Slog learns that Rebekah Brooks ‘has regular meetings with Murdoch hacks convinced they’re all going to jail’.
There’s an entertaining piece in the New Statesman this morning about actor Hugh Grant accidentally making the acquaintance of Newscorp hacking fesser-up Paul McMullan, and then later taping him as he mouthed off about some of the seamier practices at Newscorp during former Number Ten aide Andy Coulson’s less than illustrious reign as editor at The News of the World. Although the general attitude of the British press today was to play the episode mainly for laughs, in fact some of the revelations are being taken very seriously indeed inside 10 Downing Street.
While David Cameron has briefed his spinners to play down the closeness of his relationship with Rebekah Brooks, the Grant piece – written for his former girlfriend and New Statesman editor Jemima Khan – makes it clear that the couple frequently go riding together. And as we already know, Rebekah is married to an old Etonian chum of the Prime Minister.
The Slog understands that, bizarrely, another Etonian Cameroon just appointed to beef up the Government’s economic credentials – Tim Luke – finds himself landed by force majeur with the containment of this story. It’s not really his bag, but with Easter coming – and Cam in Spain with Sam – it’s a question of all hands to the spinning wheel.
Meanwhile, still unable to grasp that she is doomed, Rebekah Brooks has taken to holding regular ‘updates’ with Murdoch’s Wapping journalists. This unhappy breed – now all too aware that their names are ever-present in the ‘rediscovered’ Newscorp emails – are receiving twice-weekly reassurances that, according to one staffer, are about as reassuring as this week’s arrest of two of their colleagues.
“It’s the sort of management protesting that makes you even more nervous,” said the Slog’s source, “Rebekah calls an all-staff meeting to say there’s nothing to worry about, and everyone leaves the meeting convinced they’re going to jail for thirty years minimum”.
All of which tends to confirm the widespread view revealed during the Slog’s research into how Ms Brooks got to where she is: that she of the flame-haired tressles isn’t actually that bright.
“She certainly has chutzpah,” one Fleet Street veteran told me last Tuesday, “And she definitely fooled the old boy [Rupert Murdoch], but she hasn’t got a clue about running a company – let alone running one in this sort of crisis. The naivety of her cynicism is the riddle nobody can solve…she’s done for, but can’t seem to grasp it. I hear she rings [Murdoch] most days for confirmation of her immortality. It’s all very sad.”
One wonders whether anyone is hacking the hackers. Will there be, perhaps, some revelations before too long about desperate pleas via mobile phone from Rebekah in Wapping to Dave in Spain? I’ve no idea, but I was tickled by our postman, who pitched up yesterday and said that the PM was “goin’ a bit over the top in tryin’ to look ordinary”. I assumed he meant travelling to Spain on holiday via Ryanair, but the postie set me straight.
“Nah,” he asserted, “I mean – takin’ yer wife ter Spain in a Granada. That’s no way to celebrate ‘er 40th birthday is it?”