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Saturday 19 February 2011

When Hardcastle Got Castled

There has been much adverse comment in both print media and blogosphere on a characteristically nasty piece in the Daily Mail’s Ephraim Hardcastle column, written by appalling old hack Peter McKay (aka Peter McLie, the world’s worst columnist).

The column, which starts by calling former Tory minister David “Shagger” Mellor “Richard Mellor”, tries to infer that CBS reporter Lara Logan, who was the victim of a serious sexual assault in Cairo recently, was somehow partly to blame for her predicament, because she was a “former swimwear model” who “had ‘form’”.

The reaction to McKay’s typically Neanderthal hackery was summarised by the excellent Tabloid Watch blog, and also by the Grim Reaper (the strong language being justifiable in this case). Sad so say, however, that the McKay approach is unlikely to change while his editor, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, keeps him on board.

Moreover, it’s not just his attitude to women that characterises McKay’s columns: he was roundly excoriated for calling Graham Norton “a bottom feeding nonentity”, and more recently he referred to Elton John’s partner David Furnish as his “wife”. The homophobia was still there in late 2009 when McKay made a sneering remark about Iain Dale which resulted in a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

But it’s not all bad news for those wanting to see McKay on the wrong end of things, as Private Eye editor Ian Hislop recalled when looking back on his first 20 years at the magazine. When Richard Ingrams nominated Hislop as his successor, two Eye regulars took majority shareholder Peter Cook out to lunch in order to try and get the decision reversed.

The two were Nigel Dempster and Peter McKay, and their ploy backfired spectacularly. Cook returned from lunch refreshed and happy, and welcomed his new editor on board. Hislop, as he later recalled, “then ... sacked both McKay and Dempster”.

Paul Dacre could now do himself and his readers a favour by following Hislop’s lead.

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