Letter: Louise Woodward

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Sir: Now that Princess Diana is no longer available to the tabloid press in this country as a touchy-feely icon of largely hysterical emotions, are we to expect a series of scenarios like that constructed around Louise Woodward, in which anyone perceived in the newsroom to be a candidate for hapless victim is picked out for special treatment, regardless of any facts which might spoil the story?

The new style of journalism suggests that rational thought be suspended while we all concentrate on the irrational question of whether Louise Woodward is a better dresser than Mrs Eappen; or, preposterously, as on the BBC at lunch time today, that she is just poorer (and thus bound to lose).

When all the rhetoric is stripped away we are left with the uncomfortable fact that Woodward was found with a dead baby supposedly in her tender care. If, as seems likely, she is finally convicted of manslaughter, she should serve her term and her supporters should shut up. Can any of us imagine the furore the British press would make if this had been an American girl found guilty of the same crime here, had the same attempt been made to rubbish our justice system? If American due process has a fault, it is that it is too open, lending itself to the danger, as here, that we are all invited to vote, not on the facts, but on the late-20th-century equivalent of thumbs up or thumbs down from our modern Nero (or should that be Caligula?), the television, radio and newspaper pundit.

TIM MADGE

Chesham, Buckinghamshire

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