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Spot the difference: One of these has been harassed by a newspaper over alleged sympathy towards a child abuse group; the other has been arrested on suspicion of possessing images of such abuse. Can you tell which is which, or has the newspaper done a good job of muddling the issue?

Spot the difference: One of these has been harassed by a newspaper over alleged sympathy towards a child abuse group; the other has been arrested on suspicion of possessing images of such abuse. Can you tell which is which, or has the newspaper done a good job of muddling the issue?

Today’s (March 4) papers and Internet news sites will be full of the arrest of Patrick Rock, until recently an aide of David Cameron (and a former protege of Margaret Thatcher) on suspicion of possessing child abuse imagery.

The BBC News article is one of a deluge covering the story of the 62-year-old former deputy head of 10 Downing Street’s policy unit – who had been working on policies that are allegedly intended to make it harder to find images of child abuse on the Internet.

The arrest took place on February 13, a few hours after Mr Rock resigned his position with the government.

Nothing was mentioned in the press at the time – but isn’t it interesting that the Daily Mail started stirring up old allegations against Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt – about the Paedophile Information Exchange’s involvement with the National Council for Civil Liberties, while they were members – only days later?

While it is important to stress that Mr Rock has not been found guilty of any crime and must therefore be considered innocent until such time as this happens, it is appropriate to ask whether the Tory-supporting Mail used the old story about Labour’s deputy leader and her colleagues to divert attention away from the arrest – which is a far more serious issue.

Comedy genius Rowan Atkinson used to do a sketch in which he would ask a sidekick, “What is the secret of great comedy?”

As the sidekick started to respond, “I don’t know, what is the s-“, Atkinson would interrupt: “Timing.” The premature punchline used to get a big laugh.

In contrast, the Daily Mail‘s timing isn’t funny at all.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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