According to the Daily Telegraph, “celebrities, crime victims and others who have allegedly had their phones hacked” by journalists or agents acting for them should be filmed live if they give evidence to the inquiry into the “scandal”.
This is the idea of Lord Justice Leveson, who says he plans to have the proceedings televised.
Among the A-list witnesses are Sienna Miller, the actress whose films no-one in their right mind remembers, Hugh Grant, the well-known fellationado, J K Rowling, the author of well-known novels who wrote them in a caff or some-such (I never get much beyond that bit in profiles about her) and former Formula 1 boss Oswald Mosley, who I thought died years ago.
I’m not sure I’m in favour of this televised proceedings business, because I don’t think we do it well. Think of the Murdoch-Shaving-foam-pie-in-the-face incident. The camera angles were all wrong, the Wendy-wallop all happened in the bottom left of the screen from a reverse angle, the focus-puller had loaded the wrong lens, the wrangler was obviously off having a wrangle of his own and God knows where the best boy was.
But I guess Lord Justice Leveson wants to get down wi’ the kids and in with this YouTube action. Why he should want to do this, I don’t know, although I suspect he’s annoyed his application to Strictly Come Dancing was turned down. But I would warn him against such folly, even if his heart is broken at not getting the chance to cha-cha-cha with Edwina Currie.
If you want a showbiz show trial, you need a showbiz judge. Sorry, m’lud, you are not a showbiz judge:
Now here’s a showbiz judge:
Can you imagine how much better the hacking inquiry would be if Judge Judith Sheindlin was in charge? After all, as my learned Lord has readily admitted, the whole thing is a media circus, so why not get a consummate media ringmaster (and one with legal nous to boot) to crack the whip?
“Miss Miller, if you don’ shaddup I’ll wipe the floor with yer! We follow each other?”
“Be quiet, Mr Murdoch! Are you listenin’ to me? No, you listen to me!”
“Mr Grant: beauty fades, dumb is forever!”
“Umm is not an answer!”
Excellent comment from Fleet Street Blues about how David Leigh, investigations editor of The Guardian, is now in the frame for his self-admitted hacking into a phone. Oh, says the Guardian, between mouthfuls of humble pie, it wasn’t for “tittle-tattle”. It was for “investigating corruption and bribery”. Fair enough. Still illegal, though. Tittle-tattle, corruption- and bribery-busting, intellectual-profiles: if the means by which you gather these things are illegal, sorry, you’re nicked my beauty. What is it about the word “illegal” you up-yourself ponces do not understand?
As FSB said way back when this whole scandal first broke, journos have long used illegal, immoral and sometimes criminally dangerous ways to get stories. Yes…and? If they got away with it, well, they got a front page splash, maybe a promotion or a bonus and a round of drinks in the pub. If they got caught, they got hauled up before the beak fined or, rarely but occasionally, chucked in the nick, and when got out, a round of drinks in the pub.
Let’s not forget what has been behind the holier-than-thou stance of the Guardian and the BBC on this matter: the chance for a good round of Murdoch-whacking.
The Guardian has been caught out with its hypocritical knickers down with Leigh (I see Guido has another pop today), and I suspect there may be others to scurry blinkingly out into the limelight from Rusbridger Cathedral.
Then there is the BBC. Is it whiter than white? I suspect not, but I do not know. What I do suspect is that if someone manages to lift Auntie’s skirt, there will probably be an almighty stink, most probably from the direction of Panorama. I thought it odd of the Beeb to have Peston covering this whole affair. I mean, the Business Editor? Strange call: the US and EU economies are going to hell in a handcart, but never mind that, you haul in your Business Editor to cover a story about media phone hacking.
What’s that all about?
From Rod Liddle, in the latest Spectator:
I felt, as we all rounded with glee upon the MPs two years ago, that sooner or later [journalists] would cop it, a feeling of foreboding compounded by my trade’s astonishingly sanctimonious outrage that we were having a privacy law imposed upon us by judges.
Read the whole thing: it’s rather fine.
…and the MPs are not far behind.
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that journalists have been scoring a lot of own goals recently.
First there was the Carl Jefferies coverage, as textbook a case of contempt of court as ever flipped Leonard Cyril James McNae’s horsehair wig. The phone hacking “scandal” rumbles on. Little noticed but surely ominous was the rare instance of an appeal court judge, Lord Justice Sedley, successfully suing the Daily Telegraph for libel. A Daily Star journalist resigns in a very public huff, revealing in his wake that he made up stories about slebs (hardly news, I know, but the public fallout has yet to be felt).
Meanwhile the government’s draft libel law is published today. While on the face of it, the law is good for journalists and journalism – cracking down on the iniquitous trade in “libel tourism”, incorporating Reynolds Defence as part of a defence of “honest opinion” (replacing “fair comment”) and attempting to clear a path through the legalistic fug of internet libel.
But this is only a draft bill. What will happen when the MPs and the Lords come to debate it is another matter. It should surprise no-one if the above matters were not raised and some attempt is made to deal with some, if not all, of them.
For an interesting insight into what is going through lawyerly minds regarding the media at the moment, I recommend this podcast discussion from the Head of Legal blog. It’s rather lengthy, so you might want to leave aside half-an-hour to listen to it. The media stuff starts at about 24:20. (The “world’s worst tennis player” they mention is this bloke.)