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History
THE LONG VIEW
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THE LATEST PROGRAMME
Tuesday, 30 September 2003, 9.00am repeated 9.30pm.
Jonathan Freedland looks for the past behind the present. Each week, The Long View, recorded on location throughout the British Isles, takes an issue from the current affairs agenda and finds a parallel in our past.
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Journalists protecting their sources

THE SILENT MEN

As the Hutton Inquiry investigates the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr. David Kelly, the longstanding journalistic ethic of not revealing sources has come under scrutiny but this is not the first time that principle has been in contention.

This week we return to 1963 and the Vassall Inquiry. John Vassall was an Admiralty clerk caught spying for the Russians. It was the latest in a line of spy scandals to plague the Macmillan government and the lack of security and in particular Vassall's homosexuality sent the press into a feeding frenzy with journalists trying to sniff out liaisons between Vassall and certain government ministers. Macmillan set up a tribunal under Lord Radcliffe to investigate the affair.

On Location
Jonathan Freedland, Peter Preston, Roy Greenslade in Whitehall


As in the case with Hutton, Radcliffe called civil servants, journalists and politicians to give evidence but, unlike the contemporary parallel, spared the prime minister himself. Two of the journalists appearing were Brendan Mulholland of the Daily Mail and Reg Foster of the Daily Sketch. Mulholland had claimed in an article that Vassall was known as 'Aunty' in the Admiralty and Foster that Vassall was in the habit of buying women's clothing from a West End store. When asked to reveal the sources of their information both men declined. They were sent by Lord Radcliffe to the High Court to answers charges of contempt of court. There they were sentenced to six and three months respectively - the first journalists to go to prison for refusing to reveal their sources.

On Location
Left: Glenn Frankel
Right: Edward de Souza


Contributors:
Professor Roy Greenslade - Author of The Press Gang: a History of the Press
Peter Preston - Editor of The Guardian at the time of the Sarah Tisdall affair
Glenn Frankel - The Washington Post
Edward de Souza - Actor


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THE LONG VIEW
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In Our Time
Thursday 9.00-9.45am, rpt 9.30-10.00pm. Melvyn Bragg explores the history of ideas. Listen again online or download the latest programme as an mp3 file.
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PRESENTER
Jonathan Freedland
Jonathan Freedland is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster. A twice-weekly columnist on the Guardian, he also presents BBC 4's The Talk Show on Monday nights at 8.30pm. He is author of the book Bring Home the Revolution, an acclaimed analysis of modern America.

Read a full profile of Jonathan Freedland on BBC 4

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