Parliamentarians, Paedophiles and Doctors, at first sight seem to have little in common, in fact would be horrified to find themselves thrown in the same pot, but this week all have been hoist by the buzzing blogosphere on their own petard, in these dog days of parliamentary scandal.
The Parliamentarians declined to answer questions from the electorate – they were offered a general anaesthetic whilst the details of their spendthrift ways were surgically removed – Heather Brooke’s Freedom of Information bid many moons ago; had they accepted, the result would have been so terminally boring that even clever Heather would have been hard put to make a story out of it, buried as it would have been in a welter of statistics. They turned down her offer of a quick operation and now they beat their breasts, beg for clemency, and threaten suicide as the splinters of information are removed from under their fingernails tantalisingly slowly. It was not so much the bath-plug that enraged us, as the fact that the information had to be bludgeoned out of them. It was our money, we were entitled to know. Nadine Dorries screams were louder than most – Dizzy’s spirited defence of her ‘guilt’ was reasonable and rang true, however it was her allegations concerning the motives behind the Telegraph’s ‘tortuous’ drip-drip of allegations that resulted in her blog being taken down, the allegations stemmed from her belief that she should not have to answer these questions, had she made the information public and answered the questions initially, would we be discussing her living arrangements?
Paedophile Raymond Hewlett has also refused to answer questions this week. His position as a paedophile ’still wanted for questioning’ by the Irish police meant that the general factotum, initially supplied by the Government, but latterly by an obscure double glazing salesman, to the McCann family, was able to denounce him ‘as a suspect’ wanted for questioning by their ‘parallel’ investigation. So skilful was this denunciation by a private citizen, one Clarence Mitchell, of Hewlett as ‘this-weeks-suspect’, that Sky news was carrying as ‘breaking news’ that ‘detectives’ were at that moment speeding towards Germany in hot pursuit, in terms that appeared at first sight to give the impression that this really was news, that Hewlett really was an official suspect in the Maddie case, about to be apprehended by ‘real’ detectives. Later, having publicly labelled Mr Hewlett as ’suspected of abducting Maddie’ this private citizen gained more prime air time, appealing to Mr Hewlett to ‘answer his questions and help clear his name’ . Dave Edgar, who is leading the private investigation, said: ‘If he’s got nothing to hide, he should speak to us’.
The Truth turned out to be more mundane, 35 years ago, when still a young man, the 64 year old Hewlett was suspected of having carried out a rape and another attempted rape. Rogatory letters, which take some weeks to prepare, had already been issued to interview him. Someone somewhere leaked some information, for the Mirror managed to break the news with a picture of Hewlett ‘dying’ in his hospital bed. Perhaps it was his fellow travellers Cindy and Alan Thompson, previously better known as the alleged discoverers of Osama Bin Laden hideout, who had passed on news of his whereabouts; rebuttals of his interest to the official Portuguese inquiry were swift to follow, he had been cleared of involvement some two years ago. Had Raymond Hewlett answered the questions that the Irish police wanted to put to him 35 years ago, would his dying days have been picked apart on the blogosphere?
Doctor Kate McCann is the person who complains most of the interest shown in her by the blogosphere. Had she answered the 48 questions famously put to her by the Portuguese detectives attempting to find out how her daughter went missing, would she have remained of such interest?
The blogosphere is turning into a powerful tool in the hands of the court of public opinion. Those who fail to answer legitimate questions from official sources find themselves toasted and roasted, filleted and probed, turned and grilled, stirred and disturbed, and finally, as Nadine Dorries complained, tortured mercilessly. People power.
There’s a moral in there somewhere.