So today, the UK press is agog with the ‘revelations’ that Culture minister John Whittingdale once dated a woman, who it turns out, was a BDSM dominatrix on the side. The scandal is not Whittingdale’s relationship (he went out with her for a few months, having met her on Match.com and ditched her as soon as he discovered her profession), but whether or not there was a conspiracy to cover this up in the press.
As John Whittingdale is responsible for press regulation and has not succumbed to the demands of the Hacked Off campaign, it is presumed that some sort of unofficial blackmail was in play. As long as Whittingdale left the press alone, then they would not publish their story.
There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that every single mainstream press and media outlet conspired to suppress what was nothing more than a mildly embarrassing story for the politician. A single MP dates a woman with a secret (and in some minds, unsavoury) job on the side. Move along, nothing to see here.
There’s no suggestion that this relationship had any impact on his work as an MP or a Cabinet minister. Whittingdale never got involved in any lobbying on behalf of the sex industry.
So the demands of the Labour party and the Hacked Off campaign (who ironically lobby for the privacy of married MPs and celebrity role models, including Hugh Grant whose use of a paid prostitute in the US was against the law), are based on an unproven and un-evidenced assumption that John Whittingdale was subject to blackmail and coercion from the media industry. He must have been – why else would anyone have their reservations about censoring the press and keeping the misdoings of the rich and famous out of the glare of the public as they do in Europe?
Ironically, the liberals at Hacked Off and in the Labour party are exactly the types who would be throwing up their hands in horror if the case of PJS (subject to a super-injunction preventing publication) were to be exposed, because of their right to a private life and the effects upon the children. Though the children of PJS are likely to be raised in a supportive celebrity bubble and not sent to the local comprehensive-turned-academy.
Had John Whittingdale bought the services of a prostitute or used one while he was married to someone else, or even consciously conducted a relationship with a prostitute then these would be matters in the public interest. This would all provide a valuable insight into the moral fibre of an accountable elected politician. But the fact that he dated someone who hid her profession from him, says far more about her and what we think about prostitution (including the self-identifying liberals at Hacked Off) than we do him.
The press made the right judgement call, demonstrating that they can exercise restraint when necessary and the system is working.
Unlike John Whittingdale, the couple involved in the injuncted PJS case sought to manipulate and mislead the public about the nature of their relationship, for financial gain and also to affect public opinion and policy regarding marriage and family. Whittingdale, on the other hand, faces losing his job thanks to the baying minority, in the absence of evidence that he has done anything wrong, or succumbed to any blackmail.
Whereas anyone who wishes to discuss whether public policy has been predicated and sold around a lie perpetuated by a celebrity couple easily identified by a google search, or the implications for children being brought up in an open relationship, faces the clink.
Welcome to the topsy-turvy world hypocrisy of the Left and liberal leaning section of the British media and political class.