Monday, 6 June 2011

Whatever happened to Prince Andrew?

Back at the beginning of March, Prince Andrew was in all the newspapers. His role as UK's volunteer Trade Ambassador (£500,000 a year in expenses) was under threat both because of criticisms of his behaviour in Wikileaked US cables and because of his links to convicted sex-offender Jeffrey Epstein. There were photos of him on the tabloid front pages, posed with one of Mr Epstein's young masseuses. There were Bad Form questions in Parliament and critical assessments in the quality press.

Google "Prince Andrew News" and nothing shows on its front page after 10 March when the BBC News website carried a lengthy summary of the case against him.

What has happened? The newspapers have, of course, had a wonderful three months of feel-good stories about the Firm: the Wedding, the Queen and Prince Philip's visit to the Republic of Ireland, the State Visit of the Obamas, and now the beginnings of propaganda preparations for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in June 2012. ... So it has been an easy time for Prince Andrew to keep a low profile and the press has been in an indulgent mood.

Alternatively, as a matter of simple logic, he must have a superinjunction.

And that deduction reveals an interesting and unintended consequence of superinjunctions: if someone with a high-media profile, especially if it is a negative one, suddenly and totally disappears from view - well, what else can it mean but that he or she has a superinjunction? You don't need metropolitan gossip or Tweets, you just need to make deductions. And probably reach the wrong conclusion.

In other words, superinjunctions will feed the world of speculation for which digital media are criticised, especially in cases where - as with Prince Andrew - there has been no "closure" of the story. I think you will search in vain for a subsequent story which answers the case set out by the BBC on 10 March with a documented "case dismissed". Something funny must have happened and the Courts have provided a currently-favoured theory of what something funny might be. There's Logic for you!

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Postscript 21 July 2011. Prince Andrew has re-appeared. Today's Daily Mail (followed by The Daily Telegraph where I saw it) says that he is stepping down from his role as Trade Envoy. Watch this space.

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