THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Government knows best?
Book review: Single Acts of Tyranny, by Stuart Fairney

Babies and bathwater

Andrew Gilligan, Telegraph London editor - Telegraph.

I am concerned by the current threat to our free press and glad that the question is being raised in the mainstream media. I am not surprised Andrew Gilligan is prominent among the warning voices. As he points out in the Daily Telegraph;

In my career as a journalist I have lied, I have received stolen goods and for these things I have won two of the top awards in the profession.

Quite. And the Daily Telegraph committed at least one crime to expose the rampant expenses fraud in Westminster. When the hysteria dies down, let it please be remembered that no-one cared about the News of the World hacks hacking phones until they crossed not a legal but a moral boundary. The real danger now is that "the great and the good" (not to mention the self-serving slebs) will screen their wrongdoings for ever from the people's gaze, using the weapon of a sentimental indignation that cannot safely or properly be translated into law.

Gilligan knows exactly what regulation of non-broadcast journalism would mean. He famously faced the wrath of the authorities when he was a highly-regulated BBC broadcast journalist and that cost him his job. He resigned from the BBC after Alistair Campbell successfully set out (in the words of his own diaries) to "fuck Gilligan" over his story about how "the dodgy dossier" was "sexed up".

This despite the fact that, as recorded by Wikipedia:

A later official enquiry into the government's use of intelligence, conducted by the former head of the civil service Lord Butler of Brockwell found that "more weight was placed on the intelligence than it would bear", that the dossier "put a strain on the Joint Intelligence Committee in seeking to maintain their normal standards of neutral and objective assessment", and that the judgments in the dossier went to the "outer limits … of the intelligence available."

Gilligan has, to his credit, been banging the free speech, free press drum for some time. Wikipedia also records that:

In a speech to the Edinburgh TV Festival in August 2004, the main annual gathering of the broadcasting industry, Gilligan spoke of his "awe" at what he claimed was the Government's "industrial-strength, 45-carat shamelessness" over the dossier and said that the BBC should not retreat from journalistic probing of the Government.

But the BBC did retreat. And now - if indeed it ever accidentally advances in the right direction - it always will. Gilligan embarrassing a left-liberal PM was an aberration probably never to be repeated. No member of the leftist elite in Britain need fear Auntie, but all their enemies must. That is precisely what the unholy alliance of Guardian, BBC, vengeful slebs and gleeful politicians will now seek to achieve for the press. God help us all if they succeed. When a state with limitless power over its citizens (including the power to do legally everything it complains of in others) says those others are 'too powerful', watch out!


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Can't the blind see it is more than closing down a newspaper it is what is represented behind it. Do you honestly think this is a moral issue. I wish our society had more morality. It is a freedom of speech issue, and an opportunity for immorality to be covered up. Which it will be. I know what this means; we are battling for freedom of speech here whilst 'smugglers' close down venues to stop Lord Monckton.
Let's not debate, let's not hold to account, let's just close down. Perfidy.

Account Deleted

I have to disagree - on the morning of the day the NotW was shut down, my apolitical girlfriend and I were listening to the radio and heard about the hacking of Milly Dowler's family and soldiers families phones. She said at the time "they should just shut it down."

As Tom notes above, The Screws was screwed by crossing a moral, not legal, line. We expect politicians and journalists to lie and cheat, but there comes a point where it's just too much. I suspect those newspapers in shopping baskets you saw was just the print equivalent of rubber-necking at a crash scene.

Dick Puddlecote

I wonder at the tangible nature of this revulsion the country is supposed to be feeling towards the NotW. Just came back from getting a few bits at the local Asda and it was hard to spot a trolley at checkout without a copy in it. I know it's a bit of a collector's piece, a bit of history, but I reckon most of the outrage has come from a few loud lefty, Murdoch-averse vessels.

The comments to this entry are closed.