hutch0 (hutch0) wrote,

too much news

Well, at least now we know how much Occam's Razor costs...
After three years and £3.6 million, the investigation into the death of Diana and Dodi has delivered up an 832-page report telling us they were not assassinated by the British Security Service or Secret Intelligence Service acting on the orders of Prince Philip. Diana was not pregnant. They were not engaged. The car had not been tampered with.
Henri Paul was over the drink-drive limit and doing about 60 mph when he clipped the kerb in the Alma tunnel and hit the pillar. End of story.
Whether this immensely-expensive statement of the obvious will quiet the conspiracy theorists is anyone's guess; a glance at the front page of today's Express which labels the report a whitewash suggests not.

There is much news today, which is a good excuse to try out the cut.
The collapse of the BAE Systems investigation is instructive. For the uninitated, this is a fraud investigation concerning arms deals with Saudi Arabia, to whose royal family large bribes were allegedly paid. This is reported to have caused some embarrassment to the Saudi Royals, and put in jeopardy a £10 billion defence contract awarded to BAE by the Kingdom, with subsequent large-scale job losses.
And the reason given for winding up the investigation? That old standby, national security.
The Attorney General said yesterday, "It has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest. No weight has been given to commercial interests or to the national economic interest. The prime minister and the foreign and defence secretaries have expressed the clear view that continuation of the investigation would cause serious damage to UK/Saudi security, intelligence and diplomatic cooperation, which is likely to have seriously negative consequences for the UK public interest of both national security and our highest priority foreign policy objectives in the Middle East."
So that's all right, then.

The Prime Minister was visited by the police yesterday. And not before time, really, I hear you all cry. His interview with officers investigating the cash-for-honours scandal was, understandably, overshadowed by the release of the Diana report and the ongoing events in Suffolk, and there have been some accusations that he deliberately decided to have it yesterday because it was `a good day to bury bad news.'
Nonsense, says Number 10. We didn't engineer the Suffolk murders and we didn't tell Lord Stevens when to release his report and anyway you can't tell the police when to come round and interview you.
Which sounds rather specious. You'd think there would have to be a certain amount of give-and-take. After all, the detectives wouldn't want to turn up when Tony was having important talks with (insert name of world leader here) and they're unlikely to follow him to (insert name of important world summit here) so Number 10 would have to tell them when it was convenient for them to come round for their little chat with Tony. And please don't tell me Number 10 had no idea when the Diana Report was going to come out, or had failed to notice just how big a story the Suffolk murders was, and still is.

Still, it was a good day to bury one piece of bad news. Tucked away in odd little nooks and crannys of the papers today is the news that the family of Jean Charles de Menezes have lost their High Court attempt to challenge the Crown Prosecution Service's decision not to charge any of the officers responsible for gunning their son down at Stockwell Underground station (in mistake, you'll recall, for a terrorist.) Although the Metropolitan Police are going to be prosecuted under the Health And Safety At Work Act, which is a legal-bureaucratic shimmy you could only accomplish in this country while keeping a straight face.
So, everything's right with the world. BAE get their deal, the House of Saud (allegedly) gets to keep its sweeteners, the Prime Minister sails through a difficult day with a minimum of embarrassment - although he'll be taking some licks for it for a while. And the family of Jean Charles de Menezes - who are not rich or vital to `national security' or well-connected with newspaper owners - are denied justice, virtually unnoticed by the Press.

I just want to say a word about the Suffolk murders, if only because on Wednesday, through a chain of circumstances too dull to mention, I wound up talking on the phone to the Chief Constable of Suffolk, who confessed to being a huge fan of our sister newspaper and having once been quite keen on becoming a journalist - "And right now I know which job I'd choose," he said. And I think I can guess how he feels.
This situation must be a Chief Constable's nightmare. Suffolk is a mainly rural police force, and what is happening there right now is entirely outside their experience. It sucks down manpower and resources, both of them limited, and any mistakes they make are made in the glare of the world's media. I've already noticed a disquieting trend in the media towards questioning Suffolk Constabulary's handling of the situation - last night on Sky News in particular where they were bemoaning the amount of information being made available to `the public' (i.e. the Press {i.e. Sky News}) and one of their correspondents appeared to go out of his way to wind up one of the Senior Investigating Officers in a press conference.
This kind of thing was probably inevitable - when a story slows down, as it seems to be doing at the moment, journalists will look for another angle, and calling into question an organisation's behaviour on behalf of `the public' is always a good angle and makes for cheap copy.
In a situation like this, though, it's just crass. From what I can see - and I may be wrong, of course - Suffolk are doing the best they can in very difficult circumstances, and cheap criticism like this does nobody any good.  


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