John Ware And Me

I see that the new leadership of the British Labour Party has agreed to pay hefty libel damages to BBC reporter John Ware and a group of former Labour Party workers who, in the course of a BBC-produced TV documentary, had made allegations of anti-semitism in the Corbyn-led Labour party.

As readers of this blog will be aware, John Ware and myself have crossed swords more than once, especially over the extent of official British knowledge of the activities of IRA double agent, Freddie Scappaticci.

But I was not aware how strongly he felt about me or my journalism until we found ourselves chasing the same story, to wit the Brian Nelson saga.

One day, myself, a long time journalist friend and John Ware found ourselves by chance in the company of Tommy Lyttle in the north of Belfast.

By this point Tommy had taken over leadership of the UDA from Andy Tyrie; he was the go-to source on all matters concerning Brian Nelson’s UDA history  and everyone wanted to talk to him.

People who know me well enough are aware that I contracted polio as an infant and while I have been able to overcome the disability sufficiently to lead a more or less active and normal life, there is a limit to how fast I can muddle along.

That day I found myself lagging further and further behind the other three as they accelerated along the sidewalk until eventually I gave up and made my way home. In those days I was much fitter than I am now, but even so I could not keep pace.

Some time after that I had my own meeting with Tommy Lyttle and, somewhat shamefacedly, he apologised and told me what had happened. “Ware wants you off the story”, he said.

Tommy then told me that John Ware had come to him and asked that I be excluded from the Brian Nelson story. To Tommy’s credit he refused.

5 responses to “John Ware And Me

  1. Ed: when I did grammar at Grosvenor many years ago, I was taught that it should be “John Ware and I”. Just sayin’.
    I do enjoy the blogs and your books.

  2. Tim Brannigan once wrote:

    “I was at an event where John Ware interviewed a former PSNI Chief Constable, Hugh Orde. When the questions, from a mainly Republican/nationalist audience, got intense, Ware took it upon himself to defend the reputation of the cops in the face of collective experience.”

  3. Not followed by a verb so as the title to the piece perfectly acceptable – I went to Orangefield by the way!!

  4. From the ‘Notes From The Borderland’ site article on what they refer to as SPIJ (State compromised Pseudo-Investigative Journalism):

    Aside from Peter Taylor, Panorama programmes fronted by John Ware stand out here. First was the Omagh bombing special (9/2/2000), which made shameless and uncritical use of spook material (including phone tap results inadmissible in court). Then there are Ware’s later Panorama documentaries on Patrick Finucane’s murder (19/6/02 & 23/6/02). In one patently contrived scene, in which filming is supposedly covert, or at least made to look that way, Ken Barrett was shown confessing his involvement while sitting in a car with John Ware. Immediately after transmission, he was arrested and charged. Not the whole story, or even half of it. Though Barrett received a nominal 22 years jail for confessing, under the Good Friday agreement he will probably be free within months, something that only the utterly naive would imagine he did not anticipate when speaking to Ware, indeed without this foreknowledge (and cash payment) it is unlikely he would have spoken on camera [124], David Leppard, writing just prior to Barrett’s trial in the Sunday Times (29/8/04), chose not to name Ware, but we need not be squeamish. Finucane’s killing (and the Omagh bomb) were disgraceful events, but nonetheless the role of TV documentaries in relation to these matters has not been to get at truth so much as to do this while conforming to the agendas of various state factions, particularly those engaged in fratricidal interagency rivalry. This war within the secret state largely determines the extent (and limits) of what gets exposed and when. Undeniably, truth surfaces on occasions, but when the time is right-for spooks, not justice, except by accident.

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