Tag Archives: Associated Newspapers

Daily Mail Attacks ‘Activist Judge’

Sound familiar? It seems we’re even importing this from the US.

Daily Mail editor-in-chief Paul Dacre has launched an attack on a High Court judge, accusing him of bringing in a privacy law by the back door.

He said Mr Justice Eady had used the Human Rights Act against the age-old freedom of newspapers to expose moral shortcomings of people in high places.

Mr Justice Eady ruled in favour of motorsport boss Max Mosley in his legal action against the News of the World.

It’s an eerily similar refrain to that of Bush-style right-wingers in the US who spit, whinge and turn activist themselves when judges interpret laws in ways they simply don’t like and call them anti-democratic and ‘activist’ to demean them. It’s an awful thing in the US and it’s alarming to see Dacre trying the same tactic here.

Mr Dacre told the audience at Society of Editors’ annual conference in Bristol that the judge’s “amoral” judgements, in this and other defamation and libel cases, were “inexorably and insidiously” imposing a privacy law on the press.”If Gordon Brown wanted to force a privacy law, he would have to set out a bill, arguing his case in both Houses of Parliament, withstand public scrutiny and win a series of votes,” he said.

“Now, thanks to the wretched Human Rights Act, one judge with a subjective and highly relativist moral sense can do the same with a stroke of his pen.”

Absolute baloney. The wretched Human Rights Act was argued in both Houses of Parliament, has withstood public scrutiny and has been correctly interpreted by Justice Eady. The ruling meant that Dacre was no longer allowed his free rein to attack public people’s private lives on a whim, and it’s no wonder he’s angry – he stands to lose money at a time when newspaper circulations are in freefall. But let’s also remember that this is the Daily HateMail, the worst offending newspaper in the country at attempting to impose its morality on everyone else. Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor addressed that point:

“society now puts a value on privacy …There are certain things in life that should be private. Of course, if I’m acting hypocritically or I’m accountable, or there’s something that may affect what I do in my public life which emerges from my private life, that should be published. But there are things which are private and just as we don’t want the state to know everything about us, do we want things that are legitimately private to be made public? I don’t think we do.”

I couldn’t agree with him more. It doesn’t matter at all whether you think Max Mosley’s behaviour was immoral or unacceptable – his sex life was private, consensual and legal, hadn’t interfered with his job, and had no bearing on it. That makes it noone else’s business but his own. Dacre disagrees:

Mr Dacre said that in supporting Mr Mosley, the judge had “effectively ruled that it was perfectly acceptable for the multi-millionaire head of a multi-billion sport that is followed by countless young people to pay five women £2,500 to take part in acts of unimaginable sexual depravity with him”.

Mr Dacre said: “Most people would consider such activities to be perverted, depraved, the very abrogation of civilised behaviour of which the law is supposed to be the safeguard. Not Justice Eady. To him such behaviour was merely ‘unconventional’.

And that’s the Daily HateMail in a nutshell folks: a tool for its editor-in-chief to play moral Big Brother, to decide what’s morally acceptable behaviour and what is not, regardless of what the law says. Polly Toynbee is right when she says:

Dacre – along with Rupert Murdoch in his different way – probably does more damage to the nation’s happiness and wellbeing than any other single person, stirring up hatred, anger, fear, paranoia and cynicism with his daily images of a nation going to hell in a downward spiral of crime and depravity.

Paul Dacre calls Justice Eady ‘amoral’. Yet all he did was correctly interpret article 12 of the Human Rights Act, which Lord Lester reminds us was included to guarantee press freedom. Eady had to balance the importance of the freedom of expression for the press, against whether revealing Max Mosley’s sex life was in the public interest. The judge didn’t rule on morality – that wasn’t in his remit. In acknowledging that Mosley’s behaviour was legal and consensual and had no bearing on such a high profile job, he simply ruled that it wasn’t in the public interest, based on article 12 (4) (a) (ii). How typical of Dacre to resort to a straw man argument of morality to try to retrospectively win an argument he’s already lost, in dealing with a case founded on human rights. Polly Toynbee’s words seem rather apt:

Dacre, the nation’s bully-in-chief is, like all bullies, a coward: he refused to go on the Today programme yesterday to argue his case. He never dares face his critics, happy to fry alive all and sundry, never apologising, never explaining. There is a good reason for this: the stance his paper takes on just about everything is so internally contradictory and inconsistent that he could never survive even minimal scrutiny. The Mail’s mishmash of lurid scandal, bitching about women and random moralising zigzags all over the place, dishing out pain and praise often according to who it has succeeded in buying with its limitless chequebook, or who has infuriated it by selling their wares to another bidder.

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My Response to the Daily HateMail

A Victory for Britain’s Quiet Majority

Britain’s acceptance of those from different racial, social or religious backgrounds has long been an attractive aspect of our national character.

But this culture of tolerance has come under pressure from politicians and the courts, who have put the often stridently expressed demands of minorities ahead of the rights of the majority.

No case has so clearly illustrated this as that of Lillian Ladele, the registrar whose Christian beliefs – beliefs incidentally that in the broader sense shaped the DNA of this country – led her to refuse to perform same-sex civil partnerships.

The Mail supports the right to undertake civil partnerships, but not to force others to participate in ceremonies with which they may profoundly disagree.

But Miss Ladele’s bosses at Islington council, always ready to leap to the defence of the gay community, concluded that she was prejudiced, and insisted that she change her mind.

So she took them to an employment tribunal and – to the amazement of all those who have given up on the ability of our legal system to stand up for ordinary Britons – she won.

The tribunal concluded that Miss Ladele had been discriminated against, that the council had allowed the rights of homosexuals to trump her religious beliefs, and that it was utterly wrong.

The battle is far from over. Islington may appeal against the judgment. And we should never underestimate the sheer zeal of the commissars of political correctness to get their way.

I remember the Daily HateMail in the 80s, stirring up hate against ‘loonies’ and the ‘left’, as though standing up for, promoting and funding equality was only something which those with diseased minds would do. This paper has never accepted difference. They have railed incessantly against gay people, asylum seekers, foreigners and others, and in addition to their Nazi-supporting past have run appalling, personal campaigns against politicians such as Ken Livingstone who have had the temerity to stand up to them.

Their claim that the case against Lillian Ladele was a demand by a ‘strident’ minority against the ‘rights’ of the majority is an outright deceit. Noone has suggested for a moment that gay rights should trump those of straight people or even the religious – that would be ridiculous because they are not fundamentally in opposition to one another. However the stridently religious believe that gay people are not equal – Lillian Ladele said she couldn’t fulfil her job description for gay people because of her ‘religious beliefs’. To allow belief as an excuse for enforcing in equality would be as dangerous as it is monstrous. In effect she demanded an opt out from the social norms which we are all now bound by, but against which the Daily HateMail continues to campaign. Her religion is not fundamentally opposed to gay people or homosexuality, whatever hysterical theists like Iris Robinson would have you believe, and to enshrine such an opt out under the law would be to misrepresent even her religion.

The HateMail suggests that this is ‘political correctness’, as if a local council standing up for equality before the law (and Ladele’s job description was bound by at least two laws) were something undesirable. It makes no difference whether or not the council could fulfil its remit to provide civil partnerships without her – the argument was whether or not the stridently religious could get special treatment in employment, treatment which allowed them to discriminate in the world of work, based merely on belief and not on the law which is supposed to apply to the rational majority. That Lillian Ladele has (for now) succeeded is a slap in the face for the real majority, who are not in any way connected to the bigoted, small-minded, xenophobic and hateful DNA of the country which the HateMail thinks it appeals to.

Bigotry is not a ‘right’ held by the majority, whatever else the tabloid would have you believe; Iris Robinson didn’t have this right, nor does Lillian Ladele. Thankfully our thoughts can’t (yet) be controlled, but we do not have the ‘right’ to impose our darker thoughts on those different to us, or those whom we dislike or disapprove of, at least not in the world of work. The law has, in this instance, said that belief trumps the rule of law, that Islington Council was wrong, despite having equality policies which Lillian Ladele was bound by, and laws governing the conduct of her job, to enforce her job description for all, not just some. It’s an outrageous decision, based on a flawed interpretation of the law, and it must be challenged for all our sakes.

Abusing Ken – Are We Back in the 80’s?

I’d say I didn’t understand the upcoming London Mayoral election, but the reality is one which Polly Toynbee regularly directs us to: the British newspaper media is overwhelmingly right wing, and in this case the Associated Newspapers group which have always hated Ken Livingstone with a passion, scent the possibility of revenge. Of what you may ask? Remember his fight with Evening Standard (Associated Newspapers) reporter Oliver Finegold? Well a newspaper group with a noted history of anti-semitism chose to call Livingstone anti-semitic (a blatantly preposterous charge). He successfully fought them off, and now we’re at election time…who’s leading the pro-Boris, anti-Ken drive? Surprise surprise.

It’s really sick. I’m not saying for a moment that he hasn’t made serious mistakes (supporting Sir Ian Blair in the aftermath of Jean Charles de Menezes’ murder to name but one example – I’m sure Peter Tatchell could come up with many more), but this isn’t politics. Even his desperate opponent Boris Johnson is joining in the frenzy. Having links with a Trotskyite faction? Is the ‘Red Ken’ jibe really supposed to resonate with anyone anymore (hint: the polls suggest it really doesn’t)? Let’s also not forget that Boris’ sudden animosity against Ken is more than a little staged

Livingstone’s a maverick, was before he was elected in 2000, and has supported factions and causes which have been politically incorrect before becoming the political norm for over a generation. As Mayor he’s actually made progress in redistribution of income in a city with levels of poverty unmatched anywhere in the pre-enlargement EU. Whilst the tube hasn’t improved, much of that can be laid at the feet of Gordon Brown, whose PFI contract hasn’t exactly been an incentive to improve our underground transport! Is he a petty bureaucrat? Yes, and I don’t like it. Is he a benign dictator? Yes, by his own admission the powers he assumed in 2000 were needed in order to force through progressive changes like the congestion charge – changes which worked to the betterment of all Londoners. This is a reason to be as uncontrollably brutal against him now? I said a few weeks ago we’d get a Jacques Chirac v Jean-Marie Le Pen-type election here and it’s sadly shaping up quite nicely.

I have reservations about him on principle, after basically admitting it was ok for the Metropolitan Police to murder Jean Charles de Menezes. But I don’t agree with this character assassination which is going on right now. Is he probably a bastard in private? Sure. When did that become a bar to high office? We need to see through the ridiculous distortions of what’s really going on, and see his achievements (check out the press conference Martin Bright tries to cut through by the way, if you can make it work, and make your own mind up). If you don’t think they amount to much then vote for someone else, but otherwise grow up!