In March this year I was contacted by email from a member of the editorial staff of the Belfast Telegraph newspaper.
They wanted me to write a piece about the upcoming Rangers EGM that would see Mr David Cunningham King and his colleagues take power.
I had been contacted, I was told, because of the fact that I was a journalist who had authored a book on the downfall of the Ibrox club.
For the avoidance of doubt dear reader Downfall is the ONLY book on that subject.
I asked the commissioning editor if he needed a small blurb on me to introduce me to their readers:
“Do you need a bottom of the page two liner blurb about me?
Given I am unknown to BelTel readers…”
His reply was:
“Please… better in your words than ours, and, believe me, your reputation goes before you… blog is very widely read in the north”.
We agreed a fee and a word limit.
I duly filed the copy on deadline.
It was published pretty much word for word on Friday 6th March, the day of the EGM.
This, dear reader, is the normal business of a freelance journalist.
There is a list of publications on the home page of this site from An Phoblacht to the Guardian and the Mayo News that have published my work.
I thought no more of it until on Saturday night (March 7th, 2015) when the following post was brought to my attention.
I contacted the member of the Belfast Telegraph who had commissioned me, and he said that he knew nothing of this and that he had “kicked it upstairs”.
I did not hear back from the Belfast Telegraph on this issue so I raised it with my union the National Union of Journalists, and the matter was discussed at the Irish Executive Council (IEC) of the NUJ.
It was agreed that this was a serious matter and should be investigated.
It was also raised at the Freelance Industrial Council of the NUJ which also covers the UK as well as Ireland.
Subsequently, the Irish Secretary of the NUJ, Séamus Dooley, then wrote to the editor of the Belfast Telegraph Ms Gail Walker.
The Belfast Telegraph duly replied:
And the NUJ responded:
At the time of this post by the Rangers Supporters Trust on Saturday March 7th, 2015 there was much back-slapping on Twitter that night by The People about a job well done.
In their world view, another mainstream media organisation had been ‘put right’ about me.
However, I did not respond to this Twitter storm. Instead, I decided to seek the support and guidance of my union.
I have no doubt that Ms. Walker at the Belfast Telegraph will carry out a thorough investigation into the matter.