Politics

Abhorrent mistake suggests the grown-ups were on holiday at the BBC

Two gross and unconscionable editorial breaches by the BBC in 48 hours over the Ghislaine Maxwell case and one apology, along the lines of “so sad, too bad, never mind”. Perhaps the grown-ups were on their Christmas break?

The first was putting up, on the news, the Jeffrey Epstein associate Alan Dershowitz as an impartial analyst of the case. Here’s the opening paragraph of his scrupulously unbiased take, from The Spectator USA last year: “My wife and I were introduced to Ghislaine Maxwell by Sir Evelyn and Lady Lynn de Rothschild, and we subsequently met her on several occasions – generally in the presence of prominent people such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Nobel Prize-winning scientists, presidents of universities, and prominent academic and business people. We never saw her do anything inappropriate.”

Exactly the kind of laughably idiotic and self-regarding stumour you want to invite to sum up the trial.

Then there was brother Ian Maxwell on Today on Radio 4 saying that Ghislaine was innocent and pure as the driven snow on the Campsie Fells. As another sex worker, Mandy Rice-Davies, once summed up: “Well he would, wouldn’t he?”

Since when do the relatives of convicted sex offenders get airtime to argue that the verdict of a jury is wrong? Since now apparently.

They’re even at it on the BBC website. “Who is Ghislaine Maxwell? The downfall of a favourite daughter.” I definitely don’t recall, “Who is Harold Shipman? The downfall of a favourite doctor.”

Not short of a few Bob

THERE’S a Scottish connection to Ghislaine, although hers is a French name and she was born in France. She often wore tartan, as she did giving a press conference from the deck of daddy’s boat – named after her – after Robert, Cap’n Bob, was found face down floating in the Med.

It was the Scottish photographer Ken Lennox who identified the corpse of the megalomaniac press baron after it was fished out by a Spanish fisherman. But that’s another story.

When the news of Maxwell’s death broke, hacks throughout the land broke out in cheers and began humming “Bob-Bob-Bobbing along”.

Well, I did. As did The Guardian’s Michael White. He did it deliberately in the Daily Mirror office – the paper was then owned by Bob – in the Westminster Parliament’s media warren. That faux Scotsman Alastair Campbell – then a Maxwell mouthpiece, later to write Tony Blair’s fake Iraq dossier – promptly punched him. White gave him one back. But that’s another story.

Cap’n Bob was born Ján Ludvík Hyman Binyamin Hoch in the Carpathian Mountains of then Czechoslovakia. (To Private Eye he was the “Bouncing Czech”.) His parents and most of his family were liquidated by the Nazis, but he escaped to Britain. He served in the Czech army and the British in the Second World War and won a Military Cross.

At first, he adopted the name Ivan du Maurier, not after the author Daphne, but a packet of fags. He legally took the names Ian Robert Maxwell after a fellow Scottish officer he admired.

And then, in 1975, he arrived in Glasgow to ruin the workers’ co-operative The Scottish Daily News. It was his first venture into newspapers and he’d go on to ruin several more including the Daily Mirror, the New York Daily News and also plunder pension funds. But these are other stories.

Making a fuel of me?

LIKE many others my energy provider went bust and I’ve now been transferred to British Gas. I sent my first meter readings last week and the company fired back an estimate of what I’d pay in 2022 – £205,729.76. But it’s in nine equal instalments, so that’s OK.

Squeaky clean job

I CAME down on Hogmanay morning to a dead mouse in the hall, a late Christmas present from the cat. After disposing of it, I sat to down to read an article and wondered whether it it wasn’t a very late April fool. It was about a vegan pest controller in Glasgow who “is on a mission to convince people that there are alternatives to extermination”.

No, there aren’t!

In The Times piece, Kevin Newell catches a mouse (I presume, it’s not clear) but it doesn’t say what he does with it. Does he release it so it can inhabit someone else’s place and crap everywhere? Take it to the pictures? Or home until it dies of natural causes?

He quotes Burns about it. I’ll cite the Daleks’ catchphrase.

Torture of note

BURNS was, of course, a lifelong Freemason. In a new book, Dr Morag Grant, a musicologist at Edinburgh University, reveals that linking arms and hands to Auld Lang Syne derives from Masonic ritual.

Given these Covid rules I’ll not be doing that this year.

More interestingly, she researches how music is used to promote political violence and also in torture. I recall how in December 1989, after the US invaded Panama and sought to capture the dictator Manuel Noriega on drug charges, he sought refuge in the Vatican Embassy there and the GIs wouldn’t enter.

They were ordered by General Maxwell “Mad Max” Thurman to set up massive speakers and bombard the place with heavy metal, from Guns ’n’ Roses to Black Sabbath, 24 hours a day, although to be fair they played hymns on Christmas Day.

In this week, January 3, in 1990, Noriega surrendered. I don’t know if he was treated for tinnitus. Probably Doc Grant knows.

Lawyer’s hard cell

THE most sought-after item in prison these days in not heroin, or blue valium – although they’re still up there – but SIM cards. They’re also easier to smuggle.

When the pandemic struck, visitors were barred from jails, so these kindly folk at HMP gave all who wanted them mobile phones so they could keep in touch with their loved ones. Before Covid, having a phone would result in months added on to your sentence, but not now.

But the problem with the prison-issued phones is that they have prison-issued SIMs in them, so calls and texts can be monitored.

Not ideal when you’re running a drug empire or arranging to have someone shot. Hence the mass import of shop-bought, traceless SIMs to replace the official ones.

I don’t know whether it was an unofficial one which caught out poor Amy Spencer. She’s a lawyer, at least for now, who was with a Paisley law firm when she struck up a relationship with a client she represented in court, now in Low Moss Prison, so I don’t know if she’s a good one!

He’s Grant McNamara, aged 28, who is serving a stretch for a meat cleaver attack on Dale Mitchell over Facebook posts. I better not say anything about him on Twitter then. He was only just out of the pokey when he did the latest, after previously hitting a taxi driver with an axe.

I doubt that one was about Instagram.

Anyway, Amy, clearly smitten – although not in the way McNamara’s victims were – sent more than 50 dirty pix to Dale and somehow the screws found them. They recognised her, although I’m not speculating how they did.

On her profile page at her old firm Tod and Mitchell (the website is currently inaccessible, of course) the company boasts that she “goes the extra mile” for clients.

Never a truer word.

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