What’s smug and deserves to be decapitated?

By Mark Appleton | Friday, January 4, 2008 1.27am

Matthew Parris has issued an apology for his Times column of December 27 in which he advocated “stringing piano wire across country lanes to decapitate cyclists.” In his latest piece the former Tory MP said: “I offended many with my Christmas attack on cyclists. It was meant humorously but so many cyclists have taken it seriously that I plainly misjudged. I am sorry.”

Mr Parris’ column has so far been the subject of 270 complaints to the UK’s Press Complaints Commission – a figure which would make it the second most complained-about article published in 2007. However, according to Stephen Abell assistant director of the PCC, the complaints are still coming in by phone and email, so Parris may well be able to claim a belated Christmas number one. The Commission will meet in the next 10 days or so to decide whether or not the column has breached its Code of Practice. If the 17 person panel decides it has, Parris himself will receive no sanction but the newspaper will be forced to publish its own apology.

While the column had originally generated a firestorm of protest in the blogosphere, the furore seems to have been re-ignited as people coming back to work after the Christmas break hear about and read the item for the first time themselves.

But what do you think? Do you accept Parris’ assertion that the column was “meant humorously”? Have you complained to the PCC yourself? Leave your comment below.

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