After the Commons committee report that found former Murdoch lawyer Tom Crone, and editor Colin Myler, had committed acts of contempt, there was also the case of former faithful lieutenant Les Hinton to consider. At first, the word was that he had been cleared, and so had not been shown to have done anything wrong. This was spun as a victory by the likes of the Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn.
Newton Dunn dutifully urges his Twitter followers to “look over there” as he claims “Delighted for @leshinton that the HoC's Privileges Committee has cleared him of misleading the Commons. Unfair slight for 5 years”. Except it hasn’t really cleared him. But this is not about factual analysis: what has to be done is that the outcome of the Committee’s deliberations must be spun as a victory for the Murdoch mafiosi.
Hence Newton Dunn telling “CMS Committee and Tom Watson accused of ‘sham trial and free-for-all character assassination’ by @leshinton”, and attaching not any kind of evidence, but Hinton’s own apologia, which conveniently dumps events five years ago on Labour MP Tom Watson, because he is one of those who caused Rupe and his pals significant discomfort, and also ensured the world knew They Done It.
HERE. And the first observation in “Our Conclusion” as regards Les Hinton is “The evidence on this issue is not clear cut”.
Moreover, “Our overall impression of Les Hinton’s evidence in 2009 is of a deliberate strategy to provide accurate evidence, but only up to a point. That point was disclosure of
information which was already part of the public record. Beyond that point he did not
disclose … The failure to disclose tends to create a suspicion that Les Hinton’s answers were misleading and designed to be so; but for a finding of contempt there needs something concrete upon which to fix that contempt”.
That, Tom Newton Dunn and fellow Murdoch spinners, is not exoneration, not “being cleared”. But having no more than “a suspicion that [his] answers were misleading and designed to be so” is not sufficient to make a finding of contempt.
So Hinton was given the benefit of the doubt. As such, he is in no position to start lecturing Parliamentarians on their conduct. He should keep quiet and consider himself fortunate.