View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 25 November 2011

Friday 25 November

Yesterday's stormforce winds claimed a life: that of a 26-year old speech therapist from Coulregrein, on the northern edge of Stornoway. She had been travelling along the A859 Tarbert to Rodel road, when her vehicle is thought to have been blown into Loch nan Uidhean, just south of the Horsacleit Lodge, a few miles south of Tarbert. After being transferred by road ambulance to hospital in Stornoway, the woman died. The community is in shock.

Today's weather was very cold. Although the winds have abated somewhat, they were still strong, making the temperature of +4C / 39F bitterly cold. There were regular showers of rain, hail and sleet, with snow on high-level routes on the mainland. More high winds are forecast for Saturday and Sunday, but the worst of the conditions is expected in the Northern Isles (Orkney and Shetland).

This week, Lord Justice Leveson has started his hearing into the practices and standards of the British press. Several people who feature in the public eye, such as JK Rowling and the parents of Madeleine McCann, have given evidence. They complained bitter of the unparalleled intrusion into their private lives, all under the pretense of public interest. Actress Sienna Miller described how she was reduced to running down the street with a dozen burly men in hot pursuit. The only thing that legitimised their actions was the fact that they were carrying cameras. Otherwise, it just would have been a woman pursued by a dozen big men - which would have been cause for police intervention.

In the 14 years I have lived in the United Kingdom, I have never ceased to be appalled at the intrusion into the private lives of celebrities or public figures. Princess Diana died in August 1997 as a consequence of the harassment by the press. Even as the outcome of the Leveson Inquiry is being reported, some newspapers issue robust rebuttals, thereby indicating that in their minds, they are doing nothing wrong. A major change, of earthquake proportion, is required to bring about a differing stance by the press.