Tuesday 30 May 2017

Ruth Dudley Edwards: Psychopaths in the press can poison public mind

Hacking stars is foul but hounding ordinary people has had tragic consequences, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

JK Rowling, creator of Harry Potter, was kind to journalists last Thursday when she gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into the British phone-hacking scandal.

She didn't denounce the whole profession: "We have at one end of the spectrum people who literally risk their lives to go and expose the truth about war and famine and revolution," she said. "Then at the other end we have behaviour that is illegal and I think unjustifiably intrusive." Why, she wondered, were they "called the same name?"

If only it were that simple. Good journalists sometimes break the law in the public interest; corrupt, lazy or frightened journalists sometimes let bad people go on their wicked way unscrutinised.

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