prison - as he surely would? It is an absolute disgrace to have sent two officers to pick him up - no doubt costing the tax payer extra money. If they really wanted him back they could have phoned - I am certain that Ben would have returned of his own accord. What an example to show - and how distressing not only for Ben but for the staff and volunteers at the shop too.

    Reminds me of when the police wanted to talk to a member of our family with Asperger's syndrome (Gary McKinnon similar) - 5 of them arrived at 6.30 in the morning, waking us all up and frightening all of us - let alone the person they wanted. If one officer had asked us we would have taken him to the police station for them - no expense and no frightening behaviour. One of us - five of them!! Say no more.

    Ben, do as advised above and make copies that are away from the prison.

    Keep strong.

  9. Perhaps the Daily Star can do a follow up? Prison Governor knee-jerks to piddling little story in the Daily Star!

    Same jail probably a different governor, revoked my licence for speaking to the media whilst on ROTL. A quick phone call to the then DG of NOMS, Phil Wheatley, who phoned the governor to point out that the case I had just won in court meant I could speak to the media. ROTL reinstated pdq!

  10. Knowing from first hand experience of how the evil hand of dodgy handshakers works, the charity work they do, is just a cover story, by the way!
    I would suggest, that what you experienced, was a typical purposeful agenda, to scupper your realease?
    You, are a prize to them, Ben! Stopping your release, would be their master stroke, but for them, time is running out, very fast indeed! So, never lose sight of your plan, and never let them get in front. It could of been a twatter, in the Prison Service, or higher, that gave a nod to the Daily Star, mark my words!

  11. Funny that all of my licences forbid me from having any dealings with the media . Illegal as hell, but there in print nonetheless. Ben.