The late and great journalist Frank Shaw is surely turning in his grave as guilt by association becomes the new standard at News Limited publications.

Frank liked a drink and a bet in the early hours of the morning and the illegal casino in Oxford Street was a venue where the senior newspaper executive and this budding political journalist exchanged pleasantries as the cards were dealt. Both of us mixed there with many well known racing identities without fearing that our reputations were about to be sullied.

Iktimal Hage-Ali, the 22-year-old NSW Young Australian of the Year, apparently has some acquaintances who, in the words of this morning’s Daily Telegraph, are “well known to the police.” The big sister paper The Australian gave its readers the news that Ms Hage-Ali had admitted to police that she had purchased ”a small amount of cocaine for personal use on a number of occasions.”

Since reading these stories I have been drawing up a little list – I assure you, none of them will be missed – of News Ltd colleagues other than Frank and I who would be handing back awards and taking leave of absence if knowing a criminal or two and using recreational drugs were to become events worth reporting. There have to be grave doubts whether the Tele and the Oz would be able to publish!

Still, perhaps a line should be drawn through past history and the new rules of perfect connections and behavior only applied from now on. Having given up the booze and other stimulants under doctor’s orders perhaps I am now perfectly placed to become the nark of News Limited. I am, after all, returning to Canberra and will need something to keep me amused as I venture around my old stamping grounds of Manuka and Kingston by night.

Keep reading Crikey for what we might call the social notes of the double standard.

Peter Fray

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