Sandy covered the Yom Kippur war for the Express in 1973 but it was her action in that year over the death of Maria Colwell of which she was most proud. Maria was killed aged 7 by an abusive stepfather, and the story floated around the news desks of the Express' black granite fortress on Fleet Street. Sandy wanted to do a piece. Her editor blocked it. "We don't do dead kids. It's not news. No one wants to read about it". It was a stance shared by every other newspaper - including the sanctimonious Guardian. Well, she fought, she manipulated and she schemed and eventually she got her way and the Express led with reports on the fate of this child at the hands of abusive adults. It was an accomplishment of which she was extraordinarily proud. The rest of the pack followed, and her Britannic Majesty's Press acquired a new duty - reflecting public outrage at child abuse.
Press reaction to the BBC's drama Three Girls this morning reminds me of this. All the while young English girls - children - were being abused, raped, enslaved by Pakistani Muslim men of little intelligence or ability working lowly occupations in Northern cities our press was silent - despite, I strongly suspect, every newsroom in the country knowing the story but 'spiking' it, as they had with the death of Maria Colwell. Now it seems the dam has broken. Julie Bindel in the Indie is amongst those now claiming to have known since 2006 what was going on. Why then, dear, did your paper not publish anything at the time?
Prepare for more of this 'Me too!' post hoc rationalisation as journos claim "I emailed someone about this, ooh, years ago. Or mentioned it in the pub. Or maybe made a joke about it......"
|Sandy in the 'French'|