THE CELEBRITY SECRET WHICH EVERYONE APPEARS TO KNOW

JOHN McGURK

The decision yesterday to lift the injunction brought about by a married celebrity couple involved in a threesome paves the way for Britain’s tabloids to finally tell the story.

But there is a much more important issue at stake here and that is the privilege accorded to the rich who can manipulate the courts for their own purposes while the rest of us mere mortals can whistle in the wind.

Frankly, do most sensible folk really care about the sex lives of celebrities?

After all, is it any real surprise that fame and fortune leads to exotic, and often erotic, encounters even when the celebrity is married with a young family whose welfare is likely to be at stake?

Surely it has always been this way and always will be.

Many celebrities of yesteryear were able to keep their dirty secrets and simply dismiss any potential scandal as gossip but today’s so-called stars cannot hold back the tide of social media and the power of the internet where all manner of malicious muck-racking is at our fingertips.

Recent injunctions sought by the footballer Ryan Giggs and the TV journalist Andrew Marr, to keep their bedroom activities secret, ended with them wasting their money and everyone else’s time.

In the case of the celebrities known as PJS and YMA, the details of their identities and predilections are already widespread in America while their names were made public in Scotland a week ago when a Glasgow paper realised that the injunction in England had no legal standing north of the border.

If you don’t know the name of the individuals involved then you haven’t been paying attention.

This is what swayed yesterday’s three judges who concluded that the rule of law has been rendered useless by the fact that the identities of those involved are already well known, or can easily be found, by anyone with a mobile phone.

The anonymity and protection previously enjoyed by the rich and famous has been steamrollered by everyday 21st century technology.

Perhaps just as convincing is the argument that celebrities only become successful because they, or those acting for them, use and manipulate the media for their own ends and should therefore be prepared when that same media is interested in what the famous regard as personal and off-limits.

For example, prime time TV chat shows are one huge advertisement for celebrities where the BBC and ITV fall over themselves to ensure that their guest’s latest film/book/album is given maximum, and free, publicity

Then we hear or see the same celebrities again and again as they do the rounds of other TV and radio outlets, and of course, newspapers and magazines.

So those who crave media attention, and who happily use their wives and children to create their public image, can hardly complain when the media bites back after finding out something unsavoury and reeking of hypocrisy.

Which brings us on to the case of John Whittingdale, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, who has blotted his copybook following a relationship with a dominatrix.

In his case, four Fleet Street newspapers failed to print a word despite spending months investigating what he’d been up to.

This led to the bizarre demand from the privacy campaign group Hacked Off who insisted that the story should have run thereby invading Whittingdale’s privacy.

Did the papers go soft on him because he will decide if there should be more regulation to control the industry in the wake of the phone hacking scandal?

With the bare facts, I was happy to accept a BBC radio invitation last week and, as a former editor, happily defended the newspapers.

Whittingdale was a single man who was entitled to browse an internet dating site and meet up with whoever took his fancy.

The fact that he ended his relationship with the so-called “sex worker” before he entered the cabinet was also in his favour.

Now we’re told that he has also had encounters with other exotic women including a former page three girl, and mini-porn star, and the glamorous daughter of a Russian military official.

Mr Whittingdale’s private life is probably beginning to be rather too adventurous for most folks’ taste.

He may well be divorced but he is also a senior government minister with the important responsibility of ensuring not only the regulation of newspapers but also the future of the BBC.

Perhaps the easy solution is for him to be quietly moved aside at the cabinet reshuffle which will undoubtedly follow the European referendum.

As for PJS and YMA…they are back with an appeal in the Supreme Court in a couple of days’ time spending more of their massive wealth and absurdly hoping to keep their secrets intact, at least in England and Wales.

But it now seems a lost cause.

It is very likely that the newspapers will soon be able to tell everyone what we already know.

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