While the saga of Charles Saatchi and his assault of wife Nigella Lawson continues to generate column inches – she has apparently been seen out and about without her wedding ring, but for some reason there wasn’t a snapper to hand – the debate continues on the topic of domestic violence, and whether we ought to pay more attention to this kind of episode in the future.
And no editor has been happier to publish the most opinionated of views on the subject than Sarah Sands, appointed partly at the behest of London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, a man who knows all about the mistreatment of women, of the Evening Standard. And now she is happy to make capital out of others’ views, too.
This, today, has meant Corporal Clegg, who was questioned about the Sunday People’s photos showing Saatchi with his hands on his wife’s neck, and whose reply to a questioner asking if he would have intervened, “You are asking me to comment on photographs everybody has seen in the papers - we don't know if that was a fleeting moment”, has been seized upon by opponents.
The Standard was not impressed. “Nick Clegg under fire as he calls Charles Saatchi assault ‘just a fleeting thing’” thundered the headline. A number of voices condemning Clegg were mentioned: the group End Violence Against Women, Tory MP Sarah Woolaston (who you can tell as she’s a doctor), plus Labour MPs Yvette Cooper and Diana Johnson all passed adverse comment.
So the Standard is on Nigella’s side, then, is it? Well, up to a point. As Saatchi is one of the paper’s columnists, he too is given support from Ms Sands, the prime example being when he was given the opportunity to dismiss the People’s photos as depicting a “playful tiff”. And the couple had “made up” by the time they got home, which manages not to explain Nigella leaving that home and not yet having returned.
Even when Saatchi accepted a Police caution – effectively admitting that an assault took place, and that he did it – the Standard allowed his view, that he only did it “because I thought it was better than the alternative of this hanging over all of us for months” – due prominence. Moreover, the paper will still be running Saatchi’s arts columns. The excuse note is priceless.
“Should a person who has accepted a caution be barred from writing about art? Should the Saatchi Gallery be closed? Should he face total ruin?” asks the paper. Saatchi is worth £110 million, for goodness’ sake. And Ms Sands and her staff have yet to address the question as to whether Saatchi was dining with Standard owner Evgeny Lebedev at Restaurant 34 the other night.
The Standard: hypocrites playing both sides of the field with utter shamelessness.