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Correspondence on Tony Curran

“I believe TC was some sort of journalist at one time – at the Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News in Cheshire. Or perhaps he was just a copy boy. You should have seen the enormous “imperial desk” he had specially made for his office at the Standard in Palmerston North. Evidence of megalomania? After his departure, no one knew what to do with the thing. I think he also had an obsessive-compulsive disorder. According to one report, he was observed using a ruler to ensure the chairs in his office, set out for a morning conference, were precisely equidistant.” — My reply to the email below, January 4, 2013.

“Tony Curran is a fraud. He is incompetent, tells lies and is just a low-life. I can’t say much more about him. There is evidence aplenty to support what I have just said. I would not recommend his employment to anybody.” — Tony Koch, Brisbane, January 4, 2013, via email.

“Oh, my. I thought we had it bad, with Tony trolling online ‘mail-order-bride’ sites. Something you really should not do on Police computers, by the way. Tony started as my Deputy the week before I did. The organisation made the mistake of filling the position without waiting to fill mine, so he was my first HR issue . . . unluckily for him, I very quickly twigged he was not up to the role, and basically worked around him while we ‘managed him out’ . . . It is sad just how much pain one bad recruitment decision can make . . .”
Kym Charlton, January 3, 2013, via email.

“When Tony arrived here he had a wife in tow, plus a couple of horses. I believe Independent Newspapers Ltd, the owner of the Standard in the late 1990s, paid for the transportation of the latter from Australia. It must have cost them a fortune. But at the time, Tony was their ‘golden boy’, and any expense probably seemed worthwhile. They built him up and built him up, and in the end, I suspect, fell for their own propaganda. We saw, within a matter of hours, that things were not going to work out well. One of the first things he did was put up a notice that said, peremptorily, that he would not tolerate any ‘obstruction’. Why, we wondered, did he think we would want to obstruct him? What dastardly deeds did he have in mind? We found out almost immediately, when he made several people redundant. He made one senior journalist redundant without even bothering to find out what the man did. Naturally, people felt demoralized and insecure, and started to look for work elsewhere. And one by one, they left — until about 90% of the reporting staff had gone. But nothing seemed to faze Tony. In fact, I think he actually welcomed the departures. One theory was that he wanted to get rid of everyone who remembered the ‘good old days’, when people had worked co-operatively, and bring in an entirely new staff made up of cynical, cutthroat types who would wholeheartedly support the vicious ‘new world order’. Tony’s wife, Neela, was also odd. Her real name was Nilofur, which is a Muslim name. (She was of Indian descent.) But as an expression of her revolt against her religious tradition, she had “Hinduized” her name to Neela. She wasn’t a journalist; she was a pastry cook and/or cake decorator. But despite her total incompetence, Tony gave her a senior position — and more or less told us that her word was law. If a story had passed through her hands, and had been initialled by her, we lesser subeditors (often with decades of experience) had to leave it untouched. All we were supposed to do was cut the story, if necessary, to make it fit, and slap a headline on it.” — Extract from Alan Ireland’s email reply to the comment below, January 3, 2013.

“He worked at Queensland Police media for a brief time, having talked himself into a job he was exquisitely unsuited to. Let’s just say there is good reason he may have left his stint with us out of his resume. He lasted about six months before storming out. The best that can be said about his time here was that he helped build team spirit by providing them with a common foe.” — Kym Charlton, January 2, 2013, via email.

“Your comment will definitely be published. However, the whole site [adilbookz.com] is coming down at some stage in the next few months, as I am moving to another server. The allegation is not that Tony didn’t work for x number of years at x number of papers, but that he presented himself as something he wasn’t: A journalist with the personal and professional competence to run a provincial daily. If he had had the necessary competence, INL wouldn’t have fired him. Likewise, the staff of the Penguin News in Stanley wouldn’t have begged a former editor to apply for Tony’s job, so that his contract didn’t have to be renewed. While he was here, in Palmerston North, he did no work, and spent his first six months writing that ridiculous ‘blueprint’, which bore little relation to the reality of the newsroom and which was ultimately dumped. He gave a prominent position to his totally incompetent wife, Neela, who couldn’t even master the computer system. Together, they must have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from the company, for almost nothing in return. I’m sorry, but Tony was a disaster for us, as he has been, I suspect, for others. I have no idea what he was like during his Runcorn days. Perhaps he was more like a normal human being at that time, and less threatening to all those around him. Incidentally, I have a brother who lived in Moughland Lane, Runcorn, for about 30 years, and with whom I spent a week in late 1998 – only two months or so before meeting Tony. Perhaps I should have mentioned that. I might have won even more Brownie points.” — Alan Ireland’s email reply to the comment below, April 10, 2012.

“I have known tony since we were 15… just a couple of points although i doubt you will publish this as you are determined to believe what you want,,,Tony trained as a journalist and his first job was in runcorn in cheshire..i visited him there on numerous occasions. So he has been in th business for upwards of 30 years. Secondly mentioning yorkshire would actually get you nowhere with him…hes originally from Manchester in lancashire, and no mancunian would appreciate anyone thinking they were from yorkshire!!! The rivalry goes back to the wars of the roses… So, although you may not like what he does, hs is a genuine journalist, it was all he ever wanted to do when we were kids. Perhaps you will take this page down now, as it is libellous and scurrilous” — meg, April 9, 2012, via form mail.

“Once I had left something in my pigeon hole for a day or so, not expecting to get anything as I was just a features writer and not that important. Tony told me if I didn’t clear my pigeon hole I wouldn’t have a job. What a tosser.” — Helen Mays, Manawatu Standard staffer, April 2, 2012, via form mail.

“When I said my brother’s friends hadn’t heard of him, there is a possible explanation. At my friendly chat with him he divulged he had been made redundant several times — once being hired and dismissed almost at the same time. Maybe, just maybe that was the Queensland job where no one had time to get to know him! I can’t list the hints, but there were good reasons to suspect he was learning on the job — picking the brains of everyone. His sudden obsession with “widows”, and proud usage of the word “orphan”, smacked of that. (Abridged. “In typesetting, widows and orphans are words or short lines at the beginning or end of a paragraph, which are left dangling at the top or bottom of a column, separated from the rest of the paragraph,” — Wikipedia.) — Manawatu Standard staffer, February 15, 2012, via email.

“Yes, I did guess, but not as quickly as you did, as I wasn’t privy to a lot of information. Also, I spoke to him at length on only a couple of occasions. The first of these was the get-to-know-you meeting in early 1999 — the meeting at which, I later learned, I had actually been reapplying for my job! I certainly came away from that encounter feeling unsettled. First, there was the constant note-taking: Everything I said, however innocuous, seemed to precipitate several seconds of assiduous scribbling. Trying to make conversation, I inquired about his (‘umble?) origins; and on hearing he had come, if I remember correctly, from the Bradford area, I remarked that I had gone to boarding school in Yorkshire. “I suppose that’s one way to win Brownie points with the new editor,” Curran replied. I was a little taken aback. Why would he think that I was trying to win Brownie points? Even more to the point, why would he think that I would think it was necessary to win Brownie points? It was then that I foresaw problems, although I had no grounds for suspecting he was an imposter. The only other meeting I recall was one at which we discussed the tightening of intros. I said: “Well, one way in which you can easily tighten an intro is by simply replacing ‘according to’ with ‘said’.” Curran quickly replied, emphatically: “No, one should never use ‘according to’.” I didn’t think much of the matter at the time. But I must have been becoming suspicious by that stage, as I later recalled the modus operandi of Milan Brych and other bogus doctors and thought: “Hey, maybe this is how the guy gets an education.” (Abridged) — Alan Ireland, retired Manawatu Standard staffer, February 14, 2012, via email to a former colleague.

“You didn’t need Harvey to tell you that the Currans were imposters! You must have guessed; I certainly was suspicious as soon as I sent his supposed CV to my brother in Queensland. He knew plenty of people on the paper Tony was said to have worked on. No-one knew Mr Curran. So I was baffled even before he arrived. Then he started referring to “we journos” at his more affable meetings, or dropping “when I worked in Fleet Street” into conversations at meetings with bigwigs attending — more warning signs.” (Abridged) — Manawatu Standard staffer, February 14, 2012, via email.

“The man is nothing more than a pest — an international nuisance. I think he has to be stopped. He’s wasting everyone’s time and money, and causing an awful lot of misery in the process. Some years ago, I bumped into [former editor John] Harvey on Lambton Quay. “They’re [Tony and Neela] imposters,” he said simply. And he was dead right. — Alan Ireland, retired Manawatu Standard staffer, February 14, 2012, via email to a former colleague.

“If you’re trying to give me nightmares, you’re succeeding.” — Manawatu Standard staffer, February 14, 2012, via email.

“All sounds familiar. This paper only a team of four and he did no work at all — just wrote job lists for everyone else and ‘tweaked’ pages.” — Penguin News staffer, Falkland Islands, February 7, 2012, via Twitter DM.