Yesterday, former Sun journalist Ben Ashford was found not guilty on two charges relating to his brief inspection of an iPhone that did not belong to him. Had he been convicted, it would have been the first such conviction resulting from Operation Tuleta, the Met’s investigation into computer misuse. It was a relatively brief trial, and had lasted just five days, with the jury out for only four and a half hours.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014
So nobody was going to make the elementary mistake of confusing Ashford’s trial with the so-called Hacking Trial, which had lasted several months. Well, nobody in the UK was going to make that mistake, but somewhere in the reassuringly expensive part of Manhattan could be found a volunteer to go in with both feet – without bothering to do a few minutes’ research first.
Yes, Louise Mensch, former Tory MP and now a pundit for Creepy Uncle Rupe, who knows more than everyone else put together, decided that this was indeed part of the Hacking Trial, whatever any of those pesky experts said. “Yet another utter failure from the phone hacking trials, yet another unjustified prosecution of a reporter” she thundered.
Who would step up to put her straight? Lawyer Mark Lewis was that man: “It wasn’t a hacking trial” he stated plainly. Evan Harris added his own feedback: “That’s how [the] jury system works. By your logic, only trials with all [charged] convicted should proceed. [The] Judge can dismiss [the case] at any stage”. Neither of these interventions brought any acknowledgement from Ms Mensch.
So Matt Brannigan tried spelling it out to her: “[the] CPS found enough evidence to charge [him], [the] judge found enough evidence to put before the jury. Where is the failure?” Where indeed. Less wilful beings might at this point have stopped and thought, but not Ms Mensch. She just put her foot in it once more.
Yes, she just carried on wibbling: “Ah the pleasure I get in thinking of [Nick Davies’] face when I read this” she mused, citing the Guardian’s report on the Ben Ashford trial. What would Davies have to do with that trial? It wasn’t, as Mark Lewis had pointed out, a hacking trial, and that is Davies’ forte right now.
Ben Kirby stepped forward to break the bad news gently: “I can’t find any stories by Nick Davies that refer to Ben Ashford. How does this have anything to do with him?” Once again, answer came there none. What’s more, those who enjoy a bet might usefully wager a few notes that Ms Mensch will include that in her next Sun column. Written by someone who got into Oxford, and was allowed into Parliament.
It’s punditry Jim, but not as we know it.