Looks like the Independent is heading for a costly and damaging liable case about to be launched by two, and possible three Egyptian publishers and media companies, unless the Inde prints a humiliating apology and retraction, although the injured party, being a publisher and media savvy himself, tells me he is adamant the apology printed to the same space of the offending piece.
The Inde’s Cairo hack penned a piece accusing two publishers, who hold majority in a couple of Egypt Independent television and radio networks, of plotting to get the former head of intelligence to run for president and force a candidate from the military establishment on the people. In addition to the factual inaccuracy and errors (which I will point out below) two of the people named in the story assure me that the alleged meeting NEVER took place. And the main person named in the piece has been out of Egypt for the past two months and has not returned yet.
In addition Mr al-Amin, named in the piece, is contacting his London lawyers to start a legal action against the Inde. He also assures me that author of the Inde piece, never tried to contact him, contrary to what the hack has scribed. In short he Fisked the entire episode. To fisk it, means to ‘ make it up’.
Now let us see the list of violations of PPC code, the NUJ code of conduct and the principles of good journalist.
First, the Inde’s Cairo hack editorialise a news item, by mixing opinion with news.
Second the paragraph reading ” Murad Mowafy : For those who can still remember the 2011 revolt, Murad Mowafy may be the old regime candidate. He was the former head of the notorious mukhabarat, or secret police.”
This paragraph contains four factual errors. 1- Mukahabart is NOT the secret police (which is a different organisation under the Home orifice – Wizarat al-Dakhliyah) . But Mukahabart is the Military intelligence, and it is a ministry under the Defence Office.
2nd factual error Former: LtGen Mowafy was not in charge of Intelligence during 2011 anti Mubarak revolution, (it was the late Gen Omar Soliman) Mowafy he became head of the intelligence AFTER Mubarak was toppled…
3d factual error: Lt Gen Mowafy had nothing to do with police or with intelligence before summer 2011, because he was a civil servant at the Department of local Government as a governor of a province.
4th Factual error, the military intelligent enjoys a great deal of respect among the population ( there is always positive TV series about Mukhabart and they are always the good guys) , the one with the notorious reputation was a third group (the Inde hack didn’t even mention it) called the State Security Monitoring & Inquiry Service ( Mabaheth Amn el-Dawlah)…
Another question is the Inde hacks assertion ”Some observers questioned why Adli Mansour, the interim President, had not been tasked with delivering the speech.” seems strange as he quotes various personalities and activists but fails to find one of those so called observers to quote him/her by name, which leaves him open to accusations of it being his own opinion in a news report.
My own research and contacts with three of the people named in the article convinces me that the Independent Cairo reporter did not tray heard ( to say the least) to contact any of the people he named in the piece alleging they had dinner together. They deny it took place and deny getting any messages from the reporter.
Below is how we base the criteria for checking reports:
I try to monitor UK media reporting on Egypt ( since we have contacts and correspondents there and can check facts on the ground with near 100% accuracy) to see whether correspondents , analysts or columnists stick to the traditional fleet street criteria ( ie PPC Press Complaints Council Editors Code of Practice ) ; the Of-Com Broadcasting code ;& the BBC Editorial Guidelines ; the NUJ ( national Union of Journalists) Code of Conduct and last but not least the obvious commonsense practice of sticking to facts, sourcing information, abiding by laws, and making a clear distinction ( easily noticeable and understood by readers/viewers/listeners) between hard facts, and opinion, analysis or guess. In the light of such criterion I will try to highlight shortcomings or errors by British media. I hope fellow hacks and hackettes are not offended but try to see it as an extension or further explanation to what might have been overlooked in the rush to meet deadlines.