If the UK authorities are serious, they should confiscate James Murdoch’s passport

I waver back and forth in my judgement of James Murdoch. While there is no doubt at all in my mind that he is a mendaci0us freak, I cannot make my mind up as to whether – given the current outlook for Rupe’s son – he is simply brazen, very stupid, or both. As an excellent piece in today’s IoS from the irrepressible Matt Chorley points out, our James

‘….will this week face fresh questions from a parliamentary inquiry into News International’s financial links to Rebekah Brooks, who resigned at the height of the phone-hacking scandal. Mr Murdoch’s reappearance at the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee is expected to be dominated by doubts cast on his earlier claims not to have known about the extent of phone hacking at News of the World….’

However, unless Tom Watson has been bagged by the Bodysnatchers over the last few weeks, I doubt very much if Murdoch the Younger will be allowed to retire from his next CM&S session without explaining why Rebekah Redtop received a £1.7m payout, a chauffeur-driven car and a central London office as part of her go-forth-and-do-not-darken etc etc clear-out of all the hitherto undiscovered wicked elements within Newscorp. It also seems, by the way, that La Brooks has been told she will one day be able to return to the company, maybe even in as little as two years from now.

Now if you were James Murdoch Top Banana with a Clark Kent-style zero tolerance policy towards ethical anti-matter, isn’t bringing the Princess of Depravity back a bit like having a cancer implant? It’s a rhetorical question, to which the answer is obvious. But of course, ZTP has become the bollocks of choice for every evil multinational organisation over the last decade. Thinking this through at even the most superficial level it is hard to escape the conclusion that flame-haired Rebekah has some pretty serious dirt on the Murdochs.

And evil is as evil does. James Murdoch and his cryogenically preserved Dad not only face pretty serious charges over here, they face far more serious charges in the US, where corporate turpitude is a much easier offence to prove. The Murdoch twin-shares arrangement to their public companies can keep them in power, but it can’t keep them out of jail. Now that the FBI is on James’s case (as the CEO in America, he is personally responsible for the Mafiaesque behaviour of his forceful subsidiaries) it is, I suspect, only a matter of time before the US and UK Governments are arguing about nothing more than who gets the first shot at this obnoxious young man. (Rupert’s age alone, I would argue, probably guarantees his safety from prison).

 Tom Watson himself told told The Observer this weekend, “It is remarkably curious that such a generous package is given to Ms Brooks when others have been cut loose. It is almost as if she hasn’t really left … I am sure Mr Murdoch will want to explain the decision to his shareholders.” Indeed, only today a person with knowledge of all matters BSkyB told me that “[James] Murdoch’s chances of remaining Chairman [of BSkyB] are waning daily”.
But what is truly, deeply, remarkably curious is that Jimbo keeps having to explain all these hypocrisies and lies to shareholders and Parliamentary Committees…and yet not to Akers of the Yard. Way back in April this year, when David Cameron still felt Andy Coulson should not have to suffer twice for things he knew nothing about, The Slog asked when exactly MetroPlod might get round to feeling his collar. Gradually and grudgingly, they did. Six months on, I am having the same problem with James Murdoch’s continued freedom.
As it happens, last Wednesday I spoke to a US-based legal boffin on the subject of high-profile cases like these. He offered the opinion, off the record, that James Murdoch will go to jail. Now, I have to believe that much more formal and expensive advice is equally available to the man who was the Murdoch heir – but of late, no longer is. I posted some time ago to the effect that the patriarch’s most favoured son had been shifted by Dad to the US in the hope that his residency there might ensure his freedom. But what is to be done now that JM faces prosecution in both countries?
In such circumstances, it is entirely valid to ask whether we can really trust James Murdoch. Because let’s be real here, the temptation for Murdoch Jr to make a break for it must be increasingly urgent.
A Vanity Fair piece last week alleged that Rupert Murdoch and his daughter Liz think James should ‘take leave’, but it’s unclear from the story what precisely they mean by this. For while this might seem at first sight like melodrama, neither The Slog nor most of the legal-business community on either side of the Pond can see the exit route from this corner for Murdoch’s son.
So if needs dictated, where might he go? There’s not much choice.
If he wanted to escape UK justice, James could simply go home to Australia…although he doesn’t sound very Australian these days. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t work for US justice. In fact, the only halfway civilised place I can find that has no extradition treaty with either the US or the UK is….the Maldives. There are few places more threatened by human presence and alleged climate change than the Maldives. And as it happens, James is something of a climate change hawk.
“All of the climate prediction models suggest we’re on the worst-case trajectory, and some cases worse than the worst case,” he
told The Observer in 2009. That same year, he talked up the benefits of “a gradual cap on carbon pollution” in a Washington
Post piece entitled “Clean energy is a conservative cause.” His wife,Kathryn Hufschmid Murdoch, is a climate hawk too. She has worked and served as an advisory board member at the Clinton Climate Initiative, and she’s on the board of the US Environmental Defence Fund. “Climate change is the most urgent global issue facing humankind,” she wrote in 2007.
To be more serious in closing, the power of the Murdochs (and their retained knowledge of buried body locations) would obviously suggest some kind of plea bargain, with comfort letters placed in deposit boxes behind closed vaults. But even so, any Met Police  base-covering after James Murdoch’s impending CM&S testimony this week should surely include a token arrest warrant and the confiscation of his passport.
Let’s see what happens.