Matthew Norman on Monday: The Sun goes down on a romance to rival Casablanca


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The Independent Online

With the Mills & Boon romance between The Sun and the police disintegrating into rancour, how ironic to find its editor guided by a much-loved cinematic bent copper. When on Saturday The Sun's editor Dominic Mohan claimed to be "as shocked as anyone by today's arrests", some may have pictured the latest addition to Wapping's stable of Captain Renaults treating the ague by nipping off to cash his chips. Yet this is no time for cynicism.

If Andy Coulson taught us anything, it is that the failing of Rupert Murdoch's modern crop of red-top editors was in them being too high-minded to dirty their fingers with inky minutiae.

Mrs Brooks, Andy, now Dominic ... these cerebral demigods were far better suited to debating Marxist dialectic at All Soul's high table than noticing vast sums draining from their budgets or inquiring after the sources of police – and MoD-related scoops.

It is a tragedy that Rupert's ambition to sanitise his titles by harvesting the grove of academia that is tabloid showbiz hackery has backfired. But after three decades of unconditional platonic love between The Sun and the police, we are presently witnessing the ending of a very beautiful friendship. And who among us shall fail to weep at the poignancy of that?

Freddie Star's hamster resurfaces at university

Lest anyone imagines The Sun to be playing the part of an ostrich over its existential crisis (and when Rupert offers "assurances" to keep it alive, that's the time to panic), know this. On Saturday, its web site reported the high-profile police activity of the day. You would expect no less.

And even if the arrest story had the sub-Freddie Starr headline: "Student held over hamster 'fried at bash'", one cannot carp about dodgy news judgment when so many top executives were tied up elsewhere.

In much happier days, a number of brown envelopes stuffed with treasury notes would probably have sorted many things out. But in the current circumstances, perhaps that solution seemed too homeopathic a remedy.

Why didn't Richard show a little bit of contrition?

In the event that Rupert's "assurances" follow the form book for solemn Murdochian pleges, one sadness is this. The porn magnate Richard Desmond, who once offered £1bn for The Sun, will not be allowed to buy it now. Not after the Leveson appearance in which Richard all but snickered at the misery his titles' inventions heaped upon the McCanns' grief. If only the silly sausage had faked a little contrition.

'Mad Mel' will not be new Page 3 girl

If The Sun does go down (and for all the old whore's faults, please God she survives), Paul Dacre's professional grief may be softened by the chance to boost the Daily Mail's circulation with some nimble repositioning. With Kelvin McKenzie and Richard Littlejohn already in place, Paul's next step in seducing the former Sun buyer would speak for itself. However, I'd like to scotch one mischievous rumour. There is no prospect of Melanie Phillips starring as the Mail's new-look Page 3. Not topless, anyway. She is willing to pose, apparently, but in a strict "no nips" rule with Mad Mel, 60, who will insist on donning her favourite burqa.

Pearce booted into touch

Shocking luck for Match of the Day foghorn Jonathan Pearce that the Luis Suarez no-handshake outrage came a day before ITV's National Television Awards. A week earlier, and he'd have been a cert for the Richard Dimbleby Golden FlakJacket For BBC Bravery. "Kenny, I understand you only want to talk about the game ..." he began a searching interview with Dalglish, the Liverpool gaffer, and I would like to congratulate Pearcey for continuing: "... but obviously as a trained journalist I must ask you about Suarez, even if it means you giving me the Glaswegian hood, mad-eyed stare, and storming off before the incomprehensibly mumbled banalities ..." I'd like to, but since Pearcey ignored the matter entirely, I can't. A credit to the Beeb.

Puppy love may cost Mittens votes in Utah

For Mitt Romney, the weekend brought two meaningless electoral wins and the endorsement of fellow mormon Donny Osmond. Mitt drove to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof rack, Donny will soon re-release his former UK number one hit, "Puppy Love". Who knows how the lyric will be rewritten to reference how the terrified animal voided its bowels down the side windows? But if it involves the pun "poopy love", it could cost Mittens Utah.