July 19, 2024

 (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

Washington Post reporters ran a bombshell investigation Sunday digging into the past journalistic practices of incoming editor Robert Winnett, just months before he’s set to join the newspaper, with sources that allege he used illegal news-gathering methods to aid his reporting.

The exposé, which relies on unpublished book drafts and documents from self-proclaimed “thief” John Ford, reportedly claims he used deceitful methods to aid Winnett’s reporting at the Sunday Times in London.

Ford, arrested in 2010 for attempting to steal former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s memoir, claimed he routinely used illegal tactics to gather confidential information for the paper.

Winnett, the current deputy editor of the Telegraph, allegedly reassured Ford during his arrest and arranged legal assistance, emphasizing the “remarkable omerta” within British journalism.

Ford’s drafts, shared with and examined by The Post, recount his involvement in obtaining confidential details about Britain’s elite through unethical means, with many stories seemingly aligning with Winnett’s published work.

Notably, Ford claimed to have assisted in reporting on Blair’s finances and Leeds United Football Club, as well as a high-profile Mercedes-Benz Maybach purchase list.

Despite Ford’s claims, Winnett has remained silent, not responding to inquiries about the allegations. Still, within hours of publishing, the investigation ranked as the most-read article on The Post’s website. It was shared online by over 50 of the newspaper’s own journalists, according to Brian Stelter.

The revelation, of course, is compounded by ongoing scrutiny of The Post’s embattled CEO, Will Lewis, for his own alleged past practices. As an editor at the Sunday Times in 2004, Lewis was linked to stories allegedly based on hacked phone records.

Recent reports suggest Lewis attempted to suppress stories about a long-running civil court battle related to phone hacking during his tenure at billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News International.

It was Lewis, of course, who appointed Winnett the editor role at The Post, praising him as a “world class journalist” that he’d mentored and having worked with him at multiple British newspapers.

Winnett is set to assume his new role in November, after the presidential election, but as he and Lewis continue to draw even more scrutiny, the clear-eyed reporters Winnett is preparing to lead are first in line with questions.

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