Keith Vaz scandal: Paul Ross opens up on his own ordeal

Paul Ross opens up on his own ordeal

Paul Ross reveals what it's like to be at the centre of tabloid sex scandal

Monday, September 5, 2016

In 2014 Paul Ross was at the centre of a newspaper sex sting, with a national paper reporting that he had taken drugs and embareked on a relationship with another man.

With Keith Vaz now facing his own trial by media, talkRADIO's morning anchor reveals what it's like to have your life turned upside down.

If you'd prefer to listen to Paul's account as he delivered it, live on the radio, click on the link. If not, then read on...

It was almost two years ago to the week that I woke up to see my face on the front page of the bestselling Sunday newspaper. Through my own fault, through decisions I'd made, through choices I'd made that then led to other choices, which led to horrendous consequences for my immediate family and my loved ones.

About a month before the stories emerged about me getting involved first of all in a same-sex relationship and then substance abuse, my family found out, I talked to them about it. It was a very difficult time for them, a horrendous time for them. They were the innocent victims, on all sides of my family.

So a month later something else happened and the tabloids got hold of it for whatever reason. Then of course I realised the calamitous nature of my decisions. I am sort of a micro, micro celebrity, but I’ve got a very famous brother, which means I'm kind of tabloid fodder. I've been in the tabloids in the past when I've had affairs, when I was presenting the Big Breakfast.

I've made stupid and selfish decisions in my life and the important thing is that those decisions affect the innocent, they affect other people. Once you break trust it's very very difficult, if not impossible, to put that trust back together.

So I don't have any objection to the way I was treated by the tabloids. I'd spoken to my mother about what had happened in the relationships in my life, I'd spoken to my father, I'd spoken in a roundabout way to my children, who were all adults, about the questions they wanted answered. It was very raw very, very awkward and horrendous for them. It wasn't pleasant for me either, but I'm the guilty party so I factored my feelings out of this. 

And then it's on the front page of a Sunday paper. Thankfully not too many other papers picked it up, but once it's in the papers these days it's on the internet forever. It still gets mentioned probably a couple of times a week, in a very supportive way, by Jon Holmes on his show, and I've got to put up with it. He kind of has a go about it, even though it was two years ago. But still that's his shtick, that's what he does, that's fair enough. I did it, it's my fault.

But the collateral damage  and this is where the papers come in - is that the decisions I made in my private life became public. So my mum, for example, would go to the bakers and she'd know that the bakers had read the story, because I'm a teeny bit well-known and my brother's very well-known. So the bakers know my private business. When my dad went to get his shoes repaired, the shoemaker probably knew. One of my daughter's boyfriend's rugby team knew about it. She would have never have chosen to tell them.

People could tell who they liked - I was the stupid guilty selfish party. But all kinds of other people were then informed, and it was simply a case of "read this in the newspaper."

So I suppose the question with regard to Keith Vaz is: can this story be justified as being in the public interest?

I'm a nobody. I'm kind of a gob on a stick. Sort of a journalist, sort of a broadcaster, been on the telly and still pop up on there occasionally. That's it. I've got a very famous brother and that's why I was tabloid fodder - wedll that and the stupidity of my actions. But I've got no position of authority or responsibility. There’s no question of me doing anything in my private life that could affect anything to do with the country as a whole.

You might argue that it's different for MP. But ultimately, is a kiss and tell story ever justified? Do people think that, actually, people have any right or business knowing what people get up to in their private lives, providing they're not breaking the law? And if they're breaking the law, well surely that's not the business of the papers, but the business of the police, or standards committees or somebody else, isn't it?