Matthew Steeples suggests that despite standing accused of “mistake making”, Exaro is still an invaluable investigative news source and one that the public should continue to take seriously
On Sunday, the economist and investor Dr Jerome Booth shared a statement he made regarding his relationship with the investigative news source Exaro with The Steeple Times. In it, he declared his belief “that Exaro and its journalists are carrying out important work in the public interest, breaking stories about VIP child abuse and a range of other subjects” and added: “While my company New Sparta funds Exaro, Mark Watts and his team operate entirely independently of New Sparta. I have no influence over the subject of their investigations whatsoever, and nor should I”.
Naturally, many readers will not have heard of either Dr Booth or New Sparta until now but given the publicity that Exaro has attracted in recent days in the context of it being criticised by the BBC’s Panorama in a feature on investigation into alleged historic abuse by VIPs, it is timely to analyse the relevance of a news source that prides itself on “holding power to account” and that of the man whom funds it.
Specifically lambasted and accused of not properly checking accusations put to it by alleged victims named “Darren” and “Nick” and for having piled misery on such people as Lord Bramall, Lord Brittan and Harvey Proctor, it should be remembered that previous investigations by Exaro have resulted in important news stories– that mainstream titles did not see fit to pursue – being brought to public attention. The title’s work exposing civil service tax avoidance and their publishing of secret tapes where Rupert Murdoch claimed the phone hacking scandal was “the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing” can especially be commended at a time when most papers are more interested in the trivial antics of Miley Cyrus and Caitlyn Jenner than real news.
Rightly, also on Sunday, The Guardian’s Peter Preston suggested critics should realise that: “There’s been much necessary revelation, too. If you never risk a mistake in these dangerous regions, you’ll never find anything out. And, as we know now, there was and still is so much left to discover”. He is right. Exaro may quite possibly have made errors in their approach but many questions about what went on at such places as the Elm Guest House remain unanswered. It is right that Mark Watts and his team to pursue these stories as, for example, if such people as Mark Thomas-Williams had caved in at the behest of those who believed Jimmy Savile innocent, his victims would never have been able to share their stories. The alleged victims of abuse at Westminster deserve to be heard also and again, today, we join with those that stand against those seeking a media blackout on this.
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