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Richard Ingrams: Attacked on all sides by viruses and superbugs


The advent of a new "superbug" resistant to all known antibiotics coincides with reports of a new computer virus which has been targeting online bank accounts, resulting in the theft of some £675,000 from unsuspecting victims.

The new variant superbug has been christened NDM1. The computer virus is now known as Zeus V3. Both are thought to be of foreign origin. NDM1 gets its initials from New Delhi, that being the place where it was first identified. Zeus V3 hails from somewhere in Eastern Europe.

The fear in both cases is that even if means are found of controlling the plagues, it won't be long before an even more fearsome form of bug evolves. The bank whose customers are being affected by Zeus V3 has not so far identified itself, which looks horribly like another case of a bank putting its own interests before those of its customers. If you were a customer of that particular bank, it would be nice to be warned that your account might have been targeted by the fraudsters. In the meantime account-holders are being advised "to set up text or email alerts to keep an eye on transactions".

Some people may not know what all that means. A simpler alternative would be to stop banking online altogether and revert to old-fashioned systems. But that's something that the banks are anxious to discourage, as from their point of view it's easier and cheaper to leave the whole business of banking to computers.

Waiting for the demise of the super-injunction

Our old friend Mr Justice Eady, Defender of the Famous, is in the news again following reports in the press of the granting of another so-called super-injunction in the case of golfer Mr Colin Montgomerie, the captain of the European team in the Ryder Cup.

The super-injunction, rather like the superbug referred to above, was thought to be invulnerable. The intervention of Mr Justice Eady meant that a celebrity could obtain an injunction from the court to stop a compromising story from being published, but simultaneously the press was prevented even from reporting that such an injunction had been granted.

"Justice must not only be done," said the late columnist Beachcomber (J B Morton). "It must be seen to be believed." It is a moot point whether or not in this instance a super-injunction was granted. But whatever the truth, it does not seem to have occurred to Mr Justice Eady that if no one can report the granting of the injunction, then the world at large will remain ignorant about it. It is therefore possible, not to say likely, that a paper ignorant of the injunction will print the story, whatever it is, having probably read all about it on the internet.

Whatever the outcome of the Montgomerie case, judges are now likely to bury the super-injunction, not because it is a threat to press freedom (which it is) but because it is making them look silly.

The memoir circus is about to roll into town

It was frequently joked that unsigned copies of Edward Heath's books were rarer and more valuable than signed ones. That was because the former prime minister went on prolonged signing expeditions with his various coffee table books – on music, sailing etc – even being provided by his publishers with a special train to tour the country, happily signing wherever he went.

With Tony Blair the story will be reversed, as it seems they are going to make it very difficult for you to get a signed copy of his memoir The Journey when it is published next month. Getting into Waterstones, where he is due to be signing his book, will be an ordeal similar to getting into the departure lounge at the airport. All bags must be handed in; no photography will be allowed; a massive security operation will be mounted to prevent any possible unpleasantness; punters will have to prove their bona fides with a special wrist band, etc...

No wonder the publishers are looking to America for a less hostile environment. Blair is guaranteed a good reception in the US and there will even be a specially signed edition of his book available in a red cloth slipcase for only £150. Reports say that it will look like the Bible – Tony Blair's presumably being the next best thing to God's signature.