When James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks stormed past my desk in May 2010, having snuck past our newsroom security, their contempt was palpable. The Independent (this was pre-i) had broken Fleet Street’s truce by publishing front pages mocking Murdoch Snr’s attempts to influence politics. How dare we. James’s scorn became clear as he proceeded to carpet our (then) Editor Simon Kelner in his own office.
We could never have guessed that James would soon be airlifted to New York on the last chopper off the roof of Wapping, or that Ms Brooks would face criminal charges.
Over here in west London, we inhabit a mini Fleet Street. In the fabulous art-deco edifice that housed Barkers, the staff of seven newspapers with different owners – the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Independent, i, Evening Standard, Independent on Sunday and Metro – jostle for position in the coffee queue. Yesterday, for the first time since that Murdoch-Brooks invasion, we had to run a gauntlet of TV cameras to enter work.
The Mail was wrong and stupid to claim that Ralph Miliband “hated Britain” , given the ease of defending a man who served his adopted nation in the Second World War. But the furore would have dissipated were it not for the subsequent invective. [Men carrying spades enter from stage right, and begin digging.]
The enemies of press self-regulation will rejoice, coming as it does days before a meeting of MPs that could prove critical to the policing of our newspapers. The press’s own royal charter was likely to be rejected anyway, but the anger over Miliband should not be allowed to cloud such a crucial decision about the future of our printed journalism.Reuse content