Stephen Fry: cocaine addiction hurt no one but me

Backlash prompts Stephen Fry to dismiss calls for his arrest after admitting cocaine use in the 1980s

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Stephen Fry's admission in his new volume of memoirs, More Fool Me, that in the 1980s he snorted cocaine in a string of high-profile locations including Buckingham Palace, the House of Commons and a number of private members' clubs, has provoked condemnation, calls for his arrest – and some support.

The Daily Mail leads the charge, describing Fry as a "conceited coke head". Writing in the paper, Christopher Stevens says: "The truly nauseating thing about Fry's druggie posturing is that, in the very same book, he sets himself up as a moralist. An ardent atheist, he rails against 'cheating, thieving, adulterous and hypocritical clerics', before seizing the moral high ground on questions ranging from political correctness to Israeli politics."

In the Daily Telegraph, Libby Purves suggests that Fry's portrayal of "incredibly decent" drug dealers masks a dark, exploitative industry. She writes: "Fry's world is not the dark estate alley, his confreres are not the 10-year-old runners, the swaggering gang boys who will cry in prison cells for their wrecked futures, or the girls they trade and rape as part of an urban social ecology intimately entwined with the drug trade." Ultimately, she argues, his admission is "sad" and "silly".

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Other commentators suggested that Fry might find him on the wrong side of the private members clubs in which he indulged his habit.

Roland White says in The Sunday Times that the Groucho Club "takes a dim view of drug abuse", but one member of the Savile Club, where Fry used to be a member, is more forgiving. He tells the Evening Standard: "If anyone is cross with Stephen it will simply be because he didn't offer his coke round, as we do with the club's snuff."

Speaking to the BBC's Newsnight, Fry himself was unrepentant. He said: "If people think I should be arrested for historical drug abuse, that's fine. I'm the only person I hurt."

But Amanda Platell, writing in the Daily Mail is concerned that Fry is setting a bad example. She writes that cocaine use is "hardly something to boast about". Crediting Fry with being "a highly intelligent, talented, successful man", she wonders if his admission "simply encourages others to follow suit".

And Adam Helliker think that Fry's royal connections may also take a dim view of his past behavior."The admission… will not amuse Prince Charles who, for several years has invited the polymath to house parties," he writes in the Daily Express, adding that Charles has previously described Fry as "a jolly good egg".

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