'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

A Lib Dem MP struck a great blow for Press Freedom on Monday. So why do I feel so grumpy about it?

It's funny isn't it.

John Hemming's actions on Monday were, by most people's definition, liberal. The law had already been made to look ridiculous anyway. What's more, why should the rich and famous who can afford the best lawyers get the protection of the courts when others without access to the same resources cannot do similar. I feel much the same about Dominique Strauss-Kahn's bail hearing - it seems wrong that because he had a million dollars handy and could afford to pay $200k a month in security to keep himself under house arrest he was afforded bail, when someone in the same situation without that access to funds would have been kept in Rikers Island. One law for one, etc. So John Hemming evening things up for the rest of us is just a totally good thing, isn't it? Isn't it?

So why can't I shake off this feeling of doom about the whole thing?

I guess it's because while freedom of speech, freedom of expression or freedom of the press is a valiant war, this particular battle seems especially grubby and less about freedom of the press and more of the right to gossip. Which might be an equal right, but seems a lot less worthy. And suddenly finding yourself battling for the rights of the tabloids to run kiss and tell sex stories seems a rather less good use of Parliaments time. And while I have little sympathy for the millionnaire asking for junction, I do feel sorry for his wife and kids. I know many people saw the name 'officially' revealed on the BBC for the first time on... Newsround. Imagine that in the Giggs household. No fun.

So yes, while I don't much like the rich and their super injunctions, I guess it's the hypocrisy of the press playing the moral high ground while they skirt around in the gutter that makes me feel just a bit grumpy.

It's not exactly Watergate, is it?

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