Graham Foulkes’s son died at Edgware Tube Station on 7 July 2005. This summer he was told by the police that his phone was being targeted by private investigators working for the News of the World. Like the family of Milly Dowler, the Watson family, or the friends and relatives of servicemen who have died in Afghanistan, Graham Foulkes has a right to demand answers from the Leveson Inquiry.

But Foulkes has spoken out against the nature of the Inquiry after its first week, objecting to the fact that it has been “hijacked by so-called celebrities” who are “using it for their own purposes”. This is all to the detriment of ordinary members of the public such as himself whose lives have been intruded upon in the light of recent tragedy.

…would most certainly be seen as harassment…

There is no doubt that Sienna Miller has a point when she questions why society accepts the actions of tabloid photographers that would most certainly be seen as harassment were it not for the cameras strapped around their necks.

But the presence of Miller and Hugh Grant, amongst others is dominating the Inquiry and preventing a focus of the real injustices the tabloid media have imposed on the British public over a number of years.

…phone hacking completely abuses that right…

Whether they like it or not, these people are famous. They have forged careers and wealth out of being in the public eye and have to accept that their lives are not normal. Being constantly recognised and having your every move scrutinized cannot be pleasant but when compared to the experiences of the Dowler family, what ground does Hugh Grant have to stand on?

Being under public scrutiny is a harsh reality that these celebrities must accept in the media dominated world that we live in. Everyone has a right to basic privacy and phone hacking completely abuses that right. But the British state does not have a responsibility to protect people from the press who have sacrificed their privacy for fame. Unfortunately for Hugh Grant, he must realise that living by the sword means dying by it, too.

…a culture where being famous is something to aspire to…

A further question that didn’t require the hijacking of the Leveson Inquiry to ask, is why on earth do we actually care about these people? The celebrity culture that has evolved in the UK over the past two decades is one of the most pathetic phenomenons in British society. The voyeuristic delight we have in engrossing ourselves in the lives of apparently famous individuals is appalling. Reality TV such as Big Brother and the X Factor has created a culture where being famous is something to aspire to, with no mention of any degree of talent. It is an utter embarrassment that our nation’s youth now has the cast of The Only Way is Essex as role models. No wonder David Cameron is concerned about a broken society:– half TOWIE’s cast don’t even know who he is.

Hugh Grant and Sienna Miller do not fall into the same category. They have both had successful careers in the film industry and will probably go onto make further millions. But they are still celebrities and they are still famous. As long as they are in the public eye the media will take an interest in them and they will continue to make money from this.

Lacking Grant’s millions, Graham Foulkes will probably be forgotten by this time next year. Let us hope for his sake, and for the ordinary British public, that Leveson recognises that the true injustices of the media are against him, not our millionaire celebrities.

Images courtesy of The News of the World, Hugh Grant and Sienna Miller


About The Author

History undergraduate at King's College London. Main interests in diplomacy and international relations but also enjoy writing about home affairs.

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