The article below first appeared in Notes From the Borderland issue 3 2000-2001 p.3-8 and is, we believe, of enduring importance, as it accurately nailed the dishonest 'new breed' of TV 'investigative journalists', an insult to the term. Macintyre & those behind him were certainly clever, not in the sense of undertaking genuine investigations, but in dressing up information received primarily from 'official sources' as though it were not. In the day (as they say) Macintyre was a 'big thing', his talent for self publicity knew no bounds. His career subsequent to the show analysed below has hardly flourished, intermittently chronicled in various NFBs (issue 4 p.5/issue 7 p.47/issue 8 p.50). Most recently, he was spotted on regional TV in London looking sheepish reading out reports of lost pets & such-like, still trying to inject an air of mystery into the blindingly obvious. Amusing as his trajectory might be, the hammer-blows Macintyre & other practitioners of SPIJ (State-compromised Pseudo-Investigative Journalism) delivered to the already ailing body of TV investigative journalism are no laughing matter. Though he is, we think you'll agree, an intrinsic figure of fun--a far better clown than journalist.
PC MACINTYRE... UNCOVERED
by Steve Patterson & Larry O'Hara
In 1999 the BBC showed a major investigative series, 'Macintyre Undercover', with accompanying book and glowing media accolades. In the BBC's 2000 annual report Chairman Sir Christopher Bland singled the programme out for particular praise. Donal Macintyre, former print journalist in Ireland and graduate in England of the World In Action reporting school, had made it .
What a difference six months made. Macintyre's laughable documentary on football hooliganism screened 10/11/99, and a seriously shifty performance on Radio 5 Live's Nicky Campbell Show (8/12/99) more than alerted the interest of NFB. To date, while others have been subject to scrutiny, nobody has commented critically (as opposed to satirically) on the football programme. No longer. We have analysed both film and book cross-referencing them with each other and our own information. While the results didn't surprise us. we hazard they will surprise people naive enough to imagine Macintyre was/is a genuine investigative journalist. But then such people no doubt believe The Guardian a cracking good read. In what follows we refer to the football TV documentary as film, and related book 'Macintyre, One Man Four Lives' as book. Page numbers in brackets refer to this text.
PREVIOUS FIXTURE: HEADHUNTERS 1 POLICE 0
On 12 May 1987 5 Chelsea football hooligans were jailed for a total of 38 years. The trial, costing £1.75 million, followed a police operation initiated October 1985 in West London -'Operation Own Goal'. The own goals in this match however, came from police. Dodgy notebook evidence from dodgy geezers led to eventual acquittals and the collapse of 3 similar trials . Not only had crimes been mistakenly attributed, the role of the boys in (temporary Chelsea) blue as regards encouraging, facilitating and participating in violence meant they themselves were compromised. Subsequently, the police, and Football Intelligence Unit (hereafter FIU) especially, have been obsessed with Chelsea. As regular as clockwork, every new football season starts with a 'briefing' on how dangerous Chelsea are (off the pitch at least). In August 1993 for example, Bryan Appleby, FIU Head at NCIS singled out (yet another) "new generation of extreme right-wing football hooligans...involved in violent crime in Britain and abroad" . There was also wistful reference to the failure of Operation Own Goal, which had created a mythology of Chelsea as "untouchables" .
REPORTING FOR DUTY
In view of past matches between police and Chelsea, it was no shock Macintyre focused on the Chelsea Headhunters, and visited the Football Intelligence Unit. It is our contention, however, that Macintyre's dealings with the police were so extensive, and incestuous, his was in effect a police programme, all the more pernicious in that (unlike 'Crimewatch') it masqueraded as 'investigative journalism'. In case you think that too strong a statement for a genteel magazine like NFB, review the facts below. For convenience, we divide evidence into the openly disclosed, and that which Macintyre made some attempts to conceal, or has not trumpeted.
DISCLOSED EVIDENCE OF POLICE INPUT
The final TV programme stated "I started with some background research. A sheet from the police files revealed a rogue's gallery of some of the most dangerous hooligans in the country" . Indeed, his reading (and access) was extensive, for "in the files one man's name keeps cropping up, Andy Frain" (film). In the book, Macintyre states he initially had in front of him an extensive press rogue's gallery of photos—a semantic distinction because these picture galleries come from the police anyway, even if presented as journalistic 'investigation' .
As well as written files, Macintyre & company were given photos. At one point Macintyre admits two researchers used Operation Own Goal trial pictures for identification purposes in the field (p.40). Macintyre himself was so well acquainted that in Lens he recognised "Stuart Glass instantly from the mug-shots" (p.40).
In addition to a free run through police files, Macintyre and crew got excellent access to police footage of football related violence and activity. This included not only a ruck filmed inside Maine Road during the Man City versus Millwall game 6/2/99, but CCTV footage of a fracas outside a pub near Baker Street 11/4/98. Such access has a price-lack of independence and genuine 'investigation'. There again. Macintyre wouldn't know the meaning of either word.
In the book, Macintyre makes no mention of FIU assistance apart from one aside concerning Clothier (see below). Yet the film of Macintyre getting briefed by Chief Superintendent Bryan Drew of the FIU clearly shows the starting point of his whole journey was West London FIU HQ. Indeed, Macintyre is even warned by Drew as to how Headhunters would react if he were discovered to be a journalist. This illustrates the Drew interview was early in the investigation, rather than simply added on at the end. Or if it was added on later, the complicity would be even greater than it appears.
CONCEALED/DOWNPLAYED EVIDENCE OF POLICE INPUT
The book provides ample indication, though indirectly, that the football programme was a police idea. On 17/4/98, the team had no idea as to what programmes to make, with a "blank briefing paper...and an empty folder". Macintyre affects to find this a good thing, admitting "we are touting for ideas. Anything is possible". Amazingly, he claims "Broadcasting doesn't get better than this" (p.24). Nothing we write could indicate better the shallowness and malleability of Macintyre & friends. By 5/5/98 the Headhunter "story comes from a producer, Pip Clothier, who is joining the team shortly" (p.25). A week later "Pip explains his reasoning...the Chelsea Head-hunters...have been causing trouble for decades. A major police undercover operation against them in the late 1980s failed. The group is still organised and responsible for some vicious attacks. The World Cup & Chelsea European matches next year give them plenty of excuses to cause trouble" (p.26). Any similarity between that and the FIU script was intentional. A clue as to origin is Clothier's next recorded comment--"journalists haven't travelled with this gang before. They have to be seen up close and personal to be believed" (p.26). If Clothier's source here (obviously) wasn't a journalist, it must have been the police, unless Clothier himself participated? Inasmuch as the idea for infiltrating the Headhunters came from Clothier, or at least is only credited to him by Macintyre, a revelation elsewhere in the book casts things in a different light. Later in the investieation, it was feared Manchester police (or even the FIU) had leaked information about footage taken at the City-Millwall game to the press. Clothier's response, and access, is significant in revealing his operational linkage to the FIU. According to the book "Pip has phoned the head of the Football Intelligence Unit, one of the parties present when our case was discussed in chambers. He assures us that the leak did not come from his organisation. He agrees to remind the police officers involved that it is contempt of court to reveal the information outside agreed channels" (p.203). Given the FIU is part of NCIS (National Criminal Intelligence Service), an organisation so riddled with corruption even Mafia-connected officers regard it a bad posting, this is fanciful. More to the point, there is no way a close relationship between the production team and FIU head (no less) would develop just as a result of being in chambers, or even merely filming an interview a few months before. That Pip Clothier contacted the FIU, rather than anyone else, speaks volumes about where the idea for 'infiltration' came from in the first place. The FIU were, it seems, just looking after their own. Clothier's close working relationship with the FIU, capable of getting the head to send memos to police colleagues shows how dishonest it was (if typical) of Macintyre to pretend the programme idea was Clothier's alone.
Although bound to be misrepresented we reiterate--what is objectionable is not Macintyre speaking to police on the record, but his pretence that spouting a police script using information they provide is investigative journalism. It isn't. Two contemporary newspaper articles preceding the June 1998 World Cup also articulated police concerns--but these journalists properly flagged up the police origins of their stories . Equally unimpressive is Macintyre using police methods without admitting provenance--for example bugging a car and then getting hooligans to boast was effectively used against Man City thug Mark Chapman in the 1980's .
A further indication not just of Macintyre's reliance on police, but attempting to cover this up. can be found in the yarn spinned to explain how targets Andy Frain and Jason Marriner were tracked down. The film shows Macintyre persistently hanging around Reading pubs hoping to bump into Frain. Yet this line of enquiry is not mentioned in his diary style book at all when surely it would have been relevant? Furthermore, there is a preposterous scene where Macintyre is filmed shown looking through micro-film of Reading newspapers for Frain's court appearances. This too isn't in the book. That the whole thing is a contrived cover-story, is emphasised by stating the plain obvious. Is it really likely that the FIU, free with Frain's photo, conviction-sheet and even witness statements from a supposed assault he carried out--is it likely they would not know and/or be unwilling to give out the addresses of Frain Marriner and Uncle Tom Cobbley (Shed End) to Macintyre? In which case these TV sequences are a fraud--perpetrated not against fascist hooligans, but viewers. The TV version clearly showed Macintyre at the FIU office receiving a guided tour of police Headhunter archives—no Data Protection laws in the way here! Whilst points like walking around Reading or visiting Reading Library may appear minor, they are important because these scenes purport to show Macintyre carrying out research. That his book does not mention this is crucial--why keep a diary during an investigation if key chunks of investigation are left out? That they were shown on TV self-evidently indicates Macintyre and crew thought these scenes important. The truth, as Macintyre well knows, is he had no need to tramp the streets looking for Frain or Marriner because their addresses and drinking dens were recorded in the very police files he obtained from the FIU. Of Frain, Macintyre later remarked "police had been after him for years" .
Looking for consistency between book and TV programme is a hard task, but constant bellyaching about Operation Own Goal acquittals is as close as you get , That Macintyre summarises the Operation Own Goal trial as having failed because there "were some discrepancies in the police evidence" (p.95) is like stating Jeffrey Archer's bid to become London Mayor failed merely due to CV 'irregularities'. The absence of freshly-filmed violence from Macintyre's finished product would have pleased the FIU--previous documentaries on football hooliganism hyped the subject and bolstered the reputations of the crews featured, most famously the 1985 documentary on West Ham's ICF. Significantly, the only footage shot from inside a ground was abroad in Copenhagen, where legal restrictions do not apply. You might see that as fair enough, but one reason for not filming inside British grounds is there would be no possibility of showing police malpractice or thuggery. The police would have been equally pleased Marriner's allegation that in one case (at least) they fabricated evidence against him was not shown on screen, or even looked into by Macintyre (p.182). Macintyre is many things—but investigative journalist isn't one of them. If he had been such, or even aspiring to be, he might have stood back and asked what the FIU were getting out of co-operating with him. Or, to be more exact, Macintyre might have had the courtesy to admit to viewers exactly what the motivation behind his programme really was. Crucial to Macintyre's attempted deception here was presenting cause (a police agenda) as effect (response to the programme). Thus, in the final follow-up programme Chief Superintendent Anthony Wills of Fulham police was interviewed, stating "as a result of our evidence police are looking at the possibility of conspiracy charges". Macintyre did not tell viewers the Football Intelligence Unit, who gave him so much assistance, is based at Fulham police station—in other words he presented a police response to a programme following their agenda as genuinely reactive. If deception was not the intention, why not have someone from the FIU openly on screen, maybe even previous interviewee Bryan Drew, also a Chief Superintendent? But that would have given the game away.
THE REAL TARGETS?
The two main targets of Macintyre's investigation, Chelsea fan Jason Marriner and roving hooligan/nazi Andy Frain seem to have been conspicuously absent from the 1998 World Cup, where Macintyre started his investigation. Coincidentally (or not) whilst Macintyre was busy in France with his back up team of 6, the BBC were also recording a Radio 5 Live documentary on the work of under-cover police officers investigating hooliganism in France i.e. the very same FIU that provided Macintyre's targets from their files , As Macintyre and team seemed extremely well briefed on Headhunter Stuart Glass, brother of former NF BNP and Combat 18 activist Warren Glass, one wonders if Marriner and Frain. neither the most intelligent of men, were the true targets of their investigation or simply ended up as the easiest ones to focus on due to big mouths. The fact Macintyre (and Clothier) flew to Majorca to see Chelsea play after Marriner said he was not going indicates a net cast wider than Frain and Marriner .
PC MACINTYRE: ALONE ON THE BEAT?
When presented with criticism of his care home investigation. Macintyre responded with hurt indignation. How could somebody be so beastly as to seriously compare screened footage with unedited film? Sadly for Macintyre and his BBC supervisors comparison between Macintyre the book and Macintyre the documentary on hooliganism throws up identical faults. There are serious chronological differences between the two. that raise doubts about the validity of the whole exercise - after all, if we believe what Macintyre's book is telling us how can we believe something entirely different in the film? We don't, but such discrepancies are interesting as they point towards things Macintyre and company want to conceal. In particular, not just the extent of collaboration with the police, but assistance from those within the milieu Macintyre asks us to believe he was bravely infiltrating.
Take what Macintyre himself portrayed as a crucial defining moment in his journey into the Headhunter world, acquiring a tattoo. In the book, the Chelsea tattoo was done 17/11/98 (p.104). In the film however, the tattoo was done just prior to meeting Marriner the day of a postponed game against Aston Villa—over two weeks earlier. 31/10/98. Earlier in the film, the impression is given the tattoo was done straight after moving into a flat near Marriner-in August! These inconsistencies are significant: the most likely explanation is some scenes presented as being filmed secretly were done with the connivance of targets. Hence, retrospectively producing a narrative that doesn't stand up to scrutiny. After all, the film stated of the tattoo that on 30/10 Marriner "doesn't seem too impressed". Indeed he wouldn't if this was a genuine sequence—the tattoo was not there for another 19 days. On 31/10 Marriner was still stand-offish, yet five days later met Macintyre in Copenhagen-how come? There is an answer, on which more below.
Another chronological discontinuity (to put it politely) concerns Danny Walford, a loud-mouthed Reading hooligan. The film shows Macintyre in a pub along with Danny just after Chelsea's visit to Copenhagen (5/11) and before the away trip to Leicester (21/11). Yet according to the book, Macintyre first hears a young Reading supporter talk about violence and introduces himself as late as 25/1/99 (p. 147). This is Walford, though he is not named until 30/1/99 (p.150). Then the most ludicrous mention of the lot—Macintyre is invited to Manchester for a ruck by Danny & friends after "having 'accidentally' bumped into them on the concourse at Euston" (p. 156). We are meant to believe Danny is being duped here, but the incongruities concerning Macintyre's dealings with Marriner and Walford (plus others) point strongly to Macintyre poorly concealing the level of inside help he had while filming.
Such help is not likely to have come just from assets inside the hooligan scene, nor even the FIU directly. There seems strong circumstantial evidence Macintyre had a code-word to give to uniformed police if stopped and searched. Not that Macintyre admits to this—he frequently emphasises how he has tricked police and daren't admit his true undercover role (e.g. p.149/150). Yet on one occasion, at the airport on the way to Amsterdam, Macintyre does admit his role to an airport official—thankfully just before Jason Marriner comes into view (p.99). This is as plausible (or not) as the frequent occasions when Macintyre claims he was only searched by police when lacking covert equipment  . On the 30/1/99 attack on the Bloody Sunday march, Macintyre asks us to accept he was searched twice by police minutes after divesting himself of such equipment. While Macintyre admits these searches were filmed by associates, the dialogue from either was not shown, especially relevant for the tiny fragment of him separated from the others at Embankment station. Full disclosure of these tapes would be most useful, though we strongly suspect there will not be full dialogue available from both occasions, for obvious reasons. The way it would work is simple—ancillary police assets like Macintyre will be given a code-word (perhaps of a police operation), or the name/telephone number of an officer contactable immediately, in order to get uniformed police instantly off their case. Any hooligan confidently expressing knowledge as to who Gold/Silver (police command terms) were that day would have to be taken seriously. One hopes wiseacres don't start routinely doing this to disrupt police operations...An amusing post-script is Macintyre's voice-over concerning this counter-demonstration. Speaking of his proximity to Frain Marriner and Walford he says he was "surrounded by three people I had spent a year befriending"--this when according to the book he only met Walford five days earlier. Intriguing, if not so amusing, is Macintyre's reference in both film and book to standing next to the head of Combat 18 (p. 152). Yet that person-Wilf Browning—is not named.
Macintyre's crude attempts to rewrite his relationship with various characters is likely to have been done to divert attention from who helped him and how much, and, just as importantly, what he did for them. It is noteworthy here that much footage of Macintyre interacting with hooligans came from two narrow time periods—between the post-poned Aston Villa (31/10) and West Ham (8/11) games on the one hand, and just before/after the Bloody Sunday counter-demonstration 30/1/99 on the other. Yet the impression is given of footage from a far wider period. Not that it is convincing to careful onlookers-the film showing Macintyre displaying his tattoo to Marriner for the first time (November at the latest) has them both wearing the same clothes and in the same location as the debriefing after the Leicester game, dated in the book as 3/12/98.
No doubt Macintyre and co will flannel about the need for artistic license to produce entertaining television where some hard and fast editing may be required. However, this was a documentary, not news programme, so the speed justification falls. Such an argument dashes against the rocks of our question - in which medium is Macintyre telling the truth? Or is he lying in both? If we can weaken his case simply by comparing book to TV programme -something nobody else has had the wit to do so far - what would we do to Macintyre if we got access to his unedited film? We hope to find out. An indication unedited football footage is as damnmg to Macintyre as unedited care home footage came in November 1999 when Chelsea FC requested access to unscreened footage so as to consider banning Marriner from the ground. To quote Ken Bates "Surprisingly the BBC have been uncooperative following the screening of their programme and have so far been evasive to our requests for access to their unscreened material." .
TRIPPING DOWN FULHAM BROADWAY?
"The golden rule is this: as an undercover reporter, you must never encourage anyone to do or say anything they would not otherwise do if you had not been there. The strict guidelines within broadcasting organisations about covert filming mean that every time I go into the field, a BBC committee or compliance officer has to grant me permission first" Macintyre hoists himself from his own petard, taking the BBC with him. (p.8)
Thus far. we hope to have shown Macintyre to be an evasive liar, pushing a police agenda, while presenting it as something else. Furthermore, we have raised questions about the extent of inside assistance Macintyre may have had from some he was covertly filming. Evidently, however, he did not have assistance from all of them, and even to those he was 'in' with. Macintyre had to offer something to ensure co-operation. We have more than a suspicion as to what it was. Macintyre on TV showed us a man able to slip into very different personas with considerable ease --football hooligan, fashion photographer. body guard, care home worker. There was one guise not considered suitable for the viewing public - Macintyre the drug dealer. Indeed, only the BBC, in their patrician arrogance, could publish a book in which a staff member poses as a drug dealer (see p. 14) yet produce a TV programme by the same journalist in which he is (apparently) never connected to drugs.
Not everybody at the BBC was blind to Macintyre's difficulty on this issue. On Nicky Campbell's Radio 5 Live programme. Macintyre faced a caller who innocently wondered how he explained his affluent lifestyle to fellow hooligans:
Callum from Liverpool "What did you tell these people your employment was when you hit the area in a big Merc?"
Macintyre "We certainly gave the appearance as one of the guys in the film says, that we were at it"
Campbell quickly moved the conversation on. with the eager participation of Macintyre, and when Callum tried to come in again he was simply talked over.
This hardly squared with the open admissions of Macintyre in his book to posing not just as a drugs dealer but having work for Marriner in the drugs field. In the film Macintyre hires a fancy car so as to be someone 'worth knowing"—in the book he is cast as a drug-dealer (p.50). Indeed, allegedly. Marriner thought him "a serious player who brings in high-grade 'skunk' from the West Indies" (p.105). In April 1999 Macintyre was even promising Marriner work running drugs himself, a "bogus cannabis run that is to take place at the end of the season" (p. 196).
Amsterdam is a Mecca for drug-dealers, and it is instructive Macintyre admits to telling Marriner he had transacted some 'business' in Amsterdam (p.94). In an interesting piece of film, taken in Copenhagen. Marriner tells Macintyre he "knew you were at it". This was used in the film as an instance of Marriner's general paranoia, but viewed in a drug-dealing context, it makes sense. It would explain why there was an apparent change of heart between 31/10. when Marriner was standoffish. and 5/11, when he was friendly and conspiratorial. The missing ingredient is likely to have been not just promise but provision of illegal substances by Macintyre. In case you think that too strong an imprecation, just apply some common sense. Given Macintyre posed as a drugs dealer (in the book) from August 1998 until May 1999 it would be remarkable, indeed incredible, if he neither took nor supplied drugs in that period. After all, if someone tells you they are a van driver would you not expect to see them at least once, during a nine month period, actually in a van? Frain and Marriner may be daft, but they are not that daft. Indeed, from the moment of Macintyre allegedly seeing Stuart Glass snorting cocaine off a table in June 1998 to a drug-fuelled attack on the Bloody Sunday march in January 1999, these people were presented as frequent drug-users. He claims to have postured as a supplier—in which case not only will they have asked for drugs, not supplying them would have blown his cover.
During Macintyre's investigation into fashion modelling he went to elaborate (filmed) lengths to apparently avoid taking cocaine and then flushing it down the toilet. That no such footage appears in the football film of Macintyre either disposing of drugs or even discussing their supply adds to our suspicions about why someone as unbelievable as Macintyre (complete with Southern Irish accent) lasted so long around the Chelsea scene. We await with interest any published report from the BBC committee (and the two Professors Tumber & Mahoney) sanctioning this behaviour, as Macintyre clearly stated he was working within BBC guidelines. Perhaps Frank Bough & Daniella Westbrook drew them up? Given drugs featured prominently in at least two of Macintyre's stories (and most probably in the untransmitted one involving City traders) it is legitimate to ask whether this committee or these tame academics ensured Macintyre submitted to standard FBI practice for informants infiltrating the Hells Angels--"periodic unannounced urinalysis tests to prove [they] don't use drugs" [I5]. If Macintyre did undergo tests, we'd like to know the results & who conducted them and how. If he didn't, then we trust readers have worked out why not.
SEARCHLIGHT: MORE INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE
No expedition into murky waters would be complete without sighting the rusty hulk of Gerry Gable and ship-mates. Gable appeared in both the documentary and Evening Standard article (10/11/99) promoting it, although is not mentioned at any stage in the book as advising Macintyre or thanked in the acknowledgements. This suggests Gable's role was to a large extent merely to add weight to the evidence presented in the documentary. Proof positive of the weakness of Macintyre's case that Marriner and Frain were super hooligans forever bringing society to the brink of destruction - when Searchlight are needed to patch up your story you really are in trouble! Evidence Gable can be trusted to spout any given script was shown by him speaking to camera unprompted—a contrast with the care homes film, where the MENCAP official had to be shown and talked through deliberately-doctored footage to produce the desired response. Visible collaboration with Searchlight, state annexe as they are, went a bit beyond this-the photos used in the documentary of the 30/1/99 demonstration previously appeared in Searchlight March 1999. There could be an element of double-bluff here, with Searchlight facilitating Macintyre's entry into the Chelsea milieu directly. Certainly, the April 1998 'World in Action' documentary on Combat 18 saw Darren Wells (for example) appear on screen unchallenged. Wells featured prominently in the January 1998 two-page free advert for the FIU in The Mirror . However, there is no need for Searchlight to have eased Macintyre's way into Chelsea circles via Wells or anyone else. Why should Macintyre depend on monkeys (Searchlight) when he was being guided by organ-grinders (the FIU)? To be fair, Macintyre's pathetic grasp of fascism is reminiscent of Searchlight, as when he claims to have purchased a (non-existent) BNP magazine called Insignia at a Southport Loyalist march [17|. On the subject of the 'team' we were fascinated to hear that during Macintyre's investigations at Chelsea who should be spotted enjoying a laugh and a joke with police officers at Stamford Bridge before the 1999 Chelsea v Man United FA Cup replay but Searchlight's man in Manchester Steve Tilzey. Football really is a funny old game!
MACINTYRE versus POLICE?
Casual readers of Macintyre's book could be forgiven for seeing Macintyre as an irritation to the police. During his book Macintyre claims to have had a run-in with Greater Manchester Police (to the extent that GMP took court action to access his footage from the Manchester City v Millwall riot 6/2/99). When news of his investigations into the Headhunters leaked out, Macintyre was so rattled he accused both Greater Manchester Police (p.202) and implicitly the FIU (p.203) of being to blame. Additionally he claims to have been stopped and searched frequently during the course of his investigations. Such an impression is false, and deliberately so. As discussed above, according to his documentary Macintyre was afforded the honour BEFORE beginning his investigation, of a tour of FIU files, and had ongoing help from them.
Being in cahoots with one section of the police, even the powerful FIU, is not the same as being in league with all of them (ask John Stalker). Prompted by Macintyre's show on care homes, Kent police investigated his allegations concerning the Brompton Care Home in Gillingham. As a result, they found Macintyre's documentary to be ''misleading". A former World In Action colleague of Macintyre, Alasdair Palmer followed up by going for Macintyre's jugular (Sunday Telegraph 25/6/00) listing a series of deceits in the Brompton documentary accomplished by highly creative editing and splicing of tape. Methods, as we have seen, also used in the football documentary. For Macintyre, low-life tricks and misrepresentation are no aberration, but the norm.
Macintyre's response (Press Gazette 7/7/00) to criticism of his care-home programme was to threaten Kent Police and The Sunday Telegraph with defamation writs--something both parties wisely laughed off. We hope to have shown Macintyre's investigation into the Chelsea Headhunters to be a concoction of fantasy, 'faction' and flannel, with the shadowy hand of the Football Intelligence Unit never far away from their not-so-cuddly glove puppet Macintyre. Happy to make allegations, Macintyre is not keen to back them up in detail. Whilst mere accusations amidst cleverly edited footage was enough to close down 4 care homes, making 84 people redundant and forcing 42 disabled people to move home, slightly weightier evidence is required in a court of law. When (in his book) Macintyre was expected to back up allegations from an earlier World In Action documentary, he suddenly came over all shy and wished to give evidence from behind a screen. How a supposed investigative journalist expects privileges normally reserved for operatives of Special Branch/MI5 when giving evidence is an interesting question. Perhaps the answer is as obvious to you as to us.
Why, you might ask, would the FIU use Macintyre to advance their agenda? The first reason is that through his prime-time programme they hoped to influence the policy-making process to their advantage. To have a supposed liberal journalist make propaganda while appearing autonomous must have been enjoyable. Second, an important operational reason—virtually all local FIU personnel are known to the Chelsea crew, as are their equivalents elsewhere known to local crews. Therefore, a new face, Macintyre, was necessary for such an exercise. The third reason for using Macintyre to gather evidence and intelligence is the FIU could thereby mount an operation unconstrained by normal budgetary restrictions. In this age of privatisation and self-finance for state agencies, the FIU remotely running an operation this way must have seemed attractive. Particularly, as remarked, because the results of an investigation the police themselves (especially after the failed Operation Own Goal) would probably have not been able to mount could then be used as ammunition in a campaign to widen conspiracy laws. From a BBC point of view, allowing police to write the script avoided them having to, and the great advantage of FIU programme sponsorship is that they (unlike Kent police) certainly weren't going to criticise their own show. Nor have they. The aim of FIU activity is not to eliminate football hooliganism, but manage it in a way consonant with police interests. As a former Chelsea hoolifan well put it, for the police "it was a mini industry...Lots of trips around the country and further afield. Overtime and expenses. Poring over information. Exchanging intelligence with other forces. Basically containing a problem that was really containing itself. I'm sure they loved it. It was in their interests to be seen to be on top of it—but not so much on top of it that the powers that be might consider disbanding the Football Intelligence Unit or other special divisions altogether" .
THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY
Playing fast and loose with the lives of vulnerable people in care homes is meat and drink to the likes of Macintyre. As too is slagging off Nazi no-hopers like Frain & Marriner. When it comes to the rich and powerful however, like all cowards Macintyre backs off. Thus, the Radio Times for 6/11/99 referred to his "covert filming operation" as. amongst other things, an "insider trader ". That programme, on the City, never appeared. Private Eye took up the story more recently, and reported the result of an enquiry made of the BBC. A Ms Lucia Fortucci claimed the City Trader programme "will be shown at a later date", the delay had been purely an "editorial one". Supposedly, the series was so popular the City Trader one scheduled for 7/12/99 was pulled to make way for an update--ludicrous, for clearly an update could have been shown a few weeks later. In June 2000 Fortucci again stone-walled, saying "there has still to be a date confirmed" , Private Eye contend it was pulled due to 'serious legal problems'—i.e. Macintyre tried to turn over the powerful, and bottled it. Whatever the reason, the book has no reference whatsoever to this fifth investigation, it has been airbrushed out as though it never happened. Unlike Nazis, or those in care homes, City types have legal clout—so Macintyre 'walked on by'. How brave (not).
Employing the soccer metaphor, Macintyre has a lousy record. The football show was ultimately, in terms of accuracy and integrity, a goal conceded, and it doesn't end there. After all, not only did Macintyre's care homes scam turn belly-up (2-0 down), the alleged Nigerian fraudsters had him well sussed (3-0). The City Trader blank makes it 4-0, and the only goal scored (an amazing revelation model agency chiefs lust after young girls) may well be disallowed—they apparently got their jobs back. Even granting Macintyre this consolation, a 4-1 thrashing is exactly that—but as a claimed Wimbledon supporter he knows all about getting stuffed and nothing about football.
EXPLAINING THE BANALITY
Quite rightly, satirical commentators such as David Baddiel ) stressed how Macintyre not only states the blindingly obvious as though it were new (football hooligans organise fights using mobiles and are often a tad racist) but also fills the screen with his ego. We contend that these two elements are there to fill a vacuum arising from the lack of any investigation other than what police wanted. This too explains the weight Macintyre attached to Headhunter illegality (drugs apart). This show was. in the end. an expensive self-justifying police trawl only simulating (poorly) journalistic investigation. As with much police work it was (like Macintyre himself) rather boring.
AFTER MACINTYRE: THE GOLDEN GOAL?
As a result of the TV documentary, Marriner apparently lost his job . He and Frain were subsequently arrested as part of Operation Athena, co-ordinated by the Metropolitan Police's Racial andj-Violent Crimes Task force, on 22/3/2000.' As both were charged! with conspiracy to commit violent disorder, the accuracy of Macintyre's investigation may receive a public airing. Those individuals fate was the hors d'oeuvre, not main course. Though by the criteria of Macintyre's police sponsors, a poor return indeed for such expenditure, amply explaining why the FIU's pay-masters would not spend police (as opposed to TV license-payers) money on this nonsense in the first place.
Following minor disturbances in Belgium during England's ill-fated Euro 2000 campaign, the expected media onslaught saw ever-pliant Home Secretary Jack Straw give police yet more powers in his new law against football hooligans, the Football (Disorder) Bill. Put simply an individual can be banned from travelling abroad to a football match if the police state he is a hooligan. Whether the person has any criminal convictions or not is irrelevant. This is frightening legislation—how long until it is extended to people the police say are political or industrial troublemakers and they are banned from attending demonstrations on the police's word? Such a law raises considerably the FIU's profile stature and funding. Macintyre's show was intended to help set that agenda-and did.
DONAL: TRANSFER LISTED?
The next 12 months are important for Donal Macintyre's career. Having raised the possibility of writs against Kent Police and The Sunday Telegraph he will be expected to put up or shut up. According to Private Eye Macintyre has a £150,000 contract with the BBC to record 4 new documentaries, less than the £300,000 he was reportedly demanding . Things are so bad, there seems only one logical (free) transfer option left—to join Andy 'Pip-squeak' Bell Nick Lowles and the other spook conduits on Panorama.
Should Frain and Marriner plead not guilty to charges arising from the programme, and encouraged by the collapse of Macintyre's Brompton case, attempt to cry foul, Donal Macintyre may have to take the uncomfortable step of appearing in public, as himself, and without back up in court. It will certainly make more interesting viewing than his TV programmes.
Inasmuch as Macintyre's programme is touted as the template for 'investigative journalism', our analysis was needed. It raises, albeit indirectly, disturbing questions. What are the implications for critical and engaged examination of contemporary society if this is the standard lo be aspired to? In the privatised age of channel fragmentation, is this fusion of cash-strapped programme makers and state agencies to become the norm? Looked at in the context of the happily defunct 'MI5 in Action' (aka 'World in Action') and the holed flagship 'Panorama' (see article on Copeland), are we witnessing a near-total closure of such possibilities? In a postmodernist age where principled opposition to dealing with secret state agencies is seen as passe, and Macintyre's target audience, Guardian readers, see MI5 recruitment adverts more in their paper than any other, is this it? We don't know the answers to these questions, but unlike Macintyre and his sponsors we care-as we do about football.
He may have won the propaganda battle, for that is what Macintyre Undercover was--staged propaganda stunts pretending to be investigations. Macintyre and his kind have not won the war-it is ongoing. Next!
1 The Radio Times (6/11/99) promised a 5 part series with covert investigations into the worlds of the hooligan, fashion photographer, body guard, care home worker and insider trader. For legal reasons as yet unclear to us. the insider trader programme never appeared. The BBC may now wish the same could be said for the whole series.
2 See for instance The Guardian 2/6/88. For an insider Chelsea view on the original trial see Martin King & Martin Knight 'Hoolifan' Mainstream 1999 p.134-136
3 paraphrased by Terry Kirby The Times 4/8/93
4 see also News of the World 12/4/98 (Alex Montgomery) reporting that Terry Last (lead fall-guy in the trial) had joined the England Supporter's Club.
5 7/12/99 BBC1
6 see for example The Mirror 12/1/98 (Oonagh Blackman— a surprise: not!).
7 'World Cup police to take the fight to football thugs' The Sunday Times 19/4/98 (Yvonne Ridley & Paul Nuki). 'Why police show a red card to this hooligan's book' The Independent 2/6/98 (Jason Bennetto).
8 Mickey Francis & Peter Walsh 'Guvnors' Milo Books (Bury) 1997 p.144-5.
9 Final TV programme 7/12/99
10 See for example p. 13, 26, 52 & 95.
11 The programme appeared 12/7/98.
12 On the Stuart Glass briefing see p.40-41. Macintyre also claims Glass sussed him at Tottenham at the close of the 1998-99 season. Oddly he states Glass had never seen him with Marriner or Frain (p.209). Is there a sub-text we're missing here?
13 see p.130, p.149. pp 153-54 & p.157
14 Chelsea v Bradford match programme 28/11/99.
15 Yves Lavigne Hells Angels' Harper New York 1996 p. 111.
16 Oonagh Blackman by-line 12/1/98.
17 p.44. Or was this just another Tim Hepple/Matthews' locally-produced scam?
18 Hoolifan (op. cit.) p.171. Not that 'elimination' is feasible even if it were desirable. The Hundred Years War was a series of rucks organised by the English state involving much the same social categories as hooliganism 600 years later.
19 Private Eye 14/7/00
20 The Guardian 9/12/99
21 Evening Standard (London) 11/11/99.
22 On Macintyre's contract problems see Private Eye 14/7/00. On his earlier demands see Daily Mirror 22/4/00 (Katy Weitz).