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Wednesday 30 November 2011

Leveson Is Served (6)


On occasion, those whose views one not only disagrees with, but finds utterly repugnant, come running to the rescue, though not by intention. Thus it was that former Screws hack Paul McMullan appeared before the Leveson Inquiry yesterday afternoon and told anyone wanting to hear that Andy Coulson not only knew about phone hacking, but approved of the practice and even did it himself.

McMullan also dropped the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks in the mire by asserting that she, too, was well aware of the practice. There was clearly an element of payback, given that Coulson and Brooks had claimed they had no knowledge of the illegal activity and effectively hung McMullan and his fellow hacks out to dry.

He also confirmed that the Screws had used the services of Steve Whittamore of Operation Motorman infamy – though, according to the records, not as often as the Daily Mail – and claimed that “our intentions were honourable” over the hacking of murdered teenager Milly Dowler’s phone. He had no time for privacy – “privacy is for paedos” – and was routinely shameless.


And while those in and around Operation Weeting decide that they might like another word with Andy Coulson, the time approaches for the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, who styles himself Guido Fawkes, to appear before Leveson and explain his leaking of Alastair Campbell’s evidence to the Inquiry, or at least an early draft of it. His defence will be interesting to watch.

As lawyer Andrew Sharpe has told, Staines could argue that his publication of Campbell’s draft statement “did not prejudice the enquiry and was made in good faith and concerned matters of general public interest”. But the statement is now being made public anyway, and Staines’ only motive – as I noted earlier – was to continue his attack on Piers “Morgan” Moron. The public interest does not enter.

But, as Sharpe stresses, “it is not clear what the standing of a 2005 Act Inquiry is”, so Staines cannot know with any certainty until he gets to the venue what the fallout is likely to be. That may be why he has concluded a piece for The Commentator (another right leaning rant repository) “If it goes badly for me with the judge, this new media entrepreneur will be going home to Ireland permanently”.

To which the better class of blogger, wishing he had done the deed earlier, will wish him good riddance. Staines has had his fifteen minutes, and politics will manage perfectly well without him. Another fine mess.

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