Yesterday evening, in a basement room on London’s Gower Street, Les Hinton, faithful water carrier to the Murdochs for many years, pushed his selectively edited memoir of his time with the mafiosi in the company of Sky News stalwart Kay Burley. The event, “Behind the Media - with Les Hinton and Kay Burley” was modestly attended. And some of those who fetched up did not share Hinton’s rose-tinted view of the Murdoch empire.
Les Hinton - senior Murdoch executive, confidante, front man, fellow mafioso, and unprincipled spiv
Moreover, although Waterstones’ blurb promised “in his new book Les lifts the lid on a lifetime spent in the news business”, the only ones lifting the lid were those wanting to ask the kinds of questions that The Great Man would rather not trouble himself answering. This also served to show for all the world to see just how the media class is prepared to sickeningly cosy up to the bent and unprincipled.
Former Sunday Times blagger John Ford set the scene: “Wonderful evening with blagger Les Hinton, 'The Bootle Boy' who made it all the way to the bottom of journalistic integrity. Nice guy.....? White suit....? Lies, damn lies”. There was more.
“Les Hinton, News Intl. mens rea, does a marvellous job of wearing a white suit and talking shite tonight at Bloomsbury memoir launch. The Bootle Boy has no memory of much, particularly Hillsborough. Only 63 miles on the map but a million kilometres away from Hinton's denials”. And he wasn’t finished yet.
“Rupert Murdoch - crime boss. Les Hinton accomplice. John Witherow liar and slave to criminal bosses as above. Richard Caseby, Mark Skipworth et al. Come on, sue me you LIARS. Let's let a Jury decide.....Come on, I'm ready”. And he wasn’t the only one seeking to bring uncomfortable truths to Hinton and his interlocutor yesterday evening.
Alastair Morgan, still looking for answers on his brother Daniel’s murder 31 years on, was one of those: “I never got to ask Les my question about NOTW interfering in an investigation into my brother's murder on his watch. I put my hand up numerous times. But hey ho!”. Those questions never do seem to get asked of Hinton, do they?
Peter Jukes noted that, not only did John Humphrys not tackle Hinton over his less than consistent story over phone hacking, “Humphrys also failed to ask Les Hinton why THREE of the four papers he was responsible for while heading News International were engaged in extensive criminality”. That got missed yesterday evening, too.
But there was no keeping the lid on reality, as Tim Forrest of ITV News admitted: “Thank you @leshinton and @KayBurley for a fascinating evening. I have to say, I wasn’t expecting a soap actor to storm out after claiming he’d been drugged by the Fake Sheikh, nor a Sunday Times journo to admit breaking the law. One of @Waterstones more interesting book events!” But, although a disgusted John Alford made his point about Mazher Mahmood, that was little more than scratching the surface.
Jonathan Royle added “Yes @leshinton its true @stilcharginatem John Alford believes he was drugged by the Fake Sheikh Mazher Mahmood as do I and many of his other victims”. His blog, with rather more on the subject, can be read HERE.
The corruption of our media class summed up in one image
No, none of that was allowed to take the shine off this otherwise carefully orchestrated event, with the puke-making coda courtesy of Hinton’s wife Kath, telling “Welcome pint with top women @KayBurley and @BethRigby after a great discussion about #TheBootleBoy at @gowerst_books Most fun we’ve had in weeks!”. Ms Burley and Ms Rigby should hand their heads in shame. But they’re not up to that.
John Ford was most certainly not buying that selectively edited view of the evening: “Final comment on tonight's Celebration of Mendacity.......check out how thinly packed was the Bloomsbury basement tonight. Les Hinton, liar, people want to read your truths and we are sickened by your hubris and lies. SUE ME you mendacious chancer, and bring in your crime family”. He won’t, though. That would risk the further intrusion of reality.
Les Hinton made his fortune through being part of a criminal enterprise. No-one with the faintest trace of principle or dignity should be prepared to touch the SOB with the proverbial bargepole. That parts of the Pundit Establishment are prepared, despite what is well known, to still break bread with him tells you all you need to know about why so much of our print, and even broadcast media, is considered so utterly corrupt.
But then, power corrupts. And Rupert Murdoch’s power corrupts absolutely.