Jasper Gerard is the Observer’s “brilliant new columnist” – so brilliant in fact that he managed to lose the Sunday Times quite a pretty penny last year when he repeated some nonsense about Sir Elton John forbidding guests from approaching him at his Summer Ball.
However, let’s call libel an occupational hazard of writing a rightish-wing, celeb-rich weekly column that seems designed to make the lives of practising homosexuals as uncomfortable as possible.
Far more interesting to me is his new perch at the Observer. Was it only three years ago that Peter Preston, former editor of the Guardian, gave Gerard a bit of a kicking in the Observer for making up some colour about the late Sir Peter Ustinov? (The Observer is the sister/brother publication of the Guardian, btw).
Preston complained that readers of Gerard’s Ustinov interview in the Sunday Times (Feb 29 2003) might have been led to believe that the hack flew to Geneva and spoke to the ailing actor in his Swiss living room. Gerard claimed to be able to make out Mont Blanc from chez Ustinov while detecting a playful smile on the knight’s lips.
In fact the interview was done by phone – Preston was most exercised by this misrepresentation to the public. So was Ustinov.
On a final note, Jasper’s lead piece in the Observer yesterday read faintly anti-something the Iraq war (actually, it was hard to tell) – a stance that he didn't adopt three years ago when Ustinov condemned the planned invasion of Iraq during the interview. Gerard had in fact then “balked” (his word) at the actor’s political naivety on the topic. Now Iraq has all gone wrong.
Nice to see that Jasper is growing up (or is he?). Or has his opinion changed post-Murdoch employment?