I see the odious Kelvin McKenzie's in the news this week. Last Thursday he claimed that the Sun's vicious calumnies about the Hillsborough disaster were due to reporters from Liverpool, and on Friday he said that he'd got that wrong, and he was sorry about that.
interview in Press Gazette that year he said,
'When I published those stories, they were not lies. But I don't really think of it all in the way you suggest. They were great stories that later turned out to be untrue -- and that is different. What am I supposed to feel ashamed about?'
All of which throws a supremely ironic light onto his current rant in the Spectator.
The Spectator's really not had a good few weeks, and I know because there's a big pile of them in our bathroom, with the newer ones being less readable than those below them. No, really, there is, and though it's not been me who brings them into the bathroom I have been known to peruse them in my more idle moments. They're often fairly well-written and sometimes they make sense. Not so much lately, though...
The recent trouble started with Rod Liddle's column about the Stephen Lawrence trial, which the jury had to be asked not to read and which may yet lead to a prosecution, and was swiftly followed by an article and a front cover banner devoted to the crazed claims of that chalatan Nils-Axel Mörner; now McKenzie has a particularly emetic piece entitled 'Who Will Say Sorry to Rupert?'
Beginning with 'Welcome to the world of journalism, Nick Davies,' the McKenzie piece is an excoriating and hypocritical attack on Nick Davies and the Guardian for the Guardian's coverage of how the News of the World had hired Glenn Mulcaire to hack into people's phones, including that of the then-missing murdered schoolgirl Millie Dowler.
As has become clear, the Guardian's claim that Mulcaire had deleted messages from the girl's voicemail account and that by doing so he gave her parents false hope seems to have been wrong. It seems, instead, that while Mulcaire may well have been responsible for messages being deleted -- by listening to messages he set in motion the voicemail's own automatic deletion process -- he wasn't responsible for the particular deletions that generated false hope.
Was the Guardian factually wrong on this? Yes, it certainly seems to have been.
Does that mean that McKenzie can claim the moral high ground for the Murdochs and their minions? Don't be silly.
After all, as the Dowlers' own lawyer, Mark Lewis, has said, 'It remains unchallenged that the News of the World listened to Milly Dowler's voicemail and eavesdropped on deeply personal messages which were being left for her by her distraught friends and family.'
And unless Kelvin McKenzie thinks it acceptable for newspapers to hack into the voicemail accounts of missing schoolgirls -- regardless of whether they're still alive or not -- in order to make money from their plight and their families' distress, then I don't see that he has a leg to stand on. After all, it was hardly exclusively with reference to the deletion of messages that Rupert Murdoch said in October that:
The Spectator's let itself down by publishing this vile sophistry. It's been a bad month.'When I met with the Dowlers in July, I expressed how deeply sorry I was for the hurt we had caused this family. The behaviour that the News Of The World exhibited towards the Dowlers was abhorrent and I hope this donation underscores my regret for the company's role in this awful event.'