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The Society of Stupid

Had Brian Leveson simply swallowed a bottle of pills at the start, we could have been spared fifteen months, many millions of pounds and two thousand pages of elegantly constructed legal argument culminating in several statements of the bleedin’ obvious, concerning the appalling habits of journalists.

The tragic and unnecessary death of Jacinta Saldanha spoke more eloquently to the Society of Stupid than a courtroom full of expensive silks and showbiz agents. In life she would have found herself briefly caught in a bewildering vortex of speculation and mild ridicule. Pre-Leveson, she may even have had her immigration status probed, her mobile tapped and her children besieged. But in five minutes, the circus would have departed.

Instead, in death the dedicated hospital nurse, who merely handed-on a phone call to a colleague, who (as reported) then in turn shocked the entire nation (really? Ed.) by informing the callers, a pair of no-account local radio DJs in Australia, posing as HM Queen, that Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Morningsick was feeling a bit better and sleeping (it was five a.m.!), a gross breach of medical confidentiality (really? Ed.), finds herself at the symbolic apex of a huge, wobbly, inverted pyramid of public introspection and guilt at the direction in which we are all travelling.

Irony is my middle name, and I am struck by the odd coincidence that one of the prime movers of Leveson, the sour-faced and rancorous comedian Steve Coogan, came to fame playing ‘Alan Partridge’, a spoof local radio sports reporter and phone-in host of such monstrous, self-regarding egotism that few people initially realised he was not entirely genuine.


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