Terence Blacker: Entrapment is the name of the game

Share
Related Topics

What a happy day it must have been for Melissa Jacobs when a silly old fool called Lord Triesman took a shine to her.

She had applied for a job with him in 2007 when he was a Labour minister. He left the job soon afterwards to become chairman of the Football Association, but the two of them kept in touch. There were flirty texts, then dinner, and then, at least according to Melissa, some kind of affair.

Whatever the nature of the relationship – which he says went no further than a "kiss on the cheek" – it ended not because she was 37 and he was 66 and married but, according her blog Sex, Love and OCD, because "I realised that he is incredibly self-centred and egotistical." Fighting ego with ego, Melissa began to drop online hints about her alleged affair. One post was called "Never trust a government minister", another "The Labour minister and I". The press responded to these siren calls, and soon an intermediary was in negotiations with a number of media organisations.

At the end of it all, a Sunday newspaper wired her for sound. She met up with her admirer and he made various idiotic statements about the Russians bribing Word Cup referees. Exit Lord Triesman, blushing. His career in public life is over.

It is the kind of honey-trap which has been the speciality of the downmarket press for years. All it needs is a willing young woman, a foolish older man, and a cheque-book. It was sleazy, embarrassing to read, but compelling. There was often a powerful element of prurience, hypocrisy and deception about the way the story was exposed, but that was the way the tabloid press worked.

How things have changed. Now the whole culture is playing the same game, and without a trace of embarrassment. The idea that there could be the slightest hint of dishonourable behaviour when a rich news organisation co-operates with a young woman on the make in order to entrap someone who has fallen for her is unthinkable.

The man is in public life. He is fair game. The end always justifies the means, however sleazy and underhand they may be. As for what that end might be, it can be virtually any kind of inappropriateness (sex, expenses, dodgy opinions) as judged by those great arbiters of morality and virtue, the press and the people. If you hold public office, or even if you are moderately well-known, your right to privacy can now be breached at any time in the greater interest of society. A Prime Minister accidentally bugged by a stray microphone can only apologise; the buggers themselves will triumphantly exploit what is widely and uncritically seen as a journalistic coup.

Is this really what we want? Does it help us all so much if we have the right to eavesdrop with impunity on those in public life? It is a nasty development when our society as a whole plays the part of a sheet-sniffing hack from a Sunday rag.





When will Vanunu's torture come to an end?



There is a cruel irony to the news that Mordechai Vanunu is being returned to prison at the very moment when a nuclear non-proliferation pact is back on the global agenda.

Mr Vanunu was jailed in 1988 having revealed to The Sunday Times two years previously that Israel has a nuclear capacity. Of that sentence, an astonishing 11 years were spent in solitary confinement. When Mr Vanunu was released in 2004, the Israeli government imposed brutally restrictive controls over him, forbidding him from leaving the country, going near foreign embassies or even talking to foreigners. Three years later, he was arrested once again and accused of having spoken to the BBC. A prison sentence was reduced to community service, but there was a further problem. Mr Vanunu claimed, with some justification, that he would be unsafe doing the service anywhere but the Arab east Jerusalem.

The authorities rejected his request, and now this brave, unfortunate man will be behind bars for another three months. Doubtless he will be pursued once again when he is released. It is surely time for the international community to stop looking the other way and demand that Israel abandons its 24-year persecution of a man who dared to tell the truth.







I prefer my asparagus local



The next time that a large supermarket boasts of its green conscience (you won't have to wait long), it is worth bearing in mind the story of Tesco and the Peruvian asparagus. Because there are few vegetables better suited to our climate than the asparagus, a significant industry has grown around it in recent years. Between April to June, it provides jobs across the country, often for small companies. Production has risen by over 160 per cent over the past five years.

All the same, Tesco persists with air-freighting Peruvian asparagus – less tasty than British, incidentally – some 6,000 miles to place on its shelves. The reason, one can only assume, is that because workers in Peru are paid less than in Europe, the supermarket can make a bigger profit on these imports.

There was the briefest hope that the volcanic lockdown of airports might convince the massively profitable supermarket chains to cut down on their imports of fresh vegetables and fruit from the developing world in order to encourage customers to eat, when possible, produce which is local and in season.

Here the depressing truth could not be clearer. Even when the vegetables are grown locally, are in season and are of good quality, Tesco will prefer to follow the money, greedily choosing an alternative which is harmful both to the environment and to our own economy.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: ICT Infrastructure Manager

£27000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre Scho...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£17900 - £20300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An enthusiastic Marketing Assis...

Recruitment Genius: Chef / Managers

£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This contract caterer is proud ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, arrives with his son Prince George at the Lindo Wing to visit his wife and newborn daughter at St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington, west London, Britain, 02 May 2015  

Prince George's £18,000 birthday gift speaks volumes about Britain's widening wealth inequality

Olivia Acland
Nicky Clarke has criticised the Duchess of Cambridge for having grey hair  

Letting one’s hair turn grey would be the most subversive Royal act

Rosie Millard
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'