There have been many examples in recent weeks of the British media kowtowing to unofficial gag orders from the political establishment.
Writing in the Observer, Cristina Odone describes this “very British game of collusion and cover-ups” perpetrated by the UK’s media and political class:
This system relies on the old boys’ act rather than any law. Whenever the government feels the need to keep some piece of information secret, they send a note to editors asking for their co-operation in what is inevitably presented as a matter of national security. Editors comply, their journalists follow suit.
This sheds an unflattering light on all the players involved — from the government and police force that are equally obsessed with secrecy and obfuscation to a supine media pathetically grateful for any crumb of information tossed its way and any chance of being included at top table.
Britain’s silly libel and contempt of court laws together with a tradition of administrative secrecy are all part of the “culture of secrecy” that journalists like to complain about. But what hope is there if the press itself is part of the conspiracy of silence?