Richard Ingrams: Here's a cause that George Galloway can get behind

Click to follow
The Independent Online

I was disappointed not to see the name of George Galloway in The Tablet's recent list of Britain's top 100 Catholics.

George has his detractors, as I know, but he could be the best candidate to take Rupert Murdoch and the News of the World to court over the phone-hacking scandal.

When it comes to taking on press barons his record is quite impressive. He won damages of £150,000 off The Daily Telegraph after the paper accused him of treason and taking sacks of gold from Saddam Hussein. Following that action, the News of the World and its notorious "fake sheikh" (journalist Mazher Mahmood) attempted to track Galloway by offering him money while prompting him to make anti-Semitic remarks. Galloway saw through the ruse and later put photographs of Mahmood on the internet to warn other potential victims. Defending his right to discredit left-wing MPs, Mahmood had the cheek to sue Galloway for breach of privacy. The case was thrown out.

Suspecting that his phone was being hacked into to provide Mahmood with ammunition for his entrapment, Galloway is now suing the News of the World. Rupert Murdoch, who has already paid Max Clifford £1m to drop a similar action, may feel inclined to offer Galloway an equivalent sum to avoid damaging disclosures. Fellow Catholics will be praying that Galloway will resist the temptation to take the money and run.

Differing medical opinions

Yet another story involving our friend the pathologist Dr Freddy Patel has come to light, this time concerning a case in which he was involved in 2004. As a result of all the recent publicity about Patel, now suspended by the GMC, Stella Karaviotis described how her mother died in 2004 of an embolism after a plaster cast was put on her ankle at London's Royal Free Hospital.

Though the death certificate gave the cause of death as pulmonary embolism, Dr Patel decreed that she suffered a brain haemorrhage and had died of natural causes. After a three-year legal battle by Miss Karaviotis – "three years of hell", she called it – the coroner eventually reversed Patel's findings.

Coincidentally with this report it emerged that Dr Patel had also been involved in the case of the barrister Mark Saunders, shot dead by armed police in 2008 when he threatened them with a shotgun. Patel, whose dismal record was by then well known on the pathology circuit, was representing the Saunders family. It would be tasteless of me to suggest that the police might have been hoping that he would conclude that the barrister had died of a heart attack.

Tired and emotional, or just plain troubled

Long years ago when I was the editor of Private Eye, we would make regular use of the phrase "tired and emotional" as a hopefully non-libellous alternative to "drunk". It was an expression very frequently applied to the Labour politician George Brown, at one time Foreign Secretary in Harold Wilson's government.

You no longer read of people being tired and emotional. More likely nowadays they will be described by the press as "troubled". This is a bit more of a blanket word, but it is most frequently used to indicate an addiction – to drugs, alcohol or whatever. Pop singers Amy Winehouse and George Michael are troubled, as was the late snooker champion Alex Higgins.

But the word can also be used in a wider sense of those who exhibit any symptoms of hysteria or breakdown. This week the Radio 1 presenter Chris Moyles made headlines after he bored his listeners with a rambling rant about the BBC's failure to deliver his monthly pay cheque – a rather trivial setback considering that his annual salary is £630,000.

In yesterday's reports Moyles was said to be "looking dishevelled and sweaty" when he posted a picture on Twitter, while a friend described him as "struggling" and "really on the edge" after a break-up with his girlfriend. Can it be long before dishevelled Chris joins the ranks of the troubled?