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Thursday 27 January 2011

Murdoch Is Served (30)

This post was going to be written yesterday, but then the feedback on Bozza’s jolly good cable car wheeze arrived. That event was doubly fortunate, because the circus that is Phonehackgate took a new turn in the meantime, and that turn was that the Murdoch press suddenly decided to take the whole business seriously.

Why would this happen, after years of batting off any questions with the “one rogue reporter” defence? Simples. Rupe and his troops want the 61% of BSkyB that they don’t already own outright: Murdoch wants his hands firmly round the cash cow that the satellite broadcaster has become. He’s not getting any younger, and keeping his empire intact and strong is the best protection against the in-fighting and power struggles that will inevitably erupt once he shuffles off this earth.

Rupe clearly believes that coming clean over Phonehackgate will help Young Dave and Jeremy Hunt the Culture Secretary (no Spoonerisms, please) to nod through the BSkyB takeover, hence the sacking of the Screws’ news editor Ian Edmondson yesterday and the release of information by that paper to the Met. Hence also the more robust attitude to laddism at Sky Sports.

Will it be enough? That depends on Rupe and his troops containing Phonehackgate, which right now looks increasingly unlikely. Over the last few days, Pa Broon has entered the fray, and Alastair Campbell has queried an occasion when a snapper from the Screws turned up at a meeting organised over the phone. And Sienna Miller’s stepmother Kelly Hoppen has joined the list of litigants.

On top of all that, the Met are at last taking the whole saga seriously. And Edmondson, if he feels that others are getting away while he takes the rap, may yet start singing for his supper. The accusations of hacking within the past year – rather a long time after Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman were convicted – show that the “one rogue reporter” line was blatantly dishonest.

No, I don’t believe that even Rupert Murdoch can stop this firestorm from spreading. The saga – called a “non story” for so long – will keep on running as long as there are disclosures to be made and litigants to pay off. Nodding through the BSkyB takeover without referral to the Competition Commission is no longer a credible option for this Government.

We may have already seen, for the Murdoch Empire and its cosy collusion with too much of the establishment, the beginning of the end.

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