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Sunday, July 13, 2008


Nicolas Hellen, you’re in good company*!

The artist Banksy has – supposedly – been ‘outed’ as a nice middle-class boy. Wow! Shock, horror!! This is big news!!! Or really, as one of the commenters states on this sad excuse for an article, “Who cares?”.

Well, exactly. Who gives a shit who Banksy is, and how does it make a difference knowing his supposed social strata? His work is his work – take it or leave it.

So at what point can a newspaper justify destroying someone’s anonymity because it is supposedly “in the public interest”?

The Press Complaints Commission guidelines state:

The public interest includes, but is not confined to:
i) Detecting or exposing crime or serious impropriety.
ii) Protecting public health and safety.
iii) Preventing the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organisation.

So how does (allegedly) naming Banksy fit within this definition?

It doesn’t. But, let’s face it, Sunday papers need stories, no matter how un-newsworthy – as in my case
and they’ll harass people in their pursuit of a scoop, even when it’s completely unjustified, or destroys people’s privacy in the process.

On privacy, the PCC says:

Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications.

Printing the full names, ages, and other identifying details about Mr Gunningham, his parents and his sister, violates these terms – even if he does prove to be Banksy after all.

I seriously hope Mr Gunningham, his parents and his sister sue the Mail on Sunday for infringement of privacy; I think they’d win, too.

*I’ve never forgiven the MoS for pursuing and harassing me after the Sunday Times piece came out, or for offering my friends money to ‘spill’. But then I also won’t forget their fascist supporting past, either; and it would be beautiful, ironic, poetic justice if Banksy milked them dry in court.

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