If you’re British, you probably already know about the prank call to the King Edward VII hospital. Australian radio presenters pretending to be the Queen were given information about the Duchess of Cambridge’s medical condition.
You may not know how the conversation went:
The ‘Queen’: I’m just after my granddaughter, Kate. I wanted to see how her little tummy bug is going.
Hospital: She was quite dehydrated when she came in… She’s sleeping at the moment and she has had an uneventful night, she’s been given some fluids, she’s stable at the moment. She hasn’t had any retching with me.
Did your favourite newspaper tell you this? Mine didn’t, so I was forced to read an American newspaper to find out news about my own country. Is Radio Free Europe still running these days?
At the moment, British newspapers are scared, because of the threat to impose government regulation following the Leveson enquiry. Illegal intrusion into people’s private lives was the focus of the enquiry, so they aren’t going to print the kind of detail you’ve just read here. It doesn’t matter whether printing the details would be illegal: it won’t happen because the newspapers don’t want to do anything controversial at the moment.
Let’s hope the calls for government regulation go away, because a scared or regulated press cannot hold the government to account.
Update (11th December)
We’ve now all heard the very sad news about the suicide of the nurse involved, Jacintha Saldanha. This article was intended to make a political point about freedom of expression, but now I can’t help thinking about the human price paid by Ms Saldanha and her family. I would like to offer my condolences.