Thursday, October 4, 2007

Hooray for mainstream media

Via Arsenal News Review (with one extra added by moi) a list of 9* 8 of the 10 journalists reported to have been flown to and from Moscow by Alisher Usmanov on a Gulfstream 550 private jet and put up at the five-star Kempinski Hotel:

Roger Blitz (Financial Times): Blitz wrote two articles, here and here, but did not mention the rather notable travel and accommodation arrangements in either. [MINI-UPDATE: See response from FT below.]

David Bond (The Daily Telegraph): The resulting article makes much of Usmanov's 'knowledge' of Arsenal, describes Murray's allegations as "an extraordinary attack" and our only hint about travel and accommodation is given in the following passage; " an effort to dispel the mystery and set the record straight, Usmanov invited British journalists to Moscow, to explain his side of the story."

Jason Burt (The Independent): Two articles here and here, but no mention of travel or accommodation.

Shaun Custis (The Sun): The resulting article is very light on detail when discussing Usmanov's past, which this 'journalist' describes as 'smears'. There is no mention of travel or accommodation.

Matt Dickinson (The Times): The resulting article mentions travel, but not accommodation. [MINI-UPDATE: Another article gives readers some clue as to what's going on by using the words "charm offensive".... but makes no mention of some rather important specifics that show how offensive it is.]

Richard Galpin (BBC) The resulting article says that "in the cramped conference room were British newspaper journalists intrigued to discover more about Russia's 18th richest man," but fails to mention that they were not intrigued enough to make the journey under their own steam. [snip] [*MINI-UPDATE: Richard Galpin himself is based on Moscow. See comments.]

Martin Lipton (The Mirror): Articles headed 'Martin Lipton in Moscow' here and here, but no mention of how he got there, and no mention of any fuss over Usmanov's past. All the folks at home get is "Alisher loves Arsenal." Way to go, Martin Lipton.

Charlie Sale (The Daily Mail): Sale is quite specific about travel and accommodation here and here, but he dutifully states in his main article that; "Usmanov was pardoned by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev" (all that jetting about can't have left much time for research).

Matt Scott (The Guardian): The resulting article airs more detail than most, but does not mention travel or accommodation.

So that's 9* 8 out of a reported 10 journalists, flown to and from Moscow by Alisher Usmanov on a Gulfstream 550 private jet and put up at the five-star Kempinski Hotel. Only one of them is completely honest with their readers about the extraordinary and luxurious circumstances surrounding the interview.

One can only assume that their editors approve.

Are you impressed? I'm impressed.

UPDATE - Gulfstream 550s look nice. So do Kempinski Hotels. Go on... have a little imaginary wallow and see what it feels like. Incidentally, a single room at the Hotel Baltschug Kempinski Moscow will set you back about 25,000 Russian Rubles excluding tax per night (or about £500 if you ever have cause to pay for one yourself).

UPDATE (05 Oct) - Last night, I wrote letters to most of the newspapers involved. Today, I received a reply from the Financial Times. It appears in full below:

Dear Mr Ireland

Thank you for your letter. You raise an extremely important point and one we take very seriously. The answer to your question is that Roger Blitz did indeed travel on the jet and stay at the Kempinski. This was because of the access to a number of executives and others that travelling on the plane offered. However, in accordance with our strict policy on hospitality, the FT refunded the cost of an air fare and insisted on paying the hotel bill ourselves. Mr Usmanov also made Mr Blitz - and I assume others - a gift of a book on Russian art. Again, in accordance with our policy on gifts above a nominal value, the book will be put into the FT's christmas raffle, the proceeds of which go to charity. In the name of full disclosure, I should say that he did accept a meal from Mr Usmanov but otherwise we paid our own way. I hope you feel that this answers your important question and answers it to your satisfaction. I trust you will amend your blog to take account of this answer.

Yours sincerely

Robert Shrimsley
News Editor
Financial Times
I asked for clarification on "the cost of an air fare" and was told; "Our policy is to pay a full commercial rate on a scheduled airline since we do not regard the mode of travel as a perk in itself, merely a means of access."

UPDATE (08 Oct) - I do the work and Dale gets the credit, which is par for the course. Still, we at least we now have a complete rundown of the perks some journalists would rather not mention:

In the interests of transparency here is a full breakdown of Usmanov's largess: Luton to Moscow on private Gulfstream 550 jet with lunch and drinks, transfer to five-star Kempinski hotel, dinner plus drinks, transfer to bar for drinks. Then one night in Kempinski, lunch in a Russian restaurant, transfer to Usmanov office, Metro trip, coffee and teas in Usmanov office, gift of art book, Gulfstream return to Stansted with cold supper.


Will Parbury said...

Register of journalists interests anyone?

Jherad said...

Who says money can't buy love...?

Journalist on junket = loyal puppy.

BOF2BS said...

Two comments

BBC --- I wonder what their policy on such entertaining is?

H M Customs & Excise might be interested in the entertaining also but I'm sure all the jouno's declare everyting appropriately

septicisle said...

Pretty appalling when you have to read almost all the pieces to get anywhere near the actual truth. How also indicative it is of our press's relationship with power and money: it smears and attacks those who can't defend themselves, then grovels and takes the word of an oligarch who puts them up at his own expense at face value.

Matt Wardman said...

I'm not as congenitally journalist hostile as the rest of the comments vbg, but I blogged this somewhere.

I reckon we are often cleaner than they are. Sadly no income involved for bloggers :)

Alistair Coleman said...

The BBC's Richard Galpin is already based in Moscow, so he'd be excused the whole travel-and-accomodation busness, I should imagine.

Tim said...

Well, there goes our potential link support from the champions of justice at

Thanks, Scary. Post updated.

Chris Paul said...

Hats off to the FT. But I must say that eg music, film and lifestyle publications - especially the big ones - often get treated to trips by their subjects or record companies. Don't see these things disclosed. And nor do the artistes always get positive reviews or whatever.

I have followed up the Guildford Tory Vote Rig (now not) story.

ziz said...

Will take you to the tale of Tiny Tim Yeo and his FT jollies .....

"Indeed sun tanned Tim penned a detailed, lengthy and fascinating tour d'horizon of the golfing landscape of Cuba and the Varadero, Cuba's only 18-hole course built on the remains of the du Pont mansion evacuated in the 1930's for the Financial Times (2/12/06) "One day" says plucky Tim the intrepid traveller (preferably at someone else's expense) ," ..... there will be lots of golf courses in Cuba.

"Mr Yeo declared (in MP's interests) a visit to Cuba from 10 to 15 November 2004, (see pic) to meet Cuban Government officials and to carry out research for writing an article for Weekend FT; the fares and accommodation had been paid for by Sherritt International Corporation. "

Close scrutiny of his FT "my golf jollies at other's expense", column, shows that in the last 12 months reports from Cuba, twice from both California and China , Philadelphia, Singapore, Dar Es Salaam and Georgia (plus Loch Lomond - skiving off from the Party Conference - where his absence went unremarked and probably un-noticed) - not forgetting a glorious day golfing at 3 of Britain's best golf courses in a single day, courtesy of Netjet in a luxuriously appointed private jet with glamorous and helpful hostesses to refresh the jaded golfer.

Apologies for not being 100% on target (off topicish) but the reason to investigate the receiver of buff envelopes stuffed with readies from the Phoney Pharoah was his determination to raise taxes on airline flights - which would not of course cramp his style, as he never pays for them.

The tale does of course illustrate that Mr FT does not speak with an entirely unforked tongue.

By the way, it does show what a shit Craig Murray is ... no freebie flights, Kempinski junkets and scantily clad maidens at his expense.

Nora said...

Can anyone tell me, a) is Craig alive and well and, b) is he online anywhere?

I've supported him in the past at

but not doing daily follow-ups.

Many thanks.

Tim said...

Craig will be back sometime today.

Jherad said...

Apparently, if I go out on a sales junket, buy a supplier's product as a result, and my company refunds the supplier for the cost of the junket...

It never happened!

*scratches head*