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Monday 16 August 2021

Stephen Lawrence And Daily Mail Vanity

Actor and campaigner Steve Coogan has the lead role, that of DCI Clive Driscoll, in a three part drama to air on ITV, about the investigation into the murder of teenager Stephan Lawrence. As the BBC reported back in February, the “drama will serve as a sequel to its 1999 programme, The Murder of Stephen Lawrence”. Now that broadcast of the drama is imminent, though, someone has let it be known that ITV has incurred his displeasure.

Where the f***'s my starring scene and close-up, c***?!?

That someone is the Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed former editor Paul Dacre, who clearly believes that any programme covering the investigation into the murder, and the subsequent convictions, must only proceed if it is acceptable to Himself Personally Now. So the Mail on Sunday has duly cried foul on behalf of its editor in chief. “A new TV drama series about the investigation into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence has been accused of downplaying the role of the Daily Mail in bringing the killers to justice”.

There is more. “Actor Steve Coogan stars as the detective whose remorseless work was crucial to two men being convicted of murder”. Er, so what? “The actor has long been a critic of the Daily Mail and a supporter of anti-Press lobby group Hacked Off … None of the characters is based on journalists, such as the paper’s then Editor, Paul Dacre”.

Vanity, much? Have another whine. “Following its 1997 Murderers front-page headline, the Mail ran numerous stories on the case, chronicling moves to reform double jeopardy laws to allow Stephen’s killers to stand trial a second time, the setting up of a public inquiry and the scandal of how bungling police officers escaped sanction”. Yeah, right.

Professor Brian Cathcart begs to differ here: he tested the Mail’s claims against the historical record, and “I found that, while the paper’s actions involved editorial brilliance and probably had positive consequences, its principal claims are at best exaggerated and at worst unsupported by evidence. Even where it can be argued that the paper did help bring about changes for the better, they were not the changes it actually sought”.

Dacre? Complaining? Meh

For instance, “One example is the assertion that the Mail’s reporting ‘prompted Home Secretary Jack Straw to initiate a major inquiry’, as the paper put it in February 1999. That claim has been made on a number of occasions but it is problematic and at the very least needs careful qualification - chiefly because in the relevant months of 1997 the Mail never once called for a public inquiry. Even when the Lawrence family demanded one, the Mail conspicuously did not give its support”. And when there was a public inquiry?

And once it became clear, in the early summer of 1997, that there would be an inquiry, the Mail publicly opposed the kind of inquiry - into police failures - that Doreen (now Baroness) Lawrence was arguing for and that the government of the time ultimately set up. In short, the paper has been claiming credit for the establishment of an inquiry which the record shows it didn’t seek and which took a form it actually opposed”. Well, well.

You can read more of Prof Cathcart’s analysis HERE. Meanwhile, the MoS has run yet another self-pitying article which concludedFor any TV drama about the history of the Stephen Lawrence case not to properly recognise the part played by the Press is not just ludicrous, it’s wrong”. By the Mail titles’ own former group legal advisor. Butthurt, much?

Paul Dacre is sore as hell. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving Vagina Monologue.

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Arnold said...

To be fair, Paul Dacre did play a vital role by employing Stephen Lawrence's father to do some plastering some years earlier.

Anonymous said...

Re 16:41
And that, IIRC, is why the Mail suddenly changed its tune about Stephen Lawrence and decided to seek actual justice for his murder rather than trying to trash his reputation.

WCR said...

Don’t worry - they’ll get their starring role when ITV do their drama based on the Milly Dowler murder.

Rosie said...

I was Head of Press at Greenwich Council when I received a call from a senior reporter on the Mail He wanted me to clear the path to him speaking to people in the know locally about the Lawrence murder. I was deeply hesitant because of the Mail's historty. The Mail let me on in what they were doing and showed me material they were using to build a story to expose the murderers and fight for justice for Stephen and his parents. Sure enough, the accusation of the four alleged murderers followed in a splash front page. It wasd dynamite. This had all come about once Dacre had been alerted by Stephen's father to the fact that it was his son who had been murdered and of course we all know Mr Lawrence had done some work for Dacre. The Mail had run an a misleading photograph and story on the murder at one point that had prompted Mr Lawrence to get in touch with Dacre. I am deeply cynical about most everything the Mail does and has done, and its commentariat readership are the worst of mankind. But the influence of the Mail on politicians and the country about this story should not be underestimated. As a political PRO I feel it was crucial.