Wednesday 2 February 2011

Telling Tales

The picture above is from the Mail Online of Wednesday, 2 Feb. It is about sporting chaps who play away and do not want the results to appear in the media.

The Mail has an interest in this because these chaps, their lady friends and celebrity acquaintances are major copy material and critical to their sales figures. Looking at the right hand bit of their web page and the features about them loom very large.

What the Mail does not mention is that this interest does not apply only to them but others by extension.

I am reliably informed that the young lady Assistant Referee who was the subject of the rude remarks about offside decisions, seemingly correct, that started the row at Sky Sports and the ending of the contracts of Keys and Gray is not so protected.

Despite her being the innocent party and who has been most reticent, I am told that a media camp set up by her house on permanent watch and tried to monitor her every move. Doors were knocked on, neighbours approached for any information. Children were stopped and quizzed in the street.

She, however, is on very modest earnings, far beyond the sums needed to hire a hotshot London Lawyer to extract a ruling from a concerned judge. It’s the rich what gets the pleasure and the poor what gets the blame, so to say.

It is a pity that The Mail, anxious to meet their sales targets could not go on to point out that as well as sporting, media, entertainment and political figures the libel laws that in effect are available only to the rich and powerful do much more serious damage elsewhere.

Academics who study certain subjects and wish to raise questions arising from their research to the effect that some kinds of product, service or procedures or the use of some substance posing dangers can be muzzled.

Not only are they faced with writs from commercial or other interests, but so are their immediate seniors in their departments and the institutions where they work.

It does not matter that they are right, or their research has been excellent or that it is an issue that deserves and needs wide discussion. Because the sums of money they would need simply to defend themselves and appear in court are ruinous.

Equally, other people concerned with matters normally of public interest that would mean inconvenience or even embarrassment for others can be similarly muzzled.

Our judges feel that personal privacy of embezzlers, drug dealers, swindlers, thieves and the rest far outweighs any public interest and any person adversely affected must not speak up or inform others for the same reasons

Why do we not hear from The Mail about these people, there are enough of them?

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