Friday, February 29, 2008

Prince Harry fights amid a war of words

Few media outlets picked up early reports in January

The debate over the revelation that Prince Harry was in the theatre of war after all has become very fiery indeed. The MoD has released a statement via its website in which Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt, head of the British Army, said he was disappointed the news had leaked. "I am very disappointed that foreign websites have decided to run this story without consulting us. This is in stark contrast to the highly responsible attitude that the whole of the UK print and broadcast media, along with a small number of overseas, who have entered into an understanding with us over the coverage of Prince Harry on operations,” he said.
But the ‘request’ by way of a D-notice placed on the reporting of the story has angered others just as much. “What else are the media keeping from us” George Galloway MP said on BBC Question Time/ on Thursday. He then said that a D-notice had been previously placed on the reporting of the 5 British citizens held in Iraq. “I don’t support the war and I don’t like the fact that the media is part of the war effort,” he added. But the Respect MP said it was admirable that Harry was serving and pointed out that no members of the cabinet had sent their sons or daughters to the front line.

Some members of the audience were just as unhappy. Calling it a “secret war”, one man called the legacy of Afghanistan a “war crime". But he was quickly put down by Annabel Goldie who called Afghanistan a democracy, while Galloway laughed into his beard. But she persevered saying it was up to the West to help nurture the country from the grip of terrorism. The panel was asked of their views regards the Cabinet minutes that may be released under the Freedom of Information Act concerning the lead up to the Iraq War. Galloway said he suspected the information in the minutes would be unlikely to reveal very much. Nicola Sturgeon MSP said the minutes should be released and that the public needed to know why the UK government “took us into an illegal war”. But Annabel Goldie, Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said the release of such documents may jeopardize the way in which the Cabinet discussed issues if they knew they might be released publicly.

Later the debate moved onto the subject of a proposed DNA database which has entered the public forum after recent high profile murder convictions that were brought about through DNA technology. Annabel Goldie said that the “Big Brother state may be nearer than we might think” and that DNA databases, along with recent data losses, should be something the public should be concerned about.
Cathy Jamieson, Deputy Leader SLP, was more supportive of a move to create a national DNA database saying that it would make the public safer. This brought scorn from George Galloway who called her a reactionary and echoed Annabel Goldie saying, “You may as well put a camera in everyone’s home, then there’d be no crime but there’d be no liberty either”. He pointed out that “criminals can and often do pick up cigarette butts and drop them at the scenes of crime”. This would make, he said, DNA databases a nonsense and may bring with it false accusations or convictions.

1 comment:

Steve N Allen said...

I know it was for all the right reasons, keeping Harry out of the news may have saved the lives of him and the people he's serving with, but still, we've not been told about our royalty being at war, but we were kept up to day about Britney's drinking.

That's the way it goes these days.