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What to do when a Maxwell rings: put the phone down

December 31, 2021

I share the shock of many people at the tone of the coverage of the conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell by some media, most notably the BBC.

In a series of serious errors of editorial judgement the BBC have had a procession of Maxwell apologists on radio and TV, including an interview with her brother Ian, striving to put some sort of positive gloss on her appalling crimes.

It prompts me to share one small story about my encounter with the biggest Maxwell crook of them all, her father Robert.

When he was in his pomp in the mid to late 1980s I was due to attend the Labour Party conference as a journalist. Maxwell always hosted an extravagant party at the annual Labour bash by the seaside to which all the great and good of the Labour Movement were invited. Most usually accepted.

I received an invitation to this event which I politely turned down – by letter in those pre email days.

A few days before the conference, the phone rang at my desk overlooking Fleet Street and it was some lackey from Maxwell’s office expressing surprise that I had declined the invitation. I explained it was not a mistake and that I did not want to come to which he said “You do realise that if you turn this down you’ll never be invited to another event hosted by Mr Maxwell”.

I replied “That suits me fine” and put the phone down.

Perhaps a few BBC journalists need to start doing the same.

From → Politics, Publishing

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