In the noble cause of journalism for justice


Think about it. But for editors willing to stake their careers, the alternative Government of this nation could now be led by Jonathan Aitken, with Jeffrey Archer as party chairman.

Still, maybe we shouldn’t hold our breath for their former mates to table a motion congratulating the press on bringing down two of the biggest liars since Ananias tried it on with the Holy Ghost (an Acts of the Apostles world exclusive).

Nor is exposing perjurious politicians likely to bring state honours for editors such as Phil Hall and David Montgomery of the News of the World, Alan Rusbridger of The Guardian, Max Hastings of the London Evening Standard and Peter Wright of The Mail on Sunday. The same goes for reporters at the sharp end, notably Michael Crick, Paul Foot and Adam Raphael.

Nobody does it better than the News of the World, which mounted the first and the final stings that did for Archer. In 1986 it was The Bagman. In 1999 it was The Alibi Guy. Each a classic. Brilliantly directed, compellingly scripted (and missing only a Scott Joplin rag to make the crossheads sing too).

Each episode defied a cruel world in which so often Who Dares Gets Sued. The paper triumphed thanks to the professionalism of its reporters, the investigative expertise of executives such as Stuart Kuttner, and the legal mine-sweeping of such as Tom Crone.

This explains why Archer did not take to court the NoW but the Daily Star. The former had him bang to rights. The latter didn’t. With a lot of perjury from Archer, and a little fragrant soppiness from Mr Justice Caulfield, editor Lloyd Turner was doomed to lose. He was brutally sacked, and died too soon to see Archer carted off to jail.

Too late for Turner, the 2001 Old Bailey jury understood better than the 1987 High Court jury that taping incriminating phone calls was not some Satanic tabloid perversion but the way to prove Archer’s method, mentality – and guilt.


No nastiness, please


What a rotten journalist Tony Blair would have made. He complains that 80 per cent of coverage of the Genoa summit was devoted to the rioting. He must think that if we play down nastiness it will go away.

Ridiculous, sure. But why don’t we just try it out on Big Brother?

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