Right now, there is a trial going on featuring several former faithful Murdoch retainers. As usual, most papers’ reporting of this event ranges from cursory to non-existent. Fortunately, the deeply subversive Guardian has been on the case, and the impression has been given over the last few days that the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks has been mightily fortunate.
Ms Brooks’ legal team made sure that the impression given to the jury at the Hacking Trial was of someone who did not know what was going on at the lower levels of the now-defunct Screws. She never saw all those requests for cash payments, honest, which must have been authorised by one of her subordinates. They, it need not be stressed too highly, were the ones who got guilty.
Moreover, she made sure that she came over as pleasant and courteous to all present: you can see all of this in Peter Jukes’ excellent book which derives from his unique live Tweeting of the trial, Beyond Contempt, which is now on sale (hint). The impression was given by the defence team of someone so busy that the day-to-day minutiae could not be fitted in to her schedule.
But, at the trial of the “Sun Six” at Kingston Crown Court, a rather different picture of the editor then known as Rebekah Wade has emerged. As Lisa O’Carroll has noted, “Rebekah Brooks was one of most charming women you could ever meet but she also had a furious temper and regularly swore at staff when editor at the Sun, a jury has heard”. She would “scream at staff she was unhappy with”.
Former News Editor Chris Pharo, on trial for alleged conspiracy to pay public officials for stories, told that on one occasion “She screwed [the news list] into a giant ball and threw it in my face. She screamed: ‘If you can’t find a f***ing news list you can f*** the f*** off. She then slammed the door so hard she broke the handle and we couldn’t get out and we had to be released by her PA from the other side”.
Worse, it has also been reported that “Rebekah Brooks signed off on virtually all cash payment requests when she was editor at the Sun, it has been claimed at a trial of journalists on the tabloid accused of approving payments to public officials for stories”. That would be the cash payments that she managed not to see when she was at the Screws. But the Hacking Trial is now over.
And Ms Brooks was cleared of all charges against her. Meanwhile, Pharo and his fellow defendants appear to have been collectively shopped by News UK’s now infamous Management and Standards Committee and left to their fate. Rebekah Brooks gives the impression that some higher being is making sure she does not suffer the same fate as her underlings.
Who that higher being may be, I will leave for readers to make up their own minds.