Comment - Eddy Shah
PUBLISHED: 10:29 09 September 2011 | UPDATED: 21:37 20 February 2013
Eddy Shah shook up the newspaper world in the 1980s, and he's well-placed to comment on what's making the headlines today
Eddy Shah shook up the newspaper world in the 1980s, and hes well-placed to comment on whats making the headlines today
When I ran newspapers I was always asked by writers what they should put in their first column. My answer was simple: Whatevers the most popular subject at the moment, especially if it involves rich and powerful people.
So I decided to launch mine with something about Rupert Murdoch.
Events are moving so fast that by the time this is published we could have had the resignation of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Queens corgis. Which, if you follow that through logically, would leave Nick Clegg as the new Prime Minister. Not bad for the leader of the smallest main party and one that placed third in the last election. But thats what media hysteria does. It takes the reality out of the events and plasters everything with a raw emotional angst. It creates a feeding frenzy that will eventually run its course and then fade away.
I have to declare that I know many of the people in this saga, including Rupert. And I am ashamed to have been part of an industry that allowed such despicable phone hacking and invasion of privacy in the name of investigative journalism. Whoever is found to be responsible for such criminal and immoral acts should be given the severest of punishments.
But lets not bring down the only independent protection that we, in a democracy, have against those who would control us. Freedom of the press is paramount in a democracy.
I truly believe that Rupert is horrified by what has happened. Not only because of what it is doing to his business, but because he is a true believer in journalistic values. He has contributed greatly to the wealth of this country. He employs over 50,000 people in his media empire. It is impossible for him to know everything that is happening in that media sprawl of his.
Proprietors and Editors have to trust the journalists they employ. Occasionally someone will let him down. As happened many years ago when the Sunday Times, under Murdochs stewardship, published the infamous and fraudulent Hitler Diaries. Thats the risk that newspaper owners take. But I dont believe any proprietor would encourage phone hacking against the likes of Millie Dowler and victims of 9/11.
Rupert Murdoch has always been tough, but always fair. And right now its the politics of payback that are coming to haunt him. The people who should be taking responsibility on this matter are the politicians and the
police. We need strong and defined laws that are policed properly. And not the self-serving Browns and Blairs who toady up to those who wield
media power under the pretence of protecting those who theyre meant to represent.
And when its all over, lets put them in a ring with Wendi Deng Murdoch and let her loose with her right hook that would even floor David Haye. Now that would be a fight worth watching!
Eddy Shah owns and runs The Wiltshire Hotel, Golf &"Country Club near Wootton Bassett