The John Whittingdale saga seems so long ago, yet it only blew up in April this year: the then Culture Secretary had been enjoying a relationship with a known sex worker, something that was known throughout the Fourth Estate. The story was offered to a number of papers, including the Murdoch Sun and the Mail On Sunday, both of which surveyed the merchandise on offer and then declined to proceed.
That Whittingdale was also, in his ministerial role, the one who was stalling on the commencement of Section 40 of the Crime And Courts Act, something that the larger part of the Fourth Estate, including the Mail and News UK titles, did not want to see implemented, was, you understand, a mere coincidence. Whittingdale was a single man, and therefore what he did in his personal life was not really news.
This was, of course, bullshit of the most rank and pungent kind, but that was the official press line, and they were sticking to it. Besides, Whittingdale was not all that well-known, honestly. All of which brings us to former England manager Glenn Hoddle, who was once well-known, but who has not been a top-flight manager since leaving Wolverhampton Wanderers ten years ago. He is also a single man.
So, using the Whittingdale criteria, what Hoddle does in his spare time is his business, right? Er, wrong. The Sun - which turned down the Whittingdale sex worker story - was on his case earlier this week, with readers told “LEGEND'S SECRET TRANSFER Former England boss Glenn Hoddle shares riverside love-nest with mystery blonde months after second divorce … TV footie pundit slipped out of his £800,000 terraced town house moments after smiling mystery woman left the property on Thursday”.
(c) Steve Bell 2016
And just in case you didn’t catch the value of his house, back came the Murdoch goons today, with “HODDLE SCORES Former England boss Glenn Hoddle shares his riverside love-nest with masseuse who specialises in wacky treatments … Lisa Curtis met the footie legend when he was her client and has moved into his £800,000 Maidenhead pad after divorce”. And guess which newspaper website then lifted the story?
Yes, Mail Online - where you can see all the stuff from the Mail On Sunday, which like the Sun turned down the Whittingdale story - has also got the last gory detail: “Glenn Hoddle's new lover is a £55-an-hour masseuse who specialises in rubbing clients with heated bamboo canes and met the ex-England boss when he was a client … Lisa Curtis, 48, is believed to have met ex England manager when he was a client … 59-year-old reportedly moved into new terraced town house with his new flame”.
And when Hoddle let it be known that “He is now in a relationship and asks the media to respect his partner's privacy as she is not a public figure”, guess how much respect the Mail showed her? You guessed it, none - they have contacted her for a comment. Because people who are no longer in the public eye, and those who aren’t in the public eye at all, are all fair game in the desperate business of flogging more papers.
What was that about “he’s a single man and has done nothing wrong”? Forget that. That was just to put the easily convinced off the scent. Can you smell hypocrisy?