As one of those who have been more sympathetic than perhaps most towards Dr Calderwood I have to say that I was considerably less charitably disposed towards her following the revelation that she had made a previous visit to her holiday home in Fife. That did not advise Police Scotland of this when they spoke to her and may also have failed to inform the Scottish Government puts an entirely different complexion on the affair. The penalty imposed on Dr Calderwood would, I continue to maintain, have been excessive for a single misjudgement. But the impression now is that her behaviour was not only reckless but wilful.
My views on the hounding of individuals by the media and those happy to let the gutter press lead them by the nose remain unaltered. I deplore the inhumanity of it more than I deplore Dr Calderwood’s unforgivable but sadly very human folly.
I also deplore the double-standards by which Dr Calderwood is punished severely for her conduct but the behaviour of the photographer who stalked her and the newspaper which paid him to do so is barely examined.
Surely during a public health crisis such as we are labouring under at the moment the media have a duty, formal or otherwise, to behave responsibly. Yet it appears that The Sun had a freelance photographer stalking Dr Calderwood with a view to undermining the credibility of someone who, it is generally agreed, was playing a major role in the Scottish Government’s efforts to combat Covid-19. Quite apart from their own flouting of a presumption against non-essential travel – the photographer had to get to Fife and back – it might readily be argued that The Sun behaved at least as badly as Dr Calderwood.
The newspaper will doubtless respond with some boilerplate about freedom of the press and ‘the public’s right to know’. But however much weight these arguments might have in normal times, how can it sensibly be claimed that circumstances which are so dire as to override Dr Calderwood’s right to travel aren’t serious enough to affect news values or the priorities of the media.
I am resigned to the fact that pre-pandemic we lived in an environment where the careers and well-being of individuals making a valuable and even a unique contribution to society were as nothing compared to the media’s ‘right’ to trivialise issues and sensationalise events the better to satisfy an audience conditioned to crave titillation and immediate gratification. We are constantly told that Covid-19 will change everything. Not so, apparently.
Dr Calderwood has lost her job and possibly her career on account of her failure to adjust to the fact that she’d lost her right to travel. The public has lost the services of an individual who, by all accounts, was doing important work particularly well. The First Minister has lost the benefit of continuity of advice. But for the gutter press it’s low-life as usual.
If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence movement.