Dr Ghulam Ashraf's Blog


Archive for phone hacking

Anti-Jihad Adverts To Run In New York Subway

The controversial leader of the group behind the adverts says she believes that America is at risk from some Muslims.New York subway station generic
The adverts are due to appear next week

The head of a group that has won its fight to run controversial adverts in New York subway stations referring to some Muslims as “savage” has told Sky News that she will fight “to the death” for the right to offend people.

Pamela Geller runs the American Freedom Defence Initiative (AFDI), which has taken out ads that read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

The posters are due to appear in 10 New York City subway stations next week.

They were initially rejected by the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) because of the use of demeaning language.

But in July a Manhattan court judge ruled this was a violation of the first amendment rights of the AFDI and they should be allowed to run.

Ms Geller told Sky News that she was unconcerned the adverts might make the subway network a target for violence.

She said: “Were there similar ads on the London buses and trains on 7/7? You know there weren’t.

“I will not abridge my freedoms so as not to offend savages.

“I won’t take responsibility for other people being violent.

“I live in America and in America we have the first amendment.”

Ms Geller, who is a prominent supporter of Israel, stressed that she was not referring to all Muslims as savages, only those who engaged in what she characterises as “Jihad”.

She believes that America is under threat from some Muslims who wish to impose Sharia law on the country, and her group has launched similar campaigns before.

The release of the adverts coincides with widespread anger in parts of the Middle East over an anti-Muslim film made in the US and released on the internet.

Next week heads of state from all over the world will be converging on the city amid heightened security for the UN General Assembly.

The Washington DC MTA has deferred the placement of the controversial ads “out of concern for public safety, given current world events”.

But New York MTA Transportation spokesman Aaron Donovan said: “Our hands are tied.”

There had been some suggestions that the city’s transit body was trying to find a way to stop the adverts appearing.

However, another spokesperson for the MTA told Sky News it appeared the ads are definitely going ahead, although he was unable to say on which day, and at which subway stations.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations, told Sky News: “Our basic position is that the first amendment means that everyone is free to be a bigot or even an idiot like Pamela Geller.

“We wish she wasn’t provoking and inciting hatred, but in America that’s her right.

“We encourage Muslims to exercise the same right to publicly denounce such adverts.

“The real danger is the spread of hatred in our society, which can lead to attacks on innocent people.”

Source: Sky News


Met police are warned against ‘cosy relationships’ with press

Report in wake of phone hacking scandal says contact between officers and journalists has ‘not been transparent enough’

A too-close relationship between senior Metropolitan police officers and sections of the media compromises the ability of both to investigate each other, an independent report in the wake of phone hacking has concluded.

Speculation that “cosy relationships involving excessive hospitality between some senior police officers and News of the World journalists” had undermined the police inquiry into hacking and “damaged trust in the impartiality of the police”, it said.

The report, by former parliamentary commissioner Elizabeth Filkin, called for tighter controls over how the Metropolitan Police service deals with journalists to prevent erosion of trust in police not just among the public, but among police ranks.

Filkin, appointed in the wake of the Milly Dowler phone-hacking revelations in July 2011, said the most serious problem was that “that the close relationship between some senior members of the Met and some sections of the media compromises the capacity of both those institutions to scrutinise the activities of the other”.

Lack of transparency about the nature of the relationship between police and media also led to speculation and perceptions, whatever the facts, that caused “serious harm”.

The report quotes Adrian Lee, Northants chief constable and the Association of Chief Police Officer’s lead on professional ethics, saying: “If you ask yourself the question, not just ‘Are we right?’ but ‘Are we seen to be right?’ then we failed the test on the News International scenario.

“In terms of being close to News International, we were investigating them. The perception is that the investigation is linked to our good relationship. We haven’t done enough to give the public confidence that the two things aren’t linked.”

Contact between the MPS and the media had “not been transparent enough”, which had led to “a lack of trust internally” the report said.

There was also “lack of consistency” in how some of the MPS senior team viewed gifts and hospitality. MPS deputy assistant commissioner Mark Simmons told Filkin the perception in the lower ranks was “that the bosses are filling their boots”.

Welcoming the report, titled Ethical Issues Arising from the Relationship Between Police and Media, Met commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe pledged an “open and transparent” relationship with media.

“There should be no more secret conversations,” he said. “There should be no more improper contact. By that, what I mean is that which is of a selfish rather than public interest.

“Meetings will no longer be enhanced by hospitality and alcohol. That doesn’t mean to say there will never be an occasion when we take hospitality with journalists. But on the whole we wouldn’t expect to see it.”

The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards will investigate any unauthorised disclosure of information, he said. “Anyone found to have improperly shared information will be subject to misconduct and/or criminal proceedings. We need to be open about our contact with the media.”

Other salient points in the report included:

• A “change of culture” was needed at the MPS, and Filkin recommends that two new senior positions be created – that of public information, and integrity and ethics champions.

• In guidance to police officers, Filkin warns of the danger of flirting and drinking with journalists. Drinking with officers “may be seen as inappropriate hospitality,” her report said. “Mixing the media with alcohol is not banned, but should be an uncommon event. She urges officers to watch out for “late-night carousing, long sessions, yet another bottle of wine at lunch – they are all longstanding media tactics to get you to spill the beans. Avoid”.

• The perception that the MPS leaks information to the media is ” prevalent and damaging”, she said. In a bid to tighten up unauthorised leaks, officers should make a personal record of any information they pass to journalists, with those records open to a random audit. If leaks did not lead to criminal proceedings, then “robust” management action was required.

The report advocated more communication, not less, with the media, but in a controlled way. There was a “range of contact that is ‘not permitted’ and which, if unregulated, will continue to cause damage to the MPS and the public”, she said.

“The events of July 2011 [when the Guardian reported that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked by the News of the World] have demonstrated that vigorous and fearless responsible journalism is vital for public interest.

“In my view the MPS needs to be more open and active in responding to responsible requests for information to improve its accountability to the public. The MPS should never be in the business of providing information or stories to reduce scrutiny.”

Filkin was called in by former Met commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson to conduct the inquiry. He resigned in July amid allegations about the force’s PR contract with Neil Wallis, the former deputy editor of the News of the World, who was later arrested on suspicion of phone hacking.

Issues arising from the Guardian’s July revelations had so far cost the MPS more than £3m in cost of subsequent inquiries, the loss of senior staff and other unforeseen consequences, said the report.

Source: Guardian News