What a different world it was back in 1992 when the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre succeeded David English to become editor of the Daily Mail. There was no World Wide Web, most people didn’t have access to email or their own computer, and so there was no means of swiftly rebutting newspaper falsehood and misinformation before stories had taken hold.
How Dacre must long for that world now, after another slice of appallingly slanted journalism was shown up as deficient almost as soon as the first edition arrived in the shops. “I could feel my baby kicking inside me. I was crying as I begged them not to cut me open: Mother whose baby was snatched from her womb by the State talks to the Mail” is the headline, but it’s already been disproved.
Moreover, this latest episode in the saga first twisted by the serially dishonest Christopher Booker last weekend, that of the woman sectioned under the Mental Health Act whose baby was taken into care after it was delivered by Caesarean Section, contradicts earlier accounts. Booker said she was sedated and only after the birth was she made aware of the C-Section.
So the Mail has, possibly inadvertently, exposed another lie. And the “snatched from her womb by the state” is getting perilously close. And for some reason, although the article notes that a C-Section was justified because of the risk of uterine rupture, the Mail does not tell that Alessandra Pacchieri had already had her previous two children delivered this way. That is a key factor in the decision.
You can see this in the judgment, released yesterday and with a note added by Mr Justice Mostyn. He stresses – contrary to the impression given by both Booker and the latest Mail piece – that “the Court of Protection had no jurisdiction over the unborn baby”. The decision to allow the NHS Trust to proceed was taken “in the medical best interests of this seriously mentally ill and incapacitated patient”.
Exactly how unwell Ms Pacchieri may have been can be gauged from the fact that her two other children are looked after by her parents, not because of any voluntary arrangement, but following judgments by the Italian courts. This is the kind of fact that the Mail – well known for its selective reporting – will have known, but has not allowed its readers to find out, unless they second-source their morning reading.
There may be further developments in this case. But whatever happens, these will occur after all facts have been considered. So future decisions may not please the Daily Mail, and this too will make for more indignant and slanted copy. What we have here is another example of bad journalism being exposed, and as an added bonus, revealing that Booker is a bigger liar than was first apparent.
There is, as ever, no honour among thieves. Not even the ones at Northcliffe House.