As the case of Jonathan Portes’ complaint to the PCC about the routinely dishonest attack on him by Dan, Dan The Oratory Man continues, claims are now being made that the complaint was in fact dismissed. This, Hannan and his editor Damian Thompson, clueless pundit of no fixed hair appointment, have decided, mean that they are in the right. Moreover, a Tory MP agrees with them.
To no surprise at all, that MP is Mark Reckless, whose name will be familiar to Zelo Street regulars following his lengthy encounter with the Commons bar facilities one warm summer evening in 2010. Reckless’ contention is that Portes, in seeking redress against Hannan’s smear – that NIESR can only get grant money from the EU because they are pro-EU – makes him less trustworthy.
No doubt Reckless would rather Portes stay silent and then be damned as guilty because he was a good little boy and didn’t make waves. It is a supremely bone-headed approach, but in character for someone who told anyone who would listen that he had extracted an admission of criminal wrongdoing from Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger during the latter’s appearance before a Commons committee recently.
That the rozzers have not descended and taken Rusbridger off to the Tower, despite the certainty of Reckless and the advocacy of bawling troll Louise Mensch, does not sink in with either of them. But let’s not lose sight of the PCC and its behaviour: even if it has let Hannan off, that is no guarantee that he was making a factually correct statement. I cite two other rulings in support of my contention.
Hannan’s fellow inhabitant of the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs, James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, was the subject of a PCC complaint by scientists from the University of East Anglia over his routinely abusive comments on their behaviour. The PCC excused Del Boy, accepting his interpretation of comments in the so-called “Climategate” emails as if they were fact.
Then there was the case of blogger Primly Stable making a complaint to the PCC about the Daily Mail’s unfunny and tedious churnalist Richard Littlejohn over his assertion that any Afghan getting out of the back of the lorry at Dover “automatically goes to the top of the housing list”. The PCC agreed that the statement was untrue, but hey, it was an opinion column, so it was OK for him to lie.
So exoneration from the PCC does not validate what Hannan said: this body has previously allowed pundits to have not merely their own opinions – which is fine – but also their own facts, which is not. And it has excused blatant dishonesty on the grounds that “it’s only an opinion column”. If the PCC patted Dan on the head and let him off, all that does is put another nail in its coffin, and that of successor IPSO.
Daniel Hannan is still a habitual and proven liar. And that’s a factual statement.