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Tuesday, January 05, 2010 

Scum-watch: Nutted.

Back in November the Sun decided that it was time to resort to the old tabloid trick of attacking someone by association when they couldn't lay a finger on the target himself personally. David Nutt, a senior adviser on drugs to the ACMD, had just been defenestrated by Alan Johnson for daring to argue again that cannabis isn't as dangerous as either the government claims or its classification suggests, so naturally it was time to go scouting around his children's social networking pages to see if they could find any pay dirt.

The result, an article which accused his son Stephen of partaking in cannabis because he was smoking what was clearly a roll-up and not a normal, honest, cigarette, his daughter Lydia of drinking underage, and the by no means hypocritical sneering at his eldest son for appearing naked in the snow in Sweden, ended up being removed with days of it appearing.

Yesterday the Press Complaints Commission published Stephen Nutt's letter of complaint on their website (h/t Tabloid Watch):

The complaint was resolved when the newspaper removed the article from the website, undertook not to repeat the story and published the following letter:

FURTHER to your article about photographs of me on my Facebook site, (November 14) I would like to make clear the pictures were not posted by me and while I had been drinking I was smoking a rolled-up cigarette which did not contain cannabis as the article insinuated. My younger sister Lydia was not intoxicated, so was not drinking under age. My older brother lives in Sweden where it is custom to use a sauna followed by a ‘romp' in the snow in winter. He was neither drunk nor under the influence of intoxicants. Innocuous photographs were taken out of context in an attempt to discredit my father's work.

Which is about as comprehensive and wounding a clarification as ever gets published in the Sun. The article was so obviously in breach of the PCC's code on privacy, not to mention accuracy, that it should never have been published in the first place though; why then should the paper get away without making anything approaching an apology, only having to print a clarification buried away on the letters page? As long as the PCC remains so toothless in the face of such egregious breaches of its code, the campaigning will continue not just for reform but potentially for independent regulation of the press.

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Wouldn't it be nice to be a tabloid newspaper editor: never drunk, never doped-up, no adulterous diversions, no rent-boy assignations, and perfect children.
Oh, and never accepted a bribe or told a lie.

Now that has cheered me up no end, a small but brilliant win.

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