Monday, 24 August 2009

I wanna tell you a story . . . .

PRETTY cringeworthy reading in yesterday's News of the World.

However, as I have also been the victim of a 'sting' by that newspaper, I shall certainly not be casting the first stone.

Stop me if I have told you this one before . . . but I know exactly how it feels to read about yourself a newspaper when you have been duped by an undercover reporter.

It was back in 1979, just after the General Election, and a couple of political colleagues in Brighton suggested going to a "nationalist festival" in Dixmuide in Belgium. I thought it would be a nice weekend away so readily agreed.

In a bar in Ostend on the Friday evening, a very amicable chap called Andy attached himself to us and as he had a car and invites to many of the meetings and socials taking place, we rubbed our hands at our good fortune in having bumped into him.

The "nationalist festival" was all a bit fringy and if I hadn't been drinking copious quantities of alcohol and ferried everywhere we wanted to go by the accommodating Andy, I probably would have been highly embarrassed and made an early exit home.

I finally did get home on the Monday morning ferry, having missed the Sunday afternoon one I had originally booked.

Sober, I realised I had made a mistake and was hoping the whole episode could be forgotten. But I wasn't to be so lucky as the following Sunday I was on the front page of the News of the World having apparently attended a 'nazifest'. Of course the journalist was the accommodating Andy who was Andrew Drummond.

Andrew Drummond and Flemish nationalists.

It was bad publicity and I got a rocket from Martin Webster who was then my boss in the National Front. I didn't feature much in the report with just a paragraph saying "Martin Wingfield, the National Front's Worthing organiser, spoke about battles with the Anti-Nazi League," but it was guilt by association and I had to admit it was a big own goal on my behalf and quite rightly hung my head in shame.

But this particular black cloud did have a silver lining. In the NotW report, right beneath the short piece about me, Drummond revealed that Ray Hill who was also in attendance (he later was to become a spokesman for the anti-BNP Searchlight magazine), had served a prison sentence for attacking a Jewish cafe owner.

Well now, Labour MP John Tomlinson, later to become an MEP and then Lord Tomlinson, wrote a book called Left, Right, the March of the Political Extremists in Britain. Now in this book he made a mistake and misread what Andrew Drummond had written and said that it was yours truly who had served a prison sentence for attacking a Jewish cafe owner.

I borrowed £5,000 and took Tomlinson and publishers to court. I was using my local solicitor from Brighton and she and a barrister were there at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand when our big day arrived. Tomlinson had around ten in his team and there was a lot of frantic to-ing and fro-ing before I accepted costs and £5,000 in damages in an out of court settlement.

Five grand was a lot of money in 1981 and as I had debts that needed settling I was pleased with the outcome although I was later advised that I could have had considerably more if I had held out until the case was actually called.

So, that's MY News of the World exposure story.

1 comment:

beppe74 said...

I wrote an article about this News of the World' smear on the London Patriot

You may use this to change people's mind