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Friday, November 30, 2007 

The Daily Mail has absolutely no shame.

It's a cliche. Guardian readers denounce the Daily Mail. Daily Mail readers denounce the Guardian. The world continues to turn. Thing is, the more you delve into tabloid journalism, the one thing that never ceases to amaze me is just when you think that they can't possibly go any lower, that the abyss can't simply go any further down, they come up with something so underhand that it takes the breath away. Paying a Polish couple to drive their car around London and break the law was a case in point. An article that goes beyond even that has just been published. First though, the continuing attacks on Colin Stagg, which even now are continuing.

To give just a smidgen of balance to proceedings, Stagg really ought to know by now that talking to any tabloid is just giving them material to attempt to justify, even if they don't go into the facts of the case and their involvement, their personal pursuit of him for over 10 years. Perhaps the Mail paid him. Who knows. Either way, this was still a hatchet job. The article opens with:

As a mental patient is charged with killing Rachel Nickell, a disturbing admission from the man whose name will be forever linked with hers...

And just what is this disturbing admission? We don't find out until almost right at the end:

"I don't feel anything about Rachel Nickell. She doesn't mean anything to me," he says, when I first ask about his feelings towards her.

It's a bizarre thing to say, given that their names have been so linked.

Only after being pressed does he express any sorrow for the young mother.

"Of course I'm sorry about what happened to her, but in the same way I'm sorry when I hear about murders on TV.

"That's the thing: someone was murdered and it was all very tragic, but murders happen.

"They don't affect your life. Unless you knew the person, of course."

What did the Mail expect, or indeed want? Did they want him to break down and cry crocodile tears about the woman who if she hadn't been murdered wouldn't have ruined his life? Put yourself for a moment in Stagg's shoes. You've been hounded for a decade because the police and then the media decided that you'd committed a heinous murder that you in fact had nothing to do with. Finally, the review of the forensic evidence finds definitively that you had no involvement in the murder. Despite that, neither the police nor the media even have the decency to offer you a formal apology, although they will pay compensation. They've been living off your despair and misery, inflicting it upon you, in the cases of Keith Pedder selling books calling for you to be tried again, with Nickell's partner also calling for the rule on double jeopardy to be abolished so you can be put before a different courtroom, and they expect you after all that time to still show some empathy towards the woman who was brutally murdered by a man they should have caught first time round? Call me insensitive, be I don't think I'd be particularly sorry either. After 15 years, Stagg has more or less the same attitude that a distinct proportion of the country would have upon hearing the news of anyone's death that they didn't know. This, for the Mail, makes for a "disturbing admission".

It wouldn't be the Mail if it simply ended there. No, Stagg's still the "weirdo" and "oddball", it would seem:

His attitude to women is, however, more than a little unsettling.

In the infamous letters to the undercover policewoman, he admitted to violent sexual fantasies, and at one point confessed he was aroused by the thought of Nickell's murder (though crucially, he never admitted to the killing).

The Mail doesn't think to mention that he admitted to those "violent sexual fantasies" because, as other evidence not presented showed, he desperately wanted the relationship with the female officer who approached and entrapped him to work,
saying anything that he thought might make her stay or think more of him. As the judge described it, it was the "most vivid illustration of shaping the accused's mind." There's still more:

He appears to blame all women for his social failings.

"You women don't realise how much power you have to hurt men," he says.

"Women always go for good-looking blokes, even if they treat them terribly. The geeks like me never get a look-in."

Which is far from being a unique statement, nor is it any proof whatsoever that he blames women for his "social failings". It's just someone embittered by loneliness and years of attacks looking inward. The Mail talks about his relationship with a woman which started in prison ending in her selling her story to the media, and it expects him not to be slightly rueful about the pain he's suffered? It says more about the journalist and the story she's written or been expected to pen than it does about Stagg.

These two paragraphs more than sum up the sheer chutzpah on the part of the Mail:

Even in the aftermath of his acquittal, there were many - certainly among the police, and consequently Rachel's family - who never wavered in their conviction that Stagg got away with murder.

Perhaps now the murder charge brought against Robert Napper will mean that whatever becomes of this new case, the public perception of Stagg will change.

The Mail naturally doesn't mention its own or the media's role in demonising Stagg. Why would it break the habit of a lifetime?

"The only difference is that now, people are also coming up and saying sorry for thinking the worst of me.

"But there's still a lot of people that need to say sorry.

"I have been terribly wronged."

That much is clear.

Around the only decent sentence in the whole article. Will the Daily Mail now say sorry too? The above more than demonstrates what it still really thinks.

Just to prove the Mail hasn't learned a single thing from Stagg's innocence, up pops the most vile Daily Mail article I think I have ever read.

Amanda Knox - accused of killing Meredith Kercher - has been portrayed as a blameless girl led astray when she moved to Italy. But as this investigation reveals, she already had a dangerous appetite for drink, drugs and sex ...

After which commences the most despicable, disgusting, moralistic, prurient, based on hearsay hatchet job on a young woman yet to be charged with any crime and who can't defend herself you're ever likely to read. It's not even worth the slightest perusal of its numerous claims about "Foxy Knoxy" - you know you're in trouble when the tabloids start calling you by your supposed nickname - but this final paragraph gives an example of what you can expect:

And a British family is left to mourn the brutal death of their beautiful daughter, who, it seems, died for no other reason than that she had the terrible misfortune to find herself sharing an apartment with 'Foxy' Knoxy.

The "journalist" responsible for this is Andrew Malone. A click on "more by this author" leads you to other choice pieces, such as Why Portugal is a haven for paedophiles - the disturbing backcloth to the Madeleine case, Inside feral Britain: A blood-chilling journey into the heart of our teenage gang culture and finally Brutality or justice? The truth behind the tarred and feathered drug dealer, which contains this apologia for vigilante attacks:

This show of "community justice" may have happened in Northern Ireland, but the professed reasons behind it may strike a chord with millions of law-abiding people in communities across the UK - where the police and courts are each day failing countless victims of violent crime.

Nothing, surely, can excuse such horrific savagery on our streets - and such casual contempt for the basic principles of justice. Yet, many people in areas across Britain will recognise the sense of impotence felt by the people of Taughmonagh, a rugged, working-class estate with the Union Jack hanging from virtually every house. There is a real sense of community in the area.

Welcome to Daily Mail land. Enjoy your stay.

Update: Please accept my apologies. I quite forgot for a while there that Richard Littlejohn late last year informed us that the deaths of the five prostitutes murdered in Ipswich was "no great loss". Make the "Foxy Knoxy" smear second most vile Mail article.

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What's the clipping at the start of the post?

It's not just The Mail that sinks to gutter tactics. Blogging's own John Hirst has spent months vilyfing the McCanns in his sick posts. He remains something of a darling to many left leaning bloggers and few (if any) have made any criticism of him for his hate campaign. I wonder why?

D-Notice: It's from Viz.

Ed: I'd hardly say he's a darling to many left leaning bloggers. He's been defended by a few because of the way some right-wing bloggers attacked him viciously because of his past. I disagree with him over his stance on the McCanns, and Mike Power for instance has stated in no uncertain terms what he thinks. You can hardly compare a blog with readers in the hundreds at most with a newspaper which sells over 2 million a day.

Please note that the article twice quotes American students using the word "drink" as a noun. An American university student doesn't talk that way - here, one does not indulge in " drink.". You're a drunk, you abuse alcohol, you drink too much (used as a verb), you party too hard, you like to get liquored up, or you have a drinking problem. An American student would say there was "alcohol, drugs, and bodies everywhere", but would never say "drink, drugs, and bodies everywhere."

The quotes are not consistent with American idioms. Either the author misremembered his interviews or he created the quotes out of whole cloth.

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