Dealing with the media — a new and surreal world

At last I have time to pause for thought and I’ve been promising myself that I’ll document the events of the last few days.

Starting with the most exciting aspect of the campaign so far. Thanks to the persistence of a fearless highly persistent and delightful woman, called Mary Gaskin, The inimitable Paul Broadbent, of the Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority, has agreed to come on board. Not only that, he’s prepared to come to Australia on a campaigning trip with me. This man has changed the face of UK immigration through using the media to expose case after case of abuse. He is an indomitable ally and in terms of friends in high places… he spoke to Kevin Hyland OBE yesterday and is conversant with people at the very top in government. It doesn’t get much better in terms of support, and I know with his help we can one day achieve at least some of our objectives.

The only downside is, he’s urging me to work with the Mail on Sunday. I was approached by Caters news agency with an offer from the MoS, and there are a number of reasons why I’m in a quandary about this.

I am aware that the campaign lends itself to a politically dubious narrative. ‘How can an English-speaking nation, a Commonwealth country no less, treat our young people in this way?’ I am aware the Tory right will have no qualms in taking it up and running with it, and that doesn’t sit easy on my Socialist bones. Involving the GLA will hopefully ensure that the campaign is about legislation and rights, rather than replacing one ethnic group of workers with another, who potentially could be treated far worse than the backpackers I am trying to help.

However, working independently as I have been doing, so far myself and a group of loyal, hard-working friends have garnered 4000 signatures, through our blood, sweat, tears and shameless on-line harassment of anyone we can think of who might bother to sign it. This is nowhere near enough… we need 50,000 signatures to get this debated in parliament. And the Mail group has the biggest readership of any newspaper conglomerate in the world.

So the fiasco begins. I’m approached by Caters, who mention the Mail on Sunday as a potential ally, quoting healthy sounding four and five-figure sums in exchange for exclusivity. The Mail itself, and particularly the Mail on-line, have done everything they can to wring a sleaze-ball sexed-up story based on some pictures of Mia in a basque and the fact she worked in a night club… they actually had the nerve to call it a strip joint at one point! (Having visited it I can assure you it’s anything but, however I’ve already covered that in the Independent blog I wrote in the week of my trip to Australia). I’m now planning on ‘getting into bed with the devil’ as Cousin Henry puts it so colourfully!

Anyhow, having agreed to talk to the Head of their Newsdesk, post meeting with Paul Broadbent, who is encouraging me on the basis of their huge readership, I’m then approached by someone senior from their Features desk, who wants to cut Caters out completely, and pretends he has no idea that the News desk have approached me. When I candidly ask him if he knows about the deal he laugh in derision at the name Caters and says he sees no reason to work with an agency. He offers me somewhat less of a payment, which I in turn treat with derision (even though it’s somewhat more than the the UKs average monthly wage). As he’s talking to me I swear I can hear someone walk into his office and shout ‘Rosie Ayliffe is off!’

Then Caters get back and ask for an email saying I want them to represent me! Phone call after phone call as they try to undermine each other.

And these pillars of our society — who can’t even work together under the same roof — think I’m going to trust them in Australia while I’m confronting Hostel owners, dealing with whatever I find out about Mia’s death at Home Hill, and taking on the Australian status quo? How vulnerable will I feel with the addition of people who can’t be trusted not to make every attempt to undermine and belittle me to one of the largest readerships in the world?

Simultaneously I’m talking to the BBC, and they’re refusing to work with the Mail group, which is a bit of a clincher, as if the BBC won’t work with them, neither will any other TV production company. The rationale is that the Mail will continually leak any story back to their on-line publication as it’s happening, which is how they always seem to be ahead of the news, by being unethical. In addition, exclusivity will mean I can’t talk to any other press, and I’m fairly sure they’ll want me to stop blogging.

There’s the added complication of having to run everything I do past my conscience, which has recently taken the voice of a certain twenty-year-old, who always checked my motives for authenticity and is now observing me with her usual cynicism! Love you beautiful girl.

Just in case, I’ve already lined up as many lawyers as I can find to run any contract they might choose to put under my nose, and I’m adamant I’m refusing an exclusivity clause, while Caters are insisting the Mail are unlikely to get on board without one. Watch this space!

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