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Whittingdale : How Fleet Street bosses buried a scandal and got their man into Cameron's cabinet

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James CusickLondon, UK
Whittingdale : How Fleet Street bosses buried a scandal and got their man into Cameron's cabinet
The full inside account of the story everyone wants to read, but no one wants to write.

IS JOHN WHITTINGDALE fit to be Britain’s Culture Secretary? Is there any critical information that should have made David Cameron think twice before bringing him into the cabinet? Should he be making key decisions that affect the future of the BBC and the national press?

Four national newspaper groups hold the answers to these questions. Yet no one has published anything and each have their reasons for wanting to keep Mr Whittingdale exactly where he is.

James Cusick, the former political correspondent of The Independent, spent five months uncovering Fleet Street’s latest dark secret. But rather than expose an effective cartel, The Independent joined it, and backed off from publishing.

On Sunday Lunchtime, Byline intends to publish James Cusick’s full inside account of what is already being called “The story everyone wants to read, but no one wants to write.”

James is asking for £3000 to cover the costs of investigating the scandal and the cover up, as well as any associated legal costs.

#whittingdale, #cameron, #conservatives, #cover up, #the independent



4 years ago

The editor of the Press Gazette has penned a piece contrasting the Whittingdale & "married entertainer whose name must not be mentioned" cases.

Regarding the non-appearance of the Whittingdale tale in the rags, Dominic Ponsford writes:

"But I don't believe there is a conspiracy afoot here... ... Fleet Street insiders I have spoken to have justified not running the Whittingdale story because:

- He is not married
- He does not appear to have broken the law
- He has not portrayed a false image
- He is not a figure who is high profile enough to ring many bells with readers
- The relationship apparently finished in any case before he became a Cabinet Minister (he was chair of the Commons culture select committee at the time)."

Worth a read while we await the promised Byline artice:

Nick Waters

4 years ago

Press Gazette missed out:

- He is extremely helpful to the anti-Leveson, anti-BBC agenda of Murdoch, Dacre and the Barclay Brothers.


4 years ago

"James Cusick, the former political correspondent of The Independent [until the end of March 2016], spent five months uncovering Fleet Street’s latest dark secret. But rather than expose an effective cartel, The Independent joined it, and backed off from publishing [in October 2015 according to the Byline 'sexposure' penned by Nick Mutch]."

I'll be interested to read how Cusick wrestled valiantly with his conscience for six months, all the while accepting the Independent's pay-cheques for his work, until finally reaching the brave decision to blow the whistle (a few days after being given the boot as the print-edition folded).

I'm sure he'll be keen to dispel any niggling doubts that grudges being settled are being cloaked as journalistic heroism.


4 years ago

Peter, I haven't suggested the writer shouldn't be paid - I'm generally in favour of people being recompensed for their work! I merely pointed out that he must have already BEEN paid for those five months spent on the story; the three grand being solicited - and it looks as though the target will be reached - is therefore for whatever he has come up with in the short time since he left the employ of The Independent - or else we'd be in 'double-dipping' territory! I look forward to reading it.

As hinted at I'm not in a position to contribute financially even were I wanting to; this story, due to its grubby gestation, is not one that would have had me reaching for my wallet... which may be a shame, as the ALLEGED wrongdoing - relating to the corruption of the press, and of which I've yet to see any proof, only innuendo - is right up my street. (I'm a 'fan' of crowdfunding in general, whenever it is ethical, by the way.)

However, there ARE other ways of contributing, you know! In fact, I already have done so by suggesting that Cusick needs to dispel any hint of being a scorned man out for revenge. (I'd have thought a journo being alerted to likely criticism of an article PRIOR to publication might have been welcome in these editor-free days.)

Here, have another 'contribution', why don't you? The commenting-system here makes it difficult to follow a thread; perhaps any future update will take care of this anomaly?

Finally, the question of the article being 'spiked'.
There is a problem here, and it is this: the source of the sleazy 'dominatrix' tittle-tattle, a "known prostitute" (as one of your Byline-brethren is rather too fond of calling a hooker!) has been trying unsuccessfully to flog this tale to Fleet Street for well over two years.
In fact, the claim is that this story was 'spiked' (the press were silenced!!!) long before Whittingdale even BECAME Secretary of State (in May 2015) and it logically follows that whatever it was that caused it to be 'spiked' back in 2014 might be exactly what caused it be 'spiked' well over a year later (by which time Whittingdale DID exercise influence/control over the press).

This obviously doesn't help the story being pushed by Byline, so you'll have to convince us that the two 'spikings' which took place were for two different reasons. That is, if your story is to 'succeed'. I'll be reading...

andrew smith

4 years ago

Oh dear, Bandini. I'm sure you must be a better, more thoughtful person than it would appear from these posts. This kind of journalism is difficult and time consuming. It should be supported, not sniped at - certainly until it is published.

Peter Jukes

4 years ago


The story was spiked by the Indy in interesting circumstances - so it's a new story requiring a lot more work. Why shouldn't Jim be paid? Very bizarre reasoning. But shalom. No one's forcing you to contribute (though no doubt you'll read and comment regardless). Others seem more keen to pay journalists so all is well


4 years ago

Peter, I understood from the blurb above that those five months of work were carried out while an employee of The Independent, leading me to assume - wrongly, perhaps - that he will have been paid by the entity that "backed off from publishing [it]". Surely they didn't back off from paying his salary too?

Maybe he HAS "taken a financial hit"; if so he'd do well to include details of it in the upcoming article. As it stands, and based on the timeline of events, it's hard to see how it's not going to look like sour-grapes on his part (regardless of whether or not the underlying story - already buried in tabloidesque rubbish about sex - is deserving of wider attention) .

If he'd taken that "hit" in October his upcoming piece would have carried more clout. As you yourself are so well informed you'll know this to be a truth, albeit an inconvenient one.

P.S. While I'm here, is there any chance you could have a word with David Hencke over the dreadful pickle he's found himself in over the Claire McAlpine/BBC story? I did try straightening him out but he stubbornly stuck to his libellous take on things. Your version - the one you copied & pasted complete with misspelt name in your anti-Murdoch book - was of course far closer to the truth than his anti-BBC version... although neither made much of a case for journalists being paid! Cheers.

P.S. I have no finances to be hit. Bah!

Peter Jukes

4 years ago

Nice line in shooting the messenger, Bandina. He worked for five months on this story? Should journalists not be paid?

The Independent, as you may know since you're so well informed, has instituted a series of enhanced redundancy payments complete with extraordinary prolonged gagging orders.

Maybe he has taken a financial hit for the sake of public service journalism? A concept which may be entirely alien to those who practice anonymous personal hit jobs


4 years ago

Good luck. Can't wait for Sunday!

jason fraser

4 years ago

overstating expenses. Duck hutches and the like. Cons involving second homes and family members. Plasma TV's. Mortgage swerves. Clocking in and out of the Lords for their per diems. Even a fifth of what the Telegraph revealed a few years back has to be more scintillating than a man whose attendance at the H of Commons is above average (Hansard) and who actually holds surgeries regularly unlike some ministers who hold 3 or 4 (yes three or four) per year. here's an exclusive, the Rt Hon John Wittingdale went to see Deep Purple last year. In Campden. Perhaps in 2014. But he did. Much more fetching than going to a Dire Straits concert, non?
Get stuck in to Ken Livingstone and Addison Lee. His wife particularly.
Or bring back the involvement of Harman etc and PIE. A disgrace.
Thornberry...Or a kind piece about that most decent of politicians Douglas Hurd, currently in a nursing home. Or the fact that Zac Goldsmith was by a million miles the biggest politician donor to the tories in 2014. Tens of thousands. Totally his perogative. Whilst Marco Pierre White donated some 10k. Err why? OBE, MBE, etc aspirations. Perhaps he's just an ardent Tory supporter....
All this off the frontal lobe in 5 minutes.
4 exclusives. all free. Im sure as hell not going to chuck 3k into James `Cusicks fund for more Whittingdale piffle. Honestly, who has ever posted 3/4 exclusives on your site for free recently?
Oh yeah, Paul OGrady donated 20k to the Conservative Party.
Im told he is a thoroughly decent man. Im with him on his love of animals
I happen to know that he donates vast amounts to animal charities. Truly huge quantums.
The above stories I could have sold to the nationals for maybe a total of 4 or 5 k. I donate them to you for free. And I don't hide that I am the source. For pity sake dont become a higher brow popbitch! 3k expenses to scratch around on Whittingdale? With over 1000 front pages to my name, literally, unless I was abroad I NEVER spent 3k on a splash. Unless he is using it to pay a contact...hmmmm. RIPA, a useful statute aside, there does come a point when a subject can claim !st Instance harassment. Simply served, it leaves you with a fine and criminal record. Its authorised by a duty Inspector. Evdence of the harrassment is not set at a high level. Persistent phone calls. Staking out an address and being reported by neighbours more than 3 times. Thats about it. And bingo you have a criminal record and your holiday to Florida gets cancelled. The US doesnt like it.( No, I have never got one. In fact I dont even have a point on my driving licence. Never been arrested charged whatever. I have a deep seated paranoia of ever getting a record. Im talking a profound fear of being 'known' as they say in the police. Irony is I was hacked by the N.O.W but settled without bringing charges. So...I got the smallest payout! THE smallest. Plus Ça Change. Just remembered I went to the Lycée. Sorry. It prob sounds poncey.
Well, all yours Byline. I now turn to the heart wrenching task of preparing my beloved brothers service. He passed away recently. Way too young. Perhaps thats why my perspectives have changed. Who knows. Nothing seems that important. Thanks for letting me prattle on.
I think its a form of catharsis. He was Professor Maurice Fraser. Legion D'Honneur. And Italian Knighthood. If you get the chance, its on LSE'S website. The comments are so moving. He was head of European Affairs. But always my big brother.
Jason Fraser