Terrible reporting by the BBC on the National Bullying Helpline

Just seen the lunchtime news report from the Beeb about the latest in the bullying allegations against Gordon Brown, and the intervention from a bullying charity that has massively breached confidentiality of the people who turned to it, to the extent that a patron has now resigned.

It was a shoddy piece of journalism, primarily because at no point did they explain the many links to the Conservative Party the National Bullying Helpline has.

At one point the presenter even said ‘And why did Mandelson say it was politically motivated?’ and still they didn’t even mention the links. Was it that they hadn’t even bothered to check (Nick Robinson has mentioned them on his blog)? Or that they only decided to refer to one of the allegations (That Conservative press managers are ‘guiding’ the press to the NBH) and ignore the others?

Adam Bienkov aka The Tory Troll, has a superb list of the links, which you can read here. On Lord Toby Harris’ blog a commentator also points out that the NBH base is next door to the local Conservative association, and this morning the local MP (Labour), has revealed they pulled out of their support for the charity after allegations that the charity was used as a front to drum up business for an anti-bullying business run by the husband of Mrs Pratt, the person who has come out into the public about the allegations.

I’ve also posted the list below:

  • A personal endorsement from Conservative leader David Cameron
  • One of their patrons is Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe
  • Another patron is Boris Johnson’s Chair of the London Health Authority, Conservative Cllr Mary O’Connor
  • They have close ties to Conservative controlled Swindon borough Council.

There are also a bunch of other issues with the ‘charity’ that Adam has discovered:

  • They are 206 days overdue on registering their accounts.
  • They have registered just £852 pounds in expenditure since they were established.
  • The Charity’s website was registered by a "bullying business" selling bullying investigations
  • The Charity has referred people who call them to this business
  • This business is actually owned by the people behind the charity
  • That serious questions have already been asked about this

For what it’s worth I don’t think that Tory HQ are actively involved in this, even if on some level some Tory sympathisers and maybe even members are involved. I think it’s a cheek for Cameron to call for an investigation given that his senior adviser Steve Hilton was editor of the News of the World when bullying there was endemic, and Cameron knows this and dismisses it saying everybody deserves a second chance.

However, I have to admit to a sinking feeling that there is no smoke without fire and I simply am not in a position to say categorically that nothing Rawnsley is saying in his new book is untrue. Sure, as Labourlist have pointed out he’s gotten various things wrong before in his previous books, but most if not all of the anecdotes that are being bandied around at the moment all seem to relate to the first year of Brown’s time as PM, which also coincides with his worst personal period as a politician. It is well possible that he started to lose control of himself at times during this period, and has since reclaimed that control as he has secured his position at PM. There are a bunch of wider questions this raises which I don’t have the time really to go into, but I suppose it’s up to the public to judge. I find some of the anecdotes very hard to believe, and others seem like a kernel of truth has been wrapped up by those with a vendetta against Brown, which lets face it would be a fair few people after he has spent such a long time at the top of the political game.

Basically I hope against hope that it isn’t true, but I can’t hand on heart say that in this case there is smoke and no fire.

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