Tuesday, 12 January 2010

It's 'PC gone mad' on gritting and knife-wielding popstars

The front page of the Sunday Telegraph from two days ago hasn't entirely held up under scrutiny.

The main story - a classic bit of health and safety gone mad nonsense which also appeared in the Mail on Sunday - suggested that if you try to clear the snow from outside your house, and then someone slips on it, you will be sued.

This was, they said, the 'warning' from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

Alas, before Sunday was over, the IOSH issued a statement denying this:

This is not the IOSH position on gritting public areas. Neither has IOSH issued this as guidance.

Ah. And:

The words are, in fact, taken from a Croner contribution to the 'Just Ask' column of SHP magazine, in February of last year.

The IOSH Communications Director Ruth Doyle added:

'To lift this wording from an outside contribution to SHP magazine, published nearly a year ago, and pass it off as ‘IOSH guidance’ is completely irresponsible.'

Not content with that, they issued a second statement on Monday, which began:

The leading body for health and safety professionals is urging businesses and communities to do the right thing by clearing snow and ice from public areas.

Blasting the 'irresponsible' and 'inaccurate reporting' of the Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Telegraph they repeated - in bold - that the papers' claims were:

not the IOSH position on gritting public areas.

And yet, both articles remain online, exactly as they were.

(Another Mail on Sunday story has also been challenged by the person quoted in it. Climate expert Mojib Latif has said he 'cannot understand' the paper's interpretation of his views on climate change).

The Sunday Telegraph's other main story was about Myleene Klass apparently being 'warned' by police for waving a knife at some intruders who appeared in her back garden. The story rocketed around the media (including two articles in the Guardian) as commentators lined up to dismiss the police for their political correctness gone mad.

Even David Cameron spoke out about it, despite admitting he:

did not know the full facts of the case.

Yet something just didn't seem quite right.

For one thing, Hertfordshire Police issued a statement saying:

'Officers spoke to reassure the home owner, talked through security and gave advice in relation to the importance of reporting suspicious activity immediately to allow officers to act appropriately,' says a spokeswoman.

'For clarification, at no point were any official warnings or words of advice given to the home owner in relation to the use of a knife or offensive weapon in their home.'

Hmm. The fact that her agent Jonathan Shalit had fed the story to the media raised an eyebrow. Klass then said she had 'no regrets' - given the amount of free publicity she's had, no wonder.

A local paper tried to get some clarification from her agents following the police denial, but all they got was this:

'We are not making any comment on this as the police are now backtracking on what was said so we are leaving it there.'

Which could be read as: blanket coverage got, job done. Because, as Glen McNamee noted, a new TV singing contest (yes, another one) is about to start on ITV and she's co-hosting it with Alan Titchmarsh (appealing, isn't it?).

And perhaps the main reason to be sceptical that all might not be as it seems?

Richard Littlejohn was using it as an example of how PC the police have become these days. Needless to say, he made no mention of the police's statement but he did manage to spew out the hilarious 'Mind How You Go' and 'Yuman Rites'.

He's imaginative that way.

(Hat-tips to Liberal Conspiracy, Enemies of Reason, Glen McNamee)


  1. Not sure if this has been mentioned but Myleene Klass has previous with this kind of thing. In the back of Derren Brown's book trick of the mind, when he talks of the methods of mediums he relates a story about when a drunk introduced him to Derek Acorah.

    He puts in his book that the two made slight conversations and that was it. However in the sun it was reported quite differently, espcially the role she played!


  2. I think the problem with the Mylene Klass story, is that even if it's not true, it is plausible, at least in the mind of the general public.
    We are all aware of incidents where people have been prosecuted after defending themselves or their property, so the story holds some weight in the public's mind.

    It's sad, and suspicious, that Klass' people refuse to comment on the police statement (which has recieved little or no coverage).

  3. Even if I'm not a great supporter of the Telegraph's political position, it seems a bit disappointing that it should be printing such misleading and inaccurate stories as fact; surely that sort of nonsense should be kept in the tabloids, which have a bit of a reputation for that sort of thing anyway? Shame the PCC probably won't take any action...
    Not surprising that twatface extraordinaire Littlejohn managed to shoehorn the story into his 'column' though :P

  4. Ha! I fucking knew both these stories were bullshit, and it's disappointing that the Guardian went along with the Klass one.

  5. That IOSH advice is clearly really quite poor - if you grit public property then yes you do incur a liability if you don't do it properly.

    Sure, it might be more neighbourly to accept that liability and make the world a better place, but no lawyer in the world would recommend it - and for the IOSH to recommend it is pretty iffy.


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