Saturday 22 October 2016

Sarah Caden: No injunction can stop unmasking of unfaithful star caught in the act

The naming in the US media of an errant British actor shows we live in an age in which privacy is a quaint concept, says Sarah Caden

Sarah Caden

Published 08/05/2016 | 02:30

QUESTIONABLE CELEBRITY: Helen Wood, who has forged a reality TV career on the back of revelations about her past as
an escort, is at the centre of the current furore surrounding a married British ‘A-list actor’ she says paid her for sex
QUESTIONABLE CELEBRITY: Helen Wood, who has forged a reality TV career on the back of revelations about her past as an escort, is at the centre of the current furore surrounding a married British ‘A-list actor’ she says paid her for sex

Last Friday on ITV's This Morning show, former prostitute Helen Wood commented on the 'married actor injunction' storm by saying that the man "made a mistake" with her and "doesn't deserve" to have his identity revealed in the UK newspapers.

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This sounds quite decent of her, but it was only part of what Wood (previously best known as the escort who slept with Wayne Rooney) had to say. She also said that she couldn't understand why this actor took out the injunction. Fair enough given the fact that because the injunction doesn't hold in the US, most of the world already knows his identity, even if it can't be printed in newspapers on this side of the Atlantic. But that wasn't entirely Wood's point.

Her main point was that by taking out an injunction, the actor only drew attention to the situation and, therefore, on the double, made a mistake and got punished for it. The liaison was crime number one; the injunction was crime number two. And, boy, is this man being punished for both.

Wood seemed noble on This Morning, compassionate and forgiving, but one must remember that the revelations made in a US magazine last week were backed up by an interview with her. An interview that spares no detail as regards her 2010 encounter with the actor.

So, you could say, none of this would be happening if Wood had stuck to the clandestine spirit of the situation.

But the more popular opinion is that none of this would be happening at all if the man in question hadn't strayed from his marriage and paid a strange woman to have sex with him. He did wrong first. Or the greater wrong.

Even if you consider that to be the case, though, does anyone really deserve what amounts to the punishment that this actor is enduring? Some sympathy, of course, is due to Wood whose career is now built on celebrities who paid her for sex, but she is cashing in on it freely and liberally and that brand of fame seems to sit well with her.

So it is the man who screwed up, and who doesn't want the world to know he screwed up, who is being hunted down. And to what end? To punish him - as if that is our universal right? To destroy him, perhaps? Yes, he did wrong, the narrative goes, he deserves it.

In 2010, when Wood was 23, she was working as an escort when she was booked by this actor. It was the same year in which allegations first surfaced that Wood had a threesome with footballer Wayne Rooney, who was married at the time.

In 2011, after the story broke about her encounter with Rooney, Wood appeared on This Morning and referred to an injunction taken by "an actor". The actor, if he hadn't known who Wood was when he booked her and had sex with her, clearly knew what he had potentially landed himself in at that stage.

On This Morning all those years ago, Wood, a single parent, explained how she started working as an escort and how confidentiality was part of the job. The newspapers always came to her looking to unmask the celebrity clients, she said, she never went to them.

Then she admitted that she hadn't exactly been discreet after the encounters with Rooney or the actor. "I told people close to me. I told people on a whim," she said.

And the ball rolled on, as it does, and Helen Wood became something of a celebrity on the back of it all. She is now a chat-show regular; she's a Celebrity Big Brother winner; and in one of the saddest turn of events of the whole thing, Wood's face in interviews last week is altered since 2011 to the point of being unrecognisable.

You can't blame Wood. Hers is a questionable celebrity that got her out of a horrible way of making a living. You can't blame her for wanting something better for herself. It's preferable to spend the rest of your days known as "Wayne Rooney's hooker" than to endure sex work.

What you can blame her for, however, is the embellishment that she gave to the US revelations last week. You can blame her for the detail she added to a story as old as time.

Actor seeks thrills outside his marriage is indeed a story as old as time. The devil, however, is in the detail.

Wood did not need to share the fact that her impression of the actor wasn't that he was the married-man type, but that he was gay. Nor that he was a dreadful kisser who kissed "like a virgin". Nor did she need to go into the use of a sex toy on this man. It's hard to imagine what she gained from those revelations other than more attention - but for the actor it's all pretty diminishing and devastating stuff. For the actor, who will live with it forever, but not so much for everyone else, who will move on. To the next thing. Because we've moved on from last month's celebrity injunction; while the children the celebrity in question wanted to protect will still be able to read about their parent's paddling-pool olive-oil antics online forevermore. From now on, that stuff only interests them - everyone else will have moved on to the next big thing.

Because, guess what: as we've been told several times this week, there are apparently more than 10 celebrities whom Helen Wood could get into trouble. And there are many more out there with secrets to hide. No kidding.

Now, no one expects this actor's wife to forgive him in a hurry. Nor does anyone think that what he did was a good idea. He should, of course, have considered who he might hurt by such actions, whether they were revealed publicly or merely privately.

Privacy in this regard seems almost a quaint concept now. We show everything, we see everything. Love is sending someone a picture of your breasts. Revenge is that they show them to everyone else. And that's a relatively innocent interpretation of it.

Celebrities are stalked by all-seeing camera lenses at every turn and would be unwise to think that any sexual partner is trustworthy. And that's not just the case for celebrities. If you mess up as an ordinary person you may not need a super injunction to stop your name being published but you may wish you shared less, in every sense, with those who know about it.

Much as Wood will always carry the tag of "Wayne Rooney's hooker", this unnamed man will always now be "that actor".

To his family, he will be something else. And how that plays out he might manage to keep private. If nothing else.

Sunday Independent

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