Littlejohn making a living from making it up

Richard Littlejohn is rather proud of the fact that he makes a living from writing about ‘elf ‘n’ safety’, presumably this is because he genuinely thinks he is performing some kind of public service by cataloging all these examples of health and safety ‘madness’. Sadly, as Tabloid Watch has posted today, he is guilty – as is much of the media – for simply inventing his stories. Not only this he is also keen on recycling his own content, Tabloid Watch points to a recent couple of examples of his repeated phrases, but they have all-to-familiar ring to them but I’m just too apathetic currently to dig up the other times he has used them.

Anyway, Littlejohn today provides another example of his well-researched cataloging of ‘elf ‘n’ safety’ madness: ‘The end of elf’n’safety? Cobblers!’ is his headline, which is kind of rehashing the Daily Mail headline (his research consisted of reading the article after all): ‘COBBLERS! Medieval paths in Iron Age village deemed too dangerous by health and safety chiefs’. Littlejohn writes with his usual assurance:

Another report highlighted the loss of most of Britain’s ­historic cobbled streets, which are being dug up and buried under Tarmac by councils on the off-chance someone might slip over and sue for com-pen-say-shun.

‘On the off-chance’? One Google search later (yes, it really is that easy to do research Richard) reveals:

Dunster attracts thousands of visitors a year because of its 1,000-year-old castle and features including the medieval cobbled streets.

But injuries from tripping over have ranged from a broken arm to a cut forehead and sprained ankles – and they are also the reason no-one will make repairs…

Paul Toogood, said… “The cobbles on the one side of the street are dangerous, extremely dangerous.

“They have six to seven-inch holes in and we’ve had to call the ambulance five times for people that have fallen over this year alone.”

So, people are being injured on the cobbles, even if Richard thinks that they are not. Now, have ‘elf ‘n’ safety’ Nazis been responsible for the idea that they are replaced with ‘smooth slabs’? Err, no, back to Paul Toogood, chairman of the Dunster Working Group:

“The trouble is, nobody is responsible for the pavements, they don’t belong to anyone.

“In an ideal world we would like to lift the cobbles and lay them again, but we have to think about litigation; if someone falls over we could be sued…

Mr Toogood said that once a smooth pavement was laid, they wanted to hand over responsibility to the highways department to maintain it.

He said the department would only consider taking responsibility if a smooth pavement was laid.

The Dunster Working Group has held three public meetings to gather feedback from residents and Mr Toogood said most were in favour of laying the pavement, but this was all subject to finding £60,000 to £70,000 of funding.

So, not really about health and safety at all, is it? This is a problem inherited by Dunster because it was part of the Luttrell family estate until 1951, after the sale of Dunster Somerset County Counil’s highways department took over the responsibility for the roads, but not the pavements. This has led to the current situation and fear of litigation has stopped any attempt at repairs.

The real question here is whether these fears of litigation are genuine, back to Tabloid Watch who takes these quotations from the Young report:

Britain’s ‘compensation culture’ is fuelled by media stories about individuals receiving large compensation payouts for personal injury claims and by constant adverts in the media offering people non-refundable inducements and the promise of a handsome settlement if they claim.

And:

One of the great misconceptions, often perpetuated by the media, is that we can be liable for the consequences of any voluntary acts on our part. During winter 2009/10, advice was given on television and radio to householders not to clear the snow in front of their properties in case any passer by would fall and then sue.

This is another manifestation of the fear of litigation. In fact there is no liability in the normal way, and the Lord Chief Justice himself is reported as saying that he had never come across a case where someone was sued in these circumstances.

Perhaps people wouldn’t be quite so frightened in Richard didn’t keep repeating the myth that everyone was liable to ‘com-pen-say-shun’ if they so much as get looked at a bit funny in public. Still, keeps you in work now Labour have been voted out and Gordon Brown has gone quiet, eh, Dick?