Commissioning Aslam

Dilpazier Aslam was appointed by the executive editor Albert Scardino under a scheme to bring under-represented ethnic groups into the paper. I’m told that it was Scardino who suggested to Milne that Aslam write a comment piece.

Yesterday the Guardian’s NUJ chapel held a special meeting to discuss the Aslam case, at which Aslam was present. Part of his defence was his surprise at the outrage to which his article had been subject.

He said that Milne had worked closely with him on it, and had even himself suggested certain phrases.

He was asked pointed questions about the anti-semitism of Hizb’ut Tahrir, to which he did not give satisfactory answers. However many staff expressed the view that it was important for the paper to have representative voices from ethnic communities.

A vote to condemn his sacking was passed by a narrow majority. A senior editor added an amendment which passed, which noted that he had not satisfactorily answered the questions raised about anti-semitism.

On Scardino:

The Guardian … strengthened its ties to America last November when it hired Albert Scardino as executive editor of news and business development. The Savannah-born, 55 year old is a former New York Times press columnist and the publisher of the now defunct Georgia Gazette, a small, opinionated paper that won a Pulitzer in 1984. He is also the husband of Marjorie Scardino, the head of Pearson and ranked number one on Management Today’s 2002 list of “Britain ‘s Fifty Most Powerful Women,” besting the prime minister’s wife, Cherie Blair. Albert Scardino has, perhaps, picked up a few things from his mate, who is credited with The Economist’s success in the United States.