The Diary: Why not let Leveson into the secret of James Murdoch's phone?

 

'It is ridiculous that James Murdoch keeps, or kept, a 'secret phone'," a News International spokesman said after The Independent revealed that Scotland Yard was investigating an iPhone whose existence was previously unknown to the police or to the Leveson Inquiry.

That might seem to imply that the disputed phone did not exist, or was not used by Mr Murdoch, pictured below. Which is odd, because if you ring the number, a recorded message says: "You have reached the old mobile phone number for James Murdoch. To reach James going forward please call..." It then gives out the number of his office.

There was definitely a phone. Presumably News International's case rests on it not being "secret". Given how important text messages to or from News International executives have been to the Leveson Inquiry, it might have been sensible to let it into this little non-secret.

 

Dorries hits back over daughter's job

The fact that Nadine Dorries, the wayward Tory MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, employs her 27-year-old daughter Phillipa in her parliamentary office has been attracting attention. It started with a report in a local newspaper, Bedfordshire on Sunday, speculating about how much the younger Ms Dorries was being paid – they reckoned it was "up to £39,999" a year.

Then the cause was taken up by various national newspapers, mostly Tory ones. The right-wing press tends to be more hostile to Dorries, above right, because she causes more trouble to her own side than to the Opposition. She is not happy with the coverage her daughter is getting, particularly when it contains information taken from Facebook.

Yesterday she tweeted: "Whoever the lowlife is who watches my daughter's Facebook account and keeps ringing the press, you are the puss which the lowlife feeds off." Nice.

 

The absent arm of the law

In November, for the first time, there will be directly-elected police commissioners in every region of England and Wales, outside London. This week, Labour announced with a flourish that it had drawn up a complete list of candidates, each of whom was introduced at a regional press conference. Its candidate in the Thames Valley police region is Tim Starkey, a barrister who recently defected from the Liberal Democrats.

Two former senior ministers, Caroline Flint and Andrew Smith, turned out for his press launch in Oxford, but they looked a wee bit lonely on the platform in front of the media, because their candidate was not there. He was busy in court.

 

Status update by the Tories

Mark Zuckerberg, eat your heart out. A new social network has been launched in the US and will cross to this side of the Atlantic in time for the Olympics. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, it will have chat rooms dedicated to specific topics, the US election being the first.

Its mission statement says "the founders come from the centre-left and centre-right of politics" – the founder from the centre-right being the Tory MP and Twitter queen, Louise Mensch. The one from the left is Luke Bozier, whom the statement says "worked for Tony Blair at Labour HQ as head of digital communications". What it does not say is that, as this newspaper revealed in January, Mr Bozier has gone over to the Tories, so the appearance of cross-party co-operation is rather misleading. Still, best of luck to them.

 

Art imitates life as Tucker returns

Parliamentary journalists were treated to a special showing of Armando Iannucci's new TV series Veep, set in the office of a fictional US Vice-President. Talking afterwards, Iannucci, pictured below, said shooting was complete on what is likely to be the final series of The Thick Of It, in which the hard-swearing spin doctor Malcolm Tucker and his politician, Nicola Murray, are in opposition, and Peter Mannion – one of the less obnoxious characters in the series – is in government. It is a Coalition government, involving a third party known as The Inbetweeners. There is also a spin doctor who may or may not resemble Andy Coulson.

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