Tuesday, 27 December 2011
Pancho Campo MW: investigation or witch hunt?
Pancho Campo MW
'Michael Bishop said...
Stop the witch hunts guys and stop acting like dick Tracy .....u seem to be Playing with peoples lives without solid evidence. Investigate first and then comprehensively publish. This hit and miss Public baiting is not good or professional.'
Michael Bishop posted this thought-provoking comment on Jim's Loire on 21st December. Thought-provoking because I think it displays a fundamental misunderstanding of investigative journalism. It implies that a journalist has some clear idea of how the story or investigation will develop and how it will end. In my experience this is rarely the case.
Although there is no way that that 'Campogate' is any way comparable to Watergate, when Bernstein and Woodward started investigating the break in to Watergate and its cover up they surely had no idea that it would lead eventually to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. It is most unlikely that they would have got the full story if they had followed Bishop's advice to 'Investigate first and then comprehensively publish'.
When I was contacted in the late 1990s (1998 – I think) by a bondholder in Ryman's Château Jaubertie who was having problems getting her annual consignment of wine, I had no inkling that this would lead to the discovery of Hugh Ryman's serious financial problems, his failure to pay and support young female winemakers some who were left virtually destitute far from home and then that he had bought Spanish table wine (vino de mesa) which he passed off as DO Conca de Barberà in Norway and other countries.
It was the publication of known parts of the Ryman story that then provided me with further leads and information. It has been the same process with the Pancho Campo MW story. When I was told back at the beginning of September 2009 about Campo being on the Interpol wanted list it was not at all apparent how the story would develop. This isn't and hasn't been a witch hunt – more a process of discovery and reporting and trying to make sense of what has been revealed. It might fairly be characteristised as a witch hunt if it could be shown that the various emails were fake or had been manipulated and that we knew this to be the case. Instead Victor de la Serna (El Mundo del Vino) has stated quite independently that the emails that have revealed 'pay for access' are genuine.
We should know in 2012 the result of the Robert Parker investigation as well as the investigation by the Institute of Masters of Wine and we may discover more about CavesMaîtres, Daniel Li and perhaps what other trademarks he has registered in China. One thing neither Harold Heckle nor I know is whether we are now somewhere in the middle of this story or whether we have reached the end.