Les Hinton

The Slog delves into how many Newscorpers, coppers and politicos will survive Hackgate

Last night on BBCNews, Dame Anne Leslie told an anecdote about the Mail’s editor Paul ‘Mad’ Dacre meeting a top Met cop at a drinks do recently. The Plod concerned had been talking airily about “a few rotten apples” in his force, and how he had always faced “a wall of silence” from Newscorp. Apparently, Dacre had one of his daily 100 fits, and observed that “if we know who all the crooks are, why on earth don’t you?”

It’s a fair question. In a very short time, the Metropolitan Police have gone from being thought smug and over-protected to being very  obviously incompetent and incriminated. It’s been obvious to maybe a hundred or more of us for nearly three years that several senior officers were either bent or stupid; now even we are slightly surprised to find that it was both.

But Paul Dacre (while potty) is straight. He knew what some of his lot were up to at the Daily Mail four or five years ago, and ordered them to stop. Most of them migrated to other newspapers with lower standards, and continued to ply their foul trade. Dacre was glad to see the back of them. Other mad people who welcomed them with open arms must be wishing they hadn’t.

Prime Ministerial PMQs and statements aside, probably the time has come for those in the Real Opposition to assess who will be next in the firing line across these three dangerously interwoven sectors of our public life: the media, the police, and the politicians. Somewhere in there lies the full strength of how the law has been flouted, and the Constitution perverted, by all three in various ways since around the turn of the century. But some very determined investigators are going to have to take on some very powerful interests to enjoy any real depth of success in such a thankless mission. Jailing Coulson is going to seem a fairly straightforward process by comparison.

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But before we get into the detail, let’s just pause and examine the phrase ‘real opposition’. To be frank, I’ve been frustrated and annoyed by the speed with which – even where lowlife like Murdoch are concerned – people still scuttle back into their Left/Right caves at the first sign of ‘being attacked’.

Just as Johann Hari has rightly fallen victim to the philosophical oxymoron of ‘the good lie’, so too in 2009 did every medium to the Left of the Daily Express vilify my then site for raising the most open secret in Westminster: that Gordon Brown was in a place so mentally and physically dysfunctional, his ability or not to be Prime Minister was a matter not so much for public interest as popular panic. So trust me, I know all about the power of the Left to muzzle.

But when I read the feeble arguments of columnists like Brendan O’Neill and Toby Young calling the attack on Newscorp a politically motivated witch-hunt, I want to scream. That is no more than the ‘bad truth’ on the arse-side of the ‘good lie’ coin. The viewpoint of The Slog is crystal clear on this point, and for those who care to read About, it always has been: I think our entire UK, US and EU cultures suck. I’m bored by the lefts, rights, ins, outs and claims for absolute correctness on both sides. We need, bit by bit, to dismantle all the idiot pc, health & safety, welfare dependency, do what it takes, greedy, ethics-free business, anti-communitarian, Whips system, full-of-bollocks hypocrisy and controlling authoritarianism of everything that has happened under Heath, Callaghan, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron.

I haven’t signed up to any Government in this country since 1964, and I was wrong about that one too. The current 19th century Party system, media ownership structures, methods for financing capitalism, and bases on which our global consumption business model wobbles uneasily are irrational, doomed and dangerous. It’s not my job to rationalise the views I hold because (1) all the evidence supports me, not Ed Balls or Lloyd Blankfein, and (2) I’ve done so dozens and dozens of times before.

I will report what I discover and write what I feel to be the current truth or the likely outcome. This will lead me to call Alan Rusbridger a censorious fascist (because he is) and his employee Nick Davies a man who should be given the Freedom of the City, 3,000 virgins in Heaven, the return of 8-track – and anything else he fancies frankly – because the bloke is a bloody hero. I will call Paul Dacre mad, but I won’t call him dishonest. I will call Anne Leslie moral, but I won’t call her nice. I will call James Delingpole a borderline obsessive compulsive idiot on the subject of anti-climate change, and East Anglia University a bunch of data-fiddling quacks about pro-climate change. I think the BBC hopelessly fluffy and brainlessly liberal, and that Newscorp is an amateur, third-rate, biased and criminally corrupt organisation.

What I will never, ever do is use a turd to defend my views against people pissing on them.

We are never – repeat, never – going to solve anything in this our Septic Isle if we remain rigidly trapped in our Left-Right cubby-holes. I am sick to death of mindless mutual trashing sessions masquerading as ‘debate’. Debate my buttocks: What we need is fresh ideas, more bravery, higher standards, socially moral teaching, respect for others and – as a start on the road to that – self-respect. This is a hard, long, steep and slippery climb to join. If you don’t like it, go climb something else – like the walls or something.

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And after that rant from Lord Copper, we now return Sloggers everywhere to our coverage of international pro-Am Hackgate sword-diving.

Old Merdeschlock himself will be doing some of the self-preservatory culling. Indeed, it is already happening as I write. Seasoned Newscorp legal boss Tom Crone has been ‘decided’ to leave his post.

Many well-informed folks on both sides of the Atlantic expect the fomer News International boss Les Hinton will be an early victim. Not only would he be a convenient head to roll in Murdoch’s newly toxic US business (journos over there are leaping at the possibility of revenge) but some of his past testimony is sure to damn him under UK law anyway. It was Hinton who told a parliamentary committee in 2007 that he was “absolutely convinced” that the illegal accessing of phones was limited to a single rogue reporter. After having conducted a “full, rigorous, internal inquiry,” Hinton said, “I believe he was the only person.” That assertion seems both laughable and utterly false today. I find it hard to believe that Mr Hinton (now the CEO of Dow Jones) can avoid at least one serious charge.

Few even among the most bitterly cynical ranks of journalism can believe that Rebekah Brooks is still in her job. I believe what this shows us is an ageing Australian putting the same two fingers up to Britain that he’s been displaying since he bought The Sun in 1968. I’ve entertained, dropped, re-examined, consulted and investigated re this one so many times in recent days, my head hurts now. But this morning, my conclusion remains that Murdoch is being both bloody-minded and personally careful. Brooks may well, I think, be having some kind of odd breakdown at the moment; if you look at the body language she was using towards Rupe over the last two days, it was very much one of ikkle girl want Daddy fix please. We should not, however, see the Grinning Digger as a man who responds to this. She knows something we don’t, and it will come out in the end. As, indeed, she will go. But I’d imagine it will be done around Murdoch, not by him.

Moving thankfully away from Antipodean sociopaths, we arrive at the world’s leading Mother Theresa impressionist, former top Met cop Andy Hayman. Andy it was who led the 2005 investigation into phone-hacks, but resigned in 2007 over allegations about his expenses – for which he was exonerated – and an alleged relationship with a junior officer, Sgt Heidi Tubby. Now an author and columnist for The Times, another Murdoch owned paper, Hayman reacted angrily to a question by MP Lorraine Fullbrook as to whether he had ever received payment from any news organisation saying: “Good God, absolutely not. I can’t believe you’ve suggested that.” One wonders how he classifies his current Newscorp salary.

Hayman went on to have a row with Chairman Vaz, during which he said, “She’s impugnin’ my reputation, an’ I’m not ‘avin’ it”. Well, you can take the man out of Essex etc etc. In the meantime, several others in public life have impugned Andy’s reputation, and so I find it surprising that the gentleman in question is shocked by this. Rebekah Brooks too is shocked by those suggesting that she must have known at least something about Newscorp between 1999 and 2011, but we are rapidly learning how much notice to take of her astonishment. I expect Andy Hayman to face questioning of a rather more robust nature than he suffered yesterday. And I will be disappointed (although not surprised) if he manages to emerge from Hackgate in better condition than that in which he entered it.

John Yates is another case entirely. He has a senior anti-terrorist role, and this thus puts him above the law. It shouldn’t, but it does. If you want further proof of that, I suggest you delve into the files of the British Aerospace arms-deal corruption investigation, with especial reference to the various interventions made by Mr Anthony Lynton Blair QC in that process, and Mr Yates’ acquiescence in said interventions. Given the very close relationship between the world’s Yates’s and Camerons (and all that the Yates’s know about the Camerons) I think expecting John Yates to come a cropper is well beyond tilting at Windmills. One might justifiably describe it as sneezing at Tsunamis.

For a discussion of the chances of James Murdoch and David Cameron, follow the links on their names. It would probably be fair to say that the latter’s performance in the House today improved his chances somewhat: but that, as ever, they depend on what else emerges as time goes on.

This leaves only those at or near the helm of the Maily Telegraph. You can draw your own conclusions there. Or at least, that’s what my legal advice is. The same applies to those across the Pond formerly famous for their investigative tabloid journalism.

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I do think that the bottom line to all this is that we must expect seismic change as a result of this scandal, and stop being surprised by who does or doesn’t wind up accused, convicted, consigned to the footnotes of history, or even dead. What’s going on here is a struggle for the survival of a corrupt and politicised police force, a media-obsessed political class, and a form of globalist business without either morals or pity. The ripples from this unseemly scrum are invading world markets and ensuring that wholesale regime change is likely to occur. Now that the few ethical folks within the ‘authorities’ have woken up to the degeneracy involved, we can hope for success. What we mustn’t do is assume it.