27 Feb 2014

Coogan: Daily Mail should apologise for past mistakes too

Actor Steve Coogan tells Channel 4 News that the Daily Mail has been acting ‘like a playground bully’ over the story about Harriet Harman and past links between the NCCL and a paedophile group.

The actor, who is a leading light in the Hacked Off group which campaigns over press intrusion, said that the paper was guilty of “rank hypocrisy.”

Ms Harman, her husband the Labour MP Jack Dromey and the former cabinet minister Patricia Hewitt have all been the subject of recent Daily Mail articles about the links between the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), and the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) in the 1970s.

‘Naive and wrong’

On Thursday Ms Hewitt issued a statement saying that the NCCL was “naive and wrong to accept PIE’s claim to be a ‘campaigning and counselling organisation’ that ‘does not promote unlawful acts’.

She continued:

“As General Secretary then, I take responsibility for the mistakes we made. I got it wrong on PIE and I apologise for having done so.”

Also appearing on Channel 4 News, writer and columnist Toby Young asked:

“If this is just an example of the Mail engaging in smears and innuendo, why has Harriet Harman said she now regrets the links between the NCCL and Pie, and why has Patricia Hewitt said tonight that she admits it was wrong?”

Mr Young said that if the Mail had uncovered a story involving simliarly senior Conservative politicians, “of course it would be front page news on the Mail as well.”

But speaking from Los Angeles, Mr Coogan accused the Mail of rank hypocrisy, especially in the case of the Mail Online “which publishes photographs of children in a way that is appealing to the very people they claim to be against … it’s young children – who they wouldn’t be allowed to photograph in this country – they can photograph them in the US and that’s how they get round the rules”.

Past mistakes

Mr Coogan added that apologies from Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt should now be matched by the Mail:

“Now that they’ve apologised, let’s hear the Daily Mail apologise for its association with, and support for, Hitler in the past, the fact that it was campaigning against the influx of jewish refugees from Europe. Let it apologise for the fact that it bullied Ed Miliband, and assassinated his father’s character – apologise for acting like the playground bully that it is.”

Mr Coogan had especially harsh words for the paper’s editor, Paul Dacre:

“The Daily Mail masquerades as being interested in news, it’s not – it’s Paul Dacre’s zenophobic, hate-filled agenda that he peddles, and dresses up as news.”

The Daily Mail has yet to comment.