Friday, 2 December 2011

"We are not aware of any evidence to support this claim"

The ability to think critically and analyse information is a crucial tool in avoiding the wool being pulled over ones eyes by organisations or people who wish to mislead, misinform or just plain lie.

For example, during the Leveson enquiry (which investigated press intrusion and phone hacking allegations), the singer Charlotte Church, alleged that her phone must have been hacked because News International knew about her pregnancy before she had even told her mother. In response, a News International spekesperson said "We are not aware of any evidence to support this claim".

That's a pretty strange form of words. Surely News International either DID, or DD NOT hack Ms Church's phone. It's a pretty black and white thing.

So why the complicated phrase?

BFTF imagines a burglar who, having performed a number of careful burglaries, wearing a balaclava and gloves at all times, then burns all his burglaring clothes and equipment and scatters the ashes at sea.

If accused of being a burglar, he would, presumably, be entirely accurate in saying that he was "not aware of any evidence to support this claim"

A phone-hacking tabloid reporter, yesterday

BFTF, on reading the story in more detail, noted that there were links to the written testimonies of some of the witnesses. Reading the testimony of Charlotte Church provided a distrubing account of a tabloid press that was predatory and would routinely print stories that were utterly without foundation.

Ao much so, that BFTF was moved to writing a message for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Dear Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Olympics and Sport,
I'm have no doubt that you are a very busy person, so I'll be brief :

I have been very disturbed by the testimonies of the witnesses at the Leveson Inquiry. In particular, that way in which the tabloid press treated Charlotte Church, even when she was still a child, is something that I find difficult to reconcile with a civilised society.
I do not think it is acceptable for a newspaper to print a countdown to a girls 16th birthday.
I do not think it is acceptable for a newspaper to print lurid stories about a singers parents or other family members.
I do not think it is acceptable for a newspaper to fabricate entire stories.

On a related note, I do not think it is acceptable for a newspaper to print an almost daily drip-drip feed of stories that demonise minority groups - this is really dangerous and stokes the flames of community distrust.

Please take the opportunity of the Leveson Inquiry to fix Britains print media so that it, like Radio 4, becomes something that I can be proud of.

Image Source : Wikipedia

Update (9th Dec)
Received a response from the "Ministerial Support Team" and the Department of Culture Media and Sport. The response said that
"The Government shares many of the concerns set out in your letter"
and that
" the Government is determined that events involving particular communities should not be exploited by anyone as an excuse to start blaming, persecuting, or preaching inflammatory messages about any particular group. . . The Coalition Government is working to strengthen its approach to integration and cohesion, including how all forms of extremism, hatred and intolerance can best be tackled."

Dear Reader, perhaps you would like to challenge the local or national government on an issue where you feel they are being unfair or unjust. It would be great to hear what results you get !

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