A lie, we are told, is halfway around the world before the truth has got its socks on. And this was proved true in spades this week after the news emerged that “Black Cab Rapist” John Worboys was to be released from prison on licence. A totally speculative claim was advanced that Keir Starmer, who was head of the CPS at the time, had made the decision not to prosecute Worboys over more of the complaints made about his actions.
This claim, as with so much of the Fake News that infests the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate, emanated from the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, and specifically the Fawkes teaboy Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham, who had claimed, and continues to claim, “Starmer Was Head Of DPP Who Didn’t Prosecute Worboys For 75 Sex Assaults”. Wickham has added to this claim since.
Another Fawkes post titled “Starmer’s Litany Of Failure As Director Of Public Prosecutions” repeated the claim as its first piece of alleged evidence. In an attack on the Parole Board, where Wickham calls those who took the decision to release Worboys on licence as “Guilty Men” - despite, as usual, having no evidence to back up his claim - he concluded “Looks like they have questions for Keir Starmer too”. “They” didn’t.
Our free and fearless press - well, that larger part of it that is dedicated to propping up Theresa May and her clown car, while denigrating anything to do with Labour - did not stop to think when presented with yet another hot and steaming pile of Fawkes bullpucky. No-one paused to ask if the claims were true. The imperative was to smear Labour; therefore the claims could be taken on trust. The lie was halfway around the world.
But then came reality, as Keir Starmer calmly put forward the fact of the matter, stating “I’m grateful to the Crown Prosecution Service for reviewing the John Worboys case file and for clarifying decisions taken at the time … As the CPS has made clear, neither I, nor my predecessor, had any involvement in the decision making behind the case”. The Metropolitan Police took the decisions. And Starmer did not.
So where were the apologies, the retractions, in order to make amends for all the smears and lies? The answer is, there haven’t been any, and it looks very much like there aren’t going to be any. Indeed, the press is now blaming the CPS - and anyone else - rather than admitting it took its lead from a Fake News site, and didn’t do its job properly.
Hence Tim Shipman, political editor of the Murdoch Sunday Times, bleating “How has it taken them all day to say this, right up against paper deadlines. This whole episode screams incompetence”. Yes, why didn’t the truth think of OUR DEADLINES? Why didn’t the CPS, DPP, Keir Starmer and the Labour Party realise that the right-leaning press were such a band of unprincipled sleazebags that they would recycle the Fawkes lies unless someone second guessed them beforehand? They’re VICTIMS! It’s NOT FAIR!!
Well, have I got news for Shipman and all the other debasers of decent journalism. It’s your job to get the story straight first, not the targets of it. It’s your job to ensure your sources are reliable and credible. And it’s your job not to peddle Fake News just because it matches the agenda handed down by equally unprincipled proprietors and editors.
Stop making excuses, press people. This is your fault. And it’s not good enough.