16 FEBRUARY 1991, Page 7


Time to get the stinker Murdoch out of here


The picture was captioned: 'Hot lips . . . painted-up Viscount Linley with two of the transvestite guests at his birth- day party rave.' The story accompanying the Sun Picture Exclusive was written in the enthusiastic style to which we have all become accustomed: This is the Queen's nephew Lord Linley as you never saw him before — wearing lipstick at a wild party. And his two pretty compan- ions are MEN in drag. Princess Margaret's bachelor son painted his lips read and dressed in a glittering kaftan for the bash marking his 29th birthday. . . . Linley was seen KISSING and DANCING with transvestite waiters and drag queens from nearby Madame Jo Jo's club in London's Soho.

Further pictures inside do not confirm this, although there is one of him looking terrified, at the camera and another of him being ostentatiously kissed by an androgy- ne. A guest is reported as saying that he later slipped out of the back door to avoid being photographed in lipstick. This would seem to suggest that he was not keen for such photographs to appear in the tabloid press. An expert reader would also have noticed that no date was given for the celebrations described. He would have concluded that it was quite an old story, made topical only by the fact that the Sun had suddenly acquired the pictures, or decided to print them.

Not so the poor, befuddled Sunday Times, It devoted a leader of almost unbelievable pomposity to rebuking 'mem- bers of the royal family whose behaviour has been less than we have a right to expect', commenting that 'the performance of even the inner circle since hostilities broke out has hardly been faultless'. The other major charge against the wartime behaviour of royals and near-royals con- cerned Lord Althorp's night of nausea with Miss Sally Ann Lasson. But that, too, had taken place a year before the war started and became of wartime interest only when the Sunday Times's sister paper, the News of the World, decided to buy Lasson's account of it.

'Britain's armed forces are waging war "against the fourth largest military machine in the world,' intoned the Sunday Times, setting the background. Well yes, that would be one way of describing the situa- tion which applied last Sunday. Another would be that Britain had decided to help the largest military machine in the world bomb the daylights out of a desert state (Iraq) of only 16 million inhabitants: Lord Linley, the Queen's nephew, decided to celebrate hs 29th birthday last week by donning fancy dress, wearing red lipstick and posing for the tabloids holding on to various males in drag.

The obvious injustice in accusing this young man of 'posing for the tabloids' may be excused, perhaps, within the pole- mical tradition. But to describe him as celebrating his birthday in the previous week, and then draw dire conclusions from it, demonstrates only the sad mixture of ignorance, pomposity and incompetence which has become the hallmark of New Britain after the proletarian sorgimento of the 1960s and 1970s. I would not expect the editor of the Sunday Times to have the date of Lord Linley's birthday written in his diary but the merest glance at Who's Who would have informed him that Lord Linley's birthday was on 3 November last year — nearly two and a half months before hostilities broke out in the Gulf. If he does not like Who's Who, or cannot afford a copy, he might have telephoned the restaurant, Deals West (071-287 1001) where he will be told that the party took place on 29 November. Any cub reporter would have checked his facts before going to town in this way: 'Their behaviour at a time of national crisis is helping to under- mine the very role of the royal family.'

Did he not even show the copy to lawyers or were they too incompetent to spot it? Linley is a known litigant, and Althorp suffers from none of the con- straints which might apply to members of the royal family (and neither of them is a beneficiary of the civil list). Although I do not normally approve of recourse to the libel laws, except as a last resort, on this occasion, if I find myself appointed mem- ber of the jury, I think I may award the plaintiffs £250 million apiece in punitive or exemplary damages. This is because I have come to the conclusion that Mr Rupert Murdoch has delighted us long enough.

One of the least attractive aspects of Mrs Thatcher's later years — and the main reason she was eventually so much hated by her own Cabinet — was the reign of terror imposed by the thuggish alliance between Thatcher, Ingham and Murdoch. Any colleague who displeased her would be done over by the Murdoch press with venom and savagery even while she pro- tested her admiration for the victim.

We have got rid of Thatcher and Ing- ham. Now the time has come to get rid of Murdoch. His pay-off was to be permitted, as an American citizen (albeit with an Australian accent), to own not only a gigantic slice of our national press, but also an effective monopoly in satellite televi- sion, making him the most influential and powerful person in Britain.

Never mind his detestation of our class system. I can see it must be annoying that in any English gathering (beyond his own, paid sycophants) the entire company col- lapses in laughter at his accent every time he opens his mouth, especially if he thinks he has something important to say. Our class system can look after itself.

What he has now adopted is a sustained campaign against the monarchy and the royal family: 'A growing number of young people, by no means all on the political left, are [sic] also beginning to question the purpose of the monarchy, perhaps encour- aged to do so by the behaviour and lifestyles of too many of their royal con- temporaries,' intoned the Sunday Times. As I have shown, Murdoch's minions first discredit the royal family by bribes and invasion of privacy in the Sun and News of the World, then come over all pompous in the Sunday Times, even accusing their victims of 'posing for the tabloids'.

It will not do. Many of us feel exasper- ated with the monarchy and royal family from time to time, but when we wish to get rid of them, we will do it ourselves. We do not want an American financier with a silly accent making these decisions for us. I wish to see a simple Order in Council, under the monopoly legislation, requiring Murdoch to sell all his English newspapers forthwith. In mercy he may be allowed to keep his satellite television.