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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy