In The Public Interest…Really? Well, OK Then.
August 25, 2010
Ola from sunny Portugal!
While this blog’s glorious founder spends his time hunched over his PC, pondering his future as MYPA 47’s coach on Football Manager, I’ve been sunning myself on the Algarve. And allow me to say, first of all, that the weather here is lovely, the food is lovely too, now if only somebody could teach the Portugese how to lay a road properly, they’d be in business.
While I’ve been away, I’ve purposely not kept abreast of the sports stories back in Blighty. I’ve figured that if something truly mindblowing were to happen, it’d find it’s way to me eventually. Well, my hard-rockin’ amigos, something HAS reached my tanned shell-like, and it’s got the old brain cells rumbling.
A few months ago, I discussed John Terry’s attempted use of the “Super-injuncton” in order to prevent a Sunday newspaper printing damaging stories about his personal life. Of course Terry’s injunction was overturned by the courts and the rest, as they say, is history. Now word reaches me that two more England stars have successfully applied for injunctions, again muzzling our ‘papers and undermining our claim to freedom of the presses.
My opinion of this has changed somewhat, previously, I was very pro “the press”, but recently, I’ve had a change of heart. Not in respect of the use of “super- injunctions” (an abhorrent tool if ever there was one), but I’m more concerned about the use of the term “In the public interest”. As in the argument, that it would be in the public’s interest to publish these stories.
Of course, the public would be very interested to hear what footballer was been putting what into whom, but that doesn’t exactly mean that the public’s interest is being served by publishing these details. Use of the term “In the public interest” should left for those occasions where the public interest is actually being served by publication. If you’d like an example of what I mean by “Public Interest” in this context, simply google the words “Trafigura” and “Scandal”, you’ll get my drift.
Is it the case that the dead tree media are simply masking prurience and an obsession with scandal and circulation with the veil of “Public interest”? Undoubtedly they are. While John Terry was revealed to be a nasty piece of work off the pitch (something we all knew already), what type of public interest was served by the lurid publication of the ins and outs of his private life? While Max Mosely was revealed to be a flagellating weirdo, with an erotic desire for German (not Nazi) themed BDSM sessions, again the question remains, is THAT in the public interest?
No and No again. While being odd, being unfaithfull and even being a loathsome b***ard, may be unpleasant, it isn’t illegal to be so. And as long as these private individuals are going about their private business without bothering “The Public”, maybe they should be left alone.
However, let’s be vigilant here, while I hold the view that the public interest is not being served with the publication of THESE details. Let us not start to slip down the slippery slide of the silent, acquiescent press. Allow them their “public interest” argument, but let us not lose sight of what “public interest” actually means.