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Monday, December 01, 2008 

News of the Screws in telling lies shocker.

The Press Complaints Commission adjudication into the News of the World's super-splash back in June, headlined "BURRELL: I HAD SEX WITH DIANA" is another wonderful insight into the world of Sunday tabloid journalism, if not tabloid journalism in general.

A classic story of one man's word against someone else's, Burrell in making the complaint accepted that the PCC could not rule on whether the report was accurate or not. Instead, he complained that the newspaper had not contacted him to put the allegations against him. The Screws argued firstly that it feared Burrell would attempt to get an injunction to stop publication, which is the latest excuse for not putting the claims to the person about to be drawn into a firestorm, and secondly that Burrell was a "self-confessed and notorious liar."

That tells you how much the paper cared about the actual veracity of the claim. If Burrell's such a notorious liar, why should we believe the claims of his brother-in-law about a conversation the two had 15 years ago? The Screws claimed that it had the backing of an "anonymous source", as well as the backing also of Burrell's brother-in-law's son, both of whom had signed affadavits. This though was irrelevant to actually putting the allegations to the person in question, who, as the PCC ruled, should have had the opportunity to deny such prominent claims against him, with the possibility that readers would have been misled into believing he accepted the allegations by there not being any denial.

The entire story was one which the like of the News of the Screws dream of. Completely impossible to prove, and also completely impossible to disprove, while being sensational and completely lacking in any integrity whatsoever. Who after all cares if Burrell had been having sex with Princess Diana, or indeed he hadn't? The only people who do would have been Diana herself (and possibly her sons, who have in the past made clear their distaste for the necromancy the papers practice), who is still very much dead, and Burrell, already disgraced for admitting to lying to the Diana inquest, meaning the paper could say whatever the hell it liked. The News of the Screws after all has never ever been about journalism or investigations; its number one priority is to make Mr Murdoch pots of money, which it still does. Anyone who gets caught in the crossfire is completely inconsequential, as this ruling will be, just as the collapse of the trials involving the "fake sheikh" and the recent victory by Max Mosley were. The ends always justify the means, and until the PCC can do more than just force newspapers to print their adjudications, they will keep on having complete contempt for the self-regulatory code they signed up to.

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