Tag Archives: Front page

JK Rowling’s secret crime novel

JK Rowling's secret book

I worked on the investigation in The Sunday Times last weekend that revealed JK Rowling to have secretly released a crime novel for adults, under a false identity.

She posed as Robert Galbraith, a former military policeman, when her latest novel was released in March. A Cuckoo’s Calling was warmly reviewed but sold fewer than 2000 hardback copies. Since our article was published, sales of the book on Amazon have leapt by 150,000%.

I’m not credited on the front page, but shared a byline with arts editor Richard Brooks on the inside write up. Full text can be found on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold.

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Westminster for sale: part 3

Puppetmaster lobbyists spread

 

Insight were back on the front page of the Sunday Times this weekend, with the latest addition to the ‘Westminster for Sale’ investigation. I worked on the reporting team.

Undercover reporters investigating lobbyists selling influence in Westminster were told how debates, speeches, and questions could be arranged in both houses of parliament. John Stevenson, of Freshwater Public Affairs, said he had engineered a whole Lords debate in April on behalf of a client paying him to lobby

Full text of the three resulting articles is available on the Sunday Times website, or after the fold.

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Westminster for sale: part two

Tim Yeo in Lobbygate row

I’m rather late in posting this, but I also worked on this Insight investigation into Tim Yeo, published last weekend on the front page of The Sunday Times.

Yeo, a Conservative MP and the chairman of the influential Energy and Climate Change select committee in the House of Commons, told undercover reporters posing as a firm trying to hire him that he could introduce them to “almost everyone you need to get hold of in this country”.

Although he could not speak publicly for them in the House without declaring his financial interests, he said that “what I say to people in private is another matter”.

He also revealed that he had coached a representative of GB Railfreight, a subsidiary of Groupe Eurotunnel where Yeo is a director and shareholder, on how to influence his committee.

Labour has said that he faces “serious” questions about his conduct after allegations that he had “used his position to further the interests of his clients”.

Since the article was published, Yeo has stepped aside as chair of the select committee  and referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. An investigation is ongoing.

Full text of the investigation can be found on the Sunday Times websites (here, here) or PDF versions of the articles can be found after the fold.  Continue reading

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Westminster for sale

Cash for access - Lords exposed

I’ve been working with the Insight investigations team at The Sunday Times for the last couple of weeks on an investigation into lobbying in the Houses of Parliament.

We made the splash on 2 June with this sting, in which three peers offered to become paid advocates for a firm pushing for new laws to benefit its business. They also offered to set up an all party parliamentary group as a lobbying vehicle.

Full text of the front page, and the inside read can be found on the Sunday Times website:

Cash for access: Lords exposed

‘Make that £12,000 a month and I think we’ve got a deal’

‘Getting to see ministers is part of the package’

Three peers have been filmed revealing how they can pull strings for lobbyists in return for cash payments. Insight reports

Job swap ‘coterie’ to beat rules

In undercover meetings the peers reveal how they dodge the ban on pushing private business in parliament.

PDF versions can be found after the fold.

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Police abandon 850,000 inquiries a year

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An article I worked on with Peter Newlands and Jon Ungoed-Thomas made the front page of the Sunday Times this weekend.

Freedom of information requests revealed more than half of police forces that responded to use a ‘screening out’ process, in which crimes are not investigated because police feel they are unlikely to be solved.

The Metropolitan Police alone abandoned more than 350,000 inquiries in 2011-12.

Among the victims affected was Marc Cutler, a public relations executive from north London, who had his Charge Plug bike stolen from railings near a flower market last year.

He said: “I spoke to the police, but they said there was not a lot they could do. They’d give me a crime report number, but they were not hopeful I’d get it back.

Cutler tracked down the stolen bike himself by scanning for advertisements on websites. He contacted the seller, a Russian man, and took two friends for the rendezovous.

At the meeting, Cutler clutched his stolen bike as his friends phone the police. Cutler said: “When the police got there, they checked the serial number and told the man he could leave the bike with me, or be arrested – he finally left. It’s a shame that they don’t take crimes like this seriously.”

Philippa Brady, an events manager who lives in London, had her bank card, camera and cash stolen during a night out at a cinema. There was CCTV footage that could have been examined, but police said a detailed investigation was not appropriate. She says she was told by an officer “There wasn’t a thing they could do.”

Full text is available on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold.

Two websites helped me speak to a number of affected cyclists whose stolen bikes were not investigated – www.stolen-bikes.co.uk and www.londoncyclist.co.uk.

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Police turn to G4S to staff murder inquiries

front page 14 march

My story on police privatisation made the front page of the Sunday Times this weekend.

Since hundreds of experienced police officers were forced to retire under regulation A19 in 2010/11, there has been a boom in demand for so-called ‘civilian investigators’ in the police.

They are not warranted cops, and as such are not able to make arrests, and they are usually private contractors to the police hired via an agency like Adecco or G4S.

Home Secretary Teresa May has always insisted that “core police functions” will always be done by officers, but the adverts I found online suggested that these boundaries are being pushed further than ever before.

G4S is advertising for ‘senior investigating officers’ (SIOs), a role in the police force that describes the officer heading up a major inquiry into crimes like murder, kidnapping or rape. A handbook by the Association of Chief Police Officers describes the role of SIO in a homicide investigation as “potentially one of the most complex and challenging positions within the Police Service”.

G4S confirmed it had been asked to place the adverts, but declined to identify the force(s) or how many of the 29,000 ‘police-skilled’ individuals on its books had applied.

The Home Office argues that police forces may make savings by hiring in experienced staff only temporarily, but most staff hired in this way (who will be private contractors, who have their pay/contracts organised by G4S) will be former policemen, already in receipt of a police pension.

A former superintendent who was forced to step down after 30 years’ service will be in receipt of around £40,000 a year in pension payments.

Full text is available on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold:

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Doctors hurry to join NHS gold rush

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The NHS will undergo one of the most radical shake-ups in its history this week, devised to give GPs new powers on the front line and liberate the NHS from political control.

Under the controversial 2012 Health and Social Care Bill, clinical commissioning groups will control a £65bn annual budget — more than two-thirds of the total NHS budget.

The new bodies will be responsible for designing and commissioning local health services, including mental health services, emergency care and hospital care.

The reforms are intended to open up the NHS market to greater competition by making it possible for companies, charities and other health providers to bid for work.

Every GP practice in England is affiliated to one of the 211 commissioning groups, whose boards are made up of GPs, at least one nurse, a hospital doctor and two or more lay members.

I worked on this investigation at the Sunday Times which revealed a number of board members on the new commissioning boards to already be benefitting from the changes – in one case, a clinical commissioning group has awarded a £150,000 deal to a company created by its chairman.

It was the front page ‘splash’ on Sunday – the day before the clinical commissioning groups went live.

Full text can be found here on the website, or after the fold.

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Online pirates turn to ebooks

I made the front page on New Year’s Day (well, the bottom of the front page!) with this joint investigation into e-book piracy.

It’s easy to track down major books before they are even released, available for free on the internet, with only Google as a tool – as we proved.

Publishers hope that Google will bring in a new policy to demote these sites in the search results, to make finding the illegal files that bit harder. But it’s a problem that dogs music and film as well as publishing.

Full text is on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold.

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Defenders turn avoiders in tax scheme

As part of a Sunday Times reporting team I helped investigate the financial affairs of dozens of premiership footballers. We found that top players, including England defender Wayne Rooney, are able to avoid millions of pounds in tax through complex avoidance schemes.

Full text is available on the Sunday Times website here, or after the fold.

Robert Watts and Maurice Chittenden also wrote an accompanying feature for the ‘focus’ section to explain how the schemes work – find it here.

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Rising Tory star ran prayer sessions to ‘cure’ gay people

Philippa Stroud

A high-flying prospective Conservative MP, credited with shaping many of the party’s social policies, founded a church that tried to “cure” homosexuals by driving out their “demons” through prayer.

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