Wednesday, 20 April 2011


Tim Hetherington, Photographer

Although I never had the privilege of knowing Tim Hetherington, his death today in Libya is nevertheless a grim and salutary reminder of the price that freedom exacts when we are in the business of dealing with dictatorships and tyranny.

Tim Hetherington is an outstanding Photographer, who insisted on using traditional 'old fashioned' equipment, development through negative, so as to truly capture the visciousness of war, that we at home might become more aware and educated on just what price is being paid in the various theatres of war in which this country is currently engaged.

His unique ability lies also in his method of reporting; his style, his humanitarian and compassionate approach, all with one aim: to alert all of us to the sacrifices being made and to bring the full facts to us.

It is absolutely essential that our photographers and journalists be allowed access to areas of operations. We, the general public, must know what is going on. The presence of photographers and journalists just might be that final lifeline to a community that, without their presence, would be in even greater danger and possibly facing mass slaughter.

This is the horror of war.

It is the scenario upon which human nature plays itself out; and our photographers and journalists are that vital check and balance that might stay the hand of a tyrant, and which enables our own troops to complete the operation in Afghanistan, or the rebel forces on the ground in Libya, and the NATO air forces enforcing the no-fly zone above.

Captain Lisa Jade Head

Equally tragic this week is the death of Captain Lisa Jade Head from 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, who died at Queen Elizabeth NHS Hospital, Birmingham of wounds suffered in Afghanistan on Monday. The second female British soldier to have been killed in action in this war and the 364th soldier to have been killed in action since operations began in Afghanistan.

The extraordinary bravery of soldiers called upon to clear minefields cannot be overstated. Few are able to even stay the intsenive course of training. Those who do and then take up operations in the field are very brave people indeed. For let us not forget that often, whilst they are very carefully and methodically defusing an explosive device, they are doing so under fire; not occasional fire, but systematic fire, a full blown battle that involves sniping, mortar fire and even hand to hand fighting; something that is not fully reported.

Let us keep the bravery of these courageous people in mind.

Ian Bradley Marshall
21 April 2011


This morning's outcome of the Judicial Review in the High Court is a landmark review and one can only hope that if the banks appeal, as they are likely to do, then the Supreme Court will not bottle out at the last moment.

Meanwhile, every customer who has been sold payment protection insurance by these banks, should seriously consider lodging a claim. Lodge the claim and request confirmation of the new reference number. Keep it short and simple, direct and to the point. Do not start arguing the case in that letter. All the notification of claim is doing at this stage is to put the banks on notice that there is likely to be a groundswell of public opinion that will increase dramatically over the months ahead.

In all my years I have never seen the banks behave in flagrant disregard of the general public as we have seen over the last decade, although to be fair, some are now trying to bring some measure of order to their disordered houses. That the banks have actually done everything possible to turn the Recession that they caused, to their own personal private advantage beggars belief. In less tolerant regimes, we do not need to use our imagination as to the outcome. Thankfully, this is the United Kingdom. That does not mean that the general public is soft. Far from it.

This Judicial Review will today have made quite a few well cushioned bums on seats in high places, chairmen and chief executives, higher executives and not a few bank officials on the counter, feel a little queezy.

So be it. It is deserved.

Today's Judicial Review has all the hallmarks of turning the general public's concern into outright anger and demand for even more root and branch change as did the Daily Telegraph when it first blew the whistle on MPs Expenses.

Let the action begin.

Ian Bradley Marshall
20 April 2011

Saturday, 9 April 2011


It goes without saying that with the advance of technology now being so fast, today's developments often being rendered obsolete by tomorrow or certainly within the week, there travels alongside it the ever present temptation to misuse that technology.

A decade ago I would not have been paying too much attention to the News of the World, or News International because at that time I had no contact with the media industry in any form. So what reporters and journalists got up to didn't interest me too much.

Now it is different.

A friend told me how two weeks ago a young person's facebook account was left on, friends entered the barracks room in his absence and made adjustments, and then posted them on to the wall. I am well acquainted with the military, suffice to say that had that ever happened in my command, there would have been instant dismissals. Now what is left is the smoking gun.

Two years ago, I too found to my horror that my own emails had been read for a whole year by one of my own employees who was in an extremely privileged position. That person had set up the firm's computer network and when he mentioned one day that he had set filters to intercept inappropriate emails, it did not occur to me that he was filtering mine too. No wonder he seemed always to be totally in tune with matters of company policy, discussions at board level and so on. Long after the company had closed, this came to light when friends asked me why it was that they were receiving 'on holiday away from office' emails from this person in relation to emails I was sending them, 4 months after the end of his employment.

I shall never forget the sinking feeling. Nor the sense of total betrayal. Professional correspondence, family correspondence, the lot! And something like that takes a long, long time to get over. Fortunately, I am able to write and so decided to just get it out of my system by writing the poems The Blackmailer and Blagger

We have some of the finest Journalists in the world. We see their reports daily whether at home or from the front line in Afghanistan or Libya or the Ivory Coast or Japan or New Zealand.

It is therefore essential that the police properly conduct their investigation and seriously consider presenting their findings to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision on whether to proceed to trial to protect privacy but also to protect the reputation of good Journalism.

I wonder what would happen if the general public decided on Sunday morning that it had had enough of this misbehaviour and decided that from next Sunday on, it would not buy a single copy of the News of the World?

An interesting point to ponder.

Ian Marshall
9 April 2011