Diary: Ironically, Archbishop forgives The Sun its trespasses

Today's diary looks at The Archbishop of York, Leveson and Alan Sugar.

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Hallelujah, hallelujah, and kill that fatted calf, for he who was lost is found!

Prodigal Sun on Sunday cleric John Sentamu came home yesterday, and was swift to solve the mystery of his prolonged absence from the Sunday Service column.

The Archbishop of York originally meant to return after a Lindisfarne retreat in July, he told the flock, but was so “disappointed” by the paper’s use of the Prince Harry nudie pix from Vegas –  and so unconvinced by the justifications of the editor Dominic Mohan (“a man for whom I have the highest regard”) – that he decided to absent himself for a further three months.

But of course. Any urge to to distance himself from the Murdoch press while in the running for Canterbury was coincidental. As indeed is him forgiving the paper its trespasses a fortnight after Justin Welby’s appointment. But for how much longer will the cerebral Dominic retain this holy advocate for Levesonian statutory underpinning? “I am sure a newspaper like The Sun,” he sermonised, “would have every confidence in such a system.” Either the Archbish is an unexpectedly gifted ironist or he knows not what he says, a Sun leader on Saturday asking: “Does Britain really want the heavy hand of official regulation to strangle its newspapers?” Dr Sentamu clearly does, so let us pray that The Sun remains the broadest of churches.

Kelvin displays his impeccable tact again

Whether or not His Grace has the highest regard for Dominic’s precedessor Kelvin MacKenzie, this column certainly does. Kelvin builds on his recent Hillsborough triumph by rubbishing Leveson and his supporters. “Then along came the out-of-work breakfast show host Anne Diamond expressing indignation that Mr Cameron did not share her legislation pain,” he wrote.

Ms Diamond had reported how Kelvin answered pleas to let the family grieve in peace by sticking a photo from her baby son’s funeral all over his front page.

Kelvin is an out-of-work columnist himself, though it remains unclear why the Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre dispensed with him in the summer. One theory holds that Lady Rothermere, the proprietor’s missus, demanded his removal because she found his presence an embarrassment, though on this form it’s hard to see why.

Leveson makes for unlikely bedfellows

Last Wednesday, I wondered how long the right-wing tabloids would take, post-Leveson, to invoke despised human rights legislation in defence of their right to free speech. The drinks are on anyone who pulled “four days” from the John Gaunt Memorial Sweepstake hat.

The Mail on Sunday quotes Shami Chakrabarti warning that any statutory underpinning would breach the Human Rights Act. There has been no more touching rapprochement since Gaunty allied himself with Liberty in his doomed legal challenge to his Talksport dismissal.

Sugar exercises rapier sharp wit

No sooner had Leveson spoken than Alan Sugar tweeted his approval, guiding followers to a recent speech he made in the Lords. In this oration, apart from savaging papers and TV companies for editing content “in such a matter that it is misleading”, the Daily Mirror columnist  whose Apprentice boardroom is mocked-up in a west London studio despite the misleading City background shots, railed against the “decay in decency”.

On Saturday, when 16-year-old Ben Clark regaled him at a cycle show in Birmingham with a playful “You’re fired!” Sugar dredged up  “And you’re a p***k”, from his storehouse of Wildean retorts. How to balance the responsibility to fight the decay in decency with the sacred right to express himself freely?

We wish the Demosthenes of the Duncetariat well in resolving this conundrum.

Will Blair stand by his discredited crony?

Now that the Government has withdrawn aid to Rwanda over its involvement in arming the M23 rebel army in neighbouring Congo, how will Mr Tony Blair respond? Will he: a) remove his Africa Governance Initiative workers from Rwanda in protest?; b) supply President Paul Kagame with the missing £21m from his own capacious back pocket; or c) ignore the United Nations condemnation, and continue nipping back and forth on Kagame’s private jet in order to earn absolutely nothing but the satisfaction that is altruism’s truest reward? Given how spiffingly things turned out the last time Mr T ignored the UN’s will,  best lump the mortgage on c).

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