Fans protest as bid to host World Cup falls prey to the oldest trick in the book
The Lord Triesman affair has provoked a huge backlash – but proves that kiss-and-tells can still bring down the powerful. By Cahal Milmo
Tuesday 18 May 2010
The Mail on Sunday newspaper was yesterday facing a public backlash for printing damaging comments by the former Football Association chairman Lord Triesman which have jeopardised England's chances of staging the 2018 World Cup.
The Press Complaints Commission said it had received 55 complaints about the story revealing details of a covertly recorded conversation between the former Labour minister and Melissa Jacobs, an economics graduates who claims to have had a six-month affair with the peer.
Lord Triesman, who immediately stepped down from his role as FA chairman and head of the 2018 bid, told Ms Jacobs over coffee that Spain and Russia, two of England's main rivals, were suspected of corruptly colluding. He has denied his relationship with Ms Jacobs is anything more than a friendship.
Radio phone-ins and websites, including the online version of the newspaper itself, were bombarded with complaints from England fans, who questioned whether a story based on private comments should have entered the public domain.
An online poll by the TalkSport radio station found that 84 per cent of its listeners believed the paper had been wrong to publish, while a Facebook page was set up calling for a boycott of the title.
The page carried the statement: "In publishing details of Lord Triesman's conversation with Melissa Jacobs, the Mail [on Sunday] has undermined England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup finals. The Mail needs to understand that England is more important to us than the sordid celebrity gossip and tittle-tattle that appears in its pages, and that we will punish the rag for publishing this anti-England story in pursuit of a salacious headline and a quick buck."
The Mail on Sunday declined to comment on the criticisms.
The episode is the latest chapter in the history of the "kiss-and-tell", a Fleet Street institution which is becoming increasingly mired in legal difficulties in the face of attempts to develop a law of privacy in Britain. When the Mail on Sunday first put the allegations to the FA on Saturday night, the organisation briefly attempted to obtain an injunction to prevent publication of the allegations about Lord Triesman, who has rapidly found himself dubbed "Lord Treason".
From the Grand Old Duke of York, whose mistress Mary Clarke stood up before a Parliamentary inquiry in 1809 to accuse him of corruption in return for sexual favours, to Roderick Wright, a Roman Catholic bishop who sold the story of his love affair with a divorcee for a "five-figure" sum, British papers have long thrived on the revelations of those prepared to tell all in the name of cash or just plain revenge.
Popular titles, who are happiest to wield the cheque book in the cause of a circulation-boosting story, and broadsheets, who are not averse to repeating salacious details, have long argued that the revelations allow matters from hypocrisy to potential criminal wrongdoing to be published in the public interest.
But media groups are increasingly concerned at attempts by former motor racing boss Max Mosley to put publishers under a legal obligation to give at least two days' notice if they intend to expose misbehaviour by a public figure, saying it would suppress legitimate journalistic investigation.
Latest in Sport
Raheem Sterling to Manchester City: Winger to report for Liverpool training on Monday but Reds braced for third City bid this week
Women's World Cup 2015: England secure third place as they beat Germany in extra time with penalty by Fara Williams
Liverpool to confirm Sean O'Driscoll and Pep Lijnders for Brendan Rodgers' backroom coaching staff
Manchester City transfer news: City determined to sign Paul Pogba and meet £71m British transfer record
PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 1 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 2 What supermodels really think about posing in the nude
- 3 North Korean defector flees to Finland 'with evidence of chemical testing on humans'
- 4 Black teen in critical condition after store employee 'shoots him for stealing 79-cent pack of cookies'
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget