Letter: Exposure not in the public interest

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Sir: Please count me among those of your loyal readers who strongly disagree with your decision that it is in the public interest for us to know that Virginia Bottomley, who, as Secretary of State for Health, wishes to reduce teenage pregnancies, was herself a teenage mother (Diary, 10 July).

Wherein lies this public interest? Do we need to know whether a politician promoting Clause 28 was rusticated from his public school for sexual indulgence; that a minister of sport cannot swim; that a chancellor failed O-level maths?

The point at issue is not merely whether public figures can do their jobs better or worse when we discover these gossipy little facts about them. It is whether the public interest is best served by the certainty that anyone who might consider accepting a position of prominence must submit the whole of their past life to petty exposure.

There must be many who could make a contribution to political life who have refused to offer themselves to any electorate for fear that they, their families and friends would be at risk from a long-forgotten peccadillo.

Yours faithfully,


London, SW17

11 July