After the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and two of his executive colleagues decided to push the panic button and use legal threats to silence Byline Media’s exposé of their using illegally gathered information, we have seen just how much the Mail titles really care about those who literally sit in judgment. The Dacre doggies want the judiciary to be there to help them, but woe betide them if they displease the Vagina Monologue.
Why can't I f***ing denounce judges, c***? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay
The Byline threat was not an isolated incident: as Private Eye magazine tells in its latest edition (1440, Page 6, and you’ll have to buy a copy), the Mail’s head of legal services Liz Hartley, who is named in the Byline threat, has also been issuing threats to Atlantic Books, who are publishing an “unauthorised” history of the paper. Those threats included destruction of the book, removal of serialisation, demands for apologies, and damages.
Adrian Addison’s book Mail Men was, in the event, not significantly controversial, but the threat only underscores the hypocrisy of the Dacre doggies: reach for the law as a hair trigger response, while using the same law to shoo away anyone who has the temerity to demand the Mail not smear or otherwise defame others. But it was the revelations in the Law Gazette that show the effect of the Mail’s behaviour at its worst.
After reporting that “The lord chief justice has accused lord chancellor Liz Truss of failing to understand her constitutional role in the aftermath of the article 50 judgment”, the article goes on “Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, one of the three judges labelled ‘enemies of the people’ by the Daily Mail after the ruling in November, made an excoriating attack today on Truss’s response”. Ms Truss kept far too schtum for far too long.
Lord Thomas went on to say “I don’t think it is understood how essential it is we are protected. It is clear after the article 50 judgment the claimant had been subject to quite a considerable number of threats and it is the only time in the whole of my judicial career I have had to ask the police for advice and protection”. Moreover, he added that “he did not feel he was being controversial, especially after hearing circuit judges report to being called ‘enemies of the people’ by litigants in person”.
Think about that. The Lord Chief Justice has had to deal with the whole range of criminal cases, including violent robbery, beatings, murder and terrorism. Yet it is only when the press, with the Mail in the vanguard, issues its Stalinist denunciation and labels them “Enemies of the people” that they require Police advice and protection.
Lord Thomas was clear that “we [judges] can talk in general terms but we cannot go into areas of controversy”. The judiciary is there to interpret the law; this they did at that time. The person who should have spoken for them was Liz Truss, and she failed to do so. But it is the irresponsible scapegoating and monstering by the press, and especially the Mail, which inflamed matters so severely. Power without responsibility strikes again.
Had that been an extremist group performing the act of denouncement, the Mail would be down on them like a tonne of bricks, denouncing them for inciting a criminal act or even a terrorist one. I’ll just leave that one there.