Sunday 10 July 2011


After a vigorous session on the running machine plus a less punishing swim in the unexpected sunshine I walk stiffly up to the ruins of Dryslwyn Castle.

There isn't much left of what was the most complex native-built castle in Wales. It was lost to the English in 1287 as a result of an unwise uprising by Rhys ap Maredudd which brought 11,000 of Edward I's troops down on him, though like many others the castle was taken by Glynd┼Ár over 100 years later and became a centre of his operations in South Wales for a while.

Today in warm sun the setting is lush and picturesque with stunning views east and west along the Towy Valley. I have also frequently climbed up here in winter when this is a gloomy and windswept spot, its crumbling remains an elegy to the ancient princedom of Deheubarth.

Standing on top of the ruins I also contemplate elegiacally the demise of the fairly ancient "News of the World", surely a great shame and completely out of proportion to the recent intrusions into people's lives (did anybody seriously imagine this didn't go on?).

We are moving into a period of oppression of press freedom to the delight of the rich and powerful and apparently with our acquiescence if not support. We should be careful. Press freedom should be preserved even at the risk of some distasteful activities by journalists. In fact the phone-hacking and alleged bribery of the police are already crimes - you don't need changes in regulations to deal with these matters.

We have recently found ourselves in the extraordinary position, as a consequence of rich and sometimes most unsavoury people using injunctions based on "rights to privacy" under European law, where it can be unlawful to tell the truth even though your information has been acquired legally. It isn't a defence to point out that the information might concern, for example, a powerful person routinely using prostitutes - people who are often seriously vulnerable owing to addiction to drugs, mental illness, control by violent pimps, or even people-trafficking (don't believe all that salacious bunk about posh tarts in control like "Belle de Jour").

With that sort of scandalous suppression of truth already going on are we seriously contemplating further protection of the "privacy" of politicians, rich celebrities and tycoons? Well, regardless of what we think, they are.


Lest you think me a tad prudish be assured that I'm not much bothered by less reprehensible, routine naughtiness, though I still don't think you need laws against publishing it. The late Alan Clark knew that the press couldn't hurt you (unless you'd done something really wicked) if you just laughed it off. He breezily survived this startling but entirely true revelation, for example...