Today in London, the trial was supposed to begin of four test cases. Four individuals had alleged phone hacking not merely by the late and not at all lamented Screws, but also the Super Soaraway Currant Bun. Moreover, allegations were also made of other illegal information gathering, for instance by blagging confidential information. There were also claims that potential evidence, such as emails, had been tampered with.
Not appearing at a court in London any time soon ...
Those four individuals were Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves), presenter Kate Thornton, actor Rajan Harkishindas, and agent Chris Herbert. Their cases would be the first in a new wave of hacking and other claims against the Murdoch empire, with another 47 waiting in the wings. But information had already leaked out during the week suggesting that, once again, the Murdoch mafiosi had chickened out and bought them all off.
And so it came to pass that the Guardian has reported “Phone-hacking cases brought by Vic Reeves, Kate Thornton and two others against Rupert Murdoch’s Sun and News of the World have been confidentially settled, just as a six-week trial was due to hear allegations of a cover-up by senior executives at the media mogul’s British tabloids”.
... so he's still in the clear ...
The appointed trial judge was not a happy chappie: “The last-minute deal on Thursday earned both sides a rebuke from Mr Justice Mann, who complained that issues important to another 47 hacking cases in the pipeline had not been determined in a case that would have heard allegations of wrongdoing by James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks”.
The settlement reached was confidential, but is believed to be well into six figures for each of the four claimants. Plus “Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers was also expected to pay their costs, estimated at about £4m in total”. The inmates of the Baby Shard bunker have a significantly sized petty cash drawer on call for life’s little emergencies.
... and so is she ...
Why the four were paid off - with the can being at least kicked a little further down the road - was strongly hinted at: “David Sherborne, counsel for the claimants, told the court the claimants would ‘allege criminality at the most senior level: James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks’ as part of the case”. Rupe has to keep Rebekah safe, once more.
Also, the name of his remaining UK Red Top had to be kept free of the taint of criminality that dogged the Screws, so we also read “The case had also been due to hear allegations of hacking by journalists at the Sun. News UK has never admitted that any hacking took place at the daily title, nor any wrongdoing by senior executives. The last-minute agreement meant neither of these issues were determined”.
... and so is this, sadly
No, they’ve admitted nothing, but paid a shed load of dosh to those who claimed the Sun had hacked them. But once again, as the Guardian notes, “the other litigants in the pipeline had now been deprived of the opportunity to see issues of liability being resolved in a test case”. Pay them off, keep the heat off Rupe, Junior and Rebekah.
The Murdoch mafiosi have so far decided to pay whatever it costs to keep their top brass out of court. Why that should be I will leave to others to decide.