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Saturday 25 May 2013

Platell In Trouble?

[Updates, three so far, at end of post]

One of my contacts emailed earlier today to alert me to a particularly cheap and sensationalist article being carried by Mail Online under the by-line of Amanda Platell, another of Dacre’s bevy of dubiously talented Glendas. I wouldn’t normally make a bee-line for Mandy’s routinely appalling copy, but was warned that she could have broken the law, had she done what she claims.
Another offensive image gets downloaded (sorry)

I will explain: the article, titled “My journey into the hell that is internet child porn: We asked AMANDA PLATELL to view the websites that twisted the mind of little Tia's killer”, follows the conviction of Stuart Hazell for the murder of 12-year-old Tia Sharp. The Mail not only campaigns against internet porn, which Hazell apparently viewed regularly, but also displays a strange fascination with it.

So Ms Platell has apparently been tasked with looking at some of this material. What qualifies her to perform the exercise is not told, and nor is the identity of the executive carrying the can for the whole business. This last is particularly important, as she has described in some detail how she viewed a 25 minute long video in which, so she says, a young girl was repeatedly sexually abused.

Indeed, she then describes “a tsunami of images of young girls and boys, being sadistically, repeatedly raped and forced to perform sex acts on men, all captured in sickening close-up”, so one has to assume she accessed a number of still photos, as well as at least one video, in the course of her “research”. And my contact was quite certain as to the consequences of such actions.

Put directly, this appears to satisfy the requirements of an offence called “Making child pornography”, the “Making” occurring when each image is downloaded onto the device from where it is then viewed. The only get-out would appear to be when a Police officer is present, and has instructed the user to carry out the downloading. But Platell’s article makes no mention of this.

Nor does she tell of any notice being given to the Police beforehand. So it appears that she has done sufficient to get herself on to the Sex Offenders’ Register. Think I’m jesting here? Well, there have been a number of complaints to the Police, and as the HuffPost UK has noted, the Met has advised that “Officers from the Specialist Crime and Operational Command unit are in liaison with the Daily Mail”.

That is the part of the force that deals with child pornography. And a complaint is a complaint is a complaint, not something which Dacre and his minions can shrug off by dismissing it as a mere Twitter campaign, as he did in his testimony to the Leveson Inquiry. This attempt to garner cheap publicity could backfire badly. But there is one piece of good news for Ms Platell.

Holloway prison has had a refurbishment recently. So that’s all right, then.

[UPDATE1 1935 hours: the Mail has now appended the following statement to the end of the Platell article: "The Daily Mail, which carried out its investigations in the public interest, is reporting these websites to the Police. Readers must not access these websites as it is against the law".

And, as Jon Stewart might have noted, two things here. One, telling readers that accessing this material was against the law should have been there at the outset, not added on after the Met took an interest. And two, whether in the public interest or not, my reading is that this not in itself sufficient justification. The Mail appears just to have decided of its own accord to search for material.

More on the potential justification can be seen at Mark Williams Thomas' Twitter feed, HERE. As he says, the major problem for the Mail is how they went about this exercise. No doubt there will be more tomorrow]

[UPDATE2 29 May 1605 hours: further research by Unity at Ministry Of Truth has revealed that the Mail may be in trouble, not with the Police, but with its fellow papers. The description of the 24 minute video that Amanda Platell claimed to have watched apparently bears a striking similarity to one where the "victim" dresses as a schoolgirl, but is in fact over 18 and states this before any of the supposed abuse takes place.

Oh dear! So either the film Ms Platell saw was something different to that noted by Unity - in which case she and whoever put her up to it are likely to be in trouble with the rozzers - or she has indeed viewed a film that is actually legal, in which case the Dacre attack doggies have just sprayed their credibility up the wall for a bit of cheap publicity that will rebound on them.

The trick is going to be picking up on the grovelling apology when the Mail attempts to sneak it out without anyone seeing it. No change there, then]

[UPDATE3 30 May 1225 hours: Unity at Ministry Of Truth has been digging a little further, and has now come up with a stage name for the "victim", together with the approximate date the video was recorded, plus the DVD on which it was released, which shows her age to have been at least 18, and probably 19, at the time.

There is also an Internet Adult Film Database review of the scene corresponding to Amanda Platell's supposed shock horror exclusive, just to underscore that this is what the Mail's fearless pundit actually saw. Yet no word has come from Northcliffe House.

Perhaps the Dacre doggies are hoping everyone will forget this episode. Don't bet on it]


Anonymous said...

I hope she's got her story ready.

a certain ageing musician had plenty to explain a few yrs ago.

but if inspector knacker isn't satisfied the Nuremburg Defence won't cut it.

I hope it goes no further; the last thing we need is a martyred hack post-leveson.

SteveB said...

I don't think the other tabloids would view her as a martyr. "Open season" springs to mind!

There is the added issue that non-hacks have already been investigated for the same thing, such as Townshend who did the same thing, for the same reason and accepted a caution so the hacks can't claim they are being picked on. NOT taking action might bring an outbreak of appeals. And the Townshend precedent was well publicised so she can't claim ignorance - Google has just found 41 hits mentioning that particular case on the Mail Online alone - including an interview only a few months ago!! Maybe staff at the Mail don't read what they produce, I can't say I blame them for that.

Amanda Kendal said...

Would this be the same Mail Online that has a track record of publishing pictures of underage girls and discussing them in 'dubious' terms?

Such as the case, back in January, of it describing the eight-year-old daughter of model Heidi Klum, papped leaving a gym class (this is an eight-year-old child, remember) and described as a "leggy beauty"?

Anonymous said...


What the f-k were they f-king thinking?

I've been told before that there is a fairly strict protocol for what to do if material is found incidentally, to avoid criminal liability. This still will result in a thorough investigation of the reporting individual, and does not preclude charges being brought against them in respect of their activities. I don't recall public interest being mentioned as an acceptable defence.

If illegality was only mentioned in post-publication editing, it seems likely that there was little forethought about the legal aspect, rather than the 'controversial' nature, of the topic. That's... interesting, especially given the background that Amanda Kendal notes. How does English law work when it comes to vicarious liability? Does it not apply at all, or in civil cases only, or would it be relevant here?

Anonymous said...

I strongly suspect that Platel hasn't actually watched anything illegal at all, but some of the more unsavoury "barely legal" type sites out there.

You don't just stumble on this stuff a few clicks from Google like she claims to have done.

This is the Mail, why are we taking them at face value?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the only 'crime' she has committed is lazy and shockingly misleading journalism. All she has done is type in those search terms and clicked on the first google result. Nothing illegal, but she suggests it is (as if explicit child pornography can be accessed from simple google searches).

Mail types will lap this up, but it's pure nonsense.