Date: 13th December 2018 at 10:08am
Written by:

Yesterday, I wrote a piece where I praised the restraint of all those who knew there was more to the Griffiths story than what club or player wanted in the public domain. I thought that was the right thing to do, seeing that nothing of Leigh’s issues had appeared in the media or on the blogs when people out there must have known what was going on.

I praised the media, in particular, for having a sense of responsibility.

They thrive on speculation and innuendo and history has taught us they are not beneath bin-raking, phone tapping and other nefarious means of getting to a story.

Before Brendan had even got the words out, The Daily Record had led off with a story about Leigh and gambling addiction, a quite irresponsible piece which public pressure soon had them changing. That they wrote such a piece in the first place was the first brick falling out of the wall, however.

Today they’ve been joined by other titles weighing in to invade Leigh’s privacy and rake over the coals of what ails him.

All sense of proportion is already being lost.

Where’s the public interest, for example, in a Police Scotland spokesperson telling the press this morning that Leigh had “gone missing” for several hours on Monday?

What in God’s name are they releasing that kind of information for?

What right does the media have to seek that sort of information in the first place?

Less than 24 hours have gone by since Brendan made the announcement at a press conference; already the long-range lenses are being dug out of the cupboards and the snoops are on the streets talking to “friends” of the player … although anybody who would dish up the dirt on your personal life for the satisfaction of a vampiric tabloid audience doesn’t fit the Trades Descriptions Act definition of a friend in the first place.

It’s time like these that Leigh will find out who his “friends” actually are, as opposed to the spiteful hanger-on’s which all in the public eye pick up along the way.

In my heart of hearts, I knew that it was too much to ask that the media respected the wishes of the player and the club to have his private struggles remain private until he was ready to talk about them in the wider world.

If he really is going to a facility to heal then it’s odds-on that some of the tabloid gutter rats will already be fishing for the name and address of the place, and staking it out like vultures. If I were in Leigh’s shoes I would already be priming the lawyers.

The hacks can kid themselves on as they like about “minding the people’s business”, but this is nobody’s business but Leigh’s himself. There is no “public interest” defence; merely saying that certain ghoulish sections of the public are “interested” doesn’t mean the same thing.

They have reality TV if they want to ogle people melting down in the spotlight; at least the people in question voluntarily allowed that invasion of their private space.

In the last 24 hours we’ve all heard rumours about Leigh’s emotional state.

Those rumours should never be presented in a public sphere.

Nobody should be chasing “confirmation” of them, although I know that some folk are.

Where’s the good in that?

Where’s the good in finding that stuff out and then publishing it?

Who are the beneficiaries of such an act?

Celtic must make it clear, either in public or in private, I don’t care which, where the line is here and if anyone crosses it then the appropriate action must be taken … and it must be taken in full public view and the reasons for it made clear.

If people cannot show common decency, then they deserve none. It is high time their industry was made to pay a price for the lives it intrudes on and occasionally ruins. No more tolerance of the old red-top tactics. Not on this one.

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