Chris Huhne (Photo: Reuters)
As quickly as Chris Huhne resigned from parliament and pleaded guilty at the 11th hour to perverting the course of justice, after spending almost 10 years maintaining that he was not guilty of a speeding offence in March 2003, a deluge of dirt trickled out of the orifice of the courts.
Highest on the agenda were the text messages between Huhne and his son Peter, which were submitted as evidence by the prosecution after Huhne (senior) tried to get the case thrown out of court.
Points of major interest have already gone amiss, such as the rare use of the statutory defence of "marital coercion" by Huhne's ex wife Vicky Pryce. (Notably it's a law from 1925 that only a wife - woman - can plead innocence through strong influence from their husband). It was actually successfully used in a case in 2000.
Instead we've got people drooling over the Internet at the latest MP's downfall and journalists salivating over the gory details of the breakdown of his family.
Technically, the text messages were not actually hugely important to the judgment but they were relevant to the applications Huhne made in open court. The disclosure of the texts occured after Huhne made an application for a case dismissal and so therefore circumstantial evidence, such as the text messages, became relevant and admissable for the Crown Prosecution.
They were also therefore made public and legally they are printable because they are in the public domain.
However, just because you can, doesn't always mean you should.
In what way is it in the "public's interest" to see a father being told to "f*** off" among other things, when the person tells their son 'I love you' or 'I'm so proud of you' when they got into a prestigious university? About two or three text messages actually alluded to or addressed the speeding offence, as part of the prosecution's evidence, so why not just use those to print?
I am not going to print a transcript, nor am I going to list the quotes.
You can google it, if you want, but I'm not going to reprint an electronic exchange which, I believe, is not in the public interest.
Yes, some of the text messages are part of a wider story but is it really right leading and headlining a story about the breakdown of a family and a father-son relationship? It is just heartbreaking.
Let's make this perfectly clear - Huhne has pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice over his ex-wife taking speeding points for his speeding offence and 10 years later is paying the price and could face a jail sentence.
He has lost his job, his reputation is in tatters and now, from those hideous text messages exchanged between him and his son, his family life seems to be collapsing.
While his actions, I know, are representative of wider issues, such as a potential cover up, being 'just another lying politician' et al, do we really have to read about how his son hates him so much that even on Christmas Day he is told to 'f*** off?' Furthermore, do we need the public also judging the son on a very private matter?
Now, I know judging by the Barometer of Brutal Public Opinion which is Twitter, that Huhne is 'morally devoid' and his fate 'serves him right', but I ask you this: how hypocritical can we be?
I know this is not a popular stance, and maybe a touch too saccharine for some, but I genuinely ask what you get out of reading the text messages other than schadenfreude and the public's favourite pastime of hating politicians. For a giggle? To gloat that our lives are a tad less complicated than his right now?
Judging by the response on the Internet, Huhne must've committed something a lot worse and covered it up, only to be revealed by a series of texts.
No - in fact he seemed to be a panicked, foolish and misguided individual that committed a stupid lie, which only came back to haunt him years later. Subsequently, the lie has become a wrecking ball, slowly swinging and demolishing every facet of his life; his job, his personal life, his family and his future.
Before you cry that I am being manipulated by emotion, my disgust over the gloating of the text messages mostly stems from the hypocritical nature that our society takes.
As someone who covers business, finance and politics every day, I am often, and rightly, reminded about the ethics behind banking and regulation and what the real human impact is behind every job cut, austerity measure or rise in our energy and food bills.
The credit crisis has taught us is that the human fallout pushes individuals and families to the brink of depair in many cases, and it is a very real and painful mess.
On pretty much a daily basis, I speak to businesses that have their families' future ruined because of disputed dealings with their banks.
I am told, and parliament has pushed for, a change in banking culture because it has lost it's way and it doesn't care about the man on the street.
Why don't we apply that same logic to others? Why do we assume that someone in authority's personal life, sex life or relationship with their own offspring is anything to do with us?
Yes, we should know if someone has lied in court. Yes, we should know when those elected by the public have lied to us. And yes, we should report on this and provide the relevant evidence.
But no, it really isn't in our interest to see the demise of his family.
We want to talk about ethics, responsibility for the human fallout of situations but we don't see anything wrong about leading a story with, or laughing at a very real and heartbreaking situation between, a father and his son.
I ask you this; if this was a rape case, would you be happy with someone leading and headlining a story with every, single detail and every single horrific rundown of the sexual encounter, blow-by-blow, because it was legally allowed to be printed?
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