I was inspired to write this, if that’s the word, on reading Fleet Street Fox on the Leveson Report: The devil is in the detail, published yesterday in the Press Gazette.
It’s a fine example of a rant as you will ever find from an MP explaining with tendentious authority why the general public have absolutely no right to know about their Parliamentary expenses and how it will ruin a free democracy if this is allowed: you would think this was an investigative journalist who sees censorship on the cards, not a fox demanding the right to be unmuzzled in the henhouse.
But the devil is in the detail, and the detail of Leveson is the bit which will muzzle the Press as effectively as Hannibal Lecter strapped to a luggage trolley.
Leveson wants this backed up by law which is plain wrong, because there’s no bill ever passed by Parliament that wasn’t tinkered with later. Hacked Off and other campaigners may feel the suggested law is fine, but it’s the law it may mutate into which is why it should never happen.
So, we can’t have laws in the UK, because however nice a law looks when it’s proposed, Parliament may change it into something unspeakable, so all laws are wrong. We should instead trust to the kindness and gentility of the likes of David Grigson.
Okay. That’s nice, Fox. We should live in a lawless society because we can’t trust Parliament.
Let me answer a simpler question.
When is muzzling the Press appropriate and can you recommend a certain kind?
By and large, muzzles are used to keep the Press from biting or causing injury. There are two types of muzzles: prohibitive (also referred to as the “tyrant’s muzzle”) and regulatory.
Arrested for being a public nuisance outside a takeaway shop, the 15-year-old blamed her behaviour – screaming and bashing the counter – on the systemic abuse she had suffered at the hands of two men inside. During six hours of videotaped testimony she went on to say how she’d been lured in by the men with gifts – drinks and a phone card or maybe something to eat – and made to feel “pretty” before eventually being asked to “pay for” the vodka with sex. She even handed over underwear spotted with the 59-year-old accused’s DNA.
Nine months later, in August 2009, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge the two men as the girl would make an “unreliable witness” and the lawyer doubted any jury would believe her.
Three-quarters of the time, when sexual offences against children are reported to the police, the adult alleged to have committed the offence will not go to trial. According to NSPCC research, a third of children who are sexually abused “do not tell anyone at all about it, let alone report it to the police.”
The teenager who screamed and yelled and told the police this year saw her evidence – believed at last – form a central part of the case against the gang of nine men found guilty of raping and trafficking children.
As a white feminist, I feel like Fleet Street Fox and Julian Norman: this is about adult men raping and abusing girls, and race doesn’t enter into it.
When Fleet Street Fox announced she had very exciting news and would tell us next week, I guessed that meant she had a weekly column. (Or, as I tweeted to her, had been given a baby elephant. Given what followed, I think a safer guess would have been a mini-mammoth.)
Fox wrote last Friday:
FINALLY I can tell you why today is a Big Exciting News Day!
(I am squeaking with joy while typing this.)
I HAVE A COLUMN!
From today the Friday version of this blog will be hosted on the Daily Mirror’s website.
I clicked, I read, I was massively disappointed, I figured “well, it’s a Daily Mirror column” and I tweeted mild congratulations to Fox.
Sarah Ditum outlined quite well why I didn’t like Fox’s column, which was about the bitchery of two women celebs who’d watched a certain privacy-breaching video recording:
David Walliams makes a joke about the tape, [Amanda] Holden sniggers, and host Alan Carr gigglingly urges the conversation in that direction – the exchange lasts about 90 seconds, and the men are just as active as Holden. Continue reading