Two former ministers on public office and private lives
"HAVING THE details of your private life investigated by the Press is unpleasant. However, I continue to believe that this kind of scrutiny is part of the price of entering public life. People who seek public office cannot expect the same privacy that others are entitled to enjoy. Nevertheless, I worry about the damage that is often inflicted on innocent people caught up in circumstances not of their own choosing. There are situations - like mine - where nobody involved sought any publicity and where none of the entirely private matters eventually revealed by the Press related directly to the public responsibilities of anyone connected to the case. Under these circumstances it is regrettable that families who have no public role can be besieged in their homes, that subterfuges to obtain private information are apparently legitimate and that children can be subjected to abusive and distressing questioning in front of their friends. I do not advocate protection from Press scrutiny for public figures. I have never sought it for myself. But I wonder whether the unrestricted pursuit of people not holding public office really serves the public interest."

"IT IS AN uncomfortable feeling to have 30 or 40 photographers outside your front door plus television crews with generator vans and a general atmosphere of being in the dock in some way. In my case I have always made it a rule not to make any comment on the behaviour or the motives of the various young ladies who are being manipulated by their public relations advisers. I think that a personal relationship is a personal relationship and if they want to publicise theirs it's down to them, and I've always said that I hope that they are being properly rewarded for doing so.

It was actually my wife Jane who sorted me out when I was getting a slight persecution mania about this on about the third day of the siege [in the Harkess affair, see Number 21] when she said: 'Do pull yourself together and stop whingeing. Think how much you would be enjoying it if it was being written about one of your colleagues.' And I think that actually illustrates that we don't really have any right to complain; it's all part of the fun, all part of the game. But I must emphasise that I don't really regard sexual misbehaviour, unless it is against the law, as being culpable - it is not the same as taking bribes, however they may be concealed or dressed up."