Friday, 13 January 2012


From the Leveson Inquiry yesterday:

Robert Jay QC: What interest, if any, do you have in ethical standards within your papers, or is that purely a matter for the editors?

Richard Desmond, owner of the Daily Express and Daily Star: Well, ethical, I don't quite know what the word means, but perhaps you'll explain what the word means, ethical.


  1. I don't know if I should laugh or cry.

  2. The amusing thing is that he's tried to sneak out of answering the question in a very Clinton-esque "that's not my definition of sex" way, but his response is actually the perfect answer to the question.
    If it was in front of a jury the lawyer could just turn to them, spread his arms wide and say "Welp. Case rested."

  3. I hardly want to go in to bat for a man as low as Desmond, but equally I wouldn't want to damn him for asking for a definition, however ineptly.

    A charitable interpretation would be that he wanted clarification on whether he was being asked about ethics in general (morality, we might say) or professional ethics (i.e. whether his papers conform to generally understood journalistic ethics).

    For comparison, an arms manufacturer may behave with impeccable professional ethics (e.g. not providing kick-backs) but ethics of his business might still be considered highly questionable.

    What was Desmond's answer when he finally got his definition anyway? That's where I'd expect the weaselling to get going.

  4. Desmond's position is this:-

    “What you people don't appear to understand is that the only way the Daily and Sunday Express can increase their circulation is by taking readers off the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, and as the people who read these papers are small minded, racist bigots, this means that we have to be more racist, more bigoted and even more small minded than our rivals. And the Daily Malicious is some act to follow, I can tell you. So if you think my papers go too far sometimes, don't blame me, blame that Paul Dacre. He's the one who sets the agenda. He's the unethical one, not me.”


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