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Hacked Off chief stonewalls requests to name secret donors

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By John Glenday | Reporter

April 18, 2013 | 2 min read

Brian Cathcart, head of the vocal press reform group Hacked Off, has refused to name the financial backers who are underpinning the lobby groups operations – despite repeated requests to do so.

Cathcart faced an angry crowd at the Aye Write! Literary festival in Glasgow, when he repeatedly dodged requests to spill the beans during a debate, prompting frustrated members of the audience to shout ‘answer the question!’

Seeking to dodge the issue Cathcart questioned the financial affairs of several newspaper proprietors, despite having repeatedly blocked requests from Parliament for openness.

Cathcart will only concede that ‘some’ donors are celebrities grinding axes over past media indiscretions and that many of their supporters are not, saying: “Our funds? It’s almost funny to be lectured on financial probity by newspapers. For example, The Telegraph, which is owned by a couple of brothers who live in a tax exile in the Channel Islands. To be lectured on probity by the Daily Mail, whose owner is, as far as I am aware, a non-dom, and the owner of The Times and The Sun, who, well, where would you start?”

Hacked off receives funding from online donations as well as support from The Joseph Rountree Trust and actor Hugh Grant. Cathcart said: “We also get some money from donors who would prefer not to be identified. Now, why would they prefer not to be identified? Because the newspapers ... come for them and attack them personally... Why would they want that? The sums of money are minuscule compared to, for example, the £10 million that Rupert Murdoch gave Rebekah Brooks when she resigned in disgrace from his company. This is just not relevant.”

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