Talk

Advanced search

Labour calls to curb John Whittingdale's powers after escort relationship

(20 Posts)
LurkingHusband Wed 13-Apr-16 09:44:11

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36031743

Labour has called for Culture Secretary John Whittingdale to withdraw from press regulation decisions after news of his relationship with an escort.
Shadow culture secretary Maria Eagle said it had left him "vulnerable" to pressure from the press.
Four newspapers knew about the relationship, which ended in 2014, but decided not to publish the story.
Mr Whittingdale, who said he had not known she was a sex worker, said it had not affected any of his decisions.
Ms Eagle said Mr Whittingdale should "recuse" himself from any further involvement in decisions over the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.
Downing Street said Mr Whittingdale was "a single man entitled to a private life" and had the full confidence of the prime minister.

(contd)

Interesting story to break against the backdrop of tax affairs and public/private life.

MitzyLeFrouf Wed 13-Apr-16 15:49:29

The whole thing stinks. Who cares what he gets up to with another adult but a cosy agreement (or cosy blackmail even) between the papers and the chairman of the Commons select committee is enraging. They'd keep it quiet if he scratches their back re. Levenson I presume.

If it wasn't for Private Eye none of them would even be reporting on it now. Is Private Eye the last bastion of actual British journalism?

MitzyLeFrouf Wed 13-Apr-16 15:50:32

Maybe I need to take out a subscription.

prh47bridge Wed 13-Apr-16 17:51:51

They'd keep it quiet if he scratches their back re. Levenson I presume

His views on Leveson were well known long before he entered into this relationship. He has not changed his position at all. There is no evidence of a cosy agreement or cosy blackmail. And, as Culture Secretary, he has maintained the position of his predecessor which is in line with the Conservative manifesto at the last election.

ProfessorPreciseaBug Thu 14-Apr-16 06:43:22

Listening to various Labour voices yesterday, it seemed more about finding a stick to beat a dog with than the dog needing a beating.

CordeliaScott Thu 14-Apr-16 09:42:20

I genuinely don't understand why anyone would think that this is newsworthy. He was a single man who met someone on a dating website and went out with her for 6 months before breaking up. I haven't seen anything suggesting that he was paying her and even if he was think that it no one's concern but the parties involved.

The fact that the story appears to be being pushed by Hacked Off, who supposedly believe that the press should stay out of people's private lives, seems more than a little hypocritical and the BBC's involvement just seems to me to be vindictive in response to the licence fee changes.

I feel sorry for him

Helmetbymidnight Thu 14-Apr-16 09:47:56

I think it stinks too.

For me, the newspapers editors made a clear 'this is our man' decision and decided to protect him.

It will be interesting if they desist publishing all the other 'un-newsworthy' stories they do about public figures now. (Of course they won't)

prh47bridge Thu 14-Apr-16 10:26:59

For me, the newspapers editors made a clear 'this is our man' decision and decided to protect him

Interesting that some people, including Hacked Off, appear to think it stinks that newspaper editors in this case behaved exactly how Hacked Off want them to behave. As CordeliaScott says, Hacked Off's role in this stinks of hypocrisy.

PausingFlatly Thu 14-Apr-16 10:45:56

What, the media who are currently baying for details about some celebrity couple and a threesome?

I think we can make our own judgement on whether they've changed their ways or just decided it was useful to keep this one in the bag.

The story isn't that Whittingdale had a relationship with a woman who turned out to be a prostitute. The story is that newspapers which go out of their way to publish this sort of shit about other public figures, held this particular nugget in reserve while the subject of it was making decisions affecting their industry.

We don't know how it affected his decisions, if at all.

Helmetbymidnight Thu 14-Apr-16 10:48:24

What, the media who are currently baying for details about some celebrity couple and a threesome?

That's public interest, see.

While a minister having a relationship with a prostitute is not.

Apparently.

PausingFlatly Thu 14-Apr-16 10:49:31

That said, the fact that it is now out there means Whittingdale is now less blackmailable over this. Oh what a tangled web they weave...

Not that the news being out there would stop the papers going to town if this were a politician they hated and weren't scared of.

nauticant Thu 14-Apr-16 10:54:18

The story is that newspapers which go out of their way to publish this sort of shit about other public figures, held this particular nugget in reserve while the subject of it was making decisions affecting their industry.

We don't know how it affected his decisions, if at all.

This is the real point and there's loads of noise around this claiming that Whittingdale is some kind of victim. Funnily enough those being noisy aren't going to the same effort to seek protection for the woman he was going out with.

It stinks but actually I don't think anything can be done to counter it. But it's good to get it out into the open. In a similar way that it was good to have Hunt revealed as a Murdoch toady.

LurkingHusband Thu 14-Apr-16 11:09:55

Anyone who reads the Radio Times (!) will know that Whittingdale is a liar of the highest order, and clearly thinks integrity is probably in Ohio.

CordeliaScott Thu 14-Apr-16 11:19:19

*What, the media who are currently baying for details about some celebrity couple and a threesome?

That's public interest, see.

While a minister having a relationship with a prostitute is not.

Apparently.*

Except he wasn't a minister at the time nor an MP that most people outside his constituency would recognise.

PausingFlatly Thu 14-Apr-16 11:33:21

Unless they'd been watching him as chair of the high-profile Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearings after the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone broke. Live TV and plenty of other media coverage.

Really, there are lots of interesting issues in this story, but "he wasn't very important" isn't one of them.

PausingFlatly Thu 14-Apr-16 11:35:05

This seems quite a good summary of the issues: John Whittingdale row: Who is he and why does the story matter?

PausingFlatly Thu 14-Apr-16 11:41:38

I'm veering towards Whittingdale being the one who has done something wrong here.

Accepting a ministerial position with responsibility for regulating the press, while having a conflict of interest because he was vulnerable to blackmail by them - and not telling Downing Street about this - seems... careless.

It's not as if Downing Street needs the extra grief about over-cosiness or vulnerability to the press, after the Andy Coulson affair.

LurkingHusband Thu 14-Apr-16 11:44:30

Link to an article detailing Mr. Whittingdales mendaciousness, and contempt for UK TV licence payers.

LurkingHusband Thu 14-Apr-16 11:54:13

vulnerable to blackmail by them

The interesting thing here, is that something neither illegal, nor immoral (for some values of moral ...) is still being considered as "blackmailable" (is that even a word).

When the story first broke, I was hmm because - to my shame - I presumed he was cheating on his wife. Indeed, that's the reason I thought it was "a story".

However, given the facts - single (albeit divorced) man has relationship with single woman - it's kind of "where's the story ?".

I have no interest in the private life of anyone in the public eye whatsoever. Unless that private life demonstrates hypocrisy, in which case it deserves to see the light of day. (It should go without saying that any illegal or unlawful behaviour should be tackled in the same way as for any other citizen).

Referring to another thread here, this is one reason why governments should keep their noses out of "morality".

PausingFlatly Thu 14-Apr-16 12:08:51

I know. That's one of the things that's odd about this case.

Whittingdale was only vulnerable to blackmail because the press have a history of taking non-stories involving sex, preferably with some titillating detail (sex worker, threesome, costumes, etc) and wallpapering the place with it for weeks.

I remember from Leveson some of the shit newspapers had produced about Chris Bryant MP for being gay - caricatured pictures with his cut-out head stuck on top, and so forth. Someone actually took the time to do that and fill whole pages with it. News value = zero. Punishment value for subject = lots.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now