The attempt by the Murdoch mafiosi to get their clinging mitts on the 61% of Sky that they do not yet own has taken another turn today, as 21st Century Fox formally lodged its bid of £11.7 billion, valuing Sky at around £18 billion, and confirming that, despite protestations from some shareholders in the broadcaster, that there would be no increase in the £10.75 per share offer tabled last Friday. So that’s all done, is it?
Well, no it isn’t: even with her SpAd Craig Woodhouse - formerly chief political correspondent at the Murdoch Sun - manipulating her, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley is probably going to have to refer the bid to Ofcom, given the amount of power it would concentrate in the hands of the Murdoch mafiosi. But Ofcom’s investigation may not do much more than delay matters, given its Murdoch-friendly recent past.
It was, after all, Ofcom that forced the legal separation of BT and its Openreach division, thus acceding to the demands of the Murdochs that one of their competitors be duly hobbled. But one intervention that may have rather more effect than an Ofcom investigation, and suggests that the Murdochs were ill-advised to screw around with him at a time of personal and family setback, is that of former PM Gordon Brown.
Pa Broon, as the Guardian has told, “has demanded that Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of the Sky satellite business be delayed until the government carries out the second part of the Leveson inquiry into press malpractice … In a letter to the culture secretary, Karen Bradley, the former prime minister said the bid by Murdoch-controlled 21st Century Fox for Sky made the ‘promised but delayed second part of the Leveson inquiry … particularly relevant and timely’”. What might be informing his judgment?
“Having given evidence to the first part of the Leveson inquiry, Brown says that evidence of wrongdoing beyond phone hacking has still not been properly investigated … In his letter to Bradley, Brown argues that there is a ‘new body of evidence’ about the extent of abuses beyond voicemail interception, which include impersonation or ‘blagging’, email hacking, burglary and unauthorised access to confidential records, and make the need for the promised follow-up ‘unanswerable’”. And who might have provided this for him?
“The new information cited by Brown in his letter has been gathered by the investigative journalist Peter Jukes and Hacked Off, which acts for victims of press abuse. It is expected to be submitted to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on Wednesday. It includes fresh evidence involving Mazher Mahmood”. And that explains rather a lot.
This is what Brown had to say about the new evidence he has seen: “Mainly because they were subject to ongoing police inquiries in 2011 and 2012, abuses beyond voicemail interception were either excluded from consideration in the first part of the inquiry or underexamined. As yet, none of the legal or corporate governance issues raised by more than 20 trials have been assessed”. And there was more.
“Again, the fresh evidence made available raises as yet unanswered claims about wrongdoing that have to be investigated in the public interest … It is clear that, given these questions, the Leveson 2 inquiry should take place in advance of any final decision related to the future of Sky TV”. There is also what Brown did not say that is important.
The pursuit of campaigning group Hacked Off by the press establishment and those seeking to ingratiate themselves with it is well-known, and includes the routine abuse directed at the group, which represents victims of press misbehaviour. The obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre at the Daily Mail refers to Hacked Off as being “anti-press”, but it is only anti the kind of press that abuses its victims.
Hacked Off has also been targeted by the likes of the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, one such occasion - the attending of a lobby event by Staines’ newly anointed teaboy Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham - witnessed by Zelo Street (Wickham was rumbled and later lied about the occasion, thus confirming his nickname).
But the recent welter of abuse directed at my good friend Peter Jukes, now head man at Byline Media, is a rather more interesting and also disturbing feature, which can now be seen fitting into the Murdoch mafiosi’s acquisition jigsaw. Small wonder there were such efforts to smear him, given his part in drawing together evidence on the Murdochs.
Those efforts included the attempt to discredit Byline by Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan in one of his last efforts for the Telegraph - an article so full of falsehood and misinformation that it took all of IPSO’s excuse generating talents to bat away the inevitable complaint - which Zelo Street fisked and filleted recently.
There were also interventions from The Great Guido, who as any fule kno is a fully paid-up member of the press establishment he pretends to shun, trying to smear Jukes as a conspiracy theorist, something the Fawkes rabble know all about, as at the time they were pushing this claim, they were peddling a particularly lame conspiracy theory claiming that Labour deputy leader Tom Watson was involved in the John Whittingdale revelations.
And who could forget the particularly crude hatchet job on not just Jukes, but the campaign to seek justice for the memory of Daniel Morgan, the private detective murdered in the car part of a south London pub almost 30 years ago? After Rupert Murdoch himself assured Alastair Morgan, the dead man’s brother, that his organisation would assist the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel in any way he could, one of his hacks laid into the process.
Sarah Douglas, the Sun’s social media manager - now there’s a contradiction in terms - made a number of snide comments about Untold Murder, the chart-topping podcast which Jukes had put together on the Daniel Morgan story, smearing it as - you guessed it - a conspiracy theory. Thus the admission that Jukes, the Morgan panel, and all those who had informed their thinking were a potential threat to the Murdoch mafiosi.
Right now, there is silence from the bully boys and hatchet merchants. If Brown’s intervention gains traction, that will not continue. The mere belief of a reward from the Murdochs for putting the boot in will be enough to set off a chorus of abuse. Murdoch has been denied once. Leveson part 2 has the potential to deny him for good.
Ignoring Gordon Brown will not last for long. Then the whole shit-storm will break upon him, Jukes, Hacked Off, and anyone else with their head above the parapet. Rupert Murdoch is vindictive as hell. And there are plenty of goons ready to do his bidding.