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Hacked off?
18/09/2012 21:29:00


I see that my tweet about my encounter with Hugh Grant at the Hacked Off event on Monday night has been picked up the Steerpike blog on The Spectator website.

I went along on Monday night because I have an open mind on the issue - it's pretty clear that the status quo is not tenable but if we do introduce some form of statutory regulation we need to ensure that it doesn't limit the ability of our media to expose wrongdoing or hypocrisy by the rich and powerful.

I had good conversations with Brian Cathcart and Evan Harris but things took a turn for the worse when Evan introduced Hugh Grant to me. Maybe it was Evan's reference to my being Michael Gove's PPS that set Hugh off (he appears not to be very enamoured of Michael's defence of free speech), but he proceeded to make it abundantly clear - despite Evan's valiant attempts to change the subject - that if MPs like myself didn't do what he thinks we should do he would make it his personal business to campaign against us at the next Election.

I should make it clear that I have no problem with this whatsoever. It is his democratic right to do so and people say things like that to me all the time ("If you don't help with x, none of my family will be voting for you next time") - it's water off a duck's back. The point of my tweet was merely to highlight the irony that he is behaving in exactly the way he criticises media proprietors for doing (in his introduction to Brian's book he complains about "the intimidation of politicians" and the press "effectively telling elected politicians how they want the country run").

Now of course although Hugh Grant has more influence than the average man in the street, he is nowhere near as powerful as the owner of a national newspaper. But even they are perfectly entitled to tell politicians what they think they should be doing - and to make it clear that if the party in question doesn't do certain things they will lose that paper's support (though the law rightly prevents any one person or organisation owning too much of our media so that no one organisation has too much influence).

Anyway I am now in the process of reading Brian Cathcart's book and I await Lord Leveson's report with interest. He has a difficult balance to strike.

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Readers' Comments

On 02/10/2012 13:20:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
"if MPs like myself didn't do what he thinks we should do he would make it his personal business to campaign against us at the next Election"

I'd love to see Mr Grant stand at the next election as an independent and lose his deposit.

A charmless campaigner for press censorship who would have us living in a Boris Pasternak where writing about anything personal is a crime.

It takes quite a lot of mendacity to make me feel sorry for Paul Darce.


I wonder what could have happened to plant this chip on Mr Grant's shoulder?




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Gavin Barwell, House of Commons, SW1A 1AA, Tel  020 8660 0491      © Gavin Barwell  2017       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG