First video interview with MPs' expenses leak source

Last night’s gathering of the RSA London City Network was full of interesting people, but none more man-of-the-moment that Henry Gewanter, who I discovered to be the key go-between in leaking details of MPs’ expense claims to the Daily Telegraph.
Our discussions up to that point had been mainly around the forthcoming elections to the new RSA Fellowship Council, through which RSA members (Fellows) will be able to have a positive influence in modernising the 250-year-old institution. Well, that’s the hope of chief executive Matthew Taylor.
The general feeling from my conversations was that the RSA, while full of potential, could do with a shake-up … at which point Henry modestly volunteered some information about his more seriously disruptive role.
As reported in the Mail on Sunday, City PR man Henry worked with former Parachute Regiment Major John Wicks to leak details of the expenses to the Daily Telegraph … leading to massive political fallout on all sides. In the Mail, Henry explained he wasn’t paid – but wanted to expose malpractice, and challenge a government he feels has been chipping away at our liberties.

I am an American. I was brought up there and I believe that a free Press is the most important and the only defence of our personal freedoms, our liberty and democracy.
This Government has been systematically cutting back on our freedoms, our liberty and democracy for some years. That is why I have done it and why I have done it for nothing.

Despite this outing in print, Henry had not been interviewed on camera, so I pulled out my Flip and invited Henry to give me a mini-scoop, which he was pleased to do.
As you’ll hear in the interview, Henry feels that the Government has handled the whole thing very badly … that David Cameron has done well … and that the Liberal Democrats are the best of the bunch.  He is full of praise for the even-handed way the Daily Telegraph has covered the story, highlighting MPs who have claimed fairly as well as those who abused the system.
On reflection I guess I could have asked some more probing question, but it didn’t feel like that sort of occasion. Maybe that’s the nature of being a social reporter … you become more concerned about friendly conversations and developing relationships than about “news”. If Henry wants to tell me more, he can. There’s a small promise of that at the end of the piece …

Update: Newsnight have now interviewed Henry.

3 Comments

  • June 5, 2009 - 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Good work that social reporter!

    At the other end of this story, here we see some Devon residents having a picnic in their MP’s garden:

    http://tinyurl.com/l3hr8g

  • June 6, 2009 - 1:16 pm | Permalink

    David – great job! Reminds me a bit of Watergate…

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