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Tuesday, 25 April, 2000, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
Does Private Eye make you proud or ashamed?

Private Eye has been described as the best satirical magazine in the world and has just notched up its 1,000th fortnightly edition of political gossip, jokes, media rows and reporting.

The brainchild of a group of public school-educated non-conformists, the magazine has led a charmed existence. Editors were to be seen as often in the High Court defending the latest in a deluge of writs for libel as in the publication's London offices. Private Eye's letters column is regularly filled by indignant politicians, public figures and business leaders demanding retractions and corrections for some of the magazine's wilder stories and legendary inaccuracies.

But the paper has claimed many prominent scalps - its early lone reporting of the Poulson affair in the sixties finally led authority to take notice and to the eventual downfall of some very powerful establishment figures. It dubbed Robert Maxwell a crook for years, and weathered the tycoon's many litigious onslaughts, before the more traditional Press took up the cause.

So is Private Eye just a 40-year-old scurrilous rag or has it been an important organ of the free press of which Britain should be proud? We should be told - and you can do so by emailing us with your views.


Your reaction

I think Private Eye is a great concept and it is great that such a publication has had the moral courage to stand up to and mock the very rich and powerful like Al-Fayed, Maxwell, Murdoch etc... and still live to tell the tale!
I hope that PE can last another 1000 editions and beyond, and that it steers clear of the vested interests which blight most of the traditional media.
Simon Porch, UK



I think it should be treated with the contempt it deserves, and preferably banned.

Peter Niss, England
I fail to see how all the sycophantic, eulogistic writers of letters of support of that scurrilous rag "Private Eye" can reconcile themselves to its irresponsible and unfair attacks on public servants, politicians and the prominent members of the business community, who are all, in their own way, seeking to advance this great democracy.
Ask yourselves, where is the right of reply in its columns? Why have so many had to pursue redress through the courts, at no little cost to their personal finance? I think it should be treated with the contempt it deserves, and preferably banned. That the BBC should be giving this pathetic rag, a forum for debate is typical and a shocking indictment of its (waning) judgement. Yours disgustedly
Peter Niss, England

Private Eye has, like any other magazine or newspaper, the right to publish facts and opinion. The important thing though is to clearly separate fact from opinion and to report in good faith. It matters to the cause of freedom of the press that journalists do not abuse their powers. I am not accusing Private Eye of this but as an ordinary member of the public I merely state what I expect from them.
Phil Hall, UK

Whilst some of Private Eye's comments may at times be based purely on gossip the main point is that we still have the freedom to write essays/articles lampooning/lambasting prominent figures. Long may it continue so!
Dr. Athole J. Simpson, UK



I believe it is a bit exaggerated to call it the best in the world.

Joss Randall, France
As much as I think a satirical journal such as Private Eye is necessary, I believe it is a bit exaggerated to call it the best in the world. All you have to do is compare it to Le Canard EnchainÚ, which is both funny and rigorous. Le Canard also isn't systematically concerned with scatological references or the peccadilloes of celebrities.
Joss Randall, France

The Eye is generally first with the dirt and is more right than wrong. As a borough Councillor, I hope to see my name in the eye eventually ... though I'm not sure it would do me any good!
Adam Henley, UK

Even though we boast that we live in a democracy, experience tells us that we should be sceptical of what politicians and those in power in other spheres, tell us. Private Eye is now the foremost satirical vehicle that is prepared to take on any issue and long may it reign. Private Eye is like David against Goliath and it will never lack support. Congratulations
Doug McDougall, UK

The very fact that Private Eye does incite such outrage and vehement denial from public figures is testament to the good work it does in revealing the murky goings-on that would otherwise go unreported. The side-swipe it takes at the rest of the media, regularly pricking the bubble of self-righteousness, is something to be treasured.
VJP, UK

People in Britain are too soft. We need Private Eye to toughen people up. There should be more publications making fun of people. Quite a few famous people need to be taken down a few rungs and brought back to earth.
Colin, UK

As an addict from the start I have to complain that the EYE has not had a really good scalp for a while. Stop resting, we need you.
Jeff, UK

What other publication would give us so much opportunity to laugh at Al Fayed?
Richard Street, UK



In the Private Eye, Nation, Le Monde Diplomatique, and several others that people rarely see, are the last remnants of a free press in the FREE WORLD. Long Live Private Eye!

Roy Freesinger, USA
Is there a free press in the USA and Europe? The corporate conservative press in America by actual statistical analysis owns over 99.7% of the press/ radio/TV/entertainment and let's not forget advertising! The rest is free! Hallelujah! In the Private Eye, Nation, Le Monde Diplomatique, and several others that people rarely see, are the last remnants of a free press in the FREE WORLD. Long Live Private Eye!
Roy Freesinger, USA

Private Eye has brought radical change to Britain. 40 years ago Britain had a ludicrous inherited monarchy, an unelected second chamber and public schools were able to hog places at top universities. Thanks to forces like Private Eye look at the dramatic difference today. John Hardy, USA

So the Eye sometimes gets it wrong, but I've been reading it for long enough to know they often get it right, well ahead of the rest of the press pack.
J.F. Munro, Scotland

It's brave, is not led by hyped-up news diary events and does not pander to PR's press releases before or after it researches stories.
David Challinor, UK

As an Eye reader in good standing (sic) for many years, I can only say that the Eye remains the standard for irreverent but highly relevant satirical journalism. Canada's own attempt to duplicate the Eye (the dismal Frank magazine) lacks both the wit and the charm that the Eye has brought to the world. Besides, I could never have introduced the term 'frenzied Ugandan discussions' to my vocabulary without it. Happy millennium, Eye!
Doug Stephens, Canada



If only other countries could turn such a "eye" on themselves

Andrea, USA (ex-UK)
Private Eye, and its relationship to and with politicians and other shady characters, is truly British in its biting wit and satirical reporting. If only other countries could turn such a "eye" on themselves, I'm sure the world would be a happier (albeit, litigious) place.
Andrea, USA (ex-UK)

I think Private Eye is great. The 'Publish and be dammed' style is sadly lacking in the UK. Personally, I think that they are sued so often for one of two reasons. Either they are so far out of line that they deserve to be sued, or the plaintiff is trying to stop something unpleasant being revealed.
G Morgan, USA

'Condescending, irresistible, brilliant!'
Jason Evans, UK

That Private Eye has continued to flourish as a tribute to our dry sense of humour and healthy disrespect and irreverence for the Establishment. It is, as Tony Blair would probably like to say, but Alastair Campbell would advise him not to say, an actual beacon of satirical excellence.
Chris Klein, UK

Long Live the Eye. Like everything else, it isn't perfect but most of those who dislike it do so not for reasons of taste or decency but because it exposes things they would rather keep quiet. Eye is a credit to our society; you can get shot for thinking less in other countries. I'm not sure about 'proud' or 'ashamed', but it certainly keeps me amused.
Phil, UK

Private Eye can be both shocking and funny (often on the same page) but never boring. To the best anti-depressant known in the UK, happy birthday and thank you for getting me strange looks on the train.
Ange Hodgson, UK

It pricks the bubble of the pompous and has exposed many corrupt actions which might otherwise have gone unnoticed. It is also, lets face it, extremely funny.
E J Thribb (aged 17), England



Given the power that the laws of libel place in the hands of the wealthy and mighty, the fact that the Eye has survived forty years speaks for itself.

David Boyle, Ireland
My copy of the 1000th edition arrived by post this morning. I look forward to it each fortnight because it's unafraid to run stories which vested interests would like to see suppressed or which mainstream opinion deems unsuitable. Given the power that the laws of libel place in the hands of the wealthy and mighty, the fact that the Eye has survived forty years speaks for itself. Long may it continue!
David Boyle, Ireland

I read the Eye so that I don't have to read it in the newspapers two weeks later, when they catch up with the stories. It will always make mistakes - but then again who doesn't? Any journal that can maintain a sense of justice and combine it with a sense of humour is┐ (Contd. p94)
Bill Jenssen, UK

Private Eye dares to say what needs to be said. They were the only publication prepared to call Maxwell a crook while he was still alive, and they have always been the scourge of those who seek to use lawsuits to silence criticism. The Diana issue was a high point, but then almost every issue is a high point really.
Guy Chapman, UK

Private Eye isn't a problem, as it is known to be a tongue-in-cheek publication anyway so people can make up their own minds about what they are reading. The real danger lies in those "serious" newspapers that supposedly report FACTS. Many people read them as gospel.
Fiona, UK

I admire the efforts that go into the reporting of local government affairs that PI does. If anything the magazine is a window into the dark and murky world that is politics in England. Despite the cry of democracy and free speech, the real power in England is confined to a very small world where is not what it seems. With the increasing portrayal of style over substance I believe PI will play an ever more important role in keeping tabs on our political 'untouchables'.
Dr Jon B, Sweden (English)

In a world where politics is dominated by the spin-doctor. Private Eye is a breath of fresh air. It may contain innaccuracies, but at least it is something original and out of the ordinary in an increasingly conformist world. Long may it continue.
Conal Presho, UK



Not only is it chock full of hugely amusing parody and satire, but it raises issues that the so-called free press wouldn't touch with a barge-pole.

Andrew Steele, Egypt
Here's to another 1000 issues of the Eye. Not only is it chock full of hugely amusing parody and satire, but it raises issues that the so-called free press wouldn't touch with a barge-pole. I do not think that there is any other publication in the world featuring such tirelessly campaigning journalism. All this, and the most sidesplitting of cryptic crosswords ever created.
Andrew Steele, Egypt

Surely it is not that Private Eye is either a scurrilous rag or an important organ of free speech, but that Private Eye is a scurrilous rag, and therefore most certainly an important organ of free speech.
Douglas Bulloch, Great Britain

Private Eye stood alone following the death of Diana by exposing the hypocrisy of the press. MD's exposure of the heart surgeons at the Bristol Royal Infirmary led to him giving evidence to the subsequent enquiry. Oh, and the cartoons are very funny too.
Andy Taylor, UK

As a youngster I struggled to understand the stories about lawyers and unprofessional businessmen. Now at 30, it's still the same! Long may Private Eye remain a thorn in the side of Established Society.
Ian Hughes, London



Within Private Eye the fearless reporting is crucial to democracy and free speech.

Paul Brown, UK
Within Private Eye the fearless reporting is crucial to democracy and free speech. Too many "respectable" broad sheet newspapers align themselves to a political party and often report an unbalanced view. Private Eye has the courage to tell it exactly as it sees it without pulling punches. If the television media also took the same view then perhaps politicians might tread a little more carefully before they play with people lives. Three cheers for Private Eye! Long may they bring those who think they are "better" back down to ground level.
Paul Brown, UK

Private Eye used to entertain and inform me. I then discovered that it has a homophobic policy on personal ads - it refuses to take ads from gay and lesbian people, but will take them from straight people. Not what I expected from the enemy of corruption and hypocrisy.
Jane Tomlinson, UK

I love the Eye and am a regular subscriber, but it does seem to need a bit of a revamp. Other satirical organs for example the US-based Onion are simply much more up to date, and, well funny. Please for the sake of the under-30 generation could we have less long-running vendettas and more er... satire?
Andy Mayer, UK

Some organs are irreplaceable. It malfunctions from time to time, but mostly works very well, not least because it is the valve that deflates the egos of so many self-important people.
H T, UK

For me, Private Eye's most important news story was M.D's coverage of the Bristol Heart Scandal. The most appalling indictment of the rest of the British press was that no-one appeared to follow this up for years, meaning that it is likely that several more babies and young children died when they might have been saved by more competent surgeons. M.D. (Dr. Phil Hammond of the Beeb's "Trust Me, I'm a Doctor") deserves credit for this, and editor Ian Hislop too for publishing it. In the light of this immense public service, their occasional inaccuracies and mistakes are small fry. My subscription is always renewed!
Simon Burne, The Netherlands



Private Eye's "Publish and be damned" school of journalism is simply another name for sloppy journalism.

Moshe Forman, Israel
Private Eye's "Publish and be damned" school of journalism is simply another name for sloppy journalism. I accept that Private Eye has uncovered some real cases of corruption over the years, but these pale into insignificance next to the mass of unreliable reporting that fills the pages of Private Eye. Good journalism is about getting the facts right. On this level, Private Eye is less reliable than even the most sensational and trivial of the tabloid press.
Moshe Forman, Israel

I have just renewed my subscription to Private Eye. It adds to a tradition of rich English satire - long may it continue!
Keith Bates, Scotland

Albeit a factual expose of the corrupt and downright stupid, it has never failed too perfectly capture the irony of it's own existence. May it live on. Not only for today, but also for all those who have imparted so much in the past. Like, just for one instance, Mr. Peter Cook.
Dave Piggott, UK

I love it. It has made me laugh for years. The one thing the British are very good at is poking fun at themselves. And to do that you have to be clever. Private Eye has always been able to do that well. Long may it continue!
Martin Whetton, UK (formerly Australia)



If you can't have a good laugh reading Private Eye there is something wrong with you.

Adam Porter, UK
The Eye epitomises Britishness, and the anal-retentive's who fail to realise that it is rubbish, but its damn funny rubbish! The genius of features such as St Albions as a vehicle for parody transcend the ages. And if you can't have a good laugh reading Private Eye there is something wrong with you.
Adam Porter, UK

I will never forget that they printed a slip from another publication shortly after the death of Diana. "Diana made as much of an impact in death as she did in life" I don't think anyone else had the balls to challenge us to laugh about it like that! Bravo!
Alex, Belgium

While some comments in Private Eye are not to my way of thinking, I enjoy the challenge it provides to my views. There has to be a publication that is not of the establishment mould and is prepared to reveal the scurrilous antics of government bodies et al. I have a good read and a good laugh. Hislop deserves a knighthood. Will he get one? I think we should be told.
Michael Williams, UK

Readers of Private Eye are generally natural cynics who do not necessarily believe all they read, either within its pages or in the rest of the press. The journal usually targets people who put themselves forward in the public eye (or are in a position of public responsibility) and who are performing actions that are hypocritical or publicly unacceptable. They rarely attack the personal lives of private individuals. It is only News of the World readers that care about "wife-swap sex-change plumbers". If Private Eye screws up then let it be sued - at least its targets tend to have the capacity and resource to sue. Basically it makes me chuckle - these days we need a little "reverse spin" in the public arena.
Alistair Preston, UK

I am immensely proud of the "Eye's" achievements over the years. It would be famous for "Mary Wilson's Diary", "Dear Bill", and "St. Albion" alone. It is hard to imagine an Iraqi Private Eye, nor a Russian one, or even an American or French one. Even in the few countries that might spawn an "Eye", it is difficult to believe that it could be done with such style and humour. Well done, "Private Eye", may you continue to go from strength to strength!
John S., Australia



It is a very free, very British institution.

Johnathan Labrey, UK
Private Eye is sharp, witty and cutting. It is cynical, sometimes grotesque, often rude. It challenges the political establishment and pushes the boundaries of political expression. It is a very free, very British institution.
Jonathan Labrey, United Kingdom

Private Eye is a bastion of free speech. Its reports on the shocking and corrupt disgrace that passes for local government are excellent. It is just a shame that the newspapers do not take up Private Eye's causes and expose the crooks in public life to a wider audience. The publication is also very, very funny when it exposes the outright hypocrisy of public figures of all political inclinations. I am looking forward to the next thousand episodes.
Paul, UK

Let's face it, life would be much duller without Private Eye and surely something else would rise up to replace it if it were ever closed down. Just imagine without Private Eye "Colemanballs" would never have entered the English language. Here's to the next 1000 issues and a continuation of the competitive world of no win/no fee litigation which must keep all on their toes.
John, UK



Unlike the rest of the media, they are never hysterical (re: Diana) or two-faced (re: Diana)

Paul Haine, UK
We should be proud of Private Eye. Unlike the rest of the media, they are never hysterical (re: Diana) or two-faced (re: Diana)
paul haine, UK

The Eye is not always right but anyone who reads it regularly knows that most of the corruption, illegality and misuse of power it details does eventually surface and receive confirmation (eg Aitken, Archer etc)
Chris Terry, UK

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