A Lady of Letters

IAN’s been reading the scripts of Alan Bennett’s first Talking Heads series – a Christmas present – and it’s reminded us that, amazingly, it must be at least 20 years since it was televised. A favourite was A Lady of Letters with Patricia Routledge.

I felt a certain empathy with Miss Ruddock, the curtain-twitching, letter-writing busybody of the title, as I penned my complaint a couple of weeks ago about the Sun and the ‘baby-faced father’ story (see earlier post). The letter went to my MP, William Hague, to The Sun itself, and to the Press Complaints Commission.  

I copied it to Deborah Orr who had written about the case in her column in The Independent. Great excitement, then, when a letter bearing the House of Commons insignia landed in the letterbox a few days later, and more when an email appeared in my inbox from Deborah Orr. The contrast between the two responses could hardly have been greater: William Hague’s looking like a poorly-written script for a party political broadcast, failing to address nearly all the points I’d raised, and overlooking my main concern which was for the children involved. Deborah Orr, on the other hand, who as far as I know isn’t looking for my vote at the next general election, took the trouble to respond thoughtfully and at length.

Yesterday came a reply from the Press Complaints Commission, less than satisfactory as it was nothing more than an acknowledgement and a copy of the code of conduct which I’d clearly referred to, and a booklet about how to complain – which I just had. Still, when I phoned today they were helpful and positive and explained that since the furore all the children had been made wards of court so the PCC were constrained in what they could say. But they thought it a good thing that an ordinary reader, as opposed to someone directly involved, had  made a complaint and assured me of a full response in due course.

Meanwhile I’ve written again to William Hague, asking for a more considered response, and not simple political point-scoring. I’m not remotely convinced that a lone voice from a country granny is going to change the world, but I do think that if we see an injustice we should do something about it. I’m sure Miss Ruddock would agree.

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