James Weatherup

Weatherup said to have been close to James Murdoch.

The latest Newscorp journalist to be arrested, James Weatherup, was something of a Murdoch lifer: as long ago as 23 October 1994, he was bylined in The News of the World as being the author of “Page 3 Helen let me tie her to the bed”. His career since then has followed very much the same narrow path – scandal about celebs and salacious details of their sex lives.  So he was immediately a subject of prime suspicion for the Met’s Operation Weeter’s being headed by Sue Akers.

The biog is a familiar one: Weatherup was news editor at the News of the World for about 18 months from 2004, and was one of the inner circle of executives under the then editor, Andy Coulson. As the third news editor at the paper under Coulson, Weatherup was one of a handful of senior employees who would take part in private discussions of major news stories with other senior members of the Newscorp management.

But  there seems to be a crucial link here. For in fulfilling this role, he came into close contact with Rupert’s heir apparent, James Murdoch. The proprietor’s son was impressed by the celebrity gossip-writer, and allegedly chose him to write about Ross Kemp, starring at the time in a Sky documentary about soldiers in Afghanistan – the ingeniously titled Ross Kemp in Afghanistan.

The idea of the documentary was first thought of by Kemp in early 2005, following a series of programmes about gangs. Kemp pitched the idea to James Murdoch, head of Sky TV. Murdoch bought the concept, and (it is alleged) personally chose Weatherup to write a series of NotW puffery pieces trailing the Sky series. (‘TV’s Ross Kemp on horrors & heroes of Afghanistan By James Weatherup…Speaking in detail for the first time about filming a hard-hitting Sky One documentary with the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment….etc etc).

This latest development makes Rupert Murdoch’s decision to move his son 3,000 miles away from the scandal look increasingly wise. For there can be no doubt that MPs and rival papers will soon be asking how the Murdoch heir could have had such a close relationship with both Coulson and Weatherup without knowing about the propensity for hacking celebrity mobile phones. But then, Andy Coulson apparently knew nothing either, so anything is possible.


  1. Could be time to test the extradition arrangements with the US. It would not look good for News International to have James Murdoch stranded in New York when they were facing a major trial in London about activities he may have been involved with. It certainly would not encourage the others.

  2. Rupert Murdoch was always a little shit..lets hope this time what goes around comes around….


    Rohan Rivett

    Having at last seen Black and White, the film version of the Stuart Case mentioned mentioned here before, I have to say that, so far as its portrayal of the late Rohan Rivett is concerned, it is a sad, indeed cruel, mistake. This is not the fault of the actor. One can live with a film Rivett who doesn’t look, speak, or behave like the man himself – that may be unavoidable. The pity is that Rivett, who was a great editor-in-chief of the Adelaide News, should be deprived of the proper credit due to one who inspired and led the paper’s crusade for justice to Rupert Max Stuart. Instead, Rupert Murdoch, who controlled the paper at the time and played a much less significant part, has had greatness thrust upon him. The film takes a great many other liberties with the Stuart case. It uses the old formula – “Based on a true story” – but that cannot excuse everything.

    The myths multiply. On 30 October, the ABC’s 7.30 Report carried an item described as “A tale of two Ruperts: the media mogul and the man he saved” – meaning Keith Rupert Murdoch and Rupert Max Stuart. Introducing it, Kerry O’Brien said the case “caused an uproar in South Australia – fanned by then-fledgling newspaper proprietor Rupert Murdoch”.

    Yet the journalist who prepared the item, Murray McLaughlin, reported with strict accuracy, “The News and its editor Rohan Rivett campaigned on Stuart’s behalf”. How did others get it wrong?

    Rupert Murdoch reminisced a little in the report: “Well, I remember being tried for treason…” Another myth. Mr Murdoch was never tried for treason. His company, not himself, was charged on nine counts of libel, including seditious libel. No mention of treason. Rohan Rivett was in peril in person, charged with the same nine counts, and like the company cleared of all. This did not fit into the film either.

    David Bowman is a former editor-in-chief of the Sydney Morning Herald. A version of this article appears in the December 2002 edition of the Adelaide Review

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