National and Local politics from a Liberal Democrat from Gillingham, Kent
Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Clegg attacked by Daily mail as illiberal
The Daily Mail just don't get it do they?
As I read the editorial comment (pictured) I was torn as to whether they were genuinely missing Clegg's point or being deliberately obtuse.
In Nick Clegg's statement to the press yesterday he stated that the party would carry out it's two separate enquiries into the Rennard case but they would not be updating the press/Self appointed detectiveson every bit of speculation that developed.
Yes there should be freedom of the press but there is also due process and Lord Rennard, like every other human being should remain innocent until proven guilty and this can only happen during inquests.
Have they forgotten the case of Christopher Jefferies, the landlord who was interviewed by the police following Joanna Yeats? He was tried by media and found guilty before the Police enquiry was even finished, yet he was innocent.
The same was true of Barry George, who was found guilty for nothing short of being a weirdo, Before the court case was begun.
What Clegg is trying to do is give Lord Rennard s fair trial. The party will release information that is concrete rather than every piece of supposition, speculation, rumour and gossip. Freedom to a fair trial outweighs the press' will to print every detail.
In the case of Mark Oaten, it was of no one's interest what he got up to in his own personal private life. The fact that he was cheating on his wife with a male prostitute did not impact on his role as MP and the only reason it was "in the public interest" is because he was running for libdem leadership. As Mark said in 2009:
Journalists... had my story for three years I think, but hung on to it and never did anything with it. They could have made that public interest argument at any point in the three years. I had always been a Member of Parliament, but they waited until it could sell most newspapers, at the point at which I became well-known and at my most famous.
It was the press that were wrong to print the story as it is hardly holding someone to account with the public by violating his liberty. I was his constituent at the time and honestly it made no impact on me what so ever.
In the case of Expenses and Cyril Smith, yes the Press were right to whistleblow but there are differences. Smith was dead and there was no case to answer or trial of the individual. With expenses it was a Parliament wide issue and also fairly clear cut - either you added your duck house to your expenses or you didn't. The evidence was all in black and white.
As for Huhne, wasn't that report aired by Ms Pryce and her friend Constance Briscoe who "cooked up" the story rather than a press investigation?
I think the Mail have ignored some pretty clear cut liberalism themselves just to get at Clegg. After all the liberal democrats has no more problems than any other party; homophobia in UKIP, dodgy tax evading donors for the Conservatives and Harriet's driving points, brawling MPs and some interesting expense claims for Labour.
I agree that there should not be a muzzle on the press, except where personal privacy and liberty is being invaded. In this case however the release of speculation, rumour and gossip could skew an investigation into some pretty serious charges. Facts will be reported when they are established rather than casting wild speculation.