Sexual harassment is A Very Bad Thing. Even the Daily Mail says so. Well, today it does, when the subject of Chris Rennard’s conduct presents an opportunity to put the boot in on the Lib Dems for daring to support the proposals put forward by Lord Justice Leveson. Because when it isn’t the Lib Dems, or when it’s the Mail itself, harassment somehow merits a rather lower priority.
Who're you calling a f***ing bully, c***?!?
The obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre have today drenched Nick Clegg in hostility and ridicule, telling readers that he is finished as leader and that his statement yesterday was mere “weasel words”. In support has been Stephen “Miserable Git” Glover, telling anyone still awake that the Lib Dems are the real “nasty party” (which means “Vote Tory in Eastleigh on Thursday”).
Even Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips has been roped in to regale the punters with “torrid claims of sexual impropriety”. And just in case any reader had not been convinced of the Mail’s righteousness, there is also a piece kicking the BBC because, well, there has to be a side order of BBC bashing, ‘cos it’s written. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point.
Harassment and cover-up is bad, and whistle blowing is good. That’s the message. Or maybe it isn’t: when London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was alerted to allegations against his policing deputy Stephen Greenhalgh, the Mail ignored the story. They still ignored it when Bozza let Greenhalgh off. So when it’s Bozza, harassment may not be so bad.
Maybe this was a one-off, and the Mail still takes a robust view on such matters? Well, not if their tedious and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn is anything to go by, it doesn’t: writing about a woman who took her secret service boss to tribunal for sexual harassment, it was “this dopey bird couldn’t cope with unwanted sexual advances from her boss”.
And then there is Dacre himself: as one woman employee recalled to Nick Davies in Flat Earth News “I went for my interview with him, and the champagne came out and he was gently flirtatious. He is also an extraordinary bully. It is terrifying if you go in to see him with your page. He keeps you waiting and then goes ‘rubbish, rubbish’. It’s like going to see the headmaster”.
Davies gave examples of Dacre reducing staff to tears, former employees being verbally threatened, one trainee thrown out of the building because he had worked at Private Eye, staff having their by-line added to copy against their wishes, and of a culture of aggression which “creates a kind of moral cowardice in the office as a whole”. Whistle blowing was then A Bad Thing, and harassment routine.
No politician should take lectures from Paul Dacre, the harassing hypocrite.