The front page of the Irish Independent on Monday, June 24, 2013 which revealed the first Anglo Tapes story and, above, the paper’s Special Correspondent Paul Williams who wrote the story and subsequently won Scoop Of The Year at the National Newspapers of Ireland Journalism Awards last November for the same
Yesterday Independent News and Media (INM) agreed to remove parts of its Anglo Tapes coverage from last week by Paul Williams from independent.ie after the DPP sought a High Court injunction.
After INM agreed to take down certain sections from the website, the injunction application was adjourned until Friday.
The Irish Times reported:
“The DPP claims the publishing of further material is calculated to interfere with the criminal trial process in relation to events at the former Anglo Irish Bank. The DPP is also seeking an order directing the attachment and committal to prison of the Independent editor Claire Grady and of editor-in-chief Stephen Rae, and/or the sequestration of the company’s assets, as the case may be, for contempt of court in relation to material published last Thursday under the heading “Anglo: the new tapes revealed”. The newspaper denies contempt and contests the DPP’s claims.”
Further to this, readers may wish to recall an interview that the Irish Independent’s Paul Williams gave to Newstalk’s Lunchtime host Jonathan Healy on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 – day two of the newspaper’s Anglo Tapes coverage.
During the interview, Mr Williams explained how the tapes came into his possession after they were posted to him at his office anonymously.
He told Mr Healy he believed he was “chosen as a conduit” but pointed out he wasn’t a financial journalist and struggled with the “banking-ese” or “business lingo” in the tapes.
A week later, in a written parliamentary reply to Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation received a court order in 2010 securing electronic and other documents related to 18 employees of Anglo Irish Bank whose phone lines were taped.
From the Newstalk interview:
Jonathan Healy: “Paul, the one thing that’s been said a lot in the last couple of days is ‘why now?’. Why has all this information been coming in to the public domain. And I know you obviously want to protect your source and I don’t expect you to betray that source now. But did you get full copies of these tapes? Did you get hours and hours and hours or are you in a position to say how much of the material…”
Paul Williams: Well I’d prefer not to go into it, other than to say that the two tapes arrived to me at the office, they were posted to me anonymously…”
Healy: “And do you know why they, whoever posted them to you. Do you know what of their motivation?”
Williams: “Well, it’s obviously somebody who has come across them and said ‘look we really need, you really need to have a look at this’. I have theories as to why I was approached or whatever and they’re irrelevant and my involvement is really irrelevant in it but I think that…”
Healy: “Well you’re the messenger.”
Williams: “I had, I had, I was chosen as a conduit, but I would say that I’ve had them for over two months. And the reason I’ve had them over two months is because obviously I had to do a lot of work on them, in the background myself, to work out what this was about, who these people were.”
Healy: “Would you be afraid, you’ve obviously done this and it is in the public interest and this is journalism at its best – that you’re putting stuff in there that people need to know about and that arguably mightn’t have been known about previously but can we say, can you say for certain that you’re not in some way being played by somebody, by putting this selective element of it into the public domain?”
Williams: “All I’ll say to you is this Jonathan and, you know, I’m very, very…I have to be very, very protective of my sources. I know where I’m at in this and I know what the motivations are and I know, I know all the background to this. That’s why it’s taken me a couple of months to put this out. And the Irish Independent did a brilliant job on it. And it’s great to be a part of that team now. They really gave it the support and it’s in a way…but it is again, going back to another aspect of it. Isn’t it a sad indictment that after five years and the biggest economic crash and one of the most profound events, economically in the history of our nation that 28 minutes of tape through an Irish, a national newspaper, is the only chink of light that’s been shone on the shadowy corner that has cost the Irish taxpayer €64billion at least…That’s. And in a way that’s Stephen Rea, our, the editor of the Irish Independent, that’s the way he saw it from day one: this is an absolute disgrace and scandal and if it does shine any kind of a light, then it’s worth it. Even…I don’t see how anybody, you know, it might…”
Healy: “No, look, come here, there’s nobody questioning this isn’t in the public interest Paul, and it absolutely is. My…”
Williams: “That’s what I’m saying…Even if it was a mendacious sort of effort or a malign motive behind it, I think you would agree Jonathan, and everybody who’s listening to your show and everybody in Ireland who’s listened to these tapes in the last 48 hours, would say ‘Jaysus, well, that’s benign.”
Healy: “When you got these tapes you obviously found them for the first time. But, since you’ve been working on them, you’ve come to realise that these have been sitting somewhere in officialdom since they were recorded on day one. And part of the wider investigations that are going on. When you hear Michael Noonan saying he didn’t even know these tapes existed were you surprised?”
Williams: “I have to say, and remember, OK, so we’re looking at this for a number of months, because remember I’m not a financial journalist so I [inaudible] understand what this was all about. Banks and liquidity, you know, when they’re talking about certain, a lot banking-ese and business lingo that they use and to try and get around that and, by the way, as an aside, this is the only stuff that I’ve seen yet or anybody else that’s seen that’s easy for the people to understand because nobody, everybody is confused by it. Do I? I’ve no reason to doubt what Michael Noonan says. However I would be very, very, very skeptical, based on my own enquiries and ongoing enquiries that officials in the Department of Finance didn’t know about this. I would be very, very surprised. Because I believe, remember this bank has been owned by the Irish taxpayers for the past number of years. This is the property of the taxpayer effectively. What we’re doing is sharing the property of the taxpayer when you think about because these calls were made at the time and we now own it after a very expensive purchase. Look there are several major investigative bodies and groups have all of this stuff. This is not, like this stuff, the point we were making yesterday Jonathan, and I make it again today, is that all this stuff is available. That would be, account for 80 or 90% – if you really wanted to investigate Anglo Irish Bank and know what was going on behind the Irish, as part of a public inquiry, all you do is, you just look at, or listen to a couple hundred hours of tapes.”
Healy: “The recordings are there.”
Williams: “Because if you, because when people are speaking spontaneously and off the cuff and honestly, and they’re speaking mostly honestly to each other, you get a picture of what was happening and you’ve got the dates and the times and all that kind of stuff so it should be easy to piece together. But…and I believe that a lot of State, different State interested State bodies and civil servants know all about these tapes and I don’t accept it. I can’t prove it but I don’t accept it.”
Healy: “Well no, I think that a lot of people would share that suspicion. You said that you had 28 minutes of it, so we’ll have more tomorrow, do we?”
Williams: “No, the 28 minutes is what we put out so far.”
Healy: “Oh so far, so how much more do you have, are you willing to tell me?”
Williams: “No, we have, we have more. But we’re looking at it at the moment, what we’re going to do tomorrow and the next couple of days. So we’I just have to meet my colleagues at the Independent, it’s just been so crazy and busy over the past few days. It’s just one of those things that, there’s been an extraordinary reaction to this. I genuinely did not anticipate that there would be this…I actually thought that most of the rest of the media would ignore the story because a) it was an exclusive for the Independent and b) everyone would be afraid of it, legally.”
Listen in full here