The question is: how much lower can they go?
A quick reminder, seeing as the Mail has forgotten. Victims of sex crimes, sex abuse, indecent assault or rape are given anonymity by the legal system - that's a cast-iron given in this country, and rightly so. The reasons are obvious to most decent human beings. Why should victims go through a second trauma of having their ordeal replayed in public? Why would victims come forward if they knew they would have their misery splashed in the papers? More and more offenders would get away with it.
Yet we don't live in a world in which newspapers act decently. At the time of writing this, no-one has been charged - therefore, it's open season! We can say what we like! Woohoo! The man from the legal department, he say yes! Yes, let's imply that a girl's been sexually abused, not giving a shit about the future trauma that this total lack of anonymity and privacy could bring. Let's not give a shit that this person, through no fault of their own, will not be able to find privacy! Let's not care that everyone in the country knows her name, but all of a sudden, and we can say what we like about what she's been through, because legal proceedings haven't started. (The reason they haven't started is because a young girl is being sensitively and decently spoken to by the police and other authorities - but let's not let that spoil our fun!)
So, while Friday brought wonderful news about Shannon Matthews - the missing girl who was not middle class or blonde enough to capture the column inches of Madeleine McCann, yet who everyone now pretends was the top of the news agenda for ages, whose mother was disgustingly vilified by Alison Pearson - being found, I'm afraid that was only the beginning of that poor child's ordeal. Because:
The suffering of Shannon Matthews: Why police now fear the worst about her 24-day ordeal
Someone will claim, wrongly, that the Mail haven't said specifically what happened to Shannon, and therefore they're off the hook. Bullshit. Lies. Nonsense.
Disturbing details of Shannon Matthews's 24-day ordeal began to emerge last night.
It's a horrible prurient approach to this story.
Police were coaxing out an account from the nine-year-old which is thought to have confirmed their fears about how she was treated.
Detectives said Shannon initially appeared to be "uninjured" and healthy when officers rescued her from a dingy flat on Friday.
But they are now "very concerned" about her treatment at the hands of her abductor.
So, no obvious signs of injury, therefore... well it doesn't take a genius to read between the lines. A little bit of implication, what harm can it do? They haven't come out and said it, so supposedly they're safe. What utter cowards, hiding behind innuendo. Why not just say nothing? Why tell this story? What is the purpose of it? Whose benefit does it serve? The public's? The girl's? Whose? Who wants to know this? Who has the right to know this? Who should know this? If there's likely to be a court case, why not shut it off now? Or is there just a shrug of the shoulders and 'Well, everyone will know, why should we bother?' - the pack mentality, the lynch mob mentality... not my fault, everyone else is doing it. Is everyone else doing it, PAUL SIMS, CHRIS BROOKE, DAN NEWLING and LIZ HULL? Happy with your day's work at the office?
Medical tests have been carried out but police have refused to comment on how she suffered and the full extent of the emotional damage inflicted upon her remains unclear.
Police have rightly refused to comment. For fuck's sake, this is a nine-year-old girl. Is that not a problem to the Mail? Does no-one see that the 'full extent of the emotional damage' doesn't begin and end with what she has been through in the past 24 days - that perhaps the press coverage might make everything a million times worse, because through innuendo and implication the papers are trying to tell us what's happened to her?
There's more in the article, telling the story of other girls abducted and raped who were 'sending a message of support', just in case you hadn't worked it out by now. But now let's look at how the Sun has sensitively dealt with the Matthews case:
THE weirdo held for snatching nine-year-old Shannon Matthews had spied on her for MONTHS from the house next door, The Sun can reveal.
Had he? And the evidence for this is...
Mick Donovan, 39, visited Shannon’s aunt Amanda Hyett up to four times a week to “comfort” her after her father died.
Yes, but the evidence for 'spying' is...
But it is now thought Donovan, uncle of Shannon’s stepdad Craig Meehan, was secretly watching the schoolgirl in Dewsbury Moor, West Yorkshire.
Oh I see, it's 'thought'. Well there we are. Might as well say it's a fact you can 'reveal' then.
But at least the Sun doesn't go as low as implying what's happened to Matthews. Someone somewhere, even at that dirty rag, thought that was beyond the pale.
But not at the Mail.