Middle classes voice opposition to the politicians

BILL HAGERTY, editor of the People, was expecting a rough ride from BBC Radio 4's predominantly middle-class audience. But there was no public pillorying.

On Call Nick Ross the great British public delivered a surprise verdict. In David Mellor v the tabloid press, the majority came out against both Mr Mellor and politicians, described by one listener as 'champions of deceit, hypocrisy and corruption'.

It was all so different when the phone-in recently discussed press intrusion into the troubled marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales. The tabloids then emerged as the villains. When it comes to Mr Mellor's alleged affair with an actress, Joe Public appears to think it is Mr Mellor's behaviour, and not the conduct of the papers, that is scandalous.

Mr Hagerty played the public hypocrisy card early, citing people's tendency to complain about stories they still rushed to read. He need not have bothered.

A woman freelance writer argued that the press showed 'amazing self-control' with Royalty and the establishment.

Several callers were disgusted with Mr Mellor's appeal to the press to think about his children. That was something he had manifestly failed to do, they said.

A man from Hampstead, north- west London, asked the press to sniff out corruption wherever it lurked. Kelvin MacKenzie, editor of the Sun, should 'name the name' of the Cabinet minister he had claimed tried to persuade him to print allegations about Paddy Ashdown.

Ten minutes into the show and Mr Hagerty was feeling comfortable. Mr Ross confessed to being rather surprised.

The time was right for Mr Hagerty to bring up 'conflict of interest'. Was Mr Mellor really the man who should be looking at freedom of the press? He was a hypocrite who had 'used his family, his children . . . in his election literature' to present himself as a good family man.

For Mr Smith from Devon, sexual indiscretions were a sign of widespread moral deficiency. 'He has done something which I think is unforgivable, which is to cheat on his own family.'

Mr Liddle, from north-east Scotland, was suspicious about attempts to rein in newspapers. He thundered: 'We should know about these things because there are plenty of other really decent people around to replace David Mellor . . .'

Mr Jackson, from Mansfield, said talk of press restrictions only began when scandals involved Royalty and politicians. A man from West Yorkshire warned that he, not politicians, would choose what he read.

Ms Jack from Newtown, mid- Wales, giggling but unabashed, was surely the most refreshing. She had 'rushed out and read all the tabloids I could lay my hands on' because she loved scandalous stories involving the Government.

Some believed the 'press was out to get Mellor', and resented the 'self-righteousness' of the tabloids. But the 100 people who called Nick Ross backed the tabloids 2-1. The BBC said 13 of the 19 who spoke on the programme had been against Mr Mellor.

Mr Mellor condemned the Daily Mirror for a story about his wife's alleged eye problems as 'not in the public interest'.

He declined to confirm or deny whether his wife Judith, 43, was in danger of going blind. The Mirror said Mrs Mellor had retinitis pigmentosa, described as 'the biggest cause of blindness among Britain's working population' and added that 'emotional stress can worsen the effects'.

Mr Mellor admitted that his 18th wedding anniversary on Monday was 'not the happiest in the world'.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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 General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before