So, it emerged today that Paris Brown has stepped down as the country’s first youth police commissioner, before she had even really started the job. I cannot condone the comments that she had made on social media, they were appalling and insulting, but I think it is worthy of note that these comments were made before she was revealed in the post and, crucially, by a teenage girl. Let’s be clear, this does not mean that I believe all teenagers make stupid public comments, but I think we can all accept that very few people went through their teenage years without saying something they later regretted (not to mention in adult life). However, there is one thing that stands out for me above all else in the way this story has been reported, and that is the disreputable actions of the Daily Mail.
Note the date. 6th April 2013 (ignore the time on the datestamp, Twitter sometimes gets that wrong for whatever reason). The very next day, the Mail splashed its exclusive. Think about that for a moment. On the very day it was planning a story designed to destroy her reputation, it invited her up for a photoshoot and a chat with one of their journalists. All the while, they must have known what was being planned. Frankly, I find this absolutely disgraceful behaviour by all those concerned. I’m not surprised she was devastated with the story. She had been lulled into believing that the lovely Mail were giving a 17 year old girl some positive coverage for doing something for her community. Instead, she was being made to look a fool. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by this, but still…
I have been trying all day to ask the journalist responsible for the story, Russell Myers, why the Mail acted in this way. Despite having only 400 followers (and therefore fairly unlikely to be inundated with tweets), he has continually ignored my question. Maybe he feels ashamed. Maybe he doesn’t give a damn. But either way, I think both he and his colleagues have behaved disgracefully over this story. Of course the press are right to investigate and scrutinise. But to abuse in this way is disrespectful and outrageous.
One last thing I would add, it also emerged that the police are investigating her tweets. This seems to me to be a spectacular waste of time and tax payers’ money (ironic given the Mail’s actions led to the investigation). And I sincerely hope they do not pursue it any further. (Edit 9/4/13 20:51pm I didn’t make it very clear here but, as pointed out in the comments, the police are obliged to investigate where complaints have been made. The police are not at fault for this, they are merely performing their duties.)
So well done the Mail. You treated a 17 year old girl as a fool and brought about a police investigation into some distasteful tweets. So much for standing up for taxpayers and freedom of speech. Not doing a good job of proving that Leveson recommendations shouldn’t be implemented are you?
I’ve repeatedly contact the author of the story for an explanation as to why they felt it was necessary to invite Paris for a photo shoot and a chat when they were already planning this story. If I get a response, I will post it here.
@rjmyers Have repeatedly asked you but had no response so I blogged about it instead. If you want to respond, let me know.
— Ian Clark (@ijclark) April 9, 2013
EDIT (13/4/2013): This blog post refers to actions that were believed at the time to have been carried out by the Daily Mail. The story was, however, written by a Mail on Sunday reporter and published in the Mail on Sunday, not the Daily Mail.