Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too.
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I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection. Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution.
This is a series of very, very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda. Swift diversions for a moment or two.
Apropos of Nothing #37 – 24 May 1989
On 24 May, 1989, a jury at the High Court in London awarded £600,000 damages to Sonia Sutcliffe, wife of the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, against the satirical magazine Private Eye. The award was £100,000 more than the previous record British libel sum. Mrs Sutcliffe, who was legally separated from her husband, made no comment. She left the court shrouded in a blanket.
She was due to get £25,000 of the award immediately and the rest pending an appeal lodged straightaway by Private Eye. Its editor, Ian Hislop, said the magazine could go out of business and would be appealing to its readers for financial assistance. He pointed out the award was 100 times larger than that awarded to three of Sutcliffe's victims.
On the steps of the court Hislop said: "If that's justice, then I'm a banana."
In 1981 Sutcliffe was jailed for life for killing 13 women. When he was first arrested and charged, Private Eye accused Mrs Sutcliffe of doing a deal with the Daily Mail worth £250,000. They said there had been a squalid race to buy her story and claimed she had negotiated with the press to profit from her fame as the wife of a serial killer. Mrs Sutcliffe's defence lawyers said she had done no such deal because she did not want to capitalise on what her husband had done.
After Private Eye’s appeal, the damages were reduced to £60,000.