Selling salacious gossip rather than news

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The Sunday Life / Belfast Telegraph has been running a series of stories surrounding the claims by a Kent based individual called Christopher Luke that he had some sort of relationship (possibly homosexual) with the late UUP leader Jim Molyneaux.

These claims have been rubbished by a variety of unionist leaders: Lord Maginnis and Jeffrey Donaldson to name but two. Possibly the most comprehensive point has been made by Graham Craig who actually proposed Lee Reynolds as the stalking horse candidate against Molyneaux. He pointed out that, years ago as a student Luke had stayed at his house and in those days was very anti homosexual.

Exactly why the Belfast Telegraph is persisting with this is a mystery. Even if Lord Molyneaux had been homosexual, then, and even more so now, it is an entirely private matter. Lord Molyneaux was never hypocritical about the issue; never having publicly mentioned it. As such even if he were homosexual it is resolutely unimportant.

As a final point and to sum up the level to which the Belfast Telegraph has descended with this story its headline (shown here) states John Taylor slammed the claim whereas the article only mentions Ken Maginnis. That pretty sums up the depths the Telegraph has achieved with this story and would not be the first time they have had difficulties with matching headline and content.

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  • Jollyraj

    “When you come North, SF activists could give you a list.”

    SF activists keep lists of gay people? Why?

  • Turgon

    Luke’s credibility issues makes the 17 years old claim so dubious as to be irrelevant. The photo shows him a whole lot older than 17. Also Molyneaux was an old man in declining health. Luke had a weird obsession with him. Luke clearly came to see him and got his photo taken. The photo like Luke’s claims are neither proof nor even evidence of anything.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    47?!!!

    You look closer to 30.

    Do you moisturise?
    If so, which one, i’m a Boots No 7 man me self but will gladly swap it for the elixir of youth that you make use of.

  • Brian O’Neill

    I can’t see your deleted comment but I do know we only tend to delete comments that might be libellous or personal attacks. I am not saying your comment was I am just explaining that is the usual reason.

    We would never delete a comment just because we disagree with the view.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    But say, what if your relative was Cyril Smith? You would still possibly be just as dismayed, but if such publication of facts disclosed a more insidious culture of blind eyeing harmful and abusive activity within public life because such disclosure would damage either “the party” or “politics in Britain” or that great catch all “national security”? Or perhaps disclose the suppression of important information about some similar thing the great and good consider to be more important to protect than the lives of some of their rather “insignificant” individual citizens?

  • Granni Trixie

    Brian – this is a misunderstanding: it was not my piece which was deleted (my record is still clear!). I was just curious as to why the particular content of another had been deleted.

  • Turgon

    A man you knew so well you do not even know how to spell his given name. As well of course as a plagiarist.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I have some peripheral memories of the Belfast newspaper scene from then myself, Granni. A friend (still at school at Victoria College) was invited by Cowan Watson to write a weekly article on the pop scene for the Saturday edition of “The Newsletter”. I also knew a few people working at the Tele. The add is certainly unsurprising for the time, if a little “quaint”. Different times……

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Yes, the light this shines on the coup is most interesting, and have enthusiastically up voted this part of the comment. I disagree about some aspects of your last comment however. I’m certainly not referring this in any way to what is being said about Jim Molineaux here, but sometimes such “easy journalism” is the only possible way to bring up other important issues, as even someone guilty as sin can employ the legal protection of the defamation laws to silence those they may have harmed. Saville and Cyril Smith are glaring cases of this where both deployed legal teams to intimidate those who would openly reverse anything that would have led to public knowledge of them. The activities of both were public knowledge in certain circles, and people becoming aware that this was going on for the first time were astonished at how those behaving so could act with impunity. That is, until “defamation” was explained to them.

    And regarding this trick of using defamation actions to silence people. “It hasn’t gone away you know…..” Attempts have been made by the families of certain others as yet unnamed to extend “defamation” to the harm that might be done to the careers of living relatives by such exposures, and I know of certain people who have suffered abuse, and have had any possibility of “closure” destroyed by such threats from the legal departments of PR firms. Often all that such sufferers ask is simply to have their stories told and to be believed at last, rather than daily seeing their abusers lauded on the media, even after death.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Turgon: “Indeed I have never censored anyone save when I fear libel issues.”

    Perhaps you have not censored anyone in the active sense of the word, (does anyone posting other than one of the moderators actually have the power to do this, I wonder?) but you have certainly in the past developed a habit of asking a few people not to comment on your postings, to effectively self-censor:

    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/sluggerotoole/soapbox_respecting_the_constitutional_position_endorsed_by_all_the_people_1998_is_fundamental/#comment-2526552396

    I’d be reluctant to actually accuse you of consciously lying or even hypocrisy or incompetence in this claim that you are concerned about the erosion of freedom of speech, but are you, perhaps, simply unaware that making such a claim while requiring others to self-censor is actually a distortion of the truth in the light of such demands?

  • Granni Trixie

    From what has been written I see that when he was 17 they met in A Conservative group when the MP would have been 2 or 3 times older Which is not the same as meeting when the MP was in decline. Or is this fact somethng you dispute?

  • Granni Trixie

    But surely the interest is not so much ‘bedroom’ news (to use your term) as the fact that to many the party he led had at the very least a ‘don’t ask,don’t tell’ culture and as some posters here have said voted against bringing in law to equalise the age of consent.

  • Ulsterexile

    I would suggest the dismay is at the story and the publicity around it, not necessarily at the idea that he may have been gay!

  • T.E.Lawrence

    It is a most unusual and intriguing memorial Luke placed in the BelTel Memoriam and maybe I should change my wording from “easy journalism” to “played journalism”. He has certainly played the media, but the question is was it for his own personal reasons or a bigger political agenda ?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh, I’d agree fully with you in this instance, I’m simply making the point that nothing ever fits “straight line” rules, something that the unscrupulous also exploit to the full.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Deliberately making inaccurate assumptions in order to attack someone is dishonest. Indeed it is really lying.”

    Duly noted.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Bravo, Robin! Well said. While I sometimes disagree with you I am always interested in what you have to say, and with posters such as yourself the quality of discussion here is always a lot saner than most other blogs.
    Like yourself, I’ve always found the moderation team open to intelligent and helpful discussion where any issues arose.

  • Turgon

    Chingford Man’s comment was an accurate account of Mr. Luke’s activities and behaviours and the view taken of him in UUP circles in the 1980s as was mine of his activities and behaviours and the view taken of him in the 1990s.

    This is all on public record from multiple sources.
    Mr. Luke’s credibility is vital to the whole story as he is the one making the claims. That being the case comments on his credibility are not man playing but vital to the whole debate.

    Removing Chingford Man’s perfectly reasonable comments has had the effect of weakening the case against Luke and his claims. As such it damages unionism, promotes allegations against Molyneaux and enhances claims of UUP homophobia. Hence, it is not remotely surprising that Chingford Man correctly identifies this as bias: bias is indeed what it is.

    You are disingenuous in saying that slugger never removes comments simply because you disagree with them. That is true in the strictest sense but comments critical of the views of certain slugger moderators are vastly more heavily censored often for highly spurious reasons of supposed man playing etc.

    I think it is entirely fair to say Mick and Pete Baker do not remove comments for reasons of bias and in the past fair_deal was the same. Not merely unionists but many people who comment here would have vastly less confidence in other moderators. Issues like this lost slugger its best SDLP commentator in fitzjameshorse.

  • Gaygael

    Most political activists and those involved in the media or sport have heard many rumours or know who is closeted.

  • Gaygael

    Even if that person repeatedly and consistently does all they can to block LGBT equality.
    I think you are focusing your ire at the wrong target in that scenario.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    This is an outsiders/insiders issue. If you mix in certain circles you cannot help but hear the stories. My late father in law had an interesting habit of pressing a metaphorical thumb down on any malicious outing at his drinks parties back in the 1970s. Some mean homophobe would approach him and murmur quietly in his ear “Did you know that (so & So) was gay?” and receive the loud retort “OH, so you’ve “HAD” him, have you?”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And using rather less absorbent paper to help the colour printing, I note.

  • Reader

    Gaygael: As a young man, I casually and regularly used homophobic and transphobic language.
    So, supposing you did manage to dig out JM’s old voting record, and deal with half of your “if”s. And if he was actually gay and practising (dealing with the other half of your “if”s). That still wouldn’t make him any more hypocritical than you, would it?

  • Robin Keogh

    Well done Turgon, you excel as usual.

  • Chingford Man

    Diversity of contributors and opinions? Turgon is about the only unionist who blogs here and there are very few others who commentate.

    I have no intention of questioning the moderators. My comments about Luke were entirely pertinent to the topic and based, unlike many others, on knowing both him and Molyneaux. The comments were deleted without explanation. If the people who run Slugger have a problem with free speech, that is their problem not mine.

  • Robin Keogh

    Perricone MD Nourishing moisturizer: you can’t beat it 🙂

  • Robin Keogh

    Am Ghob, Alan newton Ards, mainland ulster man and your good self are Unionist too no?

  • Tochais Siorai

    Not to underestimate the trauma of anyone who witnessed the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp but it might be a bit of an exaggeration to say JM was one of those who liberated Belsen. As I understand he was part of an RAF medical team who arrived in early May 1945 to help survivors. The camp had been liberated a few weeks earlier by the British 11th Armoured Division under a truce negotiated with the Germans to prevent the spread of Typhus.

  • Tochais Siorai

    Except Jim Molyneaux was both an MP and the leader of the largest political party in Northern Ireland.

  • Jollyraj

    Sure. But there was mention of SF activists having lists. Is that actually true?

  • Paddy Reilly

    It is one of the perquisites of relative wealth and power that one can frequently find some quite often attractive younger person to have a clandestine affair with. In the heterosexual world the need for secrecy is usually due to the male party being married already, though in some cases he may be from the Catholic clergy. The female partner is known as a mistress or ‘bit on the side’.

    In the homosexual world the need for secrecy was much, much greater when these practices were illegal, but it still remained where the more powerful male was a member of some organisation enforcing a traditionalist view of the family structure.

    The trouble with these concubines is that they cannot keep quiet: they squeal. If their patron ceases to be a reliable source of income, they turn to the scandal-sheets. But one also finds in some of them a kind of character flaw which led to them becoming kept women or catamites in the first place. They are attention seekers, often prepared to bring down the person they called their ‘lover’ to assert their own significance. In this context one thinks particularly of Norman Scott, the catamite of Jeremy Thorpe M.P., whom one journalist described as having an “extraordinary talent for wheedling his way into people’s sympathy before turning their lives to misery with his hysterical temper-tantrums”.

    Christopher Luke is, it seems, proud of his role in Lord Molyneaux’s life. The newspapers inform us that “The family of former Ulster Unionist Party leader Lord Molyneaux are dismayed and upset at claims by an English Right-wing activist about his relationship with the war hero peer who died last year.” This is rubbish. He had no family in the proper sense of the word: he died unmarried at the age of 94. Christopher Luke no doubt feels that he is the significant relict, the Dowager Lady Molyneaux as should be, and not some imaginary whinging great-niece or nephew. (Unattributed quotes of this source are usually just made up by the newspaper. ‘A source close to the family’: do me a favour.)

    I’m not sure which side to come down on here. Luke, having kept his mouth shut throughout Lord M’s lifetime, is not on the level of Norman Scott. I suppose he thinks his contribution is as important as a spouse’s might be. It may well be so; perhaps we should thank him for his contribution, as one would a bereaved widow. I also have the feeling that if Molyneaux could speak from the grave, he would be saying, this is the way I was, this is the way I lived my life, just deal with it.

    The only reason for outrage at this stage is that the revelation damages the Unionist façade, not a cause that would matter to me. So I cannot endorse Mr Turgon’s rant.

  • Greenflag 2

    ‘show him to have been a man of zero integrity.’

    Zero integrity ? Hardly . For his time he had as much integrity as many RC Church bishops and clerics and other politicians in the UK and the rest of Ireland and probably more than most .

    Molyneaux seems to have been a decent enough politician as politicians go . HIs main achievement however was in ensuring that political unionism in NI would end up having to share power with SF . This he achieved by pursuing the full integration in the UK -Finchley -model and turning away from any devolved NI Assembly possibility .The experience of the Sunningdale fiasco may have been the cause but by the time the AIA came around he must have realised that full integration was never going to happen . For 20 years he led the UUP into the poltical desert but never found Mount Sinai . Those 20 years cost the UUP it’s position on top of the Unionism and since then they have been playing at catch up . Even the demise of their main nemesis Paisley has had little impact on their much heard of but seldom seen ‘resurrection’

    To those who see the current NI Assembly as a failed entity/institution Molyneaux would have said -I told you so . And of the two remaining constitutional alternatives a UI or Molyneaux’s full integration objective – the latter is the more improbable if not more incredible than it seemed in 1979 when Molyneaux became UUP leader.

    Molyneaux RIP

    As for the meeja on this issue ? It must have been a slow news day and we all know that sex or innuendo or nudge nudge winkies are meat and drink to great unwashed as it were ;(

  • Cosmo

    …must make it nice and easy to compile the invitation lists for soirees at Tory central office.

  • Cosmo

    yes, agree, let’s not underestimate that experience. Lee Miller, who ‘just’ took the photos, fell into depressive illness, gave up photography and turned to drink.

  • Mer Curial

    unexpected, to say the least.

  • mac tire

    “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Col 4:6

    The consistent underlying nastiness and dismissive nature of many of your replies undermine your claims to be Christian.

  • mac tire

    Hey Chingford, since you are so concerned, we look forward to your blog here.
    You won’t? Why does that not surprise me? A good old mope is much better than doing something about it, eh?

  • Gaygael

    I said they could give you a list. I doubt they have a list, but any political party could provide a list if they were so inclined.

  • Gaygael

    I was a young man who was a product of my environment. I was not a political leader meant to represent the entire community, with the power to affect change.
    I came out as soon as I met my first boyfriend. I did not want to be a hypocrite.
    I suggest that trying to compare my childhood and personal experiences with that of a leader of ulster unionism is the wrong comparator. I am doing all I can so that the next generation do not have to experience that. Molyneaux, if he was family, did nothing to change it.

  • Cosmo

    Molyneaux’s weakness as a leader of Unionism, was that he did not understand that NI was involved in a public relations war of world opinion, with PIRA casting themseves as young freedom fighters. His strategic mistake was he gave far too much ‘credit’ to life and ‘connections’ at Westminister. (He seemed a decent man but I have to say he also needed elocution/ performance lessons, as his tight- lipped way of speaking was almost a parody.)

  • Greenflag 2

    I imagine what he saw at Belsen must have persuaded him that when all political order falls apart and one’s human rights become the plaything of a totalitarian regime of the right or left or some other basis then people are capable of committing atrocities on a scale that most people would never imagine in their worst nightmares .

    In the end he may have come to the view that Westminster cared but not as much as he would have wished . That has always been a problem for political unionism going back to the late 19th century . It was after all why NI Unionists insisted on their own Parliament /Stormont in 1920 and why HMG at the time was quick to grant it . They did’nt trust Westminster then to do the right thing by Ulster unionists probably not much more so than even now .

  • Granni Trixie

    How on earth can you know who is what to be in a position to say Turgon is the only unionist (in the village?)

  • John Collins

    Banshee or Jollyrai or Peter Brown do not appear like fully paid up members of any nationalist organisation. and I am sure there are quite a few others who contribute to this site who are not either

  • Chingford Man

    It’s perfectly easy to guess the politics of the contributor from reading the comments. It is also obvious that there is a vast under-representation of unionist and general conservative opinions in the comments. If you can’t see that then I think you are myopic.

  • Cosmo

    Perfidious Albion indeed. But, all regions of the UK outside London are sceptical of Westminster. (As I believe the folk in your part of the world seem to be with Washington, yes?)
    The point I am making is that Unionism and indeed the ordinary people here were not well served in the court of international Opinion – because M was still concentrated communication efforts on the small ‘top down’ political world, even as it was being buffeted by World opinion. And that faithful ally, the US, just kept funding the terrorism. Thankfully, after 9/11, this faltered.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Cosmo
    Well put. Some STILL don’t get the relations war idea and are then baffled-outraged when a Bobby Sands comic comes out.

  • Reader

    Gaygael: I was a young man who was a product of my environment.
    Then as you get older you will realise that old people are even more the prisoners of their environment, and that JM’s environment started probably 40 (50?) years before yours.
    And also, some leaders see their role as being to preserve society, not to change it.

  • Mer Curial

    nah I know homophobic afflicts all parts of the community, but some of the most outrageous statements I’ve heard in recent years tend to come from blue white & red side – wasn’t it Iris Robinson who actually said a few years back that a same sex relationship between 2 consenting adults was worse than child molestation?

    That’s pretty vile in my opinion. I have nothing against Mr M.

  • NotNowJohnny

    Are you sure that NI Unionists insisted on their own Parliament in 1920? My understanding is that Ulster Unionists’ preferred position was for Northern
    Ireland to remain under direct rule from Westminster. I often heard it referred to that Home Rule for Northern Ireland (which is what it was) was something that no one was calling for and something which only the devil himself could have dreamt up. There was no provision for Home Rule for Northern Ireland in the third home rule bill passed in 1914 and which, had it not been for 1916 and the success of SF in 1918, would likely have been implemented by Westminster after the war. When SF is commemorating the rising next week perhaps they should take a little time out to remember the role which both it (the rising) and they (SF) played in the formation of Stormont.

  • Jollyraj

    Does it now? Even amongst Irish Republicans?

  • Cosmo

    even worse, DUP-types relish being reviled, as some kind of proof of purity.

  • Granni Trixie

    I think it right to try not to label people.

  • Greenflag 2

    Initially they (NI Unionists ) were not insisting on their own Parliament thats true but as the situation progressed /deteriorated they saw that Westminster (outside of the House of Lords ) and the Army would have favoured an all Ireland Home Rule within the Empire than a fragmented island that could end up somewhere else .

    The devil was in the detail as Unionist leaders discussed alternative NI scenarios . A 9 county NI would have given just a 51% unionist provincial majority – a 6 county NI a 65 % v 35% majority and a 4 county NI probably a 75% to 80% unionist majority . The latter choice probably would have created less need for political unionism to batter down the hatches and bash the fenians and ultimately result in the 40 year ‘troubles ‘ etc .

    Most Southern unionists were reconciled to Home Rule and were horrified at the prospect of being cut off politically from their co religionists in NI as a result of partition .

    It would appear that it doesn’t much bother the current descendants of those Southern unionists to be cut off from their Northern co religionists . Some have commented that it suits them just fine 😉 Although many Southern Unionists in the 1920’s and 30’s and even later bemoaned their ‘exile ‘ from Westminster and the KIng which was understandable enough at the time .

    While I agree that the Rising and the subsequent war of independence were major factors in creating Stormont during that period one could also posit that Stormont through political arrogance and high handedness helped drive the Free State to full independence as a Republic . We are where we are as a result . A better place than NI 1920 or NI 1969 assuredly .

  • Greenflag 2

    The folk in my part of the world are sceptical of Washington , Dublin and Berlin and the City of London and Wall St and the established politicians in all western and not so western democracies that still go by the titular designation of democracy at least in theory. As for all regions of the UK ? Perhaps but none have the unique characteristic of sharing a land border with another jurisdiction and none until recently had to exist in a situation where almost half the population were seen as ‘disloyal ‘.Scotland may now be in a similar position following the referendum .

    The court of international opinion was/is no friend of unionism although that has changed for the better since the GFA . I agree Molyneaux was old style top down with perhaps a little too much respect for his political betters at Westminster . I can even agree to a point with his view that power sharing at that time was simply not practical given the political aftermath post 1974 , Faulkner’s failure , and continuing violence . Had I been in his boots in 1979 I might have done the same . Sometimes we forget that politics is the art of the possible and from 1979 until 1985 tensions were so high and Thatcher was almost assassinated that sufficient ‘trust ‘ for power sharing simply was’nt there . But even if it was I believe a large section within unionism then and now although perhaps less so now saw and see power sharing of the mandatory variety as the thin end of a wedge that will lever them eventually into a UI if not by hook then by crook . And one can’t honestly argue against that possibility .

  • Gaygael

    It’s the inconsistency with him (maybe) having a private life that was totally at odds with his public persona.

  • LordSummerisle

    Since was the Church of Ireland “a faith” ? Rather an Institution.

  • Roger

    There were LGBT people in Belsen too.