Magazine article The Spectator

Was It in the Public Interest to Stitch Up Lord Triesman?

Magazine article The Spectator

Was It in the Public Interest to Stitch Up Lord Triesman?

Article excerpt

No, says Rod Liddle , in fact it was against it - but you won't see the Press Complaints Commission punishing the Mail on Sunday for breaching its own code

You know as soon as you see the posed photograph of some sweetly smiling young and hitherto unknown bint on the front page of your morning newspaper that somewhere a man, probably a famous and powerful man, is in the doghouse. Stitched up by the papers, having been dragged towards his doom by the relentless, exhausting power of his own gonads. I say stitched up by the papers, but most of the time we can be more specific than that; it will almost certainly be a newspaper of which the editor-in-chief is also the chairman of the Press Complaints Commission's Editorial Code of Practice, i. e. Paul Dacre.

The latest chap to be stitched up is Lord Triesman, who was until a few days ago both the boss of the Football Association and the man leading our bid to host the 2018 World Cup. The interesting thing about this story is that people cannot decide which is the more unspeakably ghastly, morally - the porky ginger slapper in question, called Melissa Jacobs, or the Mail on Sunday. I have to say, I find it too close to call; clearly they deserve each other.

Jacobs, supposedly a 'friend' and former colleague of Triesman, who may or may not have had some sort of quasi-sexual relationship with him, hawked her story around the newspapers through an intermediary - henceforth known as Max Clifford - and found an eager supplicant in the Mail on Sunday. She agreed, or perhaps she suggested, that she should be wired up for sound and have dinner with her old friend and pump him for anything confidential she could think of, then spill it to the paper for £75,000, along with a bunch of affectionate text messages from the married 66-year-old administrator.

And so she did. The topline of her betrayal was Triesman suggesting, casually, and with qualification, that the Russians and Spanish might collude to bribe referees at the World Cup. This sent the FA into a tailspin, was described as an 'own goal', ha ha ha, because it could mortally offend foreigners whom we want to vote for us; and everyone in authority, including the new Conservative sports minister, agreed that Triesman should resign from not just the World Cup bid, but also from his two-day-a-week job at the FA.

And yet, at the same time, people seemed to be at a loss as to what it was Lord Triesman had done that was wrong. Instead, they hedged around the issue, suggesting that he had been 'naive' and that 'this is the real world' and that for these sorts of reasons, he 'had to go'.

Well, no he didn't - and if there was any soupcon of principle among his colleagues at the FA, or in government, they would have urged him to stay on and given him their full support. It is little short of a disgrace that instead of doing this they forced him out. It is probably correct that Triesman's comments slightly damaged the England bid for the 2018 World Cup (not that much, because the hurt parties, Spain and Russia, are rivals for the bid and wouldn't vote for us anyway) - but he did not broadcast them to the world, Paul Dacre did. Further, he had no intention of broadcasting them to the world - he was simply having a conversation with a friend.

There cannot be a single administrator anywhere who has not held private conversations and reflected from time to time on the incorruptibility or otherwise of referees and who might bribe them. …

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