Journalists have no morality, PM's wife tells students

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Indy Politics

Cherie Blair has launched an extraordinary attack on the media claiming there is "no professional morality in journalism".

The Prime Minister's wife took her revenge on a profession that has bedevilled her for years when invited to address students at Roehampton University on Wednesday.

She told a stunned audience that it was "not a noble calling" and journalists "have no ethics". Then, Mrs Blair - who was at the university in south-west London to open its Human Rights Centre - turned her attention to the Daily Mail and the Press Complaints Commission.

Since the latter has repeatedly failed to uphold the Blairs' complaints about the former, Mrs Blair's words - "the pathetic PCC dominated by the Daily Mail - are not, perhaps, surprising.

Her spokeswoman yesterday sought to play down the incident. "Mrs Blair was merely playing devil's advocate to stimulate discussion amongst the students."

But the students say the PM's wife delivered a "rant" and they weren't given an opportunity to defend their putative trade.

Mrs Blair had been invited to join the university chancellor, John Simpson, as the BBC's world affairs editor addressed a small group of journalism students. One student, Lya Pfaffli, said: "I think we were all quite taken aback at her complete lack of tact and diplomacy... she was in a room with at least three, reputedly ethical, journalists.

"Her unabashed accusations of 'no professional morality or adjudication of the truth' clearly rattled a few of us."

Fortunately for the "adjudication of the truth", another student, Cat McGovern, took detailed notes of Mrs Blair's harangue.

John Simpson declined to comment. "It was a private meeting," he said.

... and what the journalists say about her

"The Wicked Witch is utterly shameless"

Richard Littlejohn

"Won't we miss that nest of hair ... that letterbox mouth"

Liz Jones

"Scouser Cherie was on the grab, digging hot little fists into jars of free sweets"

Quentin Letts