Monday, 31 March 2014

Mark Menzies: Like Leveson Never Happened

From today's Sun: Man had sex on drugs, quite enjoyed it bombshell!

It was quite like old times on the newsstands yesterday. Two Sunday red-tops took us back to the era of sleaze that bedevilled John Major's administration.

In other words, it was way before the nation, and the press, had heard of Lord Justice Leveson.

There was the News of the World - sorry, Sun on Sunday - with a splash headlined "Top Tory quits in rent boy scandal" plus, incidentally, an inside spread on "a blonde beauty" who "enjoyed internet sex chats with four Manchester United stars".

And there was the Sunday Mirror splashing on the same tale, "Tory MP quits in drugs & rent boy scandal". And this on the day when same-sex marriage laws came into force, duly celebrated on the paper's page 23.

The story concerned the resignation of Conservative MP Mark Menzies, parliamentary private secretary to the international development minister, Alan Duncan, after allegations made by a Brazilian male escort.

Both papers lay claim to exclusivity, but that little local dispute between the titles is far less interesting than the editorial agenda that convinced each of them of the story's importance.

You might have thought it inappropriate nowadays to expose people for their (alleged) gay relationships. You might have also thought it inappropriate to accept the word of someone who has sought payment for that (alleged) relationship. Doesn't the term "rent boy" seem oddly archaic in 2014?

You would probably concede that the (alleged) involvement of drugs just about gave it a public interest justification. But only just, given that the level of proof appears less than convincing.

I sincerely hope that this isn't the beginning of a trend.

Roy Greenslade, Guardian Media blog.

Quite, but this new trend surely began with the Christopher Jefferies and Paul Flowers witch hunts?

If you're gay, it's always hunting season, and you are the quarry.

Update: Two (2) more stories on this boring nonsense which affects no-one in The Sun today.

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