Daily Torygraph gets a bloody nose

British MP George Galloway has won his libel suit against the Daily Torygraph. He received L150,000 in damages relating to the paper's publication of documents which "showed" that he was involved in corruption in the oil-for-food program in Iraq.

The Daily Torygraph has said this case is important for the press in the UK and Europe. This is certainly true, but not in the way the paper intended it. The problem is that the Torygraph editors, when considering items for publication, don't really give a shit whether something is true or not:

"It has never been the Daily Telegraph's case to suggest that the allegations contained in these documents are true. These documents were published by us because their contents raised very important questions at a crucial stage in the war against Iraq," [Executive editor Neil Darbyshire said].


...if these documents are genuine - and this was not contested in the court case - there remain serious questions which should form part of the parliamentary commissioner's inquiry," said Darbyshire.
(emphasis added, to demonstrate Darbyshire's carefree attitude towards genuineness and facts)

So: it is perfectly acceptable, from the Torygraph's viewpoint, to publish unsubstantiated and unvetted items, from dubious sources, as long as it helps raise "very important questions" at "crucial stages" in society.

By this logic, the Torygraph should have no problem publishing a document indicating that Tony Blair is a terrorist sympathizer who has struck a secret deal with Al Qaeda to increase obesity in Britain and thus make British soldiers too fat to fight and run and shoot guns. Because, hey, terrorism and obesity are "very important questions" in Britain at the moment, and newspapers have no responsibility to "the truth" - just fostering public debate by any means necessary.

I will note that the charges raised by the Torygraph were not addressed in the trial. But before anyone takes it upon themselves to vindicate the paper, we should recall that forged documents relating to Galloway have already surfaced and been repudiated. The point is that the Torygraph didn't know the facts of the matter - and didn't really care.

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