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Tuesday 28 October 2014

Surly Burley’s Pliable Libel

Young Dave experienced a little local security difficulty yesterday on a visit to Leeds: a jogger called Dean Farley managed to run up to him and there was a brief shove before the rozzers woke up and decked the supposed assailant. Cameron made light of it: he’s probably experienced worse when out campaigning in the past, and maybe in the Commons to the present day.
Kay Burley: butter wouldn't melt, eh?

The incident, however, had been captured on camera, and has provided the media with hours of harmless “what if” scenarios. What if he’d had a knife? What if he’d had a gun? What if he’d had a pointed stick (OK I made that one up)? This meme was taken up enthusiastically by the news channels, especially Sky News (“first for breaking wind”), where they’re always up for a bit of Phil Space journalism.
Sky stalwart Kay “surly” Burley was on duty when Alex Andreou tuned in, only to hear something that he found, shall we say, unexpected. “Question posed by Kay Burley just now: why did protestor get so close to the PM? What if he had Ebola? I PROMISE I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP” After the Retweet count passed 400, Ms Burley decided she had been slighted.
So [Alex Andreou] misheard me reading out a Tweet, attributes it to me and holds me up to ridicule and contempt in the eyes of a third party ... I think that’s classed as libel young man [waits for apology to minimise legal action]”. Ri-i-ight. Just exactly what would one do on receiving a solicitor’s letter or nastygram saying “D’you know, old chap, I think you have libelled our client”?
Would you (a) climb down, (b) refer them to the precedent case of Arkell versus Pressdram, or most likely (c) not bother with pleasantries and just tell them to f*** off? Ms Burley was not exactly on a winning track here, despite protesting “No need to get your knickers in a twist ... [Alex Andreou] I’d quoted a viewer”.
And, so what? As Andreou pointed out, she didn’t say “well, that was a comment out of left field”, or “now it’s getting too silly”, she just read it out. She posed the question, even if it was someone else’s. She had no grounds for threatening action, and therefore no expectation of an apology. So she didn’t get one.
Alex Andreou gave her a public response, in which he did not apologise. Ms Burley was singularly fortunate to get that much, but then he’s a reasonable and courteous bloke. Even so, she had to salvage something to avoid total – and self-inflicted – humiliation. So she replied “How lovely, a ‘boyfriend’ apology”.

Probably through gritted teeth, too. Never mind, though, it might give Sky News a ratings boost for a few minutes. Think before you read out Tweets verbatim, Kay.


Arnold said...

How likely is it that Cameron had Ebola?

Pam Smith said...

What is a boyfriend apology?????????