Brooks Newmark Mirror
Conservative Party

Brooks Newmark's humiliating failure is not the real scandal

There are some enduring debates that will probably never be resolved. Did Lee Harvey Oswald shoot JFK? Are single-sex schools more effective than mixed ones? Should scones be pronounced sCOnes or scONs? And do we trust journalists or politicians less? It’s been a pretty tight contest over the years, but according to the latest Ipsos MORI poll, in the race for our trust in different professions to tell the truth, journalists are nudging just ahead of politicians. Journos shouldn’t be too pleased with themselves, though, as both groups are sitting way down below everyone else at the bottom of the barrel.

Much as this weekend’s sordid affair involving the Sunday Mirror‘s publication of Brooks Newmark’s sexting incident has done nothing to improve our perceptions of either group, this isn’t, for once, a trust issue. Instead, rather than asking who has been twisting the truth to suit their own ends, perhaps the question this time round should be: “Who is least intelligent?”

Brooks Newmark has admitted he has been a “complete fool“, and it’s hard to disagree with him. Given previous newspaper entrapments, you might think that he would have been slightly suspicious that a good-looking 21-year-old – 35 years his junior – was enamoured with him to the extent that she wanted to exchange naked pictures. Sadly, it would appear that the offer caused Brooks to bypass the use of his brain and start thinking entirely with his genitals. He’s been a fool for hurting those close to him, putting his marriage, position and credibility at risk over the hope of a potential fling, and has paid the price for his stupidity.

This might have been a moment of spontaneous idiocy, but, in contrast, the Sunday Mirror had no excuse for their role in all of this. For some reason the Mirror are adamant that this episode, which is a classic case of subterfuge, is entirely in the public interest. Why, O why is it of interest to any of us that an MP can be tempted to share intimate pictures of himself with a complete stranger? Sleazy it may be, but an abuse of power it is not. Surely the greater public-interest story lies in knowing that Alex Wickham, reporter for Guido Fawkes (aka @WikiGuido), has been working in an unethical way, going round trying to bring down a number of MPs for little more than a chance to make some prurient headlines?

If you stick ‘Sunday Mirror‘ into Google you’ll get Mirror Online: The intelligent tabloid. Where is the intelligence in trying to ruin careers and marriages, or exploiting the photos of an innocent Swedish model?  And what is intelligent about bringing the battered reputation of your profession into further disrepute? Just as Brooks Newmark lost his faculties over a fantasy girl, so the Sunday Mirror has done the same over the desire to humiliate a few Tory MPs whom it loathes, and create a major distraction for the Conservatives at their party conference.

It takes something highly unusual to leave us sympathetic toward a fallen MP, but that is exactly the reaction that has prevailed. There are two guilty parties, but their attitudes to the revelations have been poles apart. Newmark’s mea culpa has not sought to go on the attack against the Mirror‘s dirty tactics. He has only held himself to account: “I have no-one to blame but myself. I have hurt those I care about most.” The Mirror, in contrast, has not shown an iota of remorse, even following the revelations that the Sun and Mail refused to go near the story.

Brooks Newmark is a fallen man, but he is now through his repentance embarking on a journey to restoration. This is something we should all be able to relate to. Which of us has never made an error of judgement that has led to the need for forgiveness? For ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’

This chance to put things right can only begin, though, when there is an admission of guilt. When we are so arrogant that we are blinded to our own moral failings, it is impossible to  find salvation.

Last October the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby talked of bankers ignoring what is morally right because they are focusing solely on whether their practices are within the law:

“Is being good in business merely about keeping the rules? If you keep the rules you’re OK… I think that’s been utterly disproved.One of the things we saw on the Parliamentary Banking Standards Commission most clearly was people were constantly asking what was legal and never asking what was right.”

Then, in December, he said that some senior bankers were still “in denial” over the banks’ role in the creation of the 2008 financial crisis.

It doesn’t take a huge leap of thinking to replace the banks with newspapers and the 2008 market-meltdown with the revelations that led to the Leveson inquiry. Does the Mirror seriously not consider its actions over the weekend even remotely questionable?

We’ll now have to see if the new Independent Press Standards Organisation has any teeth and whether Leveson was worth any of the immense time and expense it consumed.

It shouldn’t have had to come to this, though. The real scandal here is not another slightly pathetic incident involving a Member of Parliament, but rather a media organisation that still, despite all that has gone before, cannot tell the difference between what is salacious and what is right.

  • dannybhoy

    “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
    Well yes, I am. Whilst I believe in a free press (at the very least to protect us from the wiles of politicians), I believe all members of a society have a responsibility to consider the greater good. To seek to expose irresponsibly is to help tear apart the fabric of society and sow more seeds of distrust, corrupution and cynicism.
    I think previous generations more steeped in traditional Christian values understood this, and dealt with damaging situations discreetly.

    Some parts of the MSM are losing sight of their responsibilities towards society, being more concerned with sales figures whilst hiding behind the spurious idea that “the public deserve to know!”
    Again we see another consequence of the loss of commonly held/respected values which our Christian faith gave us.
    Brooks Newmark was still a fool, and his fall reinforces the truth that personal integrity is essential to those who would serve in public office.

  • B flat

    I believe that the Press should be free and independent. When it shows itself to be so, I will believe the Press. The widespread reaction to the Leveson Enquiry amazed and bored me simultaneously. Why was there such sympathy with the Press-led outcry for the need to preserve a “Free Press” when what we have is patently not worth lifting a finger to preserve? The Government is the very last institution fitted to reform the rottenness of the media, and both show the abysmal depths of worthlessness to which many of our public institutions have sunk, and are trying to drag down the rest of us.

  • JayBee

    For me the most disgraceful angle to this sordid episode is the shock and embarrassment caused to innocent women whose photos were exploited to create a fake identity. Such behaviour is utterly despicable. Scrutiny of Twitter timelines reveals a trail that goes deeper than the Sunday Mirror. The fingerprints of Guido’s bombmaker have allegedly been found at the scene of the crime. This is worth a read.
    http://zelo-street.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/brooks-newmark-nasty-tasting-sting.html
    Perhaps it is also in the public interest to investigate certain black holes in cyberspace.

    • JayBee

      UPDATE

      Guido Fawkes has not only admitted masterminding this ‘sting’ but now has the nerve to justify it as narrowly targeted evidence gathering to prove an MP was exploiting his position for carnal gain. Even his ardent followers aren’t buying this one. But Guido, unashamed and totally unrepentant, dismisses any forthcoming probe by the press regulator as proof that ” media standards” are a form of censorship that will protect the powerful from having their wrongdoings uncovered.

  • IanCad

    His private life is none of our business.

    • dannybhoy

      Ian,
      that just doesn’t work. When a politician goes into public service (with all its privileges and prestige) most people (including me) expect a higher degree of probity. They will be making important decisions that will affect us all. Of course we expect them to be people of integrity.
      This is why for example the elders in the New Testament church were expected to be family men of moral rectitude and respected in the community..
      The last politician I personally remember who showed real integrity and repentance was John Profumo and in the US Chuck Colson.

      • Politically__Incorrect

        I agree. Anybody who compromises themselves through indiscretion is open to manipulation, blackmail, or simply not being focused on their normal activities. For an ordinary individual that may only affect themselves. For a politician, the consequences can affect a nation. Hence politicians are under greater pressure than the rest of us to behave in a prudent manner. It’s what we pay them for. If they consider themselves too weak to resist temptation, they need to choose a different career.

      • IanCad

        Danny,
        There is a deeply prurient streak in the general public fed by the gutter press and spiced with envy.
        Sure, rectitude and probity are traits that our masters should possess in abundance. I am cynical enough though to accept that in our system of government our representatives are mirrors of the national character.
        Wretched, fearful, envious, conformist and impressionable.
        I should know.

        • dannybhoy

          The point is you started out by saying his private life is none of our business, but when you enter the public arena the one impinges on the other. In fact from my own small experience I would say that the pressure and commitment needed for public service will most certainly expose vulnerabilities in your character.
          What we are seeing here is that people no longer see public service as a higher calling, but a means of earning a living.
          Tony Blair -a champagne socialist if ever there was one- wanted a fairer society a la Labour…
          He left office richer than he went in and went on to coin a fortune..
          That example spreads Ian, and then some MPs get busy taking what they can from the public purse as if it were their due. Not a new phenomenon granted. But when it ordinary working folk are struggling to make a living and abiding by the law, it sticks in the throat.

          • IanCad

            OK! OK!!
            Post in haste, recant in haste.
            Politics is the road to fortune.

          • dannybhoy

            🙂

    • There is the security risk of someone who has made themselves vulnerable to blackmail.

      • IanCad

        I’m probably on the wrong side of this.
        Certainly, we want no sharpers to rule us. The party system however does tend to attract the slippery and manipulative.
        Monarchy looks better all the time.

        • dannybhoy

          Yeah,
          like Henry the Eighth or Prince John or Charles 1st…

          There is none perfect, no not one…. Romans 3:10
          😉

          • Not forgetting James I, of whom it was said: “Rex fuit Elizabeth, nunc est regina Jacobus”.

    • retiredbloke

      Ian, I think I’d prefer Ministers of the Crown not to be distracted by salacious thoughts and that they were men of sound morality. The desire for the ministrations of young people, both male and female, appear to be a weakness of our political class.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    The fact that the SM thinks this is “in the public” interest speaks volumes about their attitude. It reminds me of the attitude of many computer hackers who claim they rweck computer systems simply to prove to their owners that they need to improve their security. It’s a bit like me throwing a brick through someones window to prove to them they need double-glazing. It’s the mentality of the vamdal and the moron.

    My sympathy goes to the poor girl whose photo was used to carry out this sting. If the SM had any sense of fairness, theyt would at least apologise to her.

    One final thought for anyone who still buys the SM…

    Why??????

    • CliveM

      It would appear that the SM has now apologised (at least according to BBC website).

      The link Jaybe supplied , reminded me of the rather nice blackmailers who use this sort of sting to extort money out of people, or else having their photo exposed. A boy in Fife committed suicide over it, because of the shame he would bring his family.

      It’s interesting to see who the SM wishes to aligns itself with.

      Not that the MP shouldn’t have known better.

  • What he did shows lack of judgement. Suppose that he had been, say, Minister of Defence and the female was a “Honey Trap” spy for some foreign country seeking to blackmail him.
    Even if he gets a new post, it is hardly likely to be in one of the main Ministries as the Security Services would now consider him to be a serious risk in having access to classified information.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Luring someone into a situation which they may not have entered into without external forces is I consider, an inappropriate action. The so called Sheik who entrapped royalty and other high profile people is contemptible.
    Persons who may have a confused sexuality can be lured by unacceptable temptation whereas they might have lived ‘normal’ lives without intervention.

    • alternative_perspective

      If any causes one of my little ones to sin.. and all that.

  • Irene’s Daughter

    From the guardian 3/9/2013

    Nearly 300,000 “attempts to access websites categorised aspornography” were made from computers within parliament in the past year, official records show.

    The figure, which averages more than 800 per day, was released by IT chiefs at the Palace of Westminster in response to a freedom of information request.

    Brooks Newmark is not the only one walking the corridors of power with an inordinate interest in sex.

    • “Research”?

      • dannybhoy

        “Lonely Parts?”

        • A site on Facebook for second hand goods – run by Brighton students? Has Jack missed something?

          • dannybhoy

            A play on “Lonely Hearts”
            Failed miserably.
            Sulk.

          • Not so sure given the nature of the photograph tweeted.

          • And Brooks Newman’s part may well be lonely for some time to come.

    • CliveM

      Irene’s Daughter

      I have filters at work. They are fairly blunt tools, looking for keywords etc. we are allowed to look at BBC news during our lunch break. I have been blocked reading some of the items due to the words or content within being deemed pornographic! I promise you it wasn’t!!!!!!

      • Lol ….. did that ‘explanation’ stand up to scrutiny?

        • CliveM

          Still got my security clearance!

      • Uncle Brian

        Some filters, so I’ve been told, will block any text that includes the name Scunthorpe.

        • CliveM

          Do you know why?

          Or am I being dense!!

          • Lol …. Read the word !

          • CliveM

            Oh dear!

  • Yes, the Sunday Mail behaved in a sleazy manner. And yet ….

    Let’s face it, there are many men in positions of power all too ready to sexually exploit young women and young men who are attracted to that power. It’s always been so. From Kings, to Popes, to Prime Ministers, to Military leaders, to Captains of industry. In every walk of life. In the past there was the ability to keep this private through deference or through the use of that power. Not so nowadays.

    • dannybhoy

      Is that what did for you Happy Jack?

      • Does Jack’s smile suggest that?

        • dannybhoy

          Upon close examination Happy Jack’s smile is remarkably similar to that of Scrumpy Jack..

          • A sometimes companion of Happy Jack when he visits Scrumpyshire.

          • dannybhoy

            I just love that little picture. Brilliant!

          • Why thank you. Goggle around and find one that suits you. Try to find one with a hat.

  • carl jacobs

    Yes, Oswald shot JFK all by himself. Yes, single sex schools are more effective at least for seventh and eighth grade. It’s pronounced sCOnes. And politicians have nothing on journalists when it comes to pure despicability. The journalist is to the politician as the leach is to the jackal.

    I suspect this is really about money after all. Scandal sells. Especially sex scandals. People love to see the powerful stripped naked in public. And newspapers haven’t been doing so well of late. Nothing like a prominent scalp to boost sales.

    carl

    • Uncle Brian

      Carl, my friend.
      What you call “scones”, rhyming with “bones”, in the United States, are something different that, to our misfortune, we don ‘t have in Britain. Conversely, scones (rhyming with “dons”) that we have in the UK are unknown in the United States. They are sweet, and eaten at teatime with strawberry jam, sometimes also with whipped cream. A good place to try them, next time you’re in London, is the Maids of Honour, close to the main entrance of Kew Gardens.

      Bon appétit!
      Regards
      Brian

      • dannybhoy

        They’re usually called scones in the South, but we were brought up to call them scons.

        • Uncle Brian

          It depends what you mean by South. I was brought up to believe in two eternal truths, among others:

          (1) That the North of England begins at Watford.
          (2) that they’re called “scons”

          Regards
          Brian

          • CliveM

            Uncle Brian

            You are wrong, American scones are disgusting and should be banned evermore from our shores!

          • Uncle Brian

            Clive, I’ve never seen, much less tasted, an American scone in the UK. It wouldn’t surprise me if the truth turned out to be that British cooks have failed to learn how to produce an American scone.There are precedents, such as the old rule, Never order a cup of coffee in Britain, never order a cup of tea anywhere else.

          • CliveM

            Uncle Brian

            I haven’t seen them in the UK, it was in the States. A lot if this is about what you are use to I suppose. Also WHIPPED CREAM!! Clotted surely?

          • Uncle Brian

            Clotted cream, yes of course, thanks. But I’m surprised you didn’t like American scones.

          • CliveM

            To be honest I prefer Cheese Scones, a little less sweet. Which is one of the problems with the US ones,

          • carl jacobs

            Ummm … yeah. Clotted cream. That sounds like something I should go right out and try. What exactly is in that stuff? No, wait. Don’t tell me. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know.

            carl

          • CliveM

            Carl, in a word ‘yummy’!

            Go to wiki.

          • Tsk …. there different, that’s all. Bit like their attempts at football and the teams they field. Dense, doughy and way too much sugar and fat.

          • CliveM

            Whereas they should be light and ‘short’ as my Granny use to say 🙂

          • carl jacobs

            I assume you mean soccer. So… has Man U won a match yet? Oh yes. It seems they managed to get by QPR. Well, that’s a success to build on.

            carl

          • No Jack means football. And Man U are a team in the making. They beat West Ham too. How’s City doing? Despite the Red’s poor start, City are just 3 points ahead.

          • carl jacobs

            The key word being ‘ahead.’

          • For now ….

          • dannybhoy

            Brian
            True north country folk were heavily influenced by the Scots, the Vikings and other assorted vandals on away day ‘plundefests’…

        • Uncle Brian

          Dannybhoy

          I suspect the divergent pronunciations, within the British Isles, probably have less to do with geography than with the passage of time. Every time I visit London nowadays, I’m taken by surprise by some new shift in pronunciation, invariably in the direction of greater conformity with the spelling, such as “four head” for ”forehead” (rhyming with “horrid”, as in the nursery rhyme) or “Hole Bourne” for “Holborn” with a silent “L” as in “half” or “palm”.

      • Old Nick

        When did ‘muffin’ come to mean a bun (as it does in America) and not a rather rare crumpetty thing that could allegedly be found in Drury Lane ?

  • retiredbloke

    At least he wasn’t a bishop; that would have caused us all to fall out!

  • The Inspector General

    Silly Arse

    • The Inspector General

      To expand, an acquaintance did much the same and reports that his wife is now divorcing him. She’ll get the house, no doubt whatsoever there…

      • And the photos?

        • The Inspector General

          It was done over Skype, which this man is aware of but would never use. The Devil’s invention apparently, but the ladies at work think very highly of it. Enhances their yap experience, so it does.