The unintended consequences of the Macpherson report

Sir William Macpherson of Cluny has died. His obituaries praise him for his 1998 inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence case. His report did indeed shed light on the failure of the police to catch the young man’s killers. It has had, however, a profound and bad effect on our law. The report’s recommendations redefined a racist incident: ‘A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person.’ This definition means that absolutely anything in the world could be a racist incident, because it relies wholly on what a complainant ‘perceives’. The definition’s use of the word ‘victim’ also implies acceptance that

Can Mike Ashley defy high street reality?

Separating heroes from villains in the great retail survival struggle is like spotting bent coppers in Line of Duty — whose sixth series, I’m pleased to report, has just finished filming. The plot just keeps twisting. Sir Philip Green, as I said last week, is seen as an irredeemable baddie; and most commentators (though not usually me) put sportswear tycoon Mike Ashley in a similar category, as an opportunist with a track record as a harsh employer. But now here he is, trying through his company Frasers Group to launch a last-ditch rescue for Debenhams, despite having lost £150 million last year in previous pursuit of the department store chain.

Why Ampleforth should not be closed down

The ‘Problem of Evil’ was one of the more difficult questions asked by the monks at Ampleforth college when I was a pupil there. How, we were asked, does one reconcile the existence of an omnipotent and ever-loving God with the reality of widespread evil in the world we inhabit? What we students hadn’t realised while we were pondering this question was that the monastery had its own way of dealing with the problem of evil. When it came to monks and teachers exploiting the most vulnerable people in their care, the previous course of action at Ampleforth was to quietly ship these child abusers off to a distant parish.