Hardly had the departure of the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks from her perch as CEO of News International been digested by those reporting on the runaway train that is Phonehackgate, than resignation fever reached News Corp in the USA, and Les Hinton, faithful retainer to Rupert Murdoch for half a century, departed.
That Hinton went so soon after Brooks may have been a surprise, but that he departed was not: evidence is beginning to emerge of United States citizens having their phones either hacked, or wiretapped, within the US. And while some in the UK keep trying – after two years of abject failure – to keep portraying this as some right versus left political game, the smart money is on straightforward criminality.
Thus it was that the serially tenacious Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads fame delved into the back catalogue of the Screws and soon found an “exclusive” that gave every impression of involving some kind of electronic surveillance. This was the splash from January 9, 2005 on the end of Brad Pitt’s marriage to Jennifer Aniston, which goes into some detail on Pitt’s phone conversations with Angelina Jolie.
And the timing was hardly accidental: Pitt and Aniston had just issued their own version of events, as the BBC reported only the previous day. So how did the Screws get their information? Weirdly, Pitt had previously been linked with Anthony Pellicano, former “PI to the stars”, as one of many who had engaged Pellicano’s services. But the PI was already in jail when the events described took place.
What Pellicano majored in was buying up gossip before it broke, then getting money from the subject in exchange for managing the fallout, or if you prefer, spin and damage control. That Pitt had been linked to him suggests that the Aniston marriage could have been in trouble as far back as late 2002, and Pellicano’s presence, if known, would have alerted others keen for a piece of the action.
Pellicano also dabbled in wiretapping, for which he is now serving time. When he was removed from the scene at the end of 2002, those in the service of phone companies who had assisted him, and kept clear of the law, would have had to find a new purchaser for their product. And that new purchaser is the next piece in the jigsaw: who inherited Pellicano’s patch?
The Screws piece is either a series of inspired guesses linked together with well coordinated and immaculately recalled hearsay, or it’s the result of mobile phone hacking or even landline wiretapping, or maybe an amalgam of both. But two out of these three are illegal. And if Rupe’s troops paid for any of that illegality, the Murdochs are in serious trouble.
Zelo Street will return to this story in the near future.