In Eric Idle and Neil Innes’ send up of the Beatles, a band called the Rutles – the pre-fab four, a legend in their own lunchtime – makes its journey from Liverpool to fame, fortune and break-up. As relationships become ever more acrimonious, each member of the group sues all the others. And then one of them accidentally sues himself by mistake.
Now, Phonehackgate is heading in the same direction, except that at least nobody has yet sued themselves. Dozens of slebs, sportsmen, agents and relatives of those in the news have sued News International (NI). Yet more are getting ready to sue. Rumours build of action in the USA against Rupe and Junior. And now NI’s former staff are suing NI.
You lot been listening in to me?
Wait, what? Yes, there are now two former NI men taking action: Glenn Mulcaire has been joined by Young Dave’s former jolly good spinmeister Andy Coulson in taking action against their former employer. They have good reason: NI has stopped paying the two mens’ legal fees, costs which they are now incurring as a result of actions which they took in the service, and for the benefit, of NI.
And those actions continue to be exposed: Tone’s former spinner Alastair Campbell has previously told how meetings that had been arranged by phone, and with no-one other than the participants informed, being doorstepped by hacks and snappers. His entry into the ring was inevitable, and has now been confirmed. George Best’s former agent is also joining the action.
But the most poignant is the news that Jade Goody and her mother Jackiey Budden had their phones hacked, and at the time when Goody learnt that she had contracted the ovarian cancer that was to kill her. Budden had realised when seeing coverage of the Milly Dowler case that there was only one way the hacks could have got hold of so much on her daughter.
By now, though, although many will be disgusted, and some will recoil at the thought of a young woman going through surgery, chemotherapy and ultimately preparing for the worst, and all the while having Rupe’s troops eavesdropping on her personal tragedy, not many will be surprised. And no-one should have been suckered into thinking that the illegal behaviour stopped after Mulcaire went to prison.
What d'you f***ing mean, I'll be next?
Because one former participant in the Dark Arts told Nick Davies – the year after the Mulcaire case – that it was “back to business as usual ... they won’t touch the Police National Computer any more ... but they are busy once again, taking calls from Fleet Street newspapers who want them to break the law for them”.
The sad, sad case of Jade Goody only goes to confirm that the hacking, blagging and other illegal acts never stopped, and may still be going on.