Who killed Yvonne Gilford? Who cares - certainly not the tabloids

Share
Related Topics
WHO KILLED Yvonne Gilford? Read all about it. Well, no actually that is the last thing anyone will be reading about today no matter which newspaper they buy. Never mind the talk of Saudi kangaroo courts for yet again we can witness sections of the British press setting up their own kangaroo courts to give their verdict on nurses Deborah Parry and Lucille McLauchlan.

Basically it goes like this: the newspapers that have bought up the women's stories will loudly proclaim them innocent, those who were in the bidding but failed will accept the Saudi verdict that they are guilty.

Thus we have the bizarre spectacle of both the Sun and the Daily Mail lecturing us on the dangers of xenophobia "Saudi law and English law are very different. But that does not make their justice automatically more suspect than ours," an editorial in the Mail patiently explains. The Sun agrees: "Three judges found them guilty at a fair trial."

Meanwhile the Express promises: "Our girl is no killer". The "girl" in question is a thirty-nine-year old woman, but as Deborah Parry has sold her diary to the Express she will doubtless be further infantilised. The Mirror has got "Darling Lucy", Lucille McLauchlan on their front page. "Darling Lucy" is reunited with her husband Grant while inside the paper her parents tell of how she was "a perfect daughter".

None of this tells us anything about what really went on in Dhahran, but it tells us a lot about the way that the tabloid press operates. For "our girls" to be seen as innocent they must be relentlessly portrayed as somebody's wife, somebody's daughter, their victimhood predicated on their supposed normality.

We already know more or less what Parry and McLauchlan's stories will tell us: that they were intimidated into making their confessions, that they suffered abuses before and after their trials, that Saudi jails are cockroach -infested hell-holes. The details that will be revealed will be interesting only if there are any differences between the two women's stories.

Yet as this newspaper has already argued no one emerges with much integrity from this tale. There is a widespread revulsion that the nurses, even if innocent, should make money in this way. Since when did it fall to newspapers to provide compensation for "miscarriages of justice"?

Yvonne Gilford's brother, Frank, has already been publicly reviled for accepting money in order to waive the death penalty on Parry. He too argued that the money he accepted should be called compensation rather than, as the Saudis insisted, "blood money". The murdered woman herself was said at one point to have been a lone-shark.

All these financial dealings appear incredibly sordid. However the big financial transactions which appear to have influenced the decision to release the two women are the trade and arms deals between this country and Saudi Arabia. Had the death sentence been carried out on Parry, business as usual would have been difficult to maintain. This is why British Aerospace which has huge contracts in the region came up with the blood money for Frank Gilford.

Is all this part of the "ethical foreign policy" that Robin Cook proudly proclaims? The huge arms deals to Saudi Arabia mean that Blair and Cook have in some ways to keep the Saudi's sweet so that they remain an important alley in a volatile area. They have to tread a fine line between insisting that the Saudi's are nice guys to do business with and recognising their tendency to behead the odd Filipino. If we accept that this is a country in which innocent nurses are tortured into making confessions, in which British citizens can be executed in a medieval style, in which lives can be bought and sold - then why are we selling them so many arms?

It is extremely difficult to see what is remotely ethical in all this. Or have we all become such cultural relativists that abuses of human rights are not our business if they interfere with our capacity to do business?

Such questions unfortunately will be ignored in an attempt to parade Parry and McLauchlan through the press as victims who have suffered horrendous injustices. The same people who decried the payment of pounds 15,000 to Mary Bell will be happy to see these two women make large amounts of money. Who says victimhood isn't powerful?

However many of us feel uneasy, just as we did with Louise Woodward, when British women abroad are presumed innocent no matter what courts in far away lands might say.

It is easy enough to whip up anti-Islamic feeling, just as it was easy to deride a legal system that freed OJ Simpson. One might presume that in our green and pleasant land, there are never miscarriages of justices, that no one ever dies in police custody and that there are no traces of racism in our glorious legal system. We are currently criticising the Saudi system of closed trials, whereas before we were up in arms about the Woodward trial on the grounds that it was open to the media. Clearly in future any body breaking the law in a foreign country should be flown home immediately - especially if they are young, female and even a little photogenic - as they could not possibly get a fair trial elsewhere.

None of this really qualifies as news but operates as the turning of tragedies into real life whodunnits. Whatever we believe about these women we are operating entirely instinct, guess work and prejudice of one kind or another.

It is tempting to see the necessity of creating this new brand of victim- heroines who flaunt their suffering as the result of a post-traumatic stress disorder produced by the death of Diana. The media abhors a vacuum and must fill it somehow, anyhow. Murderous au-pairs and nurses will do, as long as we get to feel their pain too.

We are not interested in the real victims of all this, for the dead cannot tell their stories. They are of no use to this kind of journalism whatsoever, for they might reveal the truth; and that. for all the pompous and self- congratulatory rhetoric on display, is not what is really being bought and sold here.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has over 40 years ...

Recruitment Genius: Weekend Factory Operatives

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer is curr...

Recruitment Genius: FP&A Analyst

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A market leading acquirer and m...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fully qualified electricians re...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: the Labour leadership election hasn’t yet got to grips with why the party lost

John Rentoul
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific