The assault against any change to press regulation must continue: that was signalled today as the Daily Mail carried a piece under the by-line of obedient Dacre doggie James Chapman recycling more tosh from Fred Scuttle lookalike Tory MP Rob Wilson, who claims to be working in the interest of the electorate in the constituency of Reading East.
Let's blame Brian, take 94
“Leveson lovers are refusing to reveal full story of their affair, says MP: Senior Tory accuses barristers of failing to provide basic information to watchdog” thunders the headline. Wilson “has delivered a damning response to the testimony of Carine Patry Hoskins and a barrister representing advocates of draconian Press regulation, who have been revealed to have embarked on a romantic relationship”.
And Chapman no doubt calls himself a disinterested party, as well as a journalist reporting news – rather than the loaded copy he has submitted in order to satisfy the demands of the Vagina Monologue. “Damning response” is opinion, and “Draconian Press regulation” is a pack of lies, but hey ho. So what does Wilson say Carine Patry Hoskins and David Sherborne are “refusing to reveal”?
“In a letter to the Bar Standards Board, he complains that in a 19-page submission, Mr Sherborne ‘does not even provide basic facts about the relationship’, including ‘when they became friends, when relations between them became (i) romantic and (ii) sexual, and when they first realised that they may end up forming a relationship”. Nineteen pages? There’s a conscientious constituency MP for you.
And Wilson goes on – and on, and on, but what the Mail cannot disguise is that the whole article is based on one thing: Rob Wilson’s personal opinion. In itself, that is not a problem: we’re all entitled to our opinion on affairs of the moment. But we are not, as the saying goes, entitled to our own facts. That is the problem with Chapman’s piece: passing off opinion as immutable fact.
That also requires the usual Mail routine of associating the two lawyers with someone who supports Hacked Off, and of whom Dacre disapproves. This time the selected target is Hugh Grant: “Mr Sherborne ... represented actor Hugh Grant and other celebrity victims of phone hacking” [that means they deserved it] ... [Ms Patry Hoskins] paid “close attention to Mr Grant’s evidence”.
So a little guilt-by-association smear, too. But there is no response from the Bar Standards Board, so it has to be assumed that Chapman did not ask for one. That means there can be no pretence of balance: this is just co-opting an MP who is willing to waste his time shamelessly doing the Fourth Estate’s bidding in exchange for the possibility of favourable coverage come the next General Election.
The electorate of Reading East may not take kindly to such dereliction of duty.