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Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Independent expert's report to PCC on Telegraph's 'hoodie' photo
As you expressed an interest in my complaint to the Press Complaints Commission against the Daily Telegraph concerning what I believe was a digitally altered photo of a 'hoodie' lad used in the "Jan Moir on Wednesday" column on 15th August, I forward an independent expert's report on the photograph in question and on other photographs of the same lad wearing the same T-shirt at the incident in question and at a later time.
The T-shirt in question (in the photo complained of) appeared to bear an "NF" logo
As always with e-mail correspondent, the substantive document is at the bottom of the ensuing correspondence.
The Stig Abell in this correspondence is Stephen Abell, Assistant Director of the PCC.
I think we must all become alert to subliminal propagandising (and indeed advertising) in the media by means of the digital manipulation of images.I found the latest issue of 'Nation Revisited' very interesting, though of course I disagree with your "Europe a Nation" line.
Obviously the current Tory Party "Euro-sceptic" line is just that: a "line" to hook and land the gullible fish among the electorate.
The Tories would no more eliminate or reduce significantly Britain's involvement with the EU than they would stop immigration and start repatriation, or denounce Zionist-Jewry's ethnic cleansing in Palestine and racial supremacism everywhere else on the planet.
====================================================== From: [Name and e-mail address deleted]To: Stig Abell Cc: Martin Webster Date: Wednesday, October 3, 2007 10:46 AM
Subject: Re: Martin Webster & Daily Telegraph
Dear Mr. Abell,
This is to confirm that I am willing for you to forward my statement on thismatter to the Daily Telegraph.
Yours sincerely,[Name deleted]===================================================== From: Martin Webster To: Stig Abell Date: Tuesday, October 2, 2007 4:54 PM
Subject: [Name deleted] report on 'hoodie' photos
Dear Mr. Abell,
1. Thank you for your 'Cc' copy of the e-mail you sent today (Tuesday, October 2, 2007 7:55 AM) to [Name deleted].
2. Is it not usual for complaints to the PCC which have been taken up to be allotted a reference number? You do not seem to have allotted such a number for this complaint. Is there any reason for this?
3. I am happy for [Name deleted] statement to the PCC to be forwarded to the Daily Telegraph for its further comment and for it to be considered as part of my submission in support of my complaint.
4. Having seen [Name deleted] statement I wish to place on record at this juncture that I accept and adopt his opinion expressed in his paragraph 15, i.e.:> "......It is in regard to this particular aspect that I disagree with the > suggestion made by Mr. Webster in his letter of complaint to the PCC that the > "NF" logo was added to the 'hoodie's' T-shirt after the photograph was taken. > It may be that Mr. Webster formed that opinion not having had the benefit of > seeing the 15 item photo set. My opinion is that the lettering actually > existed on the T-shirt, but that in the case of this photograph ('J2'/'C') the > lettering was manipulated so that only the repeated logo "NF" was left > apparent."
5. That is to say I now modify the terms of my original complaint as follows:5.1 That I accept that the appearance of the "NF" was not added to the 'hoodie's' T-shirt after the photograph had been taken by means of digital manipulation;5.2 that the letters "NF" existed on the T-shirt as part of a longer expression of letters at the time the photograph was taken;5.3 but that digital manipulation was employed to give the impression that ONLY the letters "NF" -- the well-known logo of the National Front -- existed on the T-shirt.
6. I draw your attention to the top paragraph of page 4 of the letter to me dated 13th September 2007, from Mr. Wynn Davies of the Daily Telegraph, which asserts:> "your recollection of what the other media published by way of illustration of > the hoodie incident last February is plainly unreliable."
7. This was a facile misrepresentation of the last part of paragraph 4 of my letter of complaint in which I stated:> "....I believe I have seen, if not that particular photograph, then similar > photographs of the same lad taken at the same time some months previously on > the occasion of a publicity walkabout conducted by David Cameron, leader of > the Conservative Party. I have no recollection of seeing the logo "NF" on any > of the other photographs used by the media to report that occasion."
8. The important point here was that in NOT ONE of the other photographs of the 'hoodie' lad published in the Daily Telegraph or other newspapers in February did the run of letters on his T-shirt convey or suggest the "NF" logo as appeared uniquely in the photo 'J2' used in Jan Moir's Wednesday column of 15th August. This is well demonstrated by review of all the pictures submitted by Mr. Wynn Davies in his "A' to 'N' set and aptly remarked upon by [Name deleted] in paragraph 16 of his statement as follows:> "All of the photographs in the 'A' to 'N' set apart from 'J2'/'C' indicate a > run of letters, often with "P" or "R" appearing to be most prominent.
In none > of these other pictures are the letters "NF" evident in the form of a > free-standing logo as they appear in 'J2'/'C'. In that respect, the large > number of sheets supplied by Mr. Wynn Davies of the Daily Telegraph, so far > from squelching Mr. Webster's complaint about digital manipulation, only > served to further define it -- and, in my view, to confirm it."
9. As I was from 1970 to 1983 the National Activities Organiser of the original National Front (not the quite different group which uses its name nowadays), it will be accepted, I hope, that my eye would be drawn quickly to the appearance of the "NF" logo in any contemporary news report, particularly when the person supposedly sporting the logo on his clothing was employing a threatening gun gesture associated with West Indian 'Yardie' gangs, not with adherents of White racial-nationalist groups. The appearance of 'J2' (or 'C'), or other photos suggesting only the "NF" logo, would have caught my attention in February, and I would have reacted to it then just as I reacted to the image which I saw for the first time of 15th August.
10. The reasons set out in paragraphs 7 and 8 herein demonstrate that my statement "I have no recollection of seeing the logo "NF" on any of the other photographs used by the media to report that occasion" was accurate.11. There are one or two issues arising from Mr. Wynn Davies' letter to me of 13th September which not directly relevant either to the particular photograph complained of or other photographs he supplied which I will take up in a few days.
========================================== From: Stig Abell To: [Name and e-mail address deleted]Cc: Martin Webster Date: Tuesday, October 2, 2007 7:55 AM
Subject: RE: Martin Webster & Daily Telegraph
Dear [Name deleted]I would be grateful if you could confirm that you are happy for this evidence to be passed to the newspaper for further comment. Additionally, I would welcome confirmation from Mr Webster that he is happy for your comments to stand as his response to the newspaper's initial submission on this complaint.
From: [Name and e-mail address deleted]To: Stephen Abell Cc: Martin Webster Date: Monday, October 1, 2007 6:43 PM
Subject: Martin Webster & Daily Telegraph
From:[Name, e-mail address, postal address and telephone number deleted]
To:Stephen Abell,Press Complaints Commission, Halton House, 20 - 23 High Holborn, London EC1N 7JD.
Re:Martin Webster's Complaint Against the Daily Telegraph========
Dear Mr. Abell,
1. I understand that you are the PCC official who is dealing with a complaint lodged with the PCC by Martin Webster on Tuesday 11th September in respect of a photograph which appeared in the 'Jan Moir on Wednesday' column published by the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday August 15th, 2007.
2. I have been asked by Mr. Webster to give my professional opinion concerning his contention that the photograph in question was digitially manipulated so as to produce the appearance of the "NF" logo on the garment being worn by the subject of the photograph.
3. I have agreed to express an opinion solely on the technical aspects of the matter. I am not interested in any political dimension or motive, if any, either on the part of the Daily Telegraph or Mr. Webster. I am not, have never been, and do not wish to become involved with any political cause, party or controversy.
4. Mr. Webster approached me for my opinion because he was a former student on a year long, one day a week course in computer graphics at [Name deleted] College [Name deleted] of which I was head tutor. This course involved tuition in the practical application of such softwares as QuarkExpress, Photoshop and Illustrator.
5. Until my retirement I had been organising and conducting various types and levels of courses in computer graphics at [Name deleted] College [Name deleted] for about 20 years. Prior to this work I had been for many years Manager of Displays and Marketing for all stores in the [Name deleted] Group in the London area.
6. The PCC may consider that my experience of the display or garments and fabrics together with my experience with graphical design software, especially Photoshop, qualifies me to express an opinion on the particular technical issues raised by Mr. Webster's complaint.
7. As I write this report I have before me fifteen (15) sheets which are, variously, proof copies of photographs of the 'hoodie' lad who is the subject of the photograph about which Mr. Webster has complained or photocopies of newspaper reports including photographs of the lad. These sheets are, variously, A4 and A3 in size and are marked in red ink with identifying letters in a sequence 'A' to 'N', inclusive of a 'J1' and a 'J2'. I comment on the photographs shown on these sheets as follows:
8. 'J2' is the photograph in Jan Moir's column which prompted Mr. Webster's complaint. It is obviously a reduced-size cropped copy of the photo shown on sheet 'C'.
9. 'J2' shows the 'hoodie' lad wearing a black T-shirt under an unzipped 'hoodie' jacket. Between the two sides of the open jacket are seen two rows of the letters "NF" in a light colour, one on top of another, with no leading space. Over these is printed a repeat of the "NF" letters in blue which is barely discernable against the black background. I note that the top and bottom edges of the light "NF" letters are straight, as if they had been printed on a flat surface.
10. I find this straight and even presentation of the letters hard to credit as being natural because the material of the T-shirt on which the lettering is printed is being stretched up to the bridge of the lad's nose in order to form a mask. I am of the opinion that in the circumstance of such stretching, the letters would not appear flat and even but would be distorted, with the top edge of the run of letters tending to describe a convex arc.
11. Any person who had only seen the photo 'J2' and who had not seen simultaneously or recently the other photos in the 'A' to 'N' set could in my view only gain the impression that the only letters on the 'Hoodie' lad's T-shirt were "NF". What deduction, if any, they would have made from that incorrect impression, is not within my purview.
12. As to 'K', this shows the T-shirt in its natural wearing position. I note that the top and bottom edges of the three rows of letters follow a concave curve, following the line of the collar. This being so, it would tend to confirm my opinion that where the collar of the garment is stretched up to the bridge of the wearer's nose, the letters would present a convex edge, not a flat edge as they are shown as doing in 'J2'.
13. In consideration of 'D', this is a photograph similar to 'J2' in that the collar of the T-shirt is stretched up from its normal wearing position to the middle of the lad's nose so as to form a mask. In comparing these two photos I note that:(a) In 'D' the top edge of the run of the letters forms a convex arc, not a straight edge as in 'J2'.(b) There is a distinct difference between the two photos in the position of the top run of letters in relation to the collar of the T-shirt. The block of letters in 'J2' is in my view lower down the T-shirt than the letters seen in 'D'.(c) In 'D', all of the letters in the run of text on the T-shirt which are not covered by the lad's open 'hoodie' jacket are visible and discernable, even though there is a convex bend in the top line of the letters caused by the stretching up of the garment to the nose. Compare this visibility of all the letters seen in 'D' with 'J2' in which, though the garment is in the same stretched position, only the letters "NF" are visible.(d) In 'D', even though the T-shirt is stretched up as in 'J2', the most prominent and central of the letters appears to be a "P" or an "R", not an "NF", as in 'J2'.14. Without being able to see an original print -- or better still the camera file -- of the photograph reproduced on sheets 'C' and 'J2', I have to record that all of the above, considered in the light of my experience working with Photoshop, makes me suspect very strongly that the photograph has been digitally manipulated to give the impression that the sole device on the 'hoodie's' T-shirt was a repeated "NF" logo.
Such manipulation would be a simple matter using Photoshop.
15. It is in regard to this particular aspect that I disagree with the suggestion made by Mr. Webster in his letter of complaint to the PCC that the "NF" logo was added to the 'hoodie's' T-shirt after the photograph was taken. It may be that Mr. Webster formed that opinion not having had the benefit of seeing the 15 item photo set. My opinion is that the lettering actually existed on the T-shirt, but that in the case of this photograph ('J2'/'C') the lettering was manipulated so that only the repeated logo "NF" was left apparent.
16. All of the photographs in the 'A' to 'N' set apart from 'J2'/'C' indicate a run of letters, often with "P" or "R" appearing to be most prominent. In none of these other pictures are the letters "NF" evident in the form of a free-standing logo as they appear in 'J2'/'C'. In that respect, the large number of sheets supplied by Mr. Wynn Davies of the Daily Telegraph, so far from squelching Mr. Webster's complaint about digital manipulation, only served to further define it -- and, in my view, to confirm it.
17. I am unable to suggest at what point any such manipulation may have taken place after the photo was taken. I hope that those of the PCC who consider this matter are familiar with what Photoshop is able to achieve and are able to view the originating camera file of the photograph, and then witness the printing-out of the photograph from the originating camera chip.
18. I would be obliged if you would acknowledge receipt of this e-mail.