29 July 2008

Mosley - privacy or integrity?

I am torn in my response to the recent High Court ruling that Mr Mosley's privacy was infringed by the News of the World reporting of his orgy.

On the one hand, I think that it is high time that the press got its come-uppance. In recent years, it has become judge and jury, self-appointed arbiter of what is right and what is wrong, wielding great influence but without the accompanying responsibility, and invading people's lives with neither respect nor compassion. So, good, that this unbridled bullying be brought to a shuddering halt.

But, on the other hand, I do wholeheartedly agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury that there is a clear link between private behaviour and public conduct. What a person does when he or she thinks no-one is looking is the most reliable indicator of their real character. And, if that person holds a position of power, accountable to the public, then we need to know what they are really like.

So, on balance, it is vital that the press be able to dig out those things which public figures would rather we didn't know. This need not give them carte blanche to persecute us all. Perhaps some definition of public figure would be helpful? I am actually not terribly interested in the private peccadillos of a motorsport executive but when it comes to our MPs, who have power to decide on the creation of animal-human embryos or to commit this nation to war, I desperately want to know what really makes them tick.


Anonymous said...

Agreed. Clinton was a good example of a flawed leader. Private life was a million miles from public perception. He was found out.

We don't need to know the ins and outs of a rat's backside, and we should be able to accept that we all (MP's included) make mistakes, and should be allowed to.

But if we are to trust these people with lawmaking, war and our security, I want to know that they don't have dark hidden secrets that could affect their judgement on the big issues.

F T P Topcliff said...

Nah. This would mean only boring dull people running for office. Runnning to be an MP, Councillor or Government minister is not running to be a bishop. You need real people to do real world jobs. Everyone real or worth listening to has some sordid sexual episodes in their past or present. Those who don't aren't normal.

Mary Douglas said...

Not sure that anyone who puts themselves forward for public office can be described as 'normal'!

But integrity they must have