Do we remember when Nick Cohen had a druken pop at two conservative columnists who were shortlisted for the Orwell Prize, he questioned their journalistic braveness (against his Martin Bright standard, who took his right wing ideas to the Statesman – like a man), Peter Hitchens for playing it safe in the Mail, and Oborne for much the same reason. Well I wonder if they took heed, I recently saw Hitchens write a reply to an article mentioning him in the staggers, and today Oborne today wrote a kind of introduction to his new book in favour of the Human Rights Act in the Guardian.
Myths abound about the act. These start out as newspaper reports. Soon they enter popular discourse. It is not long before they are used in the speeches of politicians. And yet almost invariably they are fabrications, or sometimes even outright lies. In our book we provide numerous examples. It is widely reported that hardcore pornography is available in prison thanks to the act, that the police cannot put up “wanted” posters thanks to it, and that it prevented Britain deporting Learco Chindamo, the killer of headteacher Philip Lawrence. All these stories – and many others – have distorted and poisoned public discourse on the Human Rights Act. They are false.
These myths (and/or major criticisms) about Human rights, I wondered, in which newspapers would they be likely to appear in, remembering for a moment who Oborne’s employers are? Perhaps this Metro report can help us. Of course the Metro are owned by Associated Newspapers (as are the Daily Mail). Does Oborne despair over this, perhaps not enough, causing one interested blogger to ask ‘why Obore didn’t write that in his Mail column?!’
This article by Afua Hirsch also details other examples where the Mail were responsible for erroneous reportage on Human rights, in particular the story headlined “The war criminals we cannot deport because of their human rights” which “suggested the Human Rights Act, and not – as is actually the case – a loophole in the UK’s implementation of international law, was to blame for genocide suspects living with impunity in the UK.”
She mentions in her article the case of Denis Nilsen who the press went crazy for when it noted he was allowed to view hardcore pornography as part of his human rights. Oborne himself mentions this in today’s article, as can be seen in the given quote above.
No prizes for guessing which organ of the press also had fun with this story. For those who can’t guess, see here!