After the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog published photos of Labour spinner Seumas Milne with a woman who was not his wife, our free and fearless press - well, the larger part of it which hates the Labour leadership, anyway - could not wait to recycle the alleged story. But here a problem entered: the IPSO Editor’s Code has something in it about privacy. And public interest.
What's so f***ing wrong with invading the privacy of some leftist c*** I don't like? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay
As Hugh Tomlinson pointed out at Inforrm’s Blog, “Clause 2 deals with privacy and tells editors … that everyone is entitled to respect for their private life. Clause 2(ii) provides that ‘Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual’s private life without consent’. Clause 2(iii) states that ‘It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy’”. And there was more.
“Clause 2 of the Editors Code is subject to the ‘public interest’ provisions. It must be demonstrated that the intrusions are in the public interest. This includes: Detecting or exposing crime, or the threat of crime, or serious impropriety; Protecting public health or safety; Protecting the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organisation; Disclosing a person or organisation’s failure or likely failure to comply with any obligation to which they are subject; Disclosing a miscarriage of justice; Raising or contributing to a matter of public debate, including serious cases of impropriety, unethical conduct or incompetence concerning the public; Disclosing concealment, or likely concealment, of any of the above”.
And his conclusion? “It is obvious that none of these factors are present. No crime or serious impropriety is being exposed. It is not suggested in any of the articles that Mr Milne or Ms Robinson have misled the public by any actions or statements. There is no public interest in publishing pictures of two individuals on a hotel balcony - whether in a ‘clinch’ or not - and none in pursuing them and their families”.
It says all too much about the cavalier disregard for the Editor’s Code which the Fourth Estate all too frequently exhibits that this analysis has caused hacks and editors to have what can only be described as a Goon Show moment, experiencing a sudden rush of realisation and exclaiming “Ooh … I never thought of that”.
What to do? Simples. The Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor Paul Dacre has put smearer and nudge merchant supreme Guy Adams on the case, with one objective: to reverse engineer a public interest justification after the fact.
Hence today’s headline “The married Marxist ladies’ man who is Corbyn's spin doctor and the troubling links of the blonde lawyer he was caught groping”. Troubling links! You see, there really is a justification! IPSO will once again wipe the Dacre bottom clean!
Sadly, though, the only thing that is “troubling” about Adams’ rambling apologia is the amount of hypocrisy, sheer dishonesty, and rank bad journalism on view.
Let’s start at the very beginning, as it’s a very good place to start.
Groping? There isn’t any groping in the photos. But Adams knows different: “‘They were very hands-on, full-on heavy petting,’ said the photographer. ‘There was a lot of hugging, stroking, kissing and intimate talking going on. The photo with her head nestled into him - that was them mid-snog’”. Single sourced and unconfirmed comments from the Fawkes blog - a borderline Fake News site.
That, though, was a mere Hors d’Oeuvres to whet the appetite for a more substantial Entrée: “the relationship between Robinson and Seamus Milne (nicknamed ‘Shameless’ by the satirical magazine Private Eye) has been the subject of feverish speculation in Labour circles for more than a year”. No public interest justification. Next.
“So far, so grubby. Yet the shenanigans that occurred at the Courthouse Hotel are not merely the subject of sexual intrigue. They also raise worrying political questions”. Halleluja! In the 25th paragraph, a hint of actual justification.
“Some might argue that recent times have seen Doughty Street Chambers, where the glamorous barrister plies her trade, become a sort of de facto legal extension of the Corbyn machine … Others might observe that, in return, Milne’s boss has become the Left-wing law chambers’ most prominent political supporter”. Saying “Look, lawyers, nudge nudge wink wink” is not a public interest justification. Try again.
“This brings us neatly onto what recent events tell us about relations between Team Corbyn and Julian Assange … Milne (like his boss) is a longstanding supporter of the Wiki-Leaks founder”. Jeremy Corbyn an Assange supporter? Citation? No? Pants on fire.
“According to Ecuadorean embassy sources, Milne has visited Assange again in the past 16 months”. So has Nigel Farage. So what?
Oh look, he’s finally getting to the point in the 42nd paragraph. Very HHGTTG. “He has also, as we now know, spent time with Assange’s lawyer, fellow Australian Miss Robinson”. A thirty-something single woman is “Miss”. How very Daily Mail.
Seumas Milne ((c) Guardian)
“This is undoubtedly a link that Britain’s security forces will take very seriously”. So that’s it, is is? All that nudge and wink for that?
“It may help explain why, during the election, Whitehall sources speculated that Milne’s links to Russia, meant he would fail security vetting should Corbyn become PM”. Oh, come off it. Where was the Daily Mail when Andy Coulson was taken into Downing Street by Young Dave and never underwent Developed Vetting (DV) clearance?
Still, back to the prissy Mail use of “Miss”: “Miss Robinson is nothing if not impeccably connected … she had ‘engaged with’ Hacked Off, the Left-wing anti-newspaper group which campaigns, among other things, for the Press to be state- regulated”. How many lies is that? Hacked Off is not “left-wing”, it’s not “anti-newspaper”, and does not campaign for the press to be state regulated. BINGO!
“She’s also a director of the Trust for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), alongside the busybody, popular Press- hating Sir David Bell”. Bell is not a “press-hater”, and nor is he a busybody. But he was the subject of a vicious hatchet job by the Daily Mail, just because of his Leveson Inquiry status.
“He is founder of the Media Standards Trust, which is at the centre of a well- connected network of liberal establishment”. There is no establishment better-connected than the press establishment. And there is no “Liberal establishment”, as there is no “Liberal Élite”, except in Paul Dacre’s fevered mind.
“Indeed, it is intriguing that Sir Keir Starmer, before becoming a Labour MP and after leaving Robinson’s Doughty Street Chambers, was Director of Public Prosecutions when the Crown Prosecution Service took to court 24 national newspaper reporters over payments to police and public officials by journalists”. What the actual f*** has that got to do with standing up the Seumas Milne story?
“Nine police officers were convicted, but none of the journalists - jurors deciding that the information the reporters paid for was in the public interest … To this day, Sir Keir hasn’t apologised for what has been called a witch-hunt”. Why should he?
“Seumas was educated at Winchester College, where fees are now £38,000 a year”. Your editor sent both his sons to Eton College. So what?
“He described the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby by Islamist extremists as ‘not terrorism in the normal sense’”. Bullshit. What Milne actually said was “the attack wasn't terrorism in the normal sense of an indiscriminate attack on civilians”. He also said “The videoed butchery of Fusilier Lee Rigby outside Woolwich barracks last May was a horrific act and his killers' murder conviction a foregone conclusion” in the same article, but Guy Adams somehow forgot about that.
“Despite his hard-Left principles, Milne doesn’t always practise what he preaches. Shortly after marrying advertising director Cristina, he bought a rambling Victorian family home near the Thames in Richmond, paying cash for the property, now worth around £2 million”. What in his principles forbids him from making a property transaction?
“He educated his son and daughter at the nearby Tiffin grammar schools, among the highest-performing state establishments in the UK (his daughter got a place at Oxford and his son went to Cambridge). Milne’s Labour Party is, of course, implacably opposed to grammars”. What part of “nearby state schools” do you not understand?
“Adding to the hypocrisy, his wife works as a tutor helping children of wealthy locals”. What’s hypocritical about his wife being a teacher?
The rest of this excruciatingly tedious drivel is in the same vein: nudge nudge, wink wink, there was something iffy going down, and it’ll be enough for IPSO to exonerate the Mail.
But this does not justify the events Adams has not told his readers about. As Hugh Tomlinson also tells, “The Daily Mail later telephoned Ms Robinson’s father and her former headteacher in Australia and published details of those conversations. Paparazzi photographers staked out the homes of those concerned”. No justification. At all.
And why is the “story” being pushed? “the motivation for the story is clear: it is a political attack on Jeremy Corbyn, with Mr Milne, Ms Robinson and their families simply being collateral damage”. Another case of “Threaten us with Leveson Part 2 and Section 40 and someone might just break those nice private lives you’ve no longer got”.
This pursuit of Seumas Milne is the lowest of the low. So no change there, then.