Diary | The Spectator
I’m afflicted by anniversaries. It’s 30 years since I was defenestrated by Rupert Murdoch as editor of the Times. I’ve celebrated by publishing a fourth edition of my Good Times, Bad Times, reflecting in part on what my experience suggests he knew of phone hacking and when. I’ve also been impelled to revisit the past by a summons to the House of Lords. Thirty-eight years ago I sat through days of hearings by the Law Lords deliberating on whether I and the paper I edited, the Sunday Times, were guilty of contempt in 1972-73 in campaigning for justice for the thalidomide families. All five Law Lords voted to ban publication of our report. Only a 13-11 victory in the European Court of Human Rights removed the gag order. The experience this time was by video link to a select committee hearing, and it was sunny. The peers were concerned to know how serious journalism might be spared the straitjacket for the press being fashioned in the wake of the Murdoch scandals. The one good consequence of the malignities exposed by the Guardian is that from Leveson and the Lords we might at last see a grand bargain that would remove restrictions on real investigative journalism in the public interest but get the mad dogs on a leash.