Harman's adviser, the lobbyist against freedom of Press: Recruit worked for Grant’s Hacked Off campaign
Gavin Freeguard worked for Hugh Grant's Hacked Off campaign and Media Standards Trust founded by Sir David Bell – assessor assisting LevesonBell is at heart of powerful nexus of left-of-centre individuals linked to Leveson inquiry into press standards which will published tomorrowPolitical adviser recruited from lobbyists pushing for statutory regulation
Mr Freeguard's presence in Harriet Harman's team chimes with her already declared support for end to any kind of Press self-regulation
08:13 GMT, 28 November 2012
Labour media spokesman Harriet Harman is employing a political adviser recruited from the lobbyists pushing for statutory regulation of the free Press.
Gavin Freeguard was until recently working for the Media Standards Trust and its spin-off Hacked Off campaign which is spearheaded by actors Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan, and Formula 1 tycoon Max Mosley.
The trust was founded by Sir David Bell, controversially chosen to be one of the assessors assisting Lord Justice Leveson to write his report on the future of newspapers. It will be published tomorrow.
New boss: Harriet Harman, left, is employing political adviser Gavin Freeguard, right, who has been recruited from the lobbyists pushing for statutory regulation of the free Press
As the Mail recently revealed, Bell is at the heart of a powerful nexus of left-of-centre individuals, many of whom are linked to the Leveson Inquiry.
He is also a trustee of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which was behind the disastrous BBC Newsnight report that led to the smearing of former Tory Party treasurer Lord McAlpine as a paedophile.
Freeguard’s presence in Miss Harman’s team chimes with her already declared support for an end to any kind of Press self-regulation.
The deputy Labour leader spoke at a Hacked Off meeting at the recent Labour Party Conference. Freeguard, who now describes himself as Miss Harman’s ‘political adviser’ and a ‘sad media geek’, had worked for the Media Standards Trust since shortly after he left Oxford University in 2007.
He was a ‘senior editor’ as well as the administrator of the MST-run Orwell Prize.
As such he oversaw the Johann Hari debacle, in which the coveted political writing award was given to a serial liar, plagiarist and Wikipedia profile hacker.
Lord Justice Leveson, pictured, will publish his report on the future of newspapers tomorrow
Hari returned the prize money only after a storm of protest and irrefutable evidence of his misdeeds, which had been exposed by publications such as Private Eye long before the award.
Freeguard’s most notable public role to date came long before that when, aged 17, he became the youngest-ever contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire He won 32,000.
Freeguard’s Twitter feed, which ended within weeks of his joining Miss Harman’s office, is instructive. Last October he was in charge of Hacked Off’s Twitter coverage of the Leveson Inquiry.
The same month there was a snipe at media commentator Ray Snoddy, for suggesting that Sir David Bell’s place on the Leveson assessor panel was wrong given his role with the MST.
(From the left) Steve Coogan, Hugh Grant and Max Mosley pictured at an inquiry into journalistic ethics
In contrast, pronouncements by Professor Brian Cathcart, founder of Hacked Off and arch-critic of the popular Press, were variously described by Freeguard as ‘brilliant’, ‘excellent’ and ‘remarkable’.
In January Freeguard re-tweeted a report about his future boss: ‘Harriet Harman declares she is going to be a champion of Press freedom.’
In February, following the announcement of his imminent transfer to the Harman team, he declared: ‘Absolutely pathetic backtracking from Cameron on Leveson. Utterly pathetic.’
Last night Freeguard said of his role under Miss Harman: ‘I provide her with briefing, research and advice on issues within the DCMS brief.’
A spokesman for Miss Harman said of Mr Freeguard’s appointment: ‘The post was advertised. Gavin was the most qualified for the job.’