Many of those who spend their hard-earned cash on the Super Soaraway Currant Bun will have been left scratching their heads this morning at an editorial in which they have no interest, and little knowledge, given the paper’s tenuous relationship with the truth. “The Government must act NOW to protect the free press and keep our important investigative journalism alive … MPs are considering forcing newspapers to pay celebs and politicians who sue - even if cases are thrown out” pleads the headline.
What those readers are seeing is clear evidence of involuntary bowel movements among the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker at the thought that the much-trumpeted “consultation” on Section 40 of the Crime And Courts Act may be progressing not necessarily to their advantage. And that Leveson Part 2 might not be delayed further.
As a result, the Murdoch goons have been forced to veer across the dishonesty line and tell those readers a whole pack of Royally sized porkies - and to what purpose? They aren’t going to take part in the consultation. And the schtick is desperate.
“IMAGINE a judge threw out a case against you because you were completely innocent, then made you pay every penny of your costs and the prosecution’s … Such a clear injustice couldn’t happen here, could it? Yes it could. MPs are considering imposing just such a law on the Press” tell the Murdoch doggies. And no they aren’t. We know this is not true because the Sun’s editorial then effectively admits it.
“Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act would be the instant death of investigative journalism”. What “investigative journalism”? Spending a week snooping in a council car park on the off-chance of seeing a Sleb doing something illegal? Come off it.
“Newspapers could no longer afford to expose scandals in the public interest and provably true”. Wrong. They could join a properly independent press regulator. But do go on. “The only safety would be under a new industry regulator, Impress - a dubious outfit bankrolled by Max Mosley, a tycoon with a vendetta against the Press”. IMPRESS is totally independent - and that includes independent of Max Mosley. It isn’t dubious.
This is utterly unconvincing - so the Sun has to resort to lying. “Newspapers will never sign up to it. Chiefly because it is backed by a Royal Charter, giving politicians control over the Press for the first time since 1695”. IMPRESS is recognised by a Royal Charter. But that does not give politicians control over it, or any publication that signs up with it. The Murdoch goons are lying, they know they are lying, and they know the world knows.
And when you’re into a lying groove, hey, why not lie a little more: “This was the bizarre scheme cooked up by David Cameron’s panicked Government and the leftie celebrity Press-haters of Hacked Off, who hope to neuter newspapers they disagree with”. Hacked Off had nothing to do with the idea of using a Royal Charter. And the group is not of the left, right, or indeed on any part of the political spectrum. Still, details, eh?
Pausing only to tell readers of “our already effective regulator IPSO” - that would be “effective” as in “we have effective control over IPSO, and just to prove it, one of our pundits is on their board” - and to suggest that readers “look over there” at Google and Facebook, the discussion moves right along to Leveson Part 2.
“They are also pondering a SECOND part of the Leveson Inquiry, into the Press’s relationship with the police during the phone hacking scandal” claims the editorial. Lying again. Those last five words should be removed: it’s about the press’ relationship with the Police PERIOD, including the collusion and corruption around cases like the still unsolved murder of private detective Daniel Morgan.
So when the Sun demands “Why should the public pay millions for that? Hacking was minutely examined in the first part and the criminal trials” they are being disingenuous.
And then it is back to lying - well, if you’re going to pull one or two, you might as well pull another - as readers are told, presumably with a straight face, “And any relationship papers once had with the police is ancient history. Cops barely now speak to the Press. They are so paranoid about leaks they abuse anti-terror laws to hack reporters’ mobiles”.
Cops do not, repeat do not, repeat DO NOT, “hack reporters’ mobiles”. That is not true. On top of that, the reason the relationship between the Police and papers like the Sun has broken down is because the Sun’s management shopped scores of cops, prison officers and other officials in order to throw the Met off the scent and head off the likelihood of a corporate prosecution in the wake of the hacking scandal.
And when the Sun concludes “The Government, in the form of Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, could yet trigger Leveson 2 and Section 40 … She must reject both”, that tells you two things. One, the Murdoch goons know the “consultation” on Section 40 is going badly - as I suggested yesterday, that means someone at the DCMS is leaking information to the press - and two, there are limits to Craig Woodhouse’s control over his Minister.
Parliament approved the Leveson Inquiry in its entirety - including Part 2, examining the relationship between the Police and the press - and the only reason the process was paused - note, paused, not abandoned - was so pending criminal cases would not be prejudiced. It should continue, now that those cases have completed.
Section 40 of the Crime And Courts Act was also approved by Parliament. It, too, should now be commenced. The press has a variety of ways in which it can deal with the provisions - IPSO could obtain recognition under the Royal Charter, papers can join IMPRESS, or some other regulator could be brought into being. It’s about making the process truly independent of editors, proprietors and politicians. That is all.
But the main reason the Sun, and indeed the whole of the Murdoch empire, is screaming blue murder right now is that the acquisition of the 61% of Sky that Murdoch does not yet own could be derailed by new revelations of wrongdoing - which Leveson 2 is highly likely to uncover. The real reason for the involuntary bowel movements is that something is going to hit Rupert Murdoch where it hurts - in his pocket.
That’s as far as his commitment to a truly free and fearless press really runs.