The SAS officer, MPs and the Press

Am I alone in smelling a red herring being dragged through London newsrooms? The revelation that an ex-SAS officer, John Wick, was the man who hawked the MP’s expenses data just seems too contrived.

The story first appeared on Friday in the Wall Street Journal. It is all too easy to start developing conspiracy theories, but it does look as if someone wanted this information to come out.

The Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday followed-up with stories yesterday. Both referred to discs but today in the Guardian it has become one disc (a portable hard drive), a significant difference.

According the The Guardian there was one terabyte (1,024 gigabytes) of information. A CD-rom has a maximum capacity of 900MB (Wikipedia) while while DVDs have capacities of up to 18.08 gigabytes (most half that or less).

Of the four stories mentioned, the Mail on Sunday is alone in pointing a tentative finger at the original source of the Telegraph’s scoop. It says: “The House of Commons has recently employed former soldiers as ‘data controllers’ to prevent MPs’ personal information being leaked. It would be ironic if the decision to beef up security in this way led to information being passed to Mr Wick.”

What all this means, I have no idea but the pattern so far suggests someone is seeking to get information out. Whether it is accurate or a red herring is another matter.

Mecom gets more time for talks with lenders

The folly of believing that newspapers can be successful on a sea of debt is further demonstrated by the situation of David Montgomery’s Mecom business which has gained a further extension, until April 30, for discussions with its lenders.

The Telegraph refers to the “spectre of possible insolvency” in its report. Before the recent sale of German and Norwegian newspapers for £197m Mecom’s debt stood at £547.

The bear that never was

All Fools day has come early this year with The Telegraph and The Sun among those hoaxed by sightings of a bear in Rendlesham forest, Suffolk, previously best known as a landing place for aliens from another world.

The East Anglian Daily Times which ran the story yesterday, today revealed that it was all a stunt by a theatre company which is putting on an open-air production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale (stage direction “Exit, pursued by bear”) this summer.

In 1980 American servicemen from the Bentwaters air base in the forest followed weird lights and found marks on the ground. The story was of an unexplained flying object but some believed they had encountered an alien craft and its landing site. In 2003 the BBC claimed it was a hoax by a USAF security policeman who used the lights of his patrol car.

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