Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.
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Sunday 29 May 2011

Letters to Lillys.

THE week started with a post which got more attention than any so far - one describing the details of 80 or so privacy injunctions taken out by high-profile individuals in British courts since 2006.

It increased traffic to this blog tenfold to more than 50,000 hits in a day, proof if any were needed that the public's attitude to privacy is that it's all very well but they'd still like to know what's going on.

The responses were overwhelmingly positive. But John wrote to say he thought it should have gone further and named names:
"You're very brave, aren't you? But you don't say a word about the single injunction we most need to know about -- the one that involves XXX. What is it that this XXX donor to the XXX Party doesn't want us to know? You don't even admit he exists. You're either a lily-livered coward like most of the rest, or you're a piece of shit. Only you know which...
"We live in a country that has taken rights like Habeas Corpus and just plain free speech, fought for over centuries, and thrown them away to suit the short-term ambitions of politicians, rich men and women and journalists who have forgotten what their job is supposed to be.... when there's a chance we ordinary people might actually get a glimpse into how the world ticks, there's no shortage of apologists to rush forward and tell us ordinary people, 'oh, you don't want to know about that. It's nothing but the silly antics of professional sportsmen and cretinous nonentities we have chosen to call 'celebrities'.' No, it isn't. It's about our need to know what the rich and powerful wish us not to know."
Ed: I didn't identify anyone involved because as a national newspaper journalist and blogger I'd be first in the dock if the lawyers caught wind. Were it not for the fact I like my job and paying my mortgage, I'd do it and tell the judge I held him and his law in almost total contempt. As it is I'm afraid journalists - myself included - are keeping their mouths shut as we are under more scrutiny than the average person. John is right when he says this is a bit cowardly, but I did my best with this post which has more detail than anything else I've read on the topic. The Independent followed it up the next day with a splash claiming more than 330 injunctions, most of which are actually anonymity orders related to children and vulnerable adults. The figure of 80-odd - 90 per cent of which I'd argue have a degree of public interest in them - stands. I could not agree more with John's final point.

Kevin, a reader from the US, wrote:
"One thing I don't understand, however, is that if you do indeed know about superinjunctions that are relevant to the public interest, can't you just send the information to someone outside of the UK confidentially and have them release it? I mean, if I broke a superinjunction, it's not like Britain would send the SAS after me, right?"
Ed: Thanks for the offer, but it could still be traced. And I think it's US Navy SEALs you need to be more worried about.

This post about rape being used as a weapon of war by Colonel Gaddafi's troops in Misrata got far fewer hits but plenty of praise from people insisting, in the face of all the evidence, it was the kind of news people preferred.

Kev said:
"I don't know what to say. Plenty of anti war types fly the no war in Libya without fully taking on board the murky facts. It's people like Lillys Miles who dare to inform the uninformed, or at the very least do their level best to make sure the matter doesn't get pushed aside. It appears I did have something to say. Thanks Foxster."
Darryll added:
"An excellent reminder of what the news SHOULD be about, no some 2-bit attention seeking slapper and a no-good 'family man'."
But Mark added: 
"I would like to say that I'm more than happy to read a decently written piece on the horrors of Libya on one page then turn over to see who Ryan Giggs is shagging on the next. Otherwise the papers would be awfully depressing. As Tristram Shandy sort of said: 'There's enough room in this world for hard news and fluffy shite'."
Meanwhile this briefest of posts on Kate Middleton pictured next to a normal-sized woman sent most correspondents hurrying to the fridge. Lisa said: "That pic sent me diving head-first into a tub of Ben & Jerrys!" But Lucy said: "Don't start dissing the sisters Lillys, that really is best left to the Liz Joneses of the world. FFS it's not all about what we look like!"

Finally an open letter to Sharon Shoesmith earned a lot of backslaps but also criticism. Sharon said: "This is EXACTLY how I feel about this" and Bruce added: "Beautifully put, Foxy. Hope the shameless old boot gets to read it."

'Thfc' wrote: "Brilliant blog. Just proves that when politicians and managers fuck up, real people die." And Iain added: "Her lack of humility is beyond belief. A truly despicable creature."

But Vince said: "You should criticise Ed Balls more than Shoesmith. It's his fault she could claim unfair dismissal."

And Picturo was one of a few to fume: "Disgraceful attitude to a professional who I believe was doing her best. You encourage witch hunts and inhibit professionals."

Ed: Sharon Shoesmith's been on the wrong end of a national outcry, which I was not seeking to add to. However most people in that situation would ask themselves what, if any, responsibility they had for contributing to it. She doesn't seem to have done so, and her claim to be "over the moon" and "not in the blame game" showed why she became the public face of a social services scandal - a complete lack of empathy with the overwhelming public reaction to the death of Baby P, and a deep and total self-regard. In her shoes, even believing there was nothing I could have done to save him, I would accept the buck had to stop somewhere. I'd not expect any sympathy, and certainly not over £1m in compo.

Hope you all had a nice weekend, folks. Keep the comments coming to the usual email address, Twitter and Facebook.

 Foxy out.