In the annals of the now-defunct Screws, there was supposedly no more faithful Murdoch retainer than Neville “Stylish Masturbator” Thurlbeck, for whom no task was beneath him, no cause undeserving of a hand. When duty called, he was indeed a coming man. But when push came to shove with the hacking trial, all was changed. Loyalty, he discovered, was not a two-way street.
Both hands on the table, eh Nev?
As the Murdoch empire began to shop its hacks – or, at least, some of them – it became clear that Nev’s pals were being hung out to dry, while the bigger fish appeared to be getting away with it. Thus began his own shopping expedition, which has reached its latest jaw-dropping milestone with him emerging from the shadows to offer his services – for an appropriate consideration – to anyone interested.
And I mean anyone – but let us start at the very beginning, which is, as ever, a very good place to start. Thurlbeck was in the dock at the Hacking Trial, but for him there was, ultimately, no contesting the charges. He ‘fessed up, got guilty, did not pass Go, and ended up sharing a cell in Belmarsh with Andy Coulson. It was at the trial that he began to be rather more ready to spill the beans.
Part of the bean-spilling was to grass up Coulson: the atmosphere inside that cell may just have been on the tense side, although the former Screws editor and one-time spinmeister to Young Dave was always on a hiding to nothing as soon as the phrase “Do his phone” was read out to the jury. He was even prepared to grass up the Murdoch empire’s activities to its adversaries.
When some of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport select committee were put under surveillance at the behest of Rupe’s pals, it was Thurlbeck who grassed up the operation to Labour MP Tom Watson. He was, by his own admission, a Police informer. Clearly Nev wanted to be remembered for more than his one-handed activities in that naturist guest house.
After all that, when news emerged that Nick Davies’ book of the Hacking Trial, Hack Attack, was to be made into a feature film with George Clooney backing it, Thurlbeck once again smelt money, in the form of potentially More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now. He would offer his services, and give his inside knowledge, provided there was a quid pro quo.
Or even several quids, in fact: Nev has, it is understood – sources, as ever with Zelo Street, remain confidential – contacted Clooney offering to help. This may seem a little far-fetched, but trust me on this – he really has offered to tell Clooney whatever he needs to make that film as, er, authentic as possible. If that means grassing up anyone and everyone in the Murdoch press, he is apparently up for it.
Will Creepy Uncle Rupe try and stop him? Don’t bet against that one, folks.