21 Jan, 2010
Martin Cullen emotional response to affair allegations: “It felt like I was being raped, as a man”
Minister Cullen was invited to give his personal opinion on the new Defamation Act 2009 and the implications to those who suffer at the hands of irresponsible journalism.
During his rather emotional and honest speech he described his experience during which he was being falsely accused of having an affair with PR consultant Monica Leech as one that ‘felt like [he] was being raped’. He went on to say that he used this word ‘very carefully’ but that he went to bed at night sometimes in the knowledge that he will be ‘raped again’ the next day. Of course the Minister was referring to the coverage by the media about the non-existent affair.
Was this appropriate language by the Minister? Should he compare his suffering at the hands of irresponsible journalism with the suffering of rape victims? No sooner the words were out of the Minister’s mouth several journalist in the room were texting or scribbling frantically.
I am worried that his words and the meaning that he was trying to convey in them could very well be taken out of context, especially by media outlets that were not there. The Minister was clearly referring to the dread and fear he suffered and the constant anxiety that the allegations were cultivating in his life.
The Minister’s speech was very personal, very brave and incredibly honest. He described the victimisation of his family, and especially that of his children, including his sons getting ‘the living daylights kicked out of them’ for attempting to defend their fathers honour. He also spoke of how one journalist insisted on entering his former wife’s home while is 11 year old daughter was there and ‘bullied’ her into ring her mother so that the journalist could get statements. The Minister further revealed that he had to move his children to different schools on three separate occasions due to bullying. More shockingly he highlighted one specific case where one of his children was singled out in class and ‘deliberately humiliated’ by the teacher, who he said had a political affiliation. The Minster highlighted that these affiliations were not to a mainstream political party.
The Minister did speak about the Defamation Act also, stating that he didn’t ‘ like a lot of things that are in it’ and that it ‘gave to the media rather than the individual’. He spoke of his ‘firm’ support of the introduction of a Privacy Bill, but he adamant that any such bill would include ‘a definition of who and what we consider to be in the private domain’.
The Minister’s speech and subsequent statements to questions drew no criticism from a room full of journalists, legal professionals, the Press Ombudsman and indeed academics. I wonder if there will be a reaction though?
Image via www.martincullen.ie