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The Webs They Weave

The activities of eight people led to The Guardian's 'cash for questions' article -
- four of whom have a shared interest in the British and US intelligence services
(page four of four)

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David Hencke

The Guardian Westminster correspondent who penned The Guardian's original invented 'cash for questions' article of 20 October 1994, falsely accusing lobbyist Ian Greer of paying MPs Tim Smith & Neil Hamilton to table parliamentary questions, and falsely accusing Neil Hamilton and his wife of having 'free shopping at Harrods'.
    In his witness statement dated June 1995 in defence of Ian Greer's and Neil Hamilton's libel action, Hencke claimed that he and his colleague, John Mullin, had conducted fulsome inquiries into all of Mohamed 'Al' Fayed's allegations during July 1993, supposedly refuting the suggestion that Fayed had made his allegations out of spite by events that took place during September-October 1994 i.e. immediately prior to the publication of his article.

David Hencke, author of the Guardian's original 'cash for questions' article accusing lobbyist Ian Greer of bribing Tory MPs.

David Hencke

However, the evidence shows that Hencke & Mullin's July 1993 inquiries were concerned only with lobbyists Ian Greer Associates and Hamilton's stay at the Ritz, and had not been prompted by Fayed making allegations at all.  To the contrary, the evidence shows that The Guardian had set about investigating Greer in July 1993 on the instruction of its editor Peter Preston, having been prompted by ten years of rumours about Greer which had come to a climax during a major Commons debate on lobbyists a few days earlier on 28 June. 
[see "The concise true story of the 'cash for questions' affair" and "The brainwashing of a democratic state", both in Section Two].

Mark Hollingsworth

Hard-Left former Observer and Granada TV journalist, and a confidant of David Leigh, Andrew Roth, and Labour MP Dale Campbell-Savours.
    Hollingsworth is best known as the co-author of the book Defending the Realm, which catalogues the revelations of renegade MI5 intelligence agent David Shayler, and as the co-author of a number of articles featuring Shayler's disclosures for the Mail on Sunday during 1997, prior to the dismissal of the paper's then editor, Jonathan Holborow. 
    Hollingsworth's association with Leigh came about at the Observer during early 1987, where they co-authored articles attacking Conservative MPs.  Their liaison began with a series of articles during the run up to the June 1987 general election implying that the Conservative MP for Winchester, John Browne, had improperly failed to declare his business interests in the parliamentary Register of Members' Interests.  Following publication Browne immediately issued libel writs.

Former Observer and Granada journalist Mark Hollingsworth

Mark Hollingsworth

During 1988, while Browne prepared his case, Hollingsworth moved to Granada TV's World in Action programme, where he researched several documentaries focusing on the outside business interests of Conservative MPs.  The first focused on John Browne MP.  Broadcast in April 1989 and entitled The Private World of John Browne, it followed the line of his & Leigh's Observer articles by implying that Browne had dishonestly broken the rules governing the registration of MPs' interests.  A few days after transmission David Leigh then submitted a complex complaint to his collaborator on the Members' Interests Committee, Dale Campbell-Savours, supposedly after having received a letter at the Observer from a constituent of Browne who had watched the programme.  Significantly, Leigh's complaint comprised of the same two allegations of improper non-registration of interests contained in the original article that Browne had issued writs over.
    Having received the complaint, Dale Campbell-Savours successfully persuaded the Conservative committee members that they should accept it for their consideration.  Subsequently, Leigh submitted several supplementary, highly convoluted complaints, which were also accepted for consideration.  The committee held a total of five hearings.  These comprised of two sessions in June 1989 hearing Leigh's complex allegations concerning Browne's business dealings over the previous decade, followed by three sessions in July when Dale Campbell-Savours interrogated Browne in time-honoured quick-fire 'Star Chamber' fashion.
    Six months later the committee were still arguing over the nuances of interpretation of the fledgling rules of registration.  Eventually Campbell-Savours proposed a 'compromise': - that all of Leigh's supplementary complaints should be rejected, but that his original two should be upheld.  Faced with this seeming reasonableness, and under pressure from Conservative Whips to show that the new system of self-regulation worked, the committee reluctantly adopted Campbell-Savours' suggestion.  The upholding of Leigh's original two allegations completely destroyed John Browne's libel action.
    When the committee announced its findings in February 1990 Browne made several efforts to have his case reviewed but Leigh's disingenuous articles created so much negative publicity that the Conservative hierarchy deselected Browne behind his back and undertook every effort to ensure that the matter would not be discussed again. 
    Two years later Browne won an MPs' ballot to debate an issue of his choice.  Accordingly, on Friday 28 February 1992, over five years since the publication of Hollingsworth & Leigh's article, and speaking to an almost empty chamber, Browne explained to the Commons how he had been the victim of a conspiracy to sink his libel action involving Hollingsworth, Leigh, Campbell-Savours and Granada TV executive Charles Tremayne.  During his speech Browne related how he had approached Campbell-Savours in a corridor and asked him why he had worked so hard to convince the committee to find in favour of the very two allegations about which he, Browne, had issued libel writs.  Browne quoted Campbell-Savours as having replied:
        "Look, you had libel suits out on those two complaints and I couldn't allow my friend [Leigh] to
        hang with a million pound suit.  That's why I pressed you hard on that point when we took evidence.
        You should have dropped it". 
Later in the debate Campbell-Savours intervened and asked Browne directly whether he had:
        "ever recorded with a taping device a conversation with any Member of the House of Commons
        without their knowledge and approval?"
--
thus demonstrating unwittingly that Browne had quoted him verbatim.  Browne replied:
        "Yes, I have... I realised at the very outset... of this fixing operation that I did so, just to make sure
        that the record was clear."

Hollingsworth's second programme on Conservative MPs' outside interests, entitled MPs for Hire, was broadcast on 15 January 1990.  The third, entitled An MP's Business, was transmitted on 30 March 1992 (i.e. in the final days before the general election of 9 April).  Both these programmes implied that Conservative MPs were greedy and corrupt.  No Labour MP's business interests featured in either programme though many held outside interests.
    While he was on Granada's payroll Hollingsworth co-authored a political book with Tremayne and authored two books focusing on Conservative MPs' outside interests, entitled MPs for Hire and A Bit on the Side, published in September 1991 and April 1994 respectively.  Hollingsworth wrote both of these books with the assistance of Andrew Roth, David Leigh, and Dale Campbell-Savours.  Like his Granada documentaries, both of these books implied that Conservative MPs were corrupt, and insinuated that lobbyist Ian Greer's commission payments to Michael Grylls and two other unknown MPs were covert bribes for supporting Greer's clients.
    Most interestingly, on 19 October 1998 Hollingsworth attended the launch of Jonathan Boyd Hunt's book Trial by Conspiracy, and sat silently alongside David Leigh while Leigh disrupted the conference.

Mark Hollingsworth is reported handling legal documents stolen from the chambers of Neil Hamilton's barristers.

13 Feb. 2000. The Mail on Sunday reveals that Hollingsworth had sold to Mohamed Al Fayed confidential papers stolen from the chambers of Neil Hamilton's barristers for £10,000

    
Sixteen months later on 13 February 2000, three months after Neil Hamilton had lost his libel action against Mohamed Al Fayed largely on the testimony of Fayed's three employees, the Mail on Sunday reported that prior to the trial Hollingsworth had provided Fayed with reams of draft cross examination papers stolen from the chambers of Hamilton's barristers in exchange for £10,000 cash.  The papers had been taken by a certain Benjamin 'the binman' Pell, who makes his living rifling dustbins for confidential information to sell to Britain's voracious press.  It transpired later that Pell had stolen the documents on the express instruction of The Guardian's comment editor, David Leigh -- i.e. Hollingsworth's fellow expert on supposed corruption among Conservative MPs [to download the Mail on Sunday article CLICK HERE
].

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