Gail Walker Watch


Having taken time out last week to review Jim Gibney’s latest, it’s time to return to the North’s most unmissable column. Gail is actually on rather good form this week – my heart sank on seeing that, in common with everyone else, she was doing the Madeleine case, but she isn’t half bad.

Since most of what’s being written about the case itself is speculation, Gail takes an unusual angle and a welcome one. Yes, there is a little about the whole issue of sympathy for the parents versus a certain element of opinion turning against the parents over the last lot of days. But what Gail deals with, and the point is worth repeating, is the essentially racist characterisation of the investigation by the British media. These greasy dagoes aren’t to be trusted, you see. The Portuguese cops are either incompetent or corrupt or both. We have endless opinionating by punters who seem to think that watching CSI makes them experts on forensics. Best of all, the British tabloids denounce the Portuguese tabloids for printing lurid gossip, which they are then obliged to run themselves. If I was Portuguese, I would take this as a national insult.

Gail then moves on to one of her favourite targets, the Beeb, and deals with the barney over Nigella’s kitchen being faked. You see, Nigella isn’t filming in her actual kitchen, but in a studio made up to look exactly like it. I sense here that Gail is torn between her desire to get stuck into the BBC and her instinct to slag off a female celebrity, because we have here two half-arguments, one over TV fakery and one over Nigella sexing up cookery. I would be more inclined to pay attention to Gail on this front if she started giving off about Gordon Ramsay constantly taking his shirt off. Otherwise, what’s sauce for the goose etc.

And we get a bit of a giggle about Osama having discovered Just For Men – how else to explain that sleek black beard? Mark Steel riffs on the same subject, although, as so often with Mark, a funny quip runs a bit out of steam by the end of the column.

Not bad at all, Gail. Let’s have more of this.


  1. Wednesday said,

    September 12, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    But what Gail deals with, and the point is worth repeating, is the essentially racist characterisation of the investigation by the British media. These greasy dagoes aren’t to be trusted, you see. The Portuguese cops are either incompetent or corrupt or both.

    I’ve been trying to refrain from contributing to this McCann stuff but I keep flashing back to the case of Louise Woodward, the Killer Nanny, in Boston about ten years ago. As I recall the Brit media treated her like a martyr to a hopelessly incompetent justice system. Never mind the minor detail that she’d admitted roughing up the baby just before he died.

    Just imagine how different the tabloids’ coverage would be if either of these cases had actually taken place within Britain.

  2. Andy Newman said,

    September 12, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    Yes Wednesday, what the Louise Woodward case brought to the surface is the usually hidden but deep chauvinism that exists in Britain towards America.

    It was interesting that papers like the Daily Mail were completely scathing about whether the Americans could run a fair trial or not.

  3. September 13, 2007 at 7:35 am

    Watching the news last Friday I was kinda shocked listening to British media types and other “experts” criticise the Portugese cops. The constant carping just smacked of chauvanism.

    Who knows what the cops have come up with and surely best to wait and see the evidence uncovered.

    The Portugese cops get it wrong, rather like the British cops, but what this amounts to is that “British police are the best in the world” is absolutely breath taking rubbish as there are ‘ickle things such as deaths in custody, shooting innocent people, fit-ups and miscarriages of justice.

    Yes indeed, wake up and smell the media hype and bullshit.

    In the Louise Woodward case I am sure (but may be wrong) but the judge in that case lambasted the British media by mentioning Irish miscarriages of justice such as the B’ham 6 and the Guildford 4. That shut the British media up for 5 seconds!

  4. Cian O'Connor said,

    September 14, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    The coverage of the Madeleine case would have been very different if she’d been working class and somewhere “trashy”. But nice middle class parents leaving their kids alone…well, that’s different.

    I know two people who’ve had dealings with Portugease justice, and in both cases it was a question of who you knew, or (possibly) who you could bribe. Don’t know what the situation w Sith the police is, but a few years back there was a scandal about politicians at a cabinet level using a children’s home as their own personal brothel. The police had known about this and had been covering it up for a while. Given the police in this case will be facing some pretty heavy political pressure to wrap this thing up…

    That’s not to say that the British police/justice system is good (obviously it isn’t), simply that from what I know of it, Portugal is in a different, and worse, category of bad. Obviously Portugal could have the best legal system in the world, and the Daily Mail would still go off on a chauvinist rant. But stopped clocks and all…

    US justice is pretty variable, but in some states you’re pretty much fucked if they decide they don’t like you. A system where you can vote for the judge does lend itself to kangeroo courts.

    And forensics is mostly bullshit. DNA is the only scientific bit of it, fingerprints are a (very) black art. Actually almost all police work is pretty dodgy. Witness info (we’re simply not built to be accurate witnesses), lineups (very easy to bias, deliberately or otherwise). Most criminals confess when caught, or are so obviously guilty that its an open/shut case. I’ve often wondered how much detecting actually goes on.

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