[Updates at end of post]
The attempt by the Metropolitan Police to use the sledgehammer of the Official Secrets Act to crack the nut of information being given to journalists at the Guardian has brought forth adverse comment from across the Fourth Estate. But one lone voice has declared his full support for the Met: step forward the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, who styles himself Guido Fawkes.
Staines has compiled a long and rambling post on why the Guardian is trying to have it both ways on this sideshow to Phonehackgate. He opens by trying to equate the affair to the actions of several titles in reporting the Joanna Yeates murder case, and in particular the smearing of Christopher Jeffries. But the Guardian is not trying to smear anyone.
Moreover, Staines’ attempt to rank hackery that brought two papers into contempt of court alongside reporting that has not brought even the suggestion of criminality is plainly ridiculous. But, unconcerned by such trivia, he then tries to smear the Guardian with the idea that its “client journalism” is somehow corrupt, but once again offers nothing more than nudge-nudgery in support.
And along the way, Staines throws in the occasional whopper, telling that “The Guardian has been gleefully naming suspects in the News International investigation, sometimes telling us who is going to be arrested before they actually have been [my emphasis]”. Perhaps he would like to point out when any of this occurred, especially the arrest part.
There is even an unfounded accusation against the paper: “the Guardian has an unlawful relationship with a Metropolitan Police officer” tells Staines. That might just be actionable, so a screenshot has been taken. But we can cut to the real story, and that is that the Guardian has won all the plaudits for its coverage of Phonehackgate, while Staines’ lame efforts have got him nowhere. This is a mere mardy strop.
And the folks who know all about this kind of thing – at Private Eye – have taken a very different view to the increasingly portly Staines. In Issue 1297, the affair is lead item in the Street of Shame column: as can be seen, the Eye puts the position directly, citing the legal background, and an appropriate precedent. Perhaps The Great Guido should have read the Eye piece first.
One final nail in the coffin of this rant by Staines is that, thus far, none of his pals in the supposedly hated MSM have come to his aid: the Telegraph and Mail are maintaining editorial silence, the only exception being Telegraph blogger Cristina Odone. And she’s backing the Guardian.
[UPDATE 1 Monday 1800 hours: the Guardian has now revealed that News International is pitching a settlement of around £2 million - yes, two million notes - to the Dowler family, including a substantial charity donation. Small wonder the Screws shut down. And to show just how clueless they are, Staines and his tame gofer Henry Cole, the Laurel and Hardy of the blogosphere, have not yet picked up on the news. Another fine mess]
[UPDATE 2 Wednesday 1130 hours: the Met has now dropped its pursuit of the Guardian, following the actions of most other papers in finding adversely on it. A senior officer has told that the attempt to use the Official Secrets Act was "not appropriate". The Fawkes blog has thus far remained silent: perhaps Paul Staines (in sole charge while Cole is en tour) believes that if he keeps schtum, nobody will notice. Another fine mess indeed]