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Wednesday 6 April 2016

Whittingdale’s Broken Promises

Today has seen the start of an initiative by campaigning group Hacked Off to remind the Government, and in particular Young Dave and his Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, of the promises that were made after the Leveson Inquiry was set up amid the ruins of the not at all late lamented Screws. The victims of press intrusion would, we were told, be put “front and centre” of the promised reforms that stemmed from the Inquiry.
Whittingdale: ignoring the victims

But now it seems that Cameron spoke with distinctly forked tongue: when Hacked Off and some of those victims asked to meet with the Prime Minister recently and discuss the reluctance of Whittingdale to sign the commencement order for Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act (see Zelo Street on why this is important HERE), he declined. The victims are no longerfront and centre”, and the reforms are being punted into the long grass.

Worse, the second part of the Leveson Inquiry, on the relationship between the press and the Police, which was promised as soon as outstanding criminal trials had ended, has not begun. Here, the Government spin is that we already had an Inquiry and so do not need another, but this is disingenuous in the extreme. It’s the second part of the same Inquiry. Cameron gave his word on both. He has now broken his promises.

What Hacked Off has not told - after all, this is a campaigning organisation and not part of either old or new media - is that John Whittingdale has himself been put “front and centre” recently, and for reasons he would prefer were not discussed openly. Zelo Street faces no such constraints. Whittingdale hosted some of the press victims just before the Easter break. He waved away all their requests to sign off on Section 40.

But now, after Nick Mutch’s Byline Media revelations over Whittingdale’s more than year-long relationship with a known prostitute, and the press cover-up, we can see that the Culture Secretary is in what Spike Milligan might have called A Very Difficult Position. The impression that he has made a Faustian pact with the Fourth Estate, giving them what they want - no Section 40 - in return for keeping a secret, is all too obvious.

Worse for the press is that the story which they have been keeping quiet - exactly how quiet will be made clear in further Byline revelations very soon - has now been put out there, and other media players not subjected to the OmertĂ  of the Fourth Estate are looking to run with it. Some papers (note use of the plural) are already assembling their excuses: there will be claims that they were going to run the story all along.

But, as Captain Blackadder might have put it, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. The excuses won’t wash. The larger part of the Fourth Estate knew exactly what it was doing in not exposing Whittingdale, and the Hacked Off initiative demonstrates why. That same part of the press that is covering for the Culture Secretary also does not care about the victims of press intrusion.

You can write to your MP to ask them to help implement the Leveson proposals in full, including Section 40, HERE. In the meantime, ensure you have beer and popcorn in, as the whole press and politician can of worms is forcibly opened - and very soon, too.


rob said...

"But, as Captain Blackadder might have put it, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. "

Thanks for the cunning plan Baldrick! But look out for Louise Whatshername, She bestest mates with "Whitters" and has a nasty line in tweetership.

Anonymous said...

When the rictus-grinning arse head Hunt was running Meeja he was about to hand over even more of the industry to the Nazi Murdoch......Until the hacking conspiracy broke.

So no surprise the Bullingdon pig's head boy has soiled his boxies and betrayed the victim families, all while he met up with Murdoch and Brooks in secret.

It's what tories do: Lie and steal for themselves and their Canary Wharf/Wall Street Suits.

Tax havens? What tax havens?