I must admit to having a bit of a soft spot for the News of the World …until all the allegations about the disgraceful phone-tapping and illicit payments to Mr Plod. To be honest, I’m pleased about its closure, this kind of sleazy, spiv-like behaviour has no place in a society that prides itself in a free press.
That said, it is remarkable how in a 168-year history, NOTW transcended class and political divides. Aside from the white van man that the likes of the Guardian believes to be NOTW’s readership, the paper was read by Winston Churchill, George Orwell and a raft of liberal friends of mine who hid it under their copies of the Observer on the way back from the newsagent before reading the sports pages on the khazi. I think it’s fair to say NOTW was a brand that enjoyed a love-hate relationship with British people, a Fleet Street jar of Marmite, so to speak.
And I think I know the reason why. The British are a prudish, reserved people so the NOTW’s Sunday titillation was welcomed on kitchen tables which for many years had creaked under the weight of ‘we don’t talk about s-e-x’. How nice it was to read about cabinet ministers’ sexual preferences and the shopping habits of footballers’ wives. So while the broadsheet-reading paragons of virtue were putting the world to rights over Sunday breakfast, NOTW readers were enjoying a real Sunday roast of sex lies and videotape.
After the current round of allegations, the ubiquitous Mr Mudoch had no choice but to shut up shop. The staff in question have brought shame and disgrace to journalism in the UK and have consigned a much-loved British institution to the dustbin. Shame on them.