Forty one years ago, on Tuesday 23rd February !982 I turned on Radio 4 and was delighted to find that its first news item featured Britain’s Press Council.
Since May 1981 I had doggedly persisted. despite the Council’s attempts to drive me to despair, with a complaint about THE TIMES coverage (Friday 8th May !981) of the funeral of Bobby Sands, after a 66 day hunger strike.
.Bobby, who while on hunger strike had been chosen by the voters of Fermanagh and South Tyrone to be their abstentionist MP..
Christopher Thomas, Ireland correspondent for THE TIMES had the paper’s lead story, which was headed “Republicans bury their Hero whilst Protestants mourn their dead.
His story went on to assert that all the 2,000 plus fatalities in the conflict were Protestants killed by Republicans. Thus demonstators and others killed by the British Army, RUC, and Unionist para;-militaries were deemed to be Protestants.
Through gritted teeth the Press Council upheld my complaint and embargoed its publication until 23 February 1982 . And Radio 4’s morning News led with a story about the Press Council.
But not the one which might have given me cheer.
A tabloid newspaper had carried a photograph of a young, pretty, pregnant married woman in a Bikini. IT was neither unflattering, indecent nor scandalous.
It was of Princess Diana, who was married to Prince Charles at the time – and faithful to him. The Palace complained about the Photo to the Press Council , which a couple of days later condemned the tabloid.
The BBC did not report the Press Council’s upholding my complaint about the lies in THE TIMES.
THE TIMES published the Press Council judgement. But none of the other British papers, from the supposedly liberal Guardian or Observer, to the Communist Morning Star, mentioned it.
That night I turned on the TV to see Harold Evans, Editor of THE TIMES awarded the accolade of Editor of the Year by the Editors of Britain’s National Papers.
Amongst them an old fellow-traveller of mine on the Hill of Howth tram – Conor Cruise-O’Brien, Editor of THE OBSERVER.
The BBC’s Russia Editor, Steve Rosenberg featured in THE OBSRVER ‘s “The New Review” on 12th February 2023. Under Q& A and asubtitle “The BBC’s Russia rditor on Putin’s attitude to the BBC.”
Rosenburg says that the Russian authorities ” portray the BBC as a British government mouthpiece
which is absolutely not the case.”
I leave you to choose whom you would trust – “Auntie Beeb” or a Russian ex-Intelligence Officer.
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