artswith Film Conscience at GCHQ spy base

I still remember the night, 16 years ago, when GCHQ whistleblower Katharine Gun spoke to the NUJ’s Gloucestershire Branch in the back room of a Cheltenham pub. The 28-year-old told around

hushed 40 journalists how she, a translator at the town’s GCHQ spy base, came across a confidential email from the US intelligence body the National Security Agency requesting the secret and illegal bugging of United Nations offices in Angola, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea and Pakistan. The US wanted to eavesdrop on

the offices to blackmail the nations into voting for the Iraq War. Horrified, she printed a copy of

the email and gave it to a friend, who passed it to a journalist. The story was splashed in the Observer, making headlines around the world. Members of the UN’s Security

Council were outraged and any chance of a UN resolution in favour of war collapsed. But, within days, President George Bush, declared he did not need UN backing and invaded Iraq anyway. When Katharine confessed to her

line manager, she was arrested and charged with breaking the Official Secrets Act.

20 | theJournalist The case led to the NUJ to call for

a ‘public interest’ defence to protect whistleblowers who give stories to the media to expose official lies, dirty tricks or corruption. The case came to court in February

2004, and lasted just 30 minutes after the prosecution declined to offer any evidence. Gun was planning to argue she had leaked the email to save lives from being lost in a war, which led to suggestions the government backed down rather than risk exposing more confidential documents. Her story has now been

dramatised. Gun is played by Keira Knightley and reporters Peter Beaumont and Martin Bright by Matthew Goode and former Dr Who Matt Smith respectively. Barrister Ben Emmerson is played by Ralph Fiennes. Speaking to Gloucestershire Live

after the film was announced in 2016, Gun said: “It’s a good opportunity to focus people’s minds not only on that period in time but also on the ramifications of the invasion of Iraq and how the ripple effect has carried on. The violence, the refugee crisis, Isis – they’re all intertwined in many ways.” Official Secrets is on general

release from October 18.


by Tim Lezard

Comedy Shit-faced Shakespeare On tour throughout the UK in October A couple of curveballs for you this edition. Why not watch a Shakespearean classic with a twist? The Shit-faced Shakespeare

Company gets one of the world’s finest classically trained Shakespearian actors drunk for four hours before a show, then lets the remaining, sober, cast members fight their way through, incorporating, rectifying and generally improvising around their inebriated castmate. What could possibly go right? http://shitfaced

Austentatious Touring the UK throughout October Or you might prefer Austentatious: an Improvised Novel, an hour-long comedy play spun in the inimitable style of Jane Austen – and based entirely on audience suggestions.

Count Arthur Strong On tour throughout the autumn Don’t all journalists love Count Arthur Strong?

The bumbling music hall legend living on his memories became a hit on BBC Radio 4 with his clever wordplay and malapropisms but, sadly, failed to translate to television. A return to the stage is a return

to form for Steve Delaney’s brilliant character.

Music The Unthanks The Emily Brontë Song Cycle Touring the UK in October Continuing the literary theme, art folksters the Unthanks are touring their new show, The Emily Brontë Song Cycle, Commissioned to mark Brontë’s 200th birthday. Using Brontë’s cabinet piano to write

on, Yorkshire-born composer Adrian McNally has turned 10 of her poems into song, performed with bandmates Rachel and Becky Unthank and recorded in the parsonage in Haworth where Brontë lived and worked. Why not check out this unique

collaboration between a literary great and one of the UK’s most innovative and critically acclaimed bands?

Holy Moly & The Crackers On tour in October Newcastle party band Holy Moly & The Crackers make riotous music for the masses. Their newest album, Take A Bite, is a concise, passionate take on folk, blues and indie rock. They are touring their party-like live show across the UK. Don’t miss them.

The Great Geordie Songbook (Volume 1)

Sage Gateshead November 3 Following the huge successes of Mr Corvan’s Music Hall, The Great Joe Wilson, Hadaway Harry, three fantastic Great Joe Wilson Nights and Carrying David, Wisecrack Productions presents classic Geordie songs about all aspects of working class life,

Some of the best things to

see and do with a bit of political bite

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