Editorials slam ‘inappropriate prosecution’

TWO of the UK’s leading broadsheet newspapers yesterday published editorials criticising the Attorney General’s action and calling on him to drop the case.

The Daily Telegraph said that Peter Hain “can seldom have found such a coalition united behind him”.

The paper said: “There are two equally worrying trends on display here. The first is the increasingly liberal use of public money by public figures to protect their reputations.

“There was widespread disquiet when one of John Bercow’s first acts as Speaker was to appoint a former journalist as his personal PR man, on a six-figure salary.

“His predecessor, Michael Martin, hired the law firm Carter-Ruck to face down his critics. They are not alone.”

It added: “The second trend is equally alarming: the growing arrogance of the judiciary, and its tendency to resent any criticism, especially from outside the profession.”

The Guardian said: “Inappropriate prosecutions do not come sillier than the one being brought by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland against the former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain for the arcane offence of ‘scandalising the court’.”

The paper argued that the case was not in the public interest as it would have negative consequences for “proper public comment about the judiciary”.

“The disagreement between Mr Hain and the Northern Ireland judge Paul Girvan would be better settled by almost any lawful means other than these contempt proceedings. They should be stopped now.”