There was so much media build-up to today’s events in both committees that it was almost as if people were expecting the Gates Of Hell to open up for the senior police officers involved, followed by the Murdochs, and finally by our favourite villain of the piece, Rebekah Brooks. In the end, did we actually learn anything? Not really.
The senior police officers (and the police media chief) all came across as relatively confident that the evidence they were giving was either true, or could not be disproved. Either way, little responsibility was taken by any of the parties, other than the standard, expected apology – less on their behalf and more on behalf of the police forces involved. Personal responsibility it seems, is a thing of the past in the Police Force.
As it is within News International. The Murdochs were all too well briefed; their legal teams are quite capable of analysing the panels and judging what questions would be asked, in what manner (and probably in what order). Occasionally both Murdochs could be seen to glance down at their notes, and answers were given with little hesitation and firm eye contact. “We are not lying”, the eyes said.
"It’s hard to even place ‘Murdoch’ and ‘humility’ in the same sentence."Murdoch (Snr) also relied rather heavily on the explanation that “the News of the World was such a tiny part of our [News Corporation] business.” It may well be so, but he is known to have a particular affinity not only for the News Of The World (at least until he closed it) but for Brooks.
But mainly, bear in mind his misleading mention of the newspaper itself; the issue here is no longer the toxic News Of The World but News International itself, and it’s potential suggested involvement in covering the hacking issues, but News International; certainly not “a tiny part” of News Corporation, and headed by his son. One would have thought he’d at least try to keep tabs on what his boy was up to. It turned out to be his most misleading answer.
Rupert Murdoch’s statement at the close of his own questioning gracefully contained the right words, but was delivered in a rather monotone, unconvincing manner. Did anyone believe that he actually experienced the ‘humility’ he spoke of? It’s hard to even place ‘Murdoch’ and ‘humility’ in the same sentence.
And then Brooks arrived on scene; I think most of us had committee fatigue by then. She was extremely careful (understandably when she is still the focus of police attention) and she had rather a habit of rewording questions to her liking before answering – a point on while particularly Tom Watson picked her up on.
But her statements were of minimal value in gaining a clearer understanding of the big picture. The committees did their jobs – within their rather limited briefs and powers – but we are little further ahead. One wonders whether todays circus is more for public entertainment rather than a serious attempt to move forward.
[Also published on Hackery Blog here.]