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Anorak | A Sorry State Of Affairs

A Sorry State Of Affairs

by | 5th, February 2004

‘SORRY, said Elton John (with a little help from Blue), is the hardest word to say – but, once out of your mouth, it is hard to get it back in.

An apology of a BBC chairman

It may have taken the BBC months (and the jobs of its chairman and director-general) before it could issue an apology to the Government for Andrew Gilligan’s infamous Today broadcast.

But these days, apologies are two a penny at Broadcasting House.

And yesterday the corporation apologised to Humberside chief constable David Westwood for misleading editing of a Newsnight interview, which appeared to show him storming out of the studio.

The piece showed Westwood unplug his earpiece and get up from his desk after being questioned by Jeremy Paxman over policing errors that allowed Soham murderer Ian Huntley to get a job as a school caretaker.

‘The editing contrived to produce the impression I was being evasive and defensive and walked off the Newsnight set rather than answer difficult questions,’ he told the Guardian.

‘That was quite untrue.’

But if the Guardian says that the apology has added to fears within the BBC that it is becoming overcautious in the wake of the Hutton report, they will be pleased to know that the police are also in apologetic mood this morning.

The Metropolitan police apologised, and shelled out £80,000 in compensation, after effectively kidnapping 23 bemused anti-monarchist protesters during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and taking them on an enforced bus tour of the capital.

The Guardian says that the protesters had retired to the Goodman’s Field pub for a lunchtime pint after a thirsty morning’s protesting in June 2002.

But police burst into the pub and arrested 19 of them (as well as four loitering with intent to protest nearby), commandeered a passing bus and effectively used it as a prison.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman explained that the officers were using their ingenuity, but needless to say the protesters didn’t see it like that.

And yesterday, the Met settled the matter out of court.

‘I am writing to apologise on behalf of the Metropolitan police for the fact that you were arrested and detained for some hours,’ the letter from the Met said.

‘It is accepted that there was insufficient evidence to justify your arrest on this occasion and you should not have been arrested and detained.’

We particularly like the threatening nature of the phrase ‘on this occasion’ in the letter.

But the good news for police is that they may be right – in future, if David Blunkett’s piece-by-piece dismantling of the criminal justice system carries on apace, they can just brand the protesters terrorists and bang ’em up for as long as they like.’



Posted: 5th, February 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink