Matthew Norman: Eady has a fight on his hands to rebuild temple of privacy


Monday 08 February 2010 01:00

This is not a chant likely to be sung by the home crowd at Stamford Bridge, or even at Fratton Park where Avram Grant remains the Portsmouth gaffer, but it must be on the lips of every hack today. “One Justice Tugendhat/There’s only one Justice Tugendhat/ Walking along, singing this song/ Walking in a Tugendhat wonderland.”

A week after quashing John Terry’s super-injunction, this judicial saint denied Channel 4 an injunction to suppress reporting of the case in which it is accused of fakery in a documentary about the late Michael Jackson’s siblings moving to Devon. Yet now more than ever it behoves us to show magnanimity to the vanquished.

It hasn’t been a great few months for Mr Justice Eady, bless him, what with being slapped by the Court of Appeal over his handling of Richard Desmond’s suit against Tom Bower. Now he must survey the ruins of the temple to privacy he so painstakingly constructed. God knows whether he can begin to rebuild it, but the leading trial judges in this area are now so diametrically opposed that it’s hard to see how they can share the same robing room.

We can’t go on like this, with one of them making law by precedent and the other effectively reversing it. In a normal democracy, this clash of titans might be resolved by legislation. This is Britain, however, so instead we turn to the conflict resolution method pioneered by Harry Hill. Now I adore Sir Michael Tugendhat. But I also have a sneaking admiration for Sir David Eady. But which is better? There’s only one way to find out. Fiiiiiiiiiiiiight!

Fireworks night

If the odds against seeing these red-robed bruisers offering one another outside are remote, viewers to Thursday’s Newsnight came closer to seeing a mash-up than they could have imagined.

Here the hat is doffed to blogger Paul Staines (Guido Fawkes) for a spectacular frontal assault on Tory MP Tim Yeo. Paul appeared to discern the subtlest conflict of interest between Tim’s chairing of the environmental audit select committee (itself an apparent oddity, given his involvement with an AIM-listed company seeking to develop “environmentally friendly fuel cells”), and his hosting of a Member’s Dining Room bash for an investment outfit that paid him almost £20,000 over the ensuing five months.

Things became a touch lively, with Tim spluttering requests that Paul withdraw this outrageous slur, and Paul doughtily refusing. The special delight was the mental image of BBC lawyers hurriedly trying to recall whether they’d popped a change of underwear into their briefcases.

On to a winner

Speaking of cracking telly, stand by for Michael Winner’s Dining Stars, in which the Polite Society’s honorary life president travels the land in his Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, and is fed by petrified amateur cooks in their homes.

I’ve only seen the first of four, as screened in the cinema of Michael’s own modest west London home, but it was a riot of both mirth and poignancy. Even Andrew Neil choked up at the finale, involving a housewife called Justine. In an impromptu keynote speech, Andrew spoke for us all in expressing his pleasant surprise at the quality (it’s prime time ITV1), and if this one isn’t a ratings hit I’ll eat my titfer. What I won’t eat at any future screening is the Osetra caviar with which Michael palmed us off last week. If you want another plug, dear, it’s Beluga or bust.

Out and proud

Lightning quick out of the only-gay-in-the-paper traps is Andrew Pierce, whose debut Daily Mail article carried the typically catchy headline: “Why I, as a gay man, agree with the Pope – Ms Harman’s equality mania only promotes intolerance”.

This promotion of an in-house, out and proud gay man has been a while coming. But what a way to kick off, swinging behind the Hitler Youth pontiff’s “extraordinary public attack on Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill”. If the necessity to trumpet Andrew’s sexuality whenever he attacks equality in future becomes too wearing, a picture byline speech bubble reading “I’m free” ought to do the trick.

If the shirt fits

Daily Mirror Exclusive of the Week goes to Friday’s splash, “Three Lies On His Shirt”. The exclusivity here rested on no other paper being bothered to dredge up a football mag interview in which John Terry touched on the import of trust and honesty in the dressing room. Admittedly this was several months old, but there is no statute of limitations on exposing rank hypocrisy.

Friday’s Mirror also admiringly quoted Norman Tebbit lacerating David Cameron. Not so long ago, a Mirror leader dismissed Lord T as “a ruthless Tory politician” and “Thatcher’s bovver boy (who) inflicted more misery than any hoodlum ever could”. A touching rapprochement indeed.

War of words

Speaking of the Mirror, I was saddened to find Paul Routledge having a go at Richard Madeley for his latest defence of Mr Tony Blair’s Iraqi adventure. Routers is unfair to dismiss him as a lightweight (“yapping Pekinese”) after Richard had backed up his claim that intelligence is often rubbish by pointing out that, “Churchill had no knowledge of the V-bombs before they started falling for instance”.

What a cleverly chosen clever, in fact, that it would be inexcusably churlish to mention Operation Crossbow, the Anglo-American campaign to forestall the development of flying bombs by destroying the sites of their production which began some six months before the first V-1 hit London. Without ignoring the dangers of over-research, Richard may care to study a 1965 movie starring Sophia Loren, Trevor Howard and George Peppard. Operation Crossbow is available on Amazon from just £8.17.

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