The Telegraph has pulled a post on the blog of its US editor, Toby Harnden, for, according to the Guardian, “legal reasons”. I look forward to the hearing before Mr Justice Cocklecarrot when he sums up:
This is an interesting case. It is accepted by all parties that telegraph.co.uk did indeed publish a report on the execution by hanging in another jurisdiction of Mr Saddam Hussein which was written before the event. Mr Harnden says that his original report made it clear that he was writing about what was expected to happen but what appeared was in the past tense.
Mr Harnden then received an electronic letter from a Mr Ian Black, a man whose identity has not been fully explained, in which he criticised the accuracy of the report. Mr Harnden chose to quote from this email in his blog, a kind of electronic diary, I am told.
It contained words which are not central to this case. “Harnden – you were a total c asterisk asterisk asterisk in the Royal Navy, and you continue to be one even today.” My learned friend informs me that this is a manner in which the press represents a common vernacular word. But that is not the matter before us today.
Mr Black also wrote: “Why don’t you take up window-cleaning or something more suited to your meagre abilities?” Mr Sponge who has a glass cleaning business in Kensington complains that this is a gross slur on his profession and by extension on himself. I have no hesitation in agreeing with him and award damages of Â£10,000,000,000 for loss of business and injury to the feelings of this sensitive man.
I have, of course, written this report before the event. If it turns out to be inaccurate I apologise in advance. But that’s journalism. Pity though that the Telegraph has not followed the BBC in having an editors’ blog in which to explain decisions. I do sympathise with them in pulling this post and the following comments which had got out of hand.
A blow-by-blow account of the disappeared blog, including the full content, is available at Colin Berry’s Dreams and Daemons blog. In the spirit of Mr Justice Cocklecarrot you have to read from the bottom for it to make sense.