December 19, 2012

The (mis)leading power of the written word. Again.

Under: Language | Media | News

Just over a month ago, around the time Andrew Mitchell resigned, I posted an item with the title I’ve used here (minus the ‘Again’, naturally). In it, I argued that the Minister’s alleged use of the word ‘pleb’ was a case of his word against that of the police, and the fact that the police position was in a written report didn’t make their version any more plausible. Just because it’s in writing doesn’t make it true, I said – and I also pointed to other police obfuscations, including Hillsborough, to show their word can’t always be trusted.

Well, guess what? It turns out that a supposedly independent witness who filed a statement supporting the police contention wasn’t even present. Not only that, but he’s far from independent. He’s, er, a policeman. Andrew Mitchell may indeed have used the P-word – but the statement’s corroboration has been shown to be valueless.

A lie is a lie, even when it’s written down. But in this case, it was the key element in a story that led to the resignation of a Cabinet minister. And sadly, once again, the police haven’t covered themselves in glory.

What do you think?

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