Local MP Leaps to Beckhams' Defence

Clive Soley raises the issue of invasion of privacy in Parliament

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Posh and Becks have received support from the unlikely source of local MP Clive Soley. This week he raised the issue of what he described as the “crass invasion of privacy of David and Victoria Beckham”.

He said MPs had two options. “One is to make the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct enforceable in law, which would give a toothless body some teeth. Or the alternative, in this Palace of Westminster which represents the people, enable the editors and owners of newspapers to come before bodies of people here and have questions about their private and public lives.”

The speech received a sympathetic response from the Prime Minster who replied, “I hope that everyone understands that occasionally when people’s privacy is invaded in this way they cause great distress to people and I don’t always think it’s really in the public interest.”

Tony Blair has had to make several complaints about press intrusion into the lives of his children.

Clive Soley has consistently been a thorn in the side of major media groups. He previously highlighted what he believes to the double standards of the News International group which, whilst at the same time as running articles highlighting sexual indiscretions of celebrities, was allegedly paying a victim of serious sexual harrassment half a million pounds to ensure their silence. The allegations had been made against a former editor of the Sun.

He said, "if the press consider it acceptable to trash peoples lives often on the basis of trivial stories about sexual relationships between consenting adults then they cannot be allowed to cover up much more serious cases of sexual harassment in their own organisations."

When he wrote to the News International Group he received a reply from the Sun's editor Rebekah Wade which he interpreted as a thinly veiled threat. The reply asked how many complaints about sexual harrasment he had received as Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party

Mr Soley believed that Ms Wade was hinting that, unless he desisted from his investigation into the alleged harrassment at News International, the Sun would seek to publish revelations about members of the Labour Party. This prompted him to report the matter to the speaker. He said, "It must be a matter of serious concern when a major multi national media group uses its editors to threaten a Member of Parliament who is carrying out a legitimate enquiry into that group's employment practises"

The possibility of national newspapers agreeing to more restrictions on invasion of privacy seems remote as the News of the World reported saw sales recover by 100,000 in the week they published details of David Beckham's alleged affair.

April 22, 2004