The desperation of the Murdoch press to stop Section 40 of the Crime And Courts Act - and part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry - from being enacted knows no bounds, something that has been underscored by the Sun’s latest recruit to their cause, anti-EU Labour MP Kate Hoey, who has contributed a column for today’s paper in which she rails against Section 40 in the time-honoured way - by lying through her teeth.
Kate Hoey - manipulated and deluded
Such is the shameless and brazen dishonesty on display in her article that, here on Zelo Street, nothing but a thorough fisk of this disgraceful drivel will suffice. So a fisk it is.
“Gagging the Press is like trying to derail Brexit… but it’s not too late for you to stop this attack on ordinary folk … We are fortunate that, in the UK, there has been no State regulation of the Press since 1695” tells the headline, which is mildly interesting, as “ordinary folk” could not be further from the Sun’s considerations, and nobody is proposing State Regulation of the press. Moreover, Ms Hoey does not get off to an auspicious start.
“We have had a free Press for 321 years”. I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Ed Jones, in an article titled “Five reasons why we don’t have a free and independent press in the UK and what we can do about it”, showed why this is an illusory construct. I would commend his article to Ms Hoey.
Then, after routinely smearing the Hacked Off campaign - same old, same old, Murdoch poodles - we get the first whopper: “After the phone hacking scandal, Lord Leveson wrote a report to say that the Press must be ‘regulated’ by the Government”. Not true - which is why the word “regulated” has to be placed in quote marks.
“A Royal Charter then created Impress”. Totally untrue. IMPRESS has always been an independent creation.
“Publishers could choose voluntarily to be regulated by it, or to continue with the tougher self-regulation which had been established”. If that means IPSO, it is laughably untrue. IPSO was created by the press establishment, and is under its control. There is nothing “tough” about it. It exists to wipe the press’ backsides, and in this it does its job superbly.
What she suggests her article is about ...
“No publisher chose State regulation”. Well, as there wasn’t, and isn’t, any State regulation, it would have been a challenging proposition, wouldn’t it?
“For once The Sun agreed with the Guardian, the Financial Times and the Mail”. Totally untrue. The Guardian and FT declined to join IPSO.
“Submitting to Impress, the State regulator, is voluntary”. IMPRESS is still not a State regulator. Repeating a lie does not cause it to become true.
And now the pièce de résistance: “Section 40 states that any local or national newspaper that has not submitted to regulation by Impress can be sued for libel or invasion of privacy by anyone who claims to have been offended … But under Section 40, if the paper has not submitted to the regulator it has to pay all the complainant’s costs … Not only if they win their case, as is normal, but even if they lose”. Again, this is totally untrue.
IPSO could apply for recognition under the terms of the Royal Charter. A third press regulator could be created and apply for recognition. There is no requirement to join IMPRESS, and no process of submission is required.
... and what her article is really about
Ms Hoey then takes out a king-size - and Murdoch-approved - onion, telling “Very quickly the choice every newspaper will face will be to submit to State regulation under Impress, drop any investigative activity at all, or shut down … Shutting down will be the only honourable option. The UK will lose not just a free Press, but any print Press at all”.
Baloney. IMPRESS is still not State regulation. This is mere victimhood playing: the system of press regulation in Ireland is a fully statutory one - while that required for Royal Charter approval is not. And guess what our free and fearless press did in Ireland? Did they refuse to comply with the new system and close up their operations there? No they didn’t: the Sun, and all the others, agreed to work with it.
Then it is on to smearing Hacked Off once more. “So who is behind Hacked Off? Max Mosley, of German-themed S&M prostitute orgy fame, who is the major funder of Impress”. Leaving aside that IMPRESS is not directly funded by Max Mosley, and he is unable to exercise any control or influence upon it, Kate Hoey has just shown the whole world the abject dishonesty of her argument.
If IMPRESS is a State Regulator, why does it need funding by someone else? Is Max Mosley, or more correctly the Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust, an arm of the state? Does Kate Hoey really believe that? Or did she not ask sufficient questions of the Murdoch goons when agreeing to take dictation from them?
After further smearing of Hacked Off and those who may or may not be associated with the campaigning group, we get “What they have in common is a hatred of ‘ordinary people’ looking into the lives of the privileged or taking decisions their ‘betters’ disapprove of … they say they are acting in the public interest, while doing all they can to keep ‘ordinary’ people in their place - sidelined and disregarded”.
Ordinary people, you say, Ms Hoey? Then riddle me this: why do you think that the Dowler family, the McCanns, Paul Dadge, Christopher Jeffries, Andy Miller, Juliet Shaw, Jacqui Hames, Jane Winter, John Tulloch, Ann Diamond and Máire Davies all stand behind Hacked Off? You know, Ms Hoey, ordinary people. Those ordinary people who suffered at the hands of the press and its bad behaviour.
The truth is that the “Ordinary People” described by Kate Hoey are NOT ordinary people. What she describes are the attack dogs of the Murdoch press, the ones who in the past hacked phones and traded in illegally gathered information. The ones who harass their targets, put them under surveillance, publish details of their houses, harass their friends and family, publish smears and lies about them, rifle through their bins, intercept their post, decline to give them sight of articles about them, and then tell them they can go through the courts - risking losing their property in the process - if they’re not happy.
What Section 40 does is to ensure those traduced by the press have access to inexpensive - and independent - arbitration for complaints over bad behaviour by the press. That is why Section 40 is about benefiting ordinary people. That is why Section 40 is actually A Very Good Thing for ordinary people. Why Kate Hoey is so dead set against a measure that benefits ordinary people is truly mystifying.
The reality is that Hacked Off are the ones on the side of ordinary people. That is why ordinary people stand behind Hacked Off, and not behind the Sun. That is why Kate Hoey’s article is a gross insult to the victims of press intrusion.
And not only does Ms Hoey insult those victims, she doesn’t even understand the reason she was elected, claiming of Hacked Off “In this way they are at one with the people who are trying to use the courts and Parliament to derail Brexit”. Those challenging the use of Royal Prerogative in triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty are not trying to derail anything. And for an MP - a Labour MP as well - to decry the will of Parliament is a deeply disturbing development - even if she is getting generously paid to make that claim.
Kate Hoey’s article is not merely dishonest from start to finish, it is deeply insulting to victims of press abuse, it shows an ignorance of how press regulation works, it makes no effort to impart understanding of Leveson, the Royal Charter, IPSO, IMPRESS, Section 40 or indeed Hacked Off to Sun readers. That may, of course, be because Ms Hoey has no knowledge of those subjects to impart.
Above all, her article is desperate. No-one wishing to take an intelligent position on the subject of press regulation need be detained by it.