Catherine Bennett is vile

Lovely eulogies to Fleet Street’s John Kay, but they overlook one important fact
Catherine Bennett

Why did so few think it necessary to point out that the Sun reporter killed his wife?

Well, actually, The Times subhead:

Chief reporter on The Sun known for his string of scoops as well as for killing his wife while suffering a nervous breakdown

Ms. Bennett:

Without wishing to distort his story, the relevant editors must have considered it superfluous that, prior to being tragically victimised by Starmer, Kay was convicted of Harue’s manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He was depressed, a court heard, due to professional anxieties. According to a contemporaneous Guardian report (“‘Torment’ of reporter who killed wife”): “He, thinking it would be better to end it all, pushed her head under the water. Naturally she struggled, but by tightening the hold he held her down by the throat.”

With the Sun paying for an eminent barrister and promising to take Kay back, the sentence was psychiatric treatment. Once restored, the greatest wife-drowning journalist of his generation did not shrink from exposing imperfections in others.

And:

And so the subject has demonstrably remained, even amid greater awareness of women’s deaths from domestic violence and even in places not owned by Rupert Murdoch. Is this exemplary tact, some partner-killers must be wondering, something reserved for hapless senior journalists or can we expect to see, say, Oscar Pistorius routinely described as an Olympic legend who, before falling victim to his demons, was always kind to a fault? Similarly, in a spirit of fairness, their supporters await the posthumous rehabilitation of Louis Althusser (“Brilliant Paris philosopher famed for his effortless mastery of Marxist-speak”), of the only occasionally femicidal Phil Spector (“Died a broken man”), of the tormented but always exquisitely accessorised Lord Lucan (“Swashbuckling peer engulfed by personal catastrophe”).

The Times again:

In fact, Kay’s demons had never been far beneath the surface. In 1977, as newly appointed industrial reporter at The Sun, he was dispatched to cover the TUC Congress in Blackpool. “Suddenly gripped by the responsibility of the job, Kay essentially had a nervous breakdown and locked himself in his hotel room,” Peter Chippendale and Chris Horrie wrote in Stick it up Your Punter (1990), a history of The Sun.

Back home he told his Japanese wife Harue (née Nonaka), whom he had married the previous year, that the pressure of the job was too much. He could not resign, because that would end his progress up the career ladder; instead, he would kill himself. Harue, who had been disowned by her family after marrying a westerner, said that she would be left alone in the world.

According to Chippendale and Horrie: “Kay, by this time temporarily deranged, saw the depth of her problem and decided that it would be better if she died with him.” As they shared a bath, he throttled and drowned her. He then made six attempts to kill himself, cutting his wrists, putting his head in a gas oven, hanging himself and jumping out of a window, though his fall was broken by dustbins. He staggered to his car and drove away, cannoning off parked cars, before crashing into a bridge at 80mph. He was found naked and covered in blood.

From which I conclude that Catherine Bennett is a vile, vile, woman.

24 thoughts on “Catherine Bennett is vile”

  1. I’m sorry but I’m with Bennett on this one. If somebody murders someone I think it should be pointed out when they die what they did. I’ve read a few bits recently by people lamenting how Kay was singled out for prosecution over his journalistic behaviour, none of those articles mentioned he was a murderer. To be honest maybe the prosecution for the journalism stuff was karmic payback for what he did previously, and got away with. Psychiatric treatment indeed. If some bloke on a council estate was a bit depressed and strangled his wife he’d have got a life sentence. But of course the establishment look after their own.

  2. He didn’t murder her, Jim, which may be why none of those articles mentioned he was a murderer. He was convicted of manslaughter by reason of diminsibhed responsibility.

    I don’t think John Kay was a member of the establishment, but it is certainly not true that ‘some bloke on a council estate’ would be given life for manslaughter. Blokes from council estates regularly serve 12 years for horrific murders.

  3. From which I conclude that Catherine Bennett is a vile, vile, woman.

    Must be another of your superior points I manage to miss, Tim. Her piece is perfectly justifiable snark. The Sun and Evening Standard, whilst mentioning his ironed handkerchiefs, did omit the spectacularly blaring fact that he was a killer.
    (Hitler, water colourist)

    Speaking of ommissions, you removed this (and only this) from between your two quoted Bennet sections:
    Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie recorded the reaction of a TV producer whose privacy Kay invaded: “All he’d done was leave his wife, yet the story had been written by a man who had killed his.” That killing, they write in Stick it up your Punter!, “officially became a taboo subject”.

    Which usefully illustrated Kay was a cunt in a sleazebag outfit. It doesn’t make someone vile to sarcastically point that out. And the Times quoting third parties reporting on the killer’s sob story doesn’t either.

  4. “He didn’t murder her, Jim, which may be why none of those articles mentioned he was a murderer. He was convicted of manslaughter by reason of diminsibhed responsibility.”

    That may have been the courts verdict, I prefer to call people who strangle their wives while trying to drown them murderers.

    “but it is certainly not true that ‘some bloke on a council estate’ would be given life for manslaughter. ”

    No, he’d not be given that chance, he’d be charged with murder and (rightly) convicted.

  5. Didn’t, sadly, succeed at any of them, I note…

    The combined failure does seem to be the dog that didn’t bark of the story. You have to be a particularly unlucky suicidal to survive driving into a bridge at 80mph in a ≤ 1970s car.

  6. ’ He then made six attempts to kill himself,…’

    Didn’t, sadly, succeed at any of them, I note…

    I’m surprised his murdered wife’s relatives, even if they had disowned her, didn’t “offer” to help him.

  7. No, he’d not be given that chance, he’d be charged with murder and (rightly) convicted.

    Jim, Bennett’s own article points to a recent case in which an ordinary man got off with five years for manslaughter after strangling his wife. She contrasts The Sun’s coverage of that with it not mentioning its own man’s history.

  8. ” Bennett’s own article points to a recent case in which an ordinary man got off with five years for manslaughter after strangling his wife.”

    Still got 5 years, not ‘psychiatric counselling’.

  9. The Pedant-General

    Jim,

    That excerpt of what he did is from the Times obit. The masthead – the actual masthead, the only bit you will see if you don’t even read the article – says he killed her and the obit lays out exactly what happened. The Times, you will note, is owned by Murdoch.

    Bennett is complaining about the papers not telling their readers what he did by pointing at – errr…. – an article that does explicitly that.

  10. he told his Japanese wife Harue (née Nonaka), whom he had married the previous year, that the pressure of the job was too much. He could not resign, because that would end his progress up the career ladder; instead, he would kill himself.

    How dare he appropriate Japanese culture.

  11. “That excerpt of what he did is from the Times obit. The masthead – the actual masthead, the only bit you will see if you don’t even read the article – says he killed her and the obit lays out exactly what happened. The Times, you will note, is owned by Murdoch.”

    There have been plenty of other articles about him that didn’t see fit to mention the fact. I read one, it was all about how he had been victimised by Keir Starmer and prosecuted for various journalistic crimes. It never saw fit to mention he had actually killed his wife and thus might have been due some victimisation.

  12. Well, yes, this is why I did quote from the Times obit. Both to show that some did. And also, well, he did go nuts – or at least nutty. If you’d said to Bennett that some schizo should be hanged instead of sent to Broadmoor she’d be shrieking in rage.

  13. Bennett is complaining about the papers not telling their readers what he did by pointing at – errr…. – an article that does explicitly that.

    Bennett didn’t point to the Times article, Tim did. Bennett didn’t say “the papers” didn’t tell their readers what happened, she complained two didn’t. Her subhead said “so few”, not none.

  14. A woman journalist on the Guardian’s website reports some facts accurately. Should be celebrated for its rarity.

  15. I would think an obituary would fall in to the ‘wait until the body is at least in the ground before you start talking about the deceased’s faults, screw ups, etc’ rule.

  16. A man mental enough to carry out the capers described above should have spent the rest of his life in Broadmoor–not be let off with psychiatric capers .

    If he had started running around town starkers or dressed as Napoleon–yes psych help might have been appropriate. But a fruitcake who doesn’t want to harm his career by resigning but thinks a suicide pact wont harm said career has no business walking around in the fresh air. Ever again.

    Although he WAS right of course. A little murder didn’t really harm his career. So his claims to be a mental case might have needed looking at again.

    Too late now though.

  17. “I would think an obituary would fall in to the ‘wait until the body is at least in the ground before you start talking about the deceased’s faults, screw ups, etc’ rule.”

    Really? Fred West’s obit should have covered his uncanny skill at patio laying and left the mass murdering bit out as being a bit ‘too soon’?

    Apart from which almost all public obituaries are printed well after the deceased has been disposed of one way or another, so waiting until they are in the ground is hardly relevant.

  18. . . . a suicide pact . . .

    Where did this come from?

    According to his own version of events, Kay killed her in what he considered to be her best interests. There is no evidence she volunteered to be offed.

  19. @Jim

    Still got 5 years, not ‘psychiatric counselling’.

    You said he’d get life, though.

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