Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
The Secretive Campaign to Halt Press TV in the UK
By Lauren Booth
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, January 16, 2011
The previously secretive campaign to halt Press TV Ltd, the British
production company, from making programs critical of Western Imperialism, is
finally out in the open. Thanks to Wikileaks.
Last month, Julian Assange’s incredible agency, released the news Her
Majesty's Government (HMG) is now fully implicated in efforts to shut Press
TV Ltd down. Backing, quite clearly, US led efforts, to cripple this tiny,
yet heavyweight, British production company.
Let me explain. Ever
since it first began making programs some four years ago, Press TV Ltd (the
British company, who sells documentaries and series to the Iranian channel
of the same name), has been under pressure from what Princess Diana would
have known as 'dark Forces.'
Pressure had taken the form, until
recently, of the usual nonsense from Zionist organizations. Letter writers,
linked to the Israeli Embassy in London and its web of supporters, have been
trying to use Ofcom as some kind of offshoot Hasbara body. Endless letters
of complaint were sent to the broadcasting monitor, whenever Press TV,
broadcast a news items shedding light on the thuggery, blackmail and racism
inherent in Israeli government policy. Thus, faux 'shock, horror' objections
to shows like the one I present, 'Remember Palestine' pushed Ofcom to
uphold minor criticisms. And have led to negative headlines in the
ridiculous Jewish Chronicle against an otherwise excellent UK bureau.
Happily, the most recent attempt to besmirch the veracity of Remember
Palestine, was so feeble, that Ofcom dug its heels in.
Here’s part of the complaint;
Here is a summary paragraph from
“In this instance, while the subject of the Patria was raised, it was
contributor Trevor Mostyn who said the ship had been deliberately sunk by a
hard-line Jewish terrorist group. Lauren Booth clarified Mr Mostyn’s
position with him and what the motivations for such action would have been,
before asking him “Weren’t the British accused of blowing-up that boat?”
Programmes such as Remember Palestine are able to examine subjects from
a particular perspective. The comments about the sinking of the Patria may
contrast with the individual who has claimed responsibility for planting the
bomb and said it was a miscalculation rather than a deliberate attempt to
sink the vessel, Mr Mostyn’s comments were aired from a contributor who had
his own personal perspective on events. Viewers would frame his opinions in
the context of his personal background as a partial contributor on a channel
known for taking a stance on subjects relating to the Middle East. We are
also mindful, while you disagree with the view offered, Mr Mostyn did not
make any derogatory or offensive comments about his subject or Jewish
And it goes on:
“With regard to your wider
comments about Press TV, Ofcom is an evidence-based regulator and we need to
view specific content to determine whether material has breached our
Remember Palestine and 'Comment', hosted by the
legendary George Galloway (another target) have publicly exposed Israeli war
crimes. Our shows, meet UK standards, they just go farther into the truth
than other broadcasters (namely the BBC) dare.
As the malign letter
writing campaign against Press TV has had only limited success to date. Next
came the hacking of emails, facebook accounts and mobile phones that have
tried and failed (laughably so) to cause tensions between colleagues.
Clearly whoever, runs such things was now looking for a more covert way
to try and upset a legally run, British company. Those, darker forces:
Zionist funds, fuelling US policy pressurising British Government to stifle
debate. All working again behind the scenes of British life.
fascinating is that now we have Wikileaks, such campaigns of business
'terrorism' are increasinglymade visible to the untrained eye.
this in mind, last month, Press TV executives in London were interested to
note the wikileaks release of cables between the US embassy in London and
the US State Department. And between an official named ‘Poloff’ from the
London embassy and Jaime Turner at the FCO.
The cables were dated
the 2nd of Feb 2010. Here is the relevant part.
' HMG is exploring
ways to limit the operations of the IRIB's Press TV service, which operates
a large bureau (over 80 staff) in London. However, UK law sets a very high
standard for denying licenses to broadcasters. Licenses can only be denied
in cases where national security is threatened, or if granting a license
would be contrary to Britain's obligations under international law.
Currently, neither of these standards can be met with respect to Press TV,
but if further sanctions are imposed on Iran in the coming months, a case
may be able to be made on the second criterion'.
to broadcasters’ would the motivation for doing that, having anything
to do with the fact that Press TV has more Gazan correspondents
on-the-ground than any other rolling news channel?
criterion' of sanctions against the Iranian government, by the way, should
not apply to a TV Channel in Iran. Much less a production company in the UK
that merely sends it product. Press TV Ltd is subject to UK Law, is
registered in England & Wales at Companies House, is run by a British Chief
Executive. It generates tax revenue for Britain and provides work
opportunities for people at a time when unemployment is high.
failed then to find a legitimate problem with the quality or content of
programs being produced. The wiki leaked memo makes it clear that other
methods, are being sought by the British government, (as a lap dog to US
masters), to shut this company down. But what would the FCO wonks come up
with? Who are the big buddies of this coalition government? Those in a
potentially useful position to cripple legitimate, yet outspoken, companies
lethally and (they presumed) silently?
Step forward the good old
British Bank. Yes folks, our very own subsidized, tax revenue bailed out fat
cats, spring into action!
Last month, suddenly and without any
warning, the National Westminster Bank, Commercial Banking office, froze
Press TV Ltd's business account.
By 'froze', I mean it sealed off the
main trading account for the production company, in which lies more the
100,000 pounds sterling. This money is now unable to be accessed by the
British companies executives for trading purposes.
any warning given of this action? No. Executives received a letter saying
the account was frozen. Done and dusted. No debate, no argument, no
professional meetings, no bad business history, not even a feeble attempt at
an excuse for this commercial terrorism. Nada. Indeed, so confident were Nat
West executives of a silence from the authorities, that a month on, they
have yet to bother offering confounded executives at the channel a reason
for such punitive, draconian, theft.
For if you or I couldn’t get to a
hundred k of our own money, isn’t that what we’d rightfully call it?
And there's more, the bank has stated it will close the accounts permanently
in February 2011. Potentially leaving British staff unpaid and ending the
companies ability to trade completely.
The freezing of Press TV Ltd
business account by Nat West Bank, is a politically motivated act. Intended
to cripple a thriving British company, whose programs and news bulletins
shed light on areas of policy which certain agencies would sooner keep in
Perhaps Nick Clegg would like to take a look at protecting
British jobs here at Press TV Ltd.
We knew that free speech was
never a favourite with the Blair machine, the anti terror laws are still
used to lock up those who take to the streets to question government policy.
But this action against a legally operating UK production company should
send a shiver down the back of all who those who speak out; about government
policy, American imperialism and yes, the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
The bank accounts of those companies who bring uncomfortable truths into
the public domain, can now be closed as part of a political agenda,
eliciting from the USA. Supported by the Nat West and Her Majesty's
Two years ago, the Palestinian charity Interpal suffered
almost precisely just such a business attack. Interpal still has major
banking problems because their account with Islamic Bank of Britain has no
external clearing facilities. Basically, banks can pick and choose who they
hold accounts for, and can close accounts without any reasons being given
and with no right of appeal.
Although the government has a charter,
to make sure that every individual has access to banking facilities, this
doesn't apply to companies and corporate bodies like Muslim charities.
Or Press TV.
So with these cards on the table. The question I’d like
to pose to all those in the charitable or the activism world.
What are we
going to do about it?
A first step may be to ask Vince Cable what
he intends to do to protect the British jobs at risk due to Nat West's
The next is to
contact the Nat West Bank directly and demand an explanation.
again to Wikileaks for making public the dark ops increasingly being used by
governments to silence critics.
The irony that the British government
now appears to be part of a larger attempt to stifle free speech in a
company that sells prograns to Iran. Has not passed anyone here at Press TV
Lauren Booth, Journalist and Broadcaster