As The Slog keeps warning, without better tabloid behaviour, the press is going to be forcibly restrained.
The piece I posted about the EUCHR decision earlier this week was unique in the site’s history, in that the vast majority of threaders disagreed with it. Well, that’s the point of having an open-minded site.
But the next day, my fears were rapidly justified when the ghastly Jeremy Hunt popped out of his hole to say how good it would be to have superinjunctions and closely controlled internet freedoms all rolled into one whopping big Bill. My contention remains what it has always been: Wapping great lies will produce Whopping great censorship laws.
Now today comes more evidence to support The Slog’s point of view. When the tabloid media (most disgracefully the Mirror and the Sun) decided to make Chris Jefferies the Number 1 Bristol murder suspect last year, there was little question for anyone with even a smattering of media law that the harrassment of Mr Jefferies (and what they wrote about him) would’ve represented a contempt of Court – had the police decided he was their man. If you saw the footage of two Murdoch shitheads (sorry, but no other word will suffice) pinning Jefferies against some railings and yelling “Did yer kill ‘er, eh?”, then the chances are you think their employer to be the same sort of anti-matter as I do.
The point is, of course, Christopher Jefferies wasn’t their man: he was entirely innocent, and he was never charged. So nothing ever came to trial, because – apart from thinking some politically incorrect things about pupil discipline – he’d done nothing wrong at all.
Now normally under these circumstances, no case against the media’s behaviour would proceed – because with no Court case, there couldn’t be a contempt of one. But – quite understandably in my view – Chris Jefferies decide he’d had enough of these pigs honking through his letterbox. And rather than just ‘moving on’ (what a banal and silly phrase that is in the context of our foul culture) he is bringing a case for gross misrepresentation against the Mirror and the Sun.
In a first, the Attorney General today ruled there was a case to answer. So once again, misbehaviour by tabloid pinheads is likely to create an environment of legal fear among real journalists seeking out the truth. Trust me, they are playing right into the hands of every Hunt in the business, police and political Establishment: such a climate of outrageous misbehaviour is exactly what they want.
I must also – very sadly – observe that the definition of tabloid as ‘the red tops’ no longer applies. The Daily Telegraph’s reporting style – and all the boat people who began arriving from the Dacre Mail four years ago – are increasingly tabloid and dumbed-down with every month that passes. While Chris Jefferies was still a suspect, the Telegraph wrote this risible description, asserting that pupils
‘….nicknamed him “The Strange Mr Jefferies”, and remembered him for his short temper and autocratic style. One of his students said: “He was a stickler for discipline and was very traditional. He used to get very angry and shout and throw books and pens across the room. He was weird…..He showed some dark films, he was particularly keen on French films….and into poetry…’
Right you are then, PC Dixon, round up all the known poetry-loving disciplinarian weirdos with purple hair.
This is what the Currant Bun wrote on December 31st last year (No point in giving you a link, it’ll just go straight to a pair of tits inviting you to subscribe your way over the Newscorp paywall):
‘THIS is Joanna Yeates murder suspect Chris Jefferies – sporting the wispy blue-rinse hairdo that saw him branded “strange” by school pupils he taught….Another student told how groups of up to ten pupils were invited to Jefferies’ home. The mum of two, who was a 16-year-old boarder at £28,000-a-year Clifton in the 1980s, recalled: “The evenings would take place towards the end of the week, normally a Friday.”
The Sun did not hesitate to quote the unsubstantiated opinions of “weird-looking” Jefferies’ former pupils in the same day’s edition, carrying unsourced quotes about his character such as, “He was very flamboyant. We were convinced he was gay…You didn’t want him to come near you. He was very unkempt and had dirty fingernails. He was weird.”
Not surprising, then, that blogger Tim Moore wrote at the time:
‘The use of such descriptions, accompanied with opinions on character, are designed to make the suspect the Other – Other to the target reader and Other from what is considered “normal behaviour” by society. The quotes above suggest Jefferies to be a homosexual and have an unhealthy attraction towards adolescents, which in turn casts him as criminal as well as deploying ugly stereotypes relating to homosexuality and paedophilia’.
Of course they do. Here is a disgusted Tweet from the time. It’s from Channel 4 reporter Samira Ahmed, and shows the thread she developed with other journalists:
I’ll end on the same warning that closed yeaterday’s piece: ‘This is our core cultural problem: mistaking license for liberty. As I have written many times, if you can’t control yourself, then the world is full of Hunts ready and willing to control you.’