The moody Mail; unmanageable McLibelers

IssueMarch 2005
Comment by The Mole

Regular Mole-istas will know that this column finds it hard to resist an opportunity to criticise once-Red Ken, Mayor of Greater London. And we all know very well, from recent evidence, that Ken “turn-again” Livingstone similarly finds it impossible (especially when in party mood) to resist slagging off the Daily Mail. Which leaves The Mole, also a hater of the Daily Wail, in an ambiguous position.

The Mail's wilful pandering to (and generation of) the ill-informed prejudices of certain sections of British society was evident in its response to the magnificent victory of the McLibel Two. When the European Court of Human Rights announced that the libel case brought against the Two by the burger giant had indeed been an unfair trial, and had infringed their right to freedom of expression, most of the media gave friendly, or at least fair, coverage of their victory. But what angle did the Mail find? It warned Middle England that the “floodgates are now open for anyone to say what they like about the commercial world” at the taxpayers' expense. The paper even got an allegedly specialist lawyer - who therefore ought to have known better - to confuse the receipt of legal aid to defend yourself with the receipt of legal aid to initiate a libel action. Maybe the Mail's coverage was meant to be a subliminal part of its regular slagging off of everything to do with the European Union (now there's another ambiguity building for The Mole...). But can even the Mail's writers be confused enough, or wilful enough, to make the ridiculous suggestion that the venerable ECHR has any connection whatsoever with the EU? Answers on a postcard.

Two go to town

On the morning the verdict was announced to the world on the ECHR's Strasbourg website, only half an hour after they themselves were told, the Terrific Two, Helen and Dave, had their work cut out. They had to absorb the 36-page judgement, produce their own press release in response, get it whizzing on its way, and then rush off to a MuckD's in central London to face the media before the latter had time to put their own interpretations on the verdict.

Meanwhile, a few of their McLibel Defence Campaign supporters hurried to the patch of pavement announced as the press conference venue, with the odd banner and placard at the ready - only to find a scrum of press already there waiting. The person deputed to deal with the press until Helen and Dave arrived tried desperately to keep the crowd happy with interim copies of the press release and answers to their questions. One of the hacks asked the press spokesperson what their “official title” was - were they the Campaign Manager for the Two? Amidst great hilarity amongst the McLibelers present, it was pointed out that it was precisely because Dave and Helen were not the sort of people that anyone could “manage” that they'd stuck it out for 15 years to win their great victory announced that morning.

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