Banks' Notes 11.11.05

Hear ye! Hear ye! This hearing of the Press Complaints Commission’s
Complaints Commission is now in session. Presiding Pundit Banks in the
chair… all rise! Bring in the accused, Sir Christopher Meyer [pictured].

(OK,
boys and girls of the Yellow Press, don’t pretend YOU haven’t had this
fantasy, too.)n Complainant: Reverend Roy Greenslade and others.
Complaint date: Bonfire Night (hmmm… how very convenient!).

Publication:
DC Confidential. Complaint: That the £250,000 serialisation by the
Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph of self-styled “controversial
memoirs” of Britain’s ambassador to the US at the time of the Iraq war
constitute a conflict of interest for Sir Christopher in his current
(and recently renewed) role as chairman of the Press Complaints
Commission.

The complainants claimed that Sir Christopher’s
kiss-and-tell tales of relations between such celebs as President Bush,
Prime Minister Blair and Condoleezza Rice (to name but one ménage à
trois) compromised his neutrality in the delicate area of adjudicating
between newspapers and establishment figures. They further indicated
that editors, newspaper proprietors and complainants with whom the PCC
chairman might have future dealings would fear similar exposure in
later volumes of memoirs.

Decision: Upheld. Reasons: The PCC’s CC rejected as “hair-splitting”

the
claim that the defendant had played no part in serialisation
negotiations (a “Max Clifford” figure did the deal) nor would he
benefit financially, having pledged the wedge to charity. It was
further felt unwise and unfair that a mediator in so sensitive a post
should alienate those with whom he was bound to have future dealings.

Recent
disturbing events in the fisticuffs area recalled to my mind certain
inopportune remarks made in this column over recent weeks concerning
Rebekah Wade, editor of The Sun, in which she was variously described
as a “den mother” and “Becky the Vampire Slayer”.

Following
representation from her solicitors, Messrs Bish, Bash and Bosh, I
therefore offer a complete retraction. The imputation was totally
without basis in fact, was in no way fair comment and was motivated
purely by malice (and probably inserted by the subs!).

I deeply
regret any distress that my comments may have caused. As for that
EastEnders hardman husband of hers: Ner-nerdy-ner-ner!

The
Botoxed Sunday Telegraph is going all-out for the girly market, so I
left it to the female half of my household to deliver their verdicts on
last weekend’s new look. “Why isn’t there any fashion for the
over-50s?” wailed Mrs B. “And why can’t the gutter press leave the
young princes alone?”

My daughter? “I like the new magazines!”
she shouted from a steamy bathroom in which she was ensconced with
Stella. Considering she’s a 20-something MA (Cantab) and treading the
boards and her mum’s into 50-something fashions, I reckon Ms Sands can
consider it a job well done.

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