The lights are on, but is anyone home?
Like his predecessors in the role, Cole is a singularly unpleasant individual. But unlike faithful Murdoch retainer Trevor Kavanagh and the non-bullying Tom Newton Dunn, he has no journalistic skill worth the name. Like his hero, alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, his career has been one of optimistically winging it. Training and basic skills are beneath him; he trusts his instinct. Which is invariably wrong.
So it was that he messaged Akunjee just before 2130 hours yesterday. “Hear big news coming tomorrow?” he proferred. “Who is this?” responded Akunjee, not unreasonably, after which Cole decided to actually introduce himself. “My apologies Mr Akunjee, it is Harry Cole. Journalist [yeah, right. Fuck right off with that one]. We covered Shamima Begum last year [yes, your paper dumped all over her. Tell us another]”.
There was more. “Understand big ruling in her favour coming tomorrow from Court of Appeal at 1030. Any guidance?” Akunjee asked, linking to this blog, if he had the right Master Cole. “Lol yes. Are you reading mad blogs?” asked Cole, at which point the discussion began to go downhill fast - and it was all Cole’s fault.
Akunjee: “I’m surprised you bothered to contact me. I thought you were fine with unsubstantiated whispers in the wind”.
Cole: “Sorry I was under the impression that you were a professional, not an activist”.
Akunjee: “You seem to be under the impression that you are a journalist too [BOOM!]. I can’t help you with your beliefs … The judgment is embargoed until tomorrow morning”.
Cole: “Yes. But given it’s already been widely leaked by family members [no citation] is there a statement … Please”.
Akunjee: “I am aware of no leaks” [at which point Cole should have taken the hint].
Cole: “OK. Let’s talk in an hour or so” [Contempt of court, Master Cole. Remember?].
Akunjee: “That would be before the embargo ends. Can’t help you I’m afraid. Also I am not an activist”. Would Master Cole like to make matters worse? He certainly would.
Akunjee: “A professional would not breach an embargo” [another hint not being taken].
Cole: “Well take that up with you [sic] clients … woah”.
Akunjee: “Are you an actual child?” [no comment]
Cole: “Is that your comment?”
Akunjee then warns Master Cole that he is going to post the exchange on Twitter, to which Cole, who has been aggressive throughout, whines “I really don’t understand the aggression. I’m trying to give all sides a fair hearing”. From the Sun? Ho yus.
After noting that the Sun’s splash has been, for all too obvious reasons, pulled, Akunjee concludes “Journalism at its finest I see … I know a good lawyer for contempt of court allegations”. Contempt which the Sun appears to have indulged in, and which Cole has invited Mohammed Akunjee to also indulge in.
Harry Cole was a clueless numpty when I first encountered him almost a decade ago. He has been consistent in his cluelessness in the intervening period, and probably always will be. Consistency is a commendable quality in journalism. Unless it’s being consistently wrong. Along with Cole’s singular ineptitude in eliciting information.
He went to catch his first big scoop. And, in no style at all, he dropped it.