After the paper that is claimed to most accurately portray his views - the Sun - did its part to con the electorate that voting for Britain to leave the EU was A Very Good Thing, and Sterling immediately lost a significant amount of its value - a fall from which it has not even begun to recover - Rupert Murdoch must have thought it was Game Over when he and his fellow mafiosi returned to bid for the 61% of Sky that they did not yet own.
The bid price when converted into US Dollars was significantly cheaper, the opposition from the rest of the press that had dogged his ill-fated first bid had largely evaporated, there were no more of those pesky Lib Dems in Government, Labour was looking an increasingly enfeebled opposition, and a former senior Sun hack had been installed as a SpAd to Culture Secretary Karen Bradley. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, it seems rather a lot could go wrong: the clamour for the Leveson Inquiry to resume with Part 2, exploring the relationship between press - especially that which he owned - and the Police had increased, not helped by revelations following the conviction of his former occasional confidante Mazher Mahmood. More phone hacking allegations surfaced and came to court. And those opposition politicians never really went away.
Worse, the campaigning groups lined up against the Sky bid consisted not just of Hacked Off, but also included 38 Degrees and Avaaz. The latter group joined forces with Media Matters For America to make sure Ms Bradley and her fellow MPs were fully aware of what happens when the Murdochs get their hands on 100% of a broadcaster, citing the grim example of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse).
And what of those hacking claims? “Actor David Tennant and former racing driver Eddie Irvine are among dozens of alleged victims of phone hacking joining legal action against Sun publisher News UK … Nearly 20 people … were already suing [NGN] over allegations they were hacked by journalists at the now closed News of the World and the Sun, but the new claims bring the total number of people suing to around 50”.
Both the now-defunct Screws and the Sun. And phone hacking may not have been the only illegal activity that the Murdoch goons have indulged in during the recent past (more on that in a later post). Then, to put the lid on it, former Labour leader Mil The Younger has joined forces with ex-business secretary Vince Cable, along with Charles Falconer and veteran Tory MP Ken Clarke, to demand that Ofcom blocks the bid.
Why so? “Because it would give him too much control of news media in the UK and he is not a ‘fit and proper’ owner”. The four men “have filed two lengthy submissions fleshing out their arguments against the deal”, citing Lord Justice Leveson’s conclusion “All the politicians who gave evidence before the inquiry said that Mr Murdoch exercised immense power and that this was almost palpable in their relations with him”.
The battle over Sky’s independence is not yet over. Indeed, it had hardly begun. And the behaviour of Murdoch’s journalists could yet come back to bite him. Watch this space.