A Note on Mike Veale in ITV Drama A Confession

From the Press Centre of British terrestrial broadcaster ITV (emphasis added):

A Confession

The series tells the story of how Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher, played by Martin Freeman (StartUp, The Hobbit, Sherlock, Fargo), deliberately breached police procedure and protocol to catch a killer, a decision that ultimately cost him his career and reputation…

Episode 5

Detective Superintendent Steve Fulcher (Martin Freeman) is lionized in the media for leading an investigation that recovered not one, but two bodies murdered by serial killer Christopher Halliwell (Joe Absolom). But behind the scenes he is facing a disciplinary hearing at the hands of the IPCC, charged with gross misconduct.

Steve is suspended from duty with immediate effect by his superior ACC Mike Veale, for inappropriate contact with a journalist. Now facing two counts of gross-misconduct in a Public Office, Steve is left staring down the barrel knowing that one count alone would be enough for him to lose the job that he loves…

Mike Veale, of course, went on to become Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, in which capacity he ordered a huge trawling investigation into allegations that the former Prime Minister Edward Heath had been involved in the sexual abuse of children. This was despite the fact that Heath had died ten years previously, and the report that was eventually produced was underwhelming. Veale’s integrity later came under question after he was found to have lied about how he came to break his mobile phone, and his subsequent tenure as Chief Constable of Cleveland Police lasted less than a year. Veale denied leaking to the press during the Heath investigation, but the Mail on Sunday‘s political editor Simon Walters appeared to have an inside track – most likely via the buffoonish rent-a-quote MP Andrew Bridgen, who received briefings from Veale as a supposed “stakeholder”.

The narrative of A Confession overlaps with the time period of the Heath investigation, although it is not referred to in the drama. According to each episode’s intro blurb, “What follows is a dramatisation based on extensive research, interviews and published accounts”, the last of which will have included Fulcher’s memoir Catching a Serial Killer. Alas, the book has no index, but from a fairly careful browse of a paper copy and an electronic search I was unable to find any reference to Veale by name, although there is material that is critical of Wiltshire Police.

As such, there are grounds for caution, in that Veale as a character in the drama (played by Daniel Betts) perhaps primarily serves as a composite embodiment of Wiltshire Police rather than as a portrayal of the man himself. Veale is depicted unsympathetically; in the first episode he informally warns Fulcher not to have any social contact with a suspended officer who later commits suicide (“DCC Ray Hayward”, a fictional character based on DCC David Ainsworth), and at the climax he is shown delivering a press statement in the wake of Halliwell’s second conviction that fails to acknowledge Fulcher’s efforts and rejects as “sensationalism” Fulcher’s belief that Halliwell has other as yet unknown victims. Such an allegation of “sensationalism” of course must ring hollow given the Ted Heath circus that was going on during the same period.

The drama is more sympathetic towards Detective Superintendent Sean Memory (played by Owain Arthur), who is depicted as tactful and sensitive in his dealings with the families of Halliwell’s victims – Fulcher writes of his respect for Memory in his book. Unfortunately, though, he will now always be remembered as the hapless officer tasked with standing in front of Heath’s Wiltshire home and appealing for “victims” to come forward.

A Note on John Sweeney, Tommy Robinson and the “Adolf Hitler Appreciation Society”

From the Independent, a few days ago:

Veteran investigative journalist John Sweeney called Tommy Robinson a “c***” as he announced his departure from the BBC.

“I’m sorry our BBC Panorama on Tommy Robinson wasn’t broadcast,” Mr Sweeney wrote on Twitter, referring to a planned edition of the programme that was not broadcast about the English Defence League.

It was cancelled after Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, covertly filmed Mr Sweeney and made a rival “documentary”.

I wrote about the fiasco at the time, here and here. Sweeney was filmed in a restaurant by an associate of Robinson who was pretending to be an informant – the journalist was shown working his way through the drinks menu, making numerous indiscreet remarks, and then ostentatiously putting £220 on expenses. He also discussed how a clip might be used to put Robinson in the worst light possible, in a way that could reasonably be seen as misleading. The BBC at the time said that it stood by the documentary, but its failure to appear speaks for itself. Sweeney, overconfident and complacent, had underestimated his quarry and undermined the credibility of the project.

Sweeney has now followed up on his “cunt” jibe with a short Twitter video that includes a clip of Robinson speaking to an enthusiastic crowd in Bavaria last year. The event had been reported at the time by Andrew Gilligan at the Sunday Times, who noted:

Robinson [received] the “European patriot of the year” award at a conference in Bavaria organised by the hard-right magazine Compact. In his acceptance speech, he said: “German people for too long have lived in the guilt of Adolf Hitler. Do not live in the guilt of Angela Merkel.”

The conference, on September 29, brought together key figures on the European far right, including Lutz Bachmann, the founder of Pegida, Martin Sellner, from the Generation Identity movement, leaders of the Alternative for Germany party and a representative of the Italian leader, Matteo Salvini. Compact has been funded by the Kremlin-created Institute for Democracy and Co-operation.

The first sentence of this quote also appears in the Sweeney video (twice), and Sweeney describes the crowd as a meeting of the “Adolf Hitler Appreciation Society”. Reiterating his fondness for crude gynaecological abuse, Sweeney ends by calling Robinson a “Nazi cunt” and pointedly quaffing some red wine.

On Twitter, the video has been lauded as a defiant gesture against Robinson, but I can’t say I’m impressed by the lazy buffoonery, which comes across as compensatory for Sweeney’s self-evident failure. The video gives the impression that Sweeney has unearthed the clip, when he’s done nothing of the kind, and many Twitter users have taken his “Adolf Hitler Appreciation Society” designation at face value – meaning that Sweeney, whatever his intentions, has effectively dumped misinformation onto social media that Robinson and his supporters will in all likelihood capitalise on.

In short, Sweeney’s latest antics are actually a hindrance to subjecting Robinson and his associates to proper critical scrutiny.

UK Prison Reform Activist Joins Conspiracy Milieu

A heady brew of conspiracy Twitter hashtags from “public speaker and activist” Shaun Attwood:

My latest YouTube video: #epstein #clinton #alexjones #infowars #davidicke #princeandrew #maxwell #illuminati #conspiracy #newworldorder #truecrime #murder #crime #clintonbodycount @davidicke #trump #georgebush

Stories about Attwood regularly appear in British media; described as “the Wolf of Widnes“, he travelled to Arizona as a young man in the 1990s, where he apparently became first a “millionaire stockbroker” and then ran an Ecstasy-importing empire. This brought him into conflict with organised crime, in the form of a rival drug ring run the mobster Sammy Gravano, and he eventually found himself a guest of the Maricopa penal system for six years. While in prison, letters to his family were published online and were a source for exposing the “subhuman” prison conditions imposed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio (1).

On his release, Attwood was deported from the US and settled in Guildford in Surrey. As well as writing true crime books, he is a pundit on issues around prison reform (represented by United Agents), and he gives talks in schools about the dangers of drug dealing.

It’s not clear when exactly Attwood decided to climb aboard the conspiracy bandwagon, but it seems to be a new development. His YouTube channel has 286,000 subscribers, and his recent uploads include interviews with the self-described police whistleblower Jon Wedger (previously blogged here) and none other than David Icke. During his talk with Icke, Attwood wore an “Illuminati” t-shirt, and as expected the main subject of discussion was the supposed existence of Satanic VIP paedophile rings.

No longer dealing in Ecstasy, Attwood has apparently turned to selling the public a cheaper and more toxic thrill – the lazy and self-righteous glow of intellectual and moral superiority that is the reward for those who align with the excesses of the conspiracy milieu and its lurid allegations.

Footnote

1. Arpaio of course is himself a conspiracy theorist, most famously promoting “Birther” claims about Barack Obama, and more recently providing a foreword to a novel co-authored by Steven Seagal about the “Deep State”.