At last, this morning, the Commons Culture Committee finally released its report on News International (NI) and Phonehackgate. The much-trailed censure of Les Hinton, Colin Myler and Tom Crone for misleading the Committee was there, but rather more significantly, so was the judgment that Rupert Murdoch was “not a fit and proper person” to lead his own company.
Hang on, there isn't a Page 312 here ...
This conclusion had been agreed, though, by all five Labour members and the sole Lib Dem: the four Tories disagreed but were outvoted. As there was a majority in that ballot, chairman John Whittingdale did not cast his vote. The result was that Tom Watson and Louise Mensch produced rather different analyses on that part of the report, though most of it was agreed by most of the Committee.
But for the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his tame gofer, the flannelled fool Henry Cole, at the Guido Fawkes blog, their beloved Rupe had had his name impugned, and by one of those rotten lefties, and so Cole was dispatched, with his conclusion already written, to attend the press conference and put on his best “pretending to be a real journalist” act.
Here, he further pretended to question Watson, pretended not to have been slapped down by him, pretended to have been right all along, and in conclusion pretended that he had caught Watson in contempt of Parliament. Even Whittingdale’s intervention, telling that much of what was in Watson’s book Dial M For Murdoch was in the public domain, did not assuage Cole.
Whittingdale also reminded the flannelled fool that Watson had referred anything contentious back to him, but this too had no effect: Cole had already concluded that there was wrongdoing on Watson’s part, so wrongdoing had to be asserted and demonstrated, even if there wasn’t any. This has taken the form of an examination of Page 312 of the Watson book.
Here it is asserted that Watson leaked the Committee’s findings by telling that NI executives would be found to have misled them. The idiot Cole calls this “a leak from a position of privilege with commercial implications”, and then later on Twitter gushes his praise at the NI share price rising after the Committee’s report was released. He does not appear to have connected his dots here.
So let me put the flannelled fool straight. Cole will never accept that Tom Watson is other than guilty of anything the Fawkes blog, a notoriously dishonest as well as shoddily researched and appallingly written rag, throws at him. But as John Whittingdale, the other Committee members, and the rest of Parliament are not moving against him, this time he and Staines might just have got it wrong.
And that wouldn’t be the first such occasion. Another fine mess, once again.