Everyone has an inalienable right to a private life. Say it often enough and you might even start to believe it.

We have certainly heard it with tiresome frequency over the last week. So frequently, in fact, that the mantra is taking root in our collective mindset.

What happens behind closed doors stays there. An Englishman’s home – also his girlfriend’s - is his castle. It’s nobody’s business what I, you or anyone else might do in the privacy of personal space.

Privacy, you see. That’s the thing. Breach it and you’re a snooping busy-body up to no good, right? Wrong.

It’s a big pill to swallow but privacy has limits and they’re tighter and closer than we might think. Rightly so.

If behind your closed doors you’re downloading grotesque paedophile porn, imprisoning illegally trafficked youngsters for potential resale, thrashing someone to a pulp, cultivating a cannabis farm or using your chemistry set to create killer street drugs, you’ve crossed the line of entitlement to a quiet life by the fireside.

And if suspicions are raised among snooping busy-bodies that all might not be well in your castle, they’re right to mention them in the proper quarters.

It was that noisy quarrel in the Bojo household – well, one of them – that set ponderings on privacy rolling. Again.

Not that anyone suggests the would-be prime minister was up to any of the above extremes of lawlessness. But shouting, pleading, banging and breaking china or whatever – heard through walls and from the street – were enough to persuade neighbours and others that something less safe than a cosy night in with Netflix and pizza might be going on behind closed doors.

What followed is well known now. Police were called, attended and left again with a no-harm-done conclusion and politics kicked in to demonise the neighbours as wicked curtain twitchers with an ulterior motive - no better than they should be in fact.

Whatever did or did not happen in that flat, this whole unsavoury episode could have been shut down swiftly, had Mr Johnson thought to publicly thank neighbours for their concern, commend the police for their response and encouraged any with worries about danger to act accordingly.

He didn’t. He still hasn’t, which is neither here nor there now. But the mixed messages about privacy linger with a nasty taste. When is it right to put safety before fear of ridicule – or worse - for sticking your nose in where it’s patently unwelcome?

Always, I’d say. Unfounded suspicion is invariably better than the potential alternative. It’s arguable that the neighbours, by passing a recording of the shouty carry-on next door to a national newspaper, may well have weakened their case for pure public spiritedness. But the question remains – what is privacy?

Domestic violence – which one assumes must have crossed their minds – is by definition an intensely private business most often conducted within “castle” walls. There are many reasons why, once police have been alerted to it, couples prefer not to proceed with the long, drawn out legal consequences. Fear, humiliation, anxiety about reputation and the knowledge that bad life-choices were made willingly – and will be exposed – are just some of them.

But if we are to accept that screaming and banging next door should be ignored as a none-of-my-business thing, there’s probably a case for hurrying past a witnessed mugging or frenzied kicking in the street – ears and eyes closed. Because what anyone does in their own time is up to him or her and I have no responsibility to care for the wellbeing of others.

The two great shames in what happened – or didn’t - last weekend were firstly that opportunity wasn’t immediately taken to applaud those who perceived danger and responded to it. Secondly that those who did react were lambasted by senior politicians, who should know better, for reporting their fears.

Privacy exists as a right if what we do is within the law and is known to harms no one. A shared care for each other pips privacy to the winning post every time – because it is known to save lives. And if that means that, in effect, we have none – so be it. Such was ever the case.