I feel a little on edge at present. You see, there are certain things that are just not done. The entire case that is set against Prince Andrew is such an event. I dealt with several issues in my blog called ‘As we judge morality‘ a little over two weeks ago.
Yet as some of these ‘claims’ are set in print again and again, especially the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, should we consider prosecuting Paul Michael Dacre (Daily Mail) and Ian MacGregor (the Telegraph) for libel?
Here is my reasoning, as I went through the Defamation Act 2013:
In section 4 (Publication on matter of public interest), we see in subsection 1:
It is a defence to an action for defamation for the defendant to show that
(a) the statement complained of was, or formed part of, a statement on a matter of public interest; and
(b) the defendant reasonably believed that publishing the statement complained of was in the public interest.
So far so good, we can all agree that published statements of members of the Royal family are indeed public interest. However, is it at (b) where we see ‘reasonably believed‘, as I stated in the previous article ‘As we judge morality‘, I came to serious doubts to some regard of these events as I looked into the PDF of what I believe to be the original affidavit from the Palm beach Police Department. In that regard, none of the papers had picked up the pace and the fact that it took me less than 10 minutes to find then Detective Joe Recarey. None of the papers seem to be clued in at all. Even the Guardian, who remained devoid of innuendo (at http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/23/prince-andrew-lawyers-sex-questions-court), did work on this story and as such Alan Rushbridger, as editor of the Guardian should consider the choices he made, especially the choice he did made by not doing them (which is his prerogative of course).
Now I get back to the previously mentioned section 4. Is it that far a jump that to use the defence regarding ‘publication on matter of public interest‘ that the journalistic party has a responsibility to decently investigate the claims it is printing? So now we get to the Joe Racarey part, by NOT properly investigating the claims, can we now get to the part that these negations nullify the defence in section 4 that the press might seem to rely on? This now means that there is a possible case of libel that the press could have to answer to? That negation is found in the part ‘reasonably believed‘, as there was no proper investigation, there can be no reasonable belief as I see it. So now, the press would need to rely on the defences as seen in sections 2 and 3.
Section 2 is about ‘substantially true’, most important is subsection 3, where we see ‘If one or more of the imputations is not shown to be substantially true, the defence under this section does not fail if, having regard to the imputations which are shown to be substantially true, the imputations which are not shown to be substantially true do not seriously harm the claimant’s reputation‘
So, the defence holds, but only if those that were not substantially true did not harm the claimant’s reputation. I reckon that the accusation in itself is already showing to be damaging beyond belief, which takes care of section 2 and section 3 is about ‘honest opinion’, this is not an opinion piece, this is about an allegation that will be considered a serious crime if proven correctly. So as I personally see it, there is no defence left for defamation should such charges be brought against certain tabloids.
Let’s look at the following quotes: ““I had sex with him three times, including one orgy,” Roberts claims in her affidavit” from the Guardian. Now this is pure reporting, I still believe that in the light of a few articles, the Guardian should have gone a lot further digging before getting on the ‘gossip’ gravy train (even though we clearly accept that reporting is not regarded as gossip), the reasoning of the person making the claim needs to be above a certain level, that part is still not proven. My issue is not with the Guardian in this case, although showing support for the Royal family by digging a little better would not have been the worst idea.
With the Daily Mail it is a different kind of fish. We get a photo with quote “‘On chummy terms’: The Duke of York takes a stroll with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein in New York” (at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2597308/The-bombshell-court-document-claims-Prince-Andrew-knew-billionaire-friends-abuse-age-girls.html), yet they are adamant of not mentioning when the photo was taken. You see, an actual journalist would mention when it was taken, not imply all with an added picture. In their defence, they also wrote “There is, however, no suggestion that the Duke was involved in any form of sexual exploitation” in that same article. The quote “Miss Roberts alleges she and the royal had sex when she was aged around 17, still a minor under US law in some states” (at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2921490/Prince-Andrew-appears-public-Davos-time-emerged-called-swear-oath-innocent-sex-claims.html) gives us more. Yes, it is ‘alleges’, yet not unlike the Guardian they could have done their homework a little better before adding the articles as they had been added. It is my personal view (so feel free to consider that choice, not to just add articles as is, especially when the allegations involve members of the Royal family. I am not stating not to print them; I am stating that a high(er) level of investigative quality would have gone a long way towards giving the audience the quality article that they are entitled to.
The Telegraph has not faltered in remaining massively below expectations either. “It was his ongoing friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, an American financier, that saw him forced to step down as the UK’s trade envoy in 2011” (at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/theroyalfamily/11364822/Judith-Woods-Prince-Andrew-was-pitch-perfect-for-a-change.html). Whenever there is any mention we see the following by-line ‘Prince Andrew Duke of York’s reputation has already been tainted by his association with the disgraced American financier‘, with each time EXACTLY the same photograph in several papers, all devoid of the mention WHEN that photograph was taken. How tabloids are willing to misinform you for the mere need of circulation!
So what should be done?
Well, I am all about the freedom of the press, but not when it comes to non-accountability. Here is also the problem; the press is in this case as they report on events, not accountable and there would be no case, but in my view, should there be a case? Let us not forget that the circumstances as given in more than one regard. Not that this was reported on, but that the press did not take extra efforts to investigate what could have been investigated. The earlier mentioned detective is only one of several options. When a royal is on some trip, his calendar tends to be filled and usual in company of others. There is no denying he had met Virginia Roberts, but were they ever actually in private areas? Now, the yes and no of that is of course what one person or what the other person states, my issue has a few other directions.
The first part is seen in the Daily Mail (at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2896075/Prince-Andrew-flies-skiing-holiday-tell-Queen-s-innocent-underage-sex-allegations-does-immunity-deal-government.html), you see the quote “But today Mr Roberts retracted his claim. In a statement sent to MailOnline, he said: ‘I want to clear up that many years ago Virginia stated to me she was to meet the Queen’s son Prince Andrew and not the Queen herself. I’m sorry for any misunderstanding.’” Can anyone explain to me how a father (or mother for that matter) would allow their child to travel unaccompanied? No matter if that person would have been her Majesty the Queen herself, you do not let your child travel alone! If someone was there in any position as chaperone, then there should be a record of this. In addition, so much travel as a minor, on what passport? Where an on what dates did this person pass through customs with a passport?
Last there is the following statement “Epstein, a long-term friend of Andrew, was jailed for 13 months in 2008 for soliciting girls for under-age prostitution. The pair remained friends and were seen together in 2011 after Epstein’s release”. You see, this is stated in more than one form in several places, but was Epstein a long-term friend? Most of us want to be friendly with billionaires, but that does not make such a connection one of friends. When searching through boatload of pages, that part has not been illuminated for one iota (I admit that I might have missed it), but the fact that no one is clearly telling us about that ‘so-called’ friendship is decently worrying. Then we get the ‘seen together in 2011’, there could be several valid reasons. Yes, it is not ideal, but let us not forget the fact that Epstein remains a billionaire! We can speculate all we want, but why did they meet? Was this ever clearly reported on? Was Prince Andrew asked? Epstein has been investing in many philanthropically flavoured endeavours, so the chance that Epstein meets with people of fame and/or royalty is a lot more likely. Should this make us uneasy? Absolutely, but can it be avoided? Not sure! By the way, they do not look too chummy in the photograph!
However, going back over the previous part, there is actually in the Daily Mail (at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2905218/Prince-Andrew-admits-s-foolish-friendship-paedophile-billionaire-Jeffrey-Epstein.html), the following “The Duke had previously said he had made an ‘error of judgement’ when he was snapped strolling through New York’s Central Park in 2011 with Epstein following his release from jail”, yet there is no mention why they met (still it is not a good situation to be in), also there was “expressing his regret for the ill-advised friendship”, which gives us enough that the previous statement is seemingly all correct. Still the issue remains, as I see it, that the papers should have done a lot more by giving clarity to the events.
Yet when we look at CNN (at http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/05/europe/prince-andrew-sex-abuse-allegations/), we see that the CNN article has a massive amount of information regarding the accusations and how Alan Dershowitz responded to them. The fact that we get the quote: “Dershowitz offered to waive the statute of limitations and “any immunity.”” Gives added light to the case. If this is proven, not only could her claim be regarded as useless, valueless and foundation less. There would be in addition severe consequences for her legal team. Alan Dershowitz has decided to counter claim those events by having the attorneys for Virginia Roberts to be removed from the role of attorneys. If that is maintained we get the new part, how to deal with the press.
Now we get to the part that has been an issue all along. You see, the press have gotten away with way too much for a long time. As such, if the clear evidence is set against Virginia Roberts, it will be our turn!
You see, I still have an issue with the press to a certain extent, they have played too many games and they still regard them as captains of the fate of others for the ever growing need of more revenue. When proven that the Duke of York was indeed innocent we can change the future, we can finally hold the press to values. It is my belief that once the Duke is proven to be innocent, the people in the UK will possibly unite for a referendum DEMANDING that the full Leveson report is implemented. No space for journalists crying like little bitches on how the freedom of the press is such a valued commodity. As I see it, they threw away the concept quality reporting some time ago. With the Leveson report fully implemented, the press will have no option but to actually create quality journalism, or be held accountable for 8 figure penalties for every transgression made. It will be a brand new day! I wonder if Hugh Grant considered this (perhaps he did) and it could be a new round for that what was ‘hacked off’.
I believe that the people have had enough of a certain journalistically based approach to what is true, good and ethical. The people to a larger extent still have not forgiven the loss of Lady Diana Spencer due to paparazzi (some still consider her to have been murdered through the acts of paparazzi). If these hurtful events against Prince Andrew turn out to be false, I feel certain that enough people can be rallied to force a referendum on implementing the full Leveson report. Let us not forget the headline ‘MH370 suicide mission’, whilst no evidence was ever recovered proving that headline. In the end Epstein might face additional scrutiny, whether they proceed whilst successfully avoiding a situation of double jeopardy remains an issue. Yet, in all this, Virginia Roberts will have as new problem, if Alan Dershowitz can actually bring evidence to make his case, the life of Virginia Roberts will end, because being a victim is one thing, failing prove it and then having to live through evidence proving the opposite is true, will give additional worry to the press in several forms.
This might blow over for some, but for the press this case could soon be the stuff of nightmares, it could have been avoided by properly digging deeper into the story, which is what a journalist was supposed to do to begin with.