For those who watched Ian Hislop, bristling with indignation, give evidence to a select committee on Leveson and libel there can have been little doubt that he is a deeply principled man who devotes much of his time and resources to defending press freedom. Amongst the dilettante coke-sniffing, spit-roasting, whore-hiring drunken 'slebs clearly not in favour of press freedom, and opposing him, were characters such as 'BJ' Grant and 'TorF' Coogan.
So when Coogan, with absolutely no record whatsoever of ever having raised so much as a little finger in support of press freedom, who remains a leading figure in Grant's 'Hacked Off' together with womanising soccer players and assorted drug-addled and sex-addicted C-listers, is appointed a patron of the Index on Censorship there should be little surprise that Ian Hislop should quit the organisation.
Coogan is in the process of reinventing his career. There's little mileage in reprising his only successful character, Alan Partridge. He made a wry little film with Rob Brydon which could be viewed on blinkbox for 99p in which he wore period costume. And a dining and chatting Italian thing thing with Brydon in which he demonstrated his talent for mimicry. One may suspect the IoC thing is equally contrived, a move to add gravitas to his portfolio and perhaps dilute a reputation founded on sports cars and the deposition of body fluids.
But what Hislop, and his deputy Francis Wheen, have made clear is that the issues involved are too important to us all to be abused by actors and their agents for reputational ends.