It was neither a grilling nor a roasting, perhaps a gentle poaching. The MPs started well, particularly the electrifying exchange between a dogged Tom Watson and Rupert Murdoch, looking every bit his 80 years, forcing son James to act as human shield.
You almost felt sorry for Rupert — words I never thought I would write. Was it a ploy? The Mafia tactic of playing old à la Uncle Junior? Rupert craned forward to hear better, employed Pinteresque pauses, and tried to use James to “run defence” for him. Little did he know how soon he was going to physically need it.
Then they blew it. From bumbling Jim Sheridan onwards the questions turned patsy. A rare blow landed as James stumbled over paying Glenn Mulcaire’s legal bills. But, smug barristers throughout the land must have hooted with derision as MPs delivered speeches masked as questions. It allowed James — only just masking his disdain — to ask several times “sorry, was there a question”? Unbelievably, I agreed with a Lord Sugar tweet. It was ridiculous of MPs to try to embarrass Rupert over the minutiae of detail on a paper that was a tiny part of his global empire. It looked like they were trying to humiliate an old man. They even called him “Mr Rupert”! James became increasingly assured.
Only when a determined Louise Mensch had the temerity to ask Rupert if he had considered resigning — and “if not why not?” — did the MPs really bounce back.
Of course no one remembers much of this now after the foam pie fiasco. Where were the police? Taking passive revenge on NI? A child can’t take an Evian bottle on to a plane, but Jonnie Marbles can bring a foam pie into Parliament? Jonnie soon learnt you don’t mess with Wendi Murdoch.
After that, a measured Rebekah Brooks’ appearance was anticlimactic. She looked humble, exhausted. Her hair was mesmerising. Beside her was a lawyer, behind her, empty green chairs. She knocked down many “false” stories. It was a tame draw. But, where was husband Charlie? Sometimes we all need a Wendi in the house.