John Whittingdale: Has his private life put him at the mercy of the press barons - to the detriment of their victims?

John Whittingdale: Has his private life put him at the mercy of the press barons – to the detriment of their victims?

Are the McCanns, Christopher Jefferies and others being short-changed by the Conservative Government because the Culture, Media and Sport secretary is under the thumb of the press barons?

This Blog – and many others – reported Byline.com‘s exposure of Whittingdale’s relationship with a prostitute earlier this week.

We know that successive stories about the inappropriate affair have been written by national newspaper reporters – and then spiked by their editors for no clear reason, and we know that Whittingdale has decided against implementing aspects of the Leveson Inquiry’s recommendations after meetings with the same editors.

In particular, he said he was “not convinced the time is right” to implement s.40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which covers the awarding of costs to victims of press inaccuracy – such as the McCanns and Mr Jefferies after one such meeting.

What does that suggest to you?

Labour has taken the side of the victims – but has tactfully chosen not to mention Mr Whittingdale. Maria Eagle,  shadow secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport, said:

“It’s time David Cameron and his Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale, delivered on the Government’s clear promise to the British public, to Parliament and directly to the victims of phone hacking and fully implemented the cross-party agreement on Leveson’s recommendations.

“The Government must get on with commencing Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 immediately and get on with facilitating the second part of the Leveson inquiry.

“By pretending it is business as usual and backtracking on Leveson, the Tories are deliberately turning a blind eye to serious allegations of high-level corruption and collusion between the press, the police, politicians and the judiciary.”

And this is the issue at hand. Some people have claimed Whittingdale’s affair is a “non-story” – but if it allows corruption on this scale to take place, they are grossly mistaken. What is their interest in covering it up?

And when will the Conservative Government act?

Victims of press abuse have accused David Cameron of failing to keep the “solemn promises” he made during the phone hacking scandal and of betraying a pledge to put the public before powerful proprietors.

Gerry and Kate McCann, the parents of a missing child, and Christopher Jefferies, wrongly accused of murder, are among the signatories to the letter reminding Cameron of the promises he made to reach the cross-party agreement on the issue in 2013.

Speaking to the Guardian, Gerry McCann said, “Feelings are very strong among those of us to whom the Prime Minister publicly and privately made his pledges. If he does not keep his promises to implement the cross-party agreement in full, allow the Leveson inquiry to be completed and put the needs of the public before press proprietors, we will have been betrayed by him.”

Source: Press intrusion victims say Cameron’s failure to keep promises is betrayal | Media | The Guardian

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