Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Do Stars' Private Lives Really Sell Newspapers or Do Editors Misjudge Their Readers? DENISE ROBERTSON

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Do Stars' Private Lives Really Sell Newspapers or Do Editors Misjudge Their Readers? DENISE ROBERTSON

Article excerpt

Byline: James Haskell

GRAHAM Foulkes, father of a man killed in the July 7 London terror attacks, whose phone was targeted by the News of the World, has refused to take part in the phone-hacking inquiry because it has been 'hijacked' by celebrities.

I understand how he feels. The indignities suffered by Hugh Grant, Sienna Miller, JK Rowling and Formula 1 boss Max Mosley pale into insignificance compared with the torture inflicted on the parents of Milly Dowler.

The hacker who led them to believe their murdered daughter was alive should be cast into outer darkness, but I find the revelations coming out of the inquiry puzzling.

Steve Coogan is an accomplished comedian and actor but utterly uncharismatic in real life. I wouldn't be interested in his sex life if he was having it off with a hologram while hanging from a chandelier.

Does his private life really sell newspapers or do editors misjudge their readers and waste money on searching dustbins? AREADER accuses me of being anti-protest. I probably am, except as a last resort, as in the Arab Spring.

I am proud and grateful that I live in a democracy where I can say what I choose without fear of a midnight knock.

I can lobby my MP or local councillor, join a political party or found a new one, start a petition, write to a newspaper and belong to a union. To me, all are more productive than camping out.

I'm accused of not talking to a protester when I visited the camp. As I tried to explain, there wasn't one person in that camp (unless asleep in the zipped-up tents) and the people on the steps, mostly with cameras and tourist paraphernalia, didn't look like protesters.

What looked like a protest information stall was shuttered. I expected people with leaflets and placards, anxious to explain and convert. I would have talked to them and I'm not afraid of confrontation, as my You Tube spat with Edwina Currie surely proves.

I want to understand and I don't believe we are getting a true picture from the media.

This week we have been told the camp is a den of drinking, drugs and assorted mayhem.

Well, not while I was there. As for accusing me of spending all my time in Evensong, going to that service was incidental and brief because I was at St Paul's for a meeting about getting rough-sleepers off the streets.

They aren't sleeping in zip-up tents. They sleep on cardboard in draughty doorways in every city of this land because they have nowhere to go.

Heaven knows the St Paul's protest has become a bed of nails for me and I'm sorry if I'm making people angry, but I'm damned if I'll say I support something before I know precisely what it stands for. …

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