Many of those obscenely overpaid hacks and pundits, who make our free and fearless press what it is, like to jet away at Christmas to warmer climes, or to enjoy the first skiing of the season. So when a drone incursion caused London’s Gatwick Airport to suspend flights last week, the story was guaranteed to have the Fourth Estate in maximum why-oh-why mode. They would be inconvenienced, and that would never do.
When a couple from Crawley - that’s just south of Gatwick Airport, for those unfamiliar with the area - were arrested and questioned over the disruption, the temptation was for the press to conclude that They Done It. The lessons of Christopher Jeffries were instantly forgotten at the Northcliffe House bunker, where the Mail on Sunday thundered “ARE THESE THE MORONS WHO RUINED CHRISTMAS?”. And there was more.
“Police were last night questioning a former soldier and his wife over the drone chaos that sabotaged the Christmas holiday plans of more than 140,000 passengers at Gatwick … Paul Gait, 47, and Elaine Kirk, 54, were arrested at their home five miles from the airport on Friday night on suspicion of crimes involving drones that could lead to a life sentence”. Our fellow hacks have been delayed getting away, so THEY DONE IT!
However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, Gait was a hobbyist. He had no previous form for trying to disrupt air traffic, or indeed any other form of activism. And the Mail had already told its readers “Police will be hunting a PhD-educated climate activist - possibly a hacker - who is a highly organised lone wolf not a hobbyist, experts reveal”. Paul Gait did not fit that profile. The Mail went on to confirm it.
Remember him, Mail on Sunday people? He now supports ...
“The suspect behind the Gatwick Airport drone mayhem is likely to be an organised expert or hacker rather than a 'hobbyist', experts have said … Drone expert Carys Kaiser told MailOnline: 'It's definitely not a hobbyist who's thinking I'll get some extra footage from a YouTube channel … this is somebody that has possibly hacked their software or possibly modified their drone … people can't just take a drone near an airport and take off”.
Also, the Mail had earlier cautioned “A model plane enthusiast and his 54-year-old wife have been revealed as the suspects arrested over the Gatwick Airport drone mayhem - but his boss claims he was working and could not have been the culprit … The 47-year-old suspect had been 'part of a three-man team fitting glass doors and windows in the Crowborough area', his employer said”. Yet the MoS did not listen.
Now the BBC, which did not, unlike the Mail, name the couple, has reported “A man and woman arrested in connection with drone sightings that grounded flights at Gatwick Airport have been released without charge … Police said the pair were no longer suspects”.
... these people. I do not wonder why
All of which shows that the base instincts of those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet are still, despite the apologies at their past abusive treatment of ordinary people, to assume guilt as soon as someone is arrested - and stuff the consequences.
In behaving as it has, the MoS has become a recruiting sergeant for campaigning group Hacked Off, which may well be in touch with Gait and Ms Kirk very soon.
The longer the press remains unreformed, the longer the bad behaviour goes on.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at