Matthew Norman: Comical Desi's sword of truth

These are not words I expected to write without some potent psychotropic substance seeping through an intravenous drip, but Richard Desmond becomes a role model to us all. The fearlessness he showed in donning the Jonathan Aitken Memorial Suit of Armour to fight Tom Bower for his good name - and on the notoriously murderous terrain that is Mr Justice Eady's courtroom - speaks for itself. So does the plain spoken reverence for truth displayed in the witness box. Above all, though, it's the Corinthian sunniness that seems such a useful paradigm for troublesome times. The post-verdict statement posted on his own Express web site echoes one of modern history's most resilient wartime orators. Churchill, perhaps, in 1940. Or possibly Comical Ali in 2003 as the coalition tanks rolled into Baghdad. "His biggest mistake," declared Richard of Mr Bower, "was in thinking I would not go to court to fight to uphold my reputation."

This is so patently the truth that one overlooks the triumphalist tone and lack of magnanimity. "It was worth it to stand up in court and set the record straight." Was it ever? You can't put a price on that which is far above rubies. And if you could, £1,250,000 looks a steal for so narrowly failing to persuade the jurors, who queued outside the High Court for Mr Bower's autograph. Richard's Olympian spirit is an inspiration. He is the Baron de Coubertin of libel. For him, the winning means nothing. All the joy is in the taking part.

A fine judge

As for Eady J, I speak for us all, I hope, in commiserating with that red robed Solomon over an unusually vexing trial. To have one crucial ruling in favour of the plaintiff (Richard) reversed by a wilfully impertinent Court of Appeal is mildly embarrassing. To have two overturned in quick succession… well, what do those silly old appellate judges know about the law anyway? The crucial thing for Mr Eady is not to let this erode his confidence. We in the press haven't lost an ounce of faith in his wisdom, and can't believe we ever will.

Pig's ear

On and on it goes, and still much of the media can't work out how to deal with swine flu. Even the Daily Mail remains unwontedly bemused. On Friday, it splashed alarmingly with the 100,000 new cases recorded the previous week, but also bought in a piece by Simon Jenkins ridiculing the hysteria exhibited both in headlines like that one and government warnings. You have to admire the certainty with which Sir Simon likens the possibility of mass fatalities from the oinks to that from an asteroid strike. I'm neither an actuary nor Lembit Opik, so we'll not dwell on the comparative odds there. But at least he has the balls to take a strong line, stick with it, and risk looking a touch daft if the strain does mutate lethally later this year.

Crime pays

Although it goes without saying that Richard Desmond is Proprietor of the Week, a word for the runner-up. Rupert Murdoch's generosity continues to amaze. News International made healthy payments to jailed royal correspondent Clive Goodman and co-bugger Glenn Mulcaire after they were imprisoned, we are told, due to "contractual obligations". Now some newspaper groups might have interpreted criminal activity, conducted far behind the backs of senior executives, as a clear contractual breach. Once again, Rupert's sweetness to even the most errant of his foot soldiers festoons him with credit.

Star of Bethlehem

Then again, what would you expect from a gallant Papal Knight? Rupert's godliness informs every corner of the empire, not least the comment pages of The Times. "'And then we'll have that David Cameron'," Matthew Parris quotes a cabbie appending to a rant about Gordon Brown. "'Out of the frying-pan, eh? J****…" I've been through the Viz Profanisaurus twice, and still can't find any alternative to the Son of God. An eccentric piece of censorship, by any post-1957 standards, but one to bring a blush of pride to the cheeks of his Holiness.

A writer's pain

Also in The Times, everybody's favourite Field Marshal addresses Afghanistan. There is nothing novel about David Aaronovitch's rebuke to those unconvinced about the war. Aarono has been steeling the national nerve on matters military for years, marching towards the gunfire in defiance of his shell shock-induced amnesia. You will recall, even though he cannot, his pledge never to believe another word a politician spoke if WMD were not located in Iraq, yet here he is implicitly trusting his government again. What is new is David's willingness to let us glimpse his pain. Those advocating withdrawal "refuse to spell out the consequences," he writes, "while the stayers must live with the constant price of theirs… We know it's hard and we may not succeed. But we have to do it. And we have to keep explaining why." Ah, the agony of living with the fear of paying the ultimate price. Yet borne so lightly.

Tense and sensibility

In The Sun, finally, basic English comprehension problems persist. Nimbly avoiding the lure of the easy option, the paper splashed on Friday with a Michael Jackson story. "Prince, 12, Watched Jacko Die" was the headline. Beneath that, Virginia Wheeler reported, "The family is convinced Jacko had been dead for at least TWO HOURS," when Dr Conrad Murray summoned the boy to witness his attempt to revive him." "Watched Jacko Die", "Watched Jacko Dead."

It's never easy, is it, distinguishing tenses? You need a reading age of eight-and-a-half to master that.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Ad Sales - UK Broadcast

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: An award-winning global mul...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel your sales role is l...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Vendor Services Manager (IT) - Central London

£50000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Vendor Services Manager (...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells