I’LL be quite candid with you here and confess that, in the year of yon lord 2008, I did not participate in an orgy with prostitutes. As such, you may think me less than qualified to comment about the matters that follow (readers: “When has that ever stopped you?”).

All the same, given certain sensitivities and legalities, we tread fearfully this week into the question of having the right to hide or censor one’s past and even, as it were, one’s present.

Our story begins with one Max Mosley, former head of Formula 1, who is accused by The Times, an alleged newspaper (see how I’m keeping all this legal?), of “seeking to gag the media using a law never intended to limit press freedom”.

The law under advisement is the Data Protection Act 1998, designed to prevent private information being exploited by dubious interests online. Mr Mosley has taken the “unprecedented” step of using the act to prevent newspapers publishing details of his sex life.

I’m assuming this relates to widely reported events that occurred some time between 2007 and 2009, as I know nothing about his present sex life. But I can put in a call if you like.

More contemporaneous is a coterminous attempt to stop newspapers claiming he has influence over Impress, the staterecognised press regulator, which I must admit I had never heard of before, but which he is alleged to back financially through a trust.

Although I’ve no interest in Mr Mosley’s CV (coitus vitae), as the Impress business seems to be about freedom of the press and suchlike bosh, let’s focus on the sex stuff for a minute or hour.

Mr Mosley has never denied that, at some point in the first decade of the alleged 21st century, he took part in what many decent ratepayers would consider lewd and libidinous behaviour. What he seems fed up with is people going on about it and getting details wrong.

Indeed, it’s fair to say a court found this to be the case in the original tabloid report and, as everyone knows, the debauchery is in the detail.

Alas, Max has made a bags of this whole business, anyway, by setting off the Streisand Effect, in which attempting to remove information results in it being publicised more widely.

My advice to anyone having an orgy with prostitutes is to issue a press release immediately afterwards saying: “I have just had an orgy with prostitutes.” Append a blurred photograph of yourself in a state of undress and just leave it at that.

There’ll be a brief hullabaloo, but it’ll all die down soon enough and you can quickly return to writing your church sermons or whatever it is that makes you a celebrity.

Therein lies the nub. Do we have more right to poke our probing beaks into the private lives of celebrities than those of normal, pointless folk? Celebrities such as the Kardashians complicate matters since their public lives are based on their private lives.

They give the impression that, in the modern era, nothing is off-limits.

And the thing about the modern era is that everyone living in it has a past. Worse still, it has one of those internets and, there, everyone’s past lives for ever.

Max isn’t the only one who might get vexed at folk dredging up his past. Assuming most folk did nothing sexual of particular note, embarrassment would more likely involve politics or music, with your teenage anarchosyndicalism sitting oddly with your mature Brexit vote, or your current predilection for freeform jazz undermined by an earlier declared affection for I T was in 2004 when I first visited Haiti.

Back then during daylight hours the Marche en Fer or Iron Market district in Port au Prince, the country’s capital, was a sprawling ramshackle area filled with stalls and traders.

By night, however, its darkened streets, lit only by open bonfires, became transformed into a pitiful scene. In this, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere what one witnessed at night in Marche en Fer was a stark reminder of how brutalising poverty and the sex trade are inextricably connected.

Many of the sex workers on the streets were girls barely into their teens. For as little as 50 US cents they would take their “clients” behind the empty market stalls among the rotting produce and rats that overwhelmed the area.

As a reporter I had come to cover a story on the spread of HIV/Aids in Haiti, which at that time was running at a rate comparable with some of Africa’s worstaffected countries. My visit that night to Marche en Fer to interview local people and some of the sex workers was only safely undertaken with the help of an international humanitarian agency doing remarkable work running health and education projects that had made such a positive impact in stemming the spread of the disease.

The measure of just how good that work was and the support given was reiterated time and again by local Haitians I met.

I mention this story by way of a simple reminder of the profoundly positive work done by so many humanitarian agencies.

In the wake of the Oxfam sex scandal it’s all too easy to forget this, and frankly there are those in the UK Government right now who wish many of us would forget it, but more of that in moment.

For decades as a journalist I’ve worked alongside humanitarian workers overseas.

This past week, I’ve lost count of the people who since the Oxfam story broke, have asked whether I have ever witnessed similar behaviour by aid workers. My short answer to such questions is no I haven’t, though this is not to say other such abuses don’t exist. My other answer, too, is that as a journalist, let alone a concerned individual, I would have a professional responsibility to tell of such things.

What I have undoubtedly witnessed though, are other kinds of failings by the aid sector, failings that for far too long some within its ranks and hierarchy have seemed oblivious too. This is a significant point, not least because that failure to address shortcomings has left the sector especially vulnerable in light of the Oxfam scandal.

At precisely the moment when humanitarians need support and look around in anticipation of it coming, it’s in short supply. There are identifiable reasons why this has happened.

Often aloof, opaque, insular, sometimes arrogantly superior and disdainful of criticism, so much of the humanitarian sector has become an echo chamber for some who inhabit it. Behind its myriad acronyms and lexicon of “humanitarian architecture,” “hunger gaps” and “advocacy roles,” its human face has all but been obscured. For most outsiders looking in, aid agencies no longer seem to deliver what it says on the tin.

The sector is now a massive industry.

One preoccupied with logos, branding and celebrity involvement, while warding off rival agencies that might compete for the same donors and funding.

In an arena where the public perception is of efforts being made for the collective good, some aid agencies have developed a dog-eat-dog mindset.

The same culprits have often also embraced a commercial mercenarism and in so doing, have distanced and sometimes even disconnected their work from public and media support.

In this cosy closed arena there are undeniably structural problems too that only add to what many see as a lack of transparency. To take just one example, many workers are able to move from one agency to another often while on in-country postings and do so without regular vetting and scrutiny.

In a time when agencies need solutions to the massive reputational problem they now face, a humanitarian passporting system for aid workers would help, as would a constantly updated central register.

Above all though agencies need to open themselves up more to public scrutiny.

That they haven’t done this more, is in part a result of being beleaguered by persistent UK government attacks on overseas aid and our 0.7 per cent commitment of Britain’s GDP.

Which brings me to the key point in the political fallout following the Oxfam scandal. For some time now the UK Government led by former and current International Development Secretaries, Priti Patel and Penny Mordaunt have been gunning for the aid sector.

These days it’s almost impossible to pick up certain newspapers and not see another lurid story about how “bonkers”

Britain’s foreign aid budget is.

It’s no coincidence, too, that as the Oxfam scandal broke, Jacob Rees-Mogg the, “Honourable Member for the 18th Century,” arrived at Downing Street, to deliver a petition from readers of one such newspaper on the need to end the foreign aid “madness.”

It’s crucial to see this for what it really is. In other words, the Oxfam scandal is being used as part of a war of attrition by the UK Government against foreign aid. It speaks volumes too of the isolationism into which the Brexit heavies would have us withdraw.

Having worked up close for decades alongside humanitarian agencies across the globe, I’m under no illusion the moment is long overdue for them to reform their structure and re-examine their core values. To that end it was welcome news that agencies over the past few days have committed to a set of guiding principles laid down by BOND, the umbrella group that oversees the work of the aid sector.

Over the years some of the finest people I’ve met overseas in conflict and disaster zones have worked for aid agencies. I’ve seen the positive difference they make and believe me it’s often substantial.

There’s no doubt that with its insularity and reluctance to confront shortcomings the aid sector has created a rod for it own back. That same rod is now being used by Westminster to further bludgeon foreign aid commitment. This cannot be allowed to happen. It’s time the government backed off, and likewise, it’s time the aid sector got its house in order.

Bieber. And that’s before we get on to your hair.

Apparently, you can pay companies to clear up your internet history – say, before applying for a job – and that’s probably justifiable.

In the past, you’d have committed all declarations or photies to a physical diary or album, which you could later destroy. Putting your life into the public domain was always going to be a mistake. Your past is another country. You did things differently there.

Mr Mosley’s actions today are a different matter again. Although many people think the press deserves a good spanking, it pains me to say that using a well-meaning law aimed at protecting private citizens to threaten papers about what they can and can’t say is worrying (as are – all joking aside – the Impress allegations).

That’s not how it works. Papers are free to publish and, if it’s wrong, you complain. You don’t go around beforehand saying certain matters are out of bounds, particularly if you are wealthy or powerful.

Even if Max had a leg to stand on, the precedent could be used by worse folk than him. So, for everyone’s sake, we say: give it a rest, Max.