Matthew Norman on Monday: Fair's fair – Rebekah may have prejudiced her own trial


While wishing Rebekah Brooks the very best of British with her attempt to avoid standing trial for alleged bribery of police, the omens aren't so good. Before she gets too excited by her lawyer Stephen Parkinson's argument that Sue Akers' Leveson testimony about "a culture of illegal payments" is fatally prejudicial, Rebekah should talk to her her old friend David Blunkett.

As home secretary in 2003, he said that Sajiv Badat, awaiting trial on terrorism charges, posed "a threat to "life and liberty", but the attorney general decided there was time enough before the trial for the jury's memory to fade. Regardless of that, long-term natural justice campaigner Rebekah was so livid with Blunkers that, when he was sacked from the Cabinet in 2005, she gave him a lucrative Sun column to cushion the financial blow.

Later, as News International chief executive, she presided over a Sun headline which labelled Christopher Jeffries, landlord of the murdered Joanna Yeates, as "Weird, Posh, Lewd, Creepy." Mr Jeffries did go untried, possibly because he was innocent of all but a bizarre hairstyle. In this case, alas, Assistant Commissioner Akers was merely sampling somebody's 2003 select committee declaration that "we have paid police officers for information".

Perhaps Rebekah would care to boost the unwitting satire quotient by accusing herself of lethally prejudicing her chances of a fair trial?


The FT dares to break the silence

Regarding the two Sun reporters who have reportedly tried to kill themselves since being nicked in dawn raids, the press shows proper compassion by declining to name them. But which paper has toyed with breaking the omerta? Step forward the Financial Times. The gutter pink-top juxtaposed its website report on the suicide attempts with an unrelated piece by a staffer who shares one of their names. Poor show.


Mr T and Mandy: Alpha males on a mission

In the chronicle of Mr Tony Blair's philanthropy, a new chapter opens. The Sunday Telegraph reveals that Mr T is now sprinkling the altruism over the tiny African state of Guineau-Bissau, where he is an "official adviser" to President Alpha Condé – and the fact that Guineau Bissau has massive reserves of bauxite (crucial for making aluminium) is one those pesky coincidences sent by the Lord to try the patience of His latter day Job. Although the article mentions that Lord Mandelson's chum Oleg Deripaska owns a mine there, it foregoes to add that Mandy is another Alpha male, making regular visits to see the President. Isn't it grand to see the old gang reunited for an African mission? Thank heaven they aren't mercenaries, or some snide producer would be tempted to remake The Wild Geese as a light comedy of manners.


Ken loses the plot – and fails to mention Nazis

What ails Ken Livingstone? When Andrew Marr asked him yesterday about incorporating himself, apparently to reduce his tax bill, Kenneth refused to liken his critics to Nazis. Even when he identified the criticism as "a smear", he failed to reference Goebbels. Very strange. For all that, Ken's suggestion that every self-employed person must take their accountant's advice, as if by law, was clever. If there's one quality voters seek in a London mayor presiding over a multi-billion budget, it's the instinctive obedience to take the word of money men as gospel.


Pickles in a linguistic pickle

Eric Pickles' new passion, in succession to dustbins, is insisting that immigrants learn to speak English like the English. The svelte Communities Secretary needs to get out more and hear the native patois on the streets. Unless of course he misspoke, and meant to say that they need to learn to speak English like the Dutch.


Gung ho Mel beats the drum of war

As the war drums beat ever louder over Iran, two of our leading neoCon thinkers beg to differ. Armchair Field Marshal the Lord (David) Aaronovitch, whose reflections on his temporary colostomy bag did so much to stimulate the breakfast appetite of Times readers last week, is not as keen on war (yet) as he was with Iraq. Melanie Phillips, however, is as gung ho as ever. Hedonists will find the piece on her sparkling website, but précis fans need only know this.

An attack on those unconvinced that Tehran is desperate to be obliterated by retaliatory Israeli nukes begins: "At the root of this gross dislocation from reality ..." Bless Mad Mel and her genius for transference. She never lets us down.

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