Advice on how to survive a Parliamentary grilling

Bamboozle the committee with new evidence, learn how to blink like a human and make sure to shed a few tears – The Independent’s panel of experts have invaluable advice for Rebekah Brooks and the Murdoch father and son if they want to emerge from Tuesday’s Parliamentary grilling with their reputations enhanced.

Dee Cannon, a leading acting coach who has worked with Jon Voigt and Courtney Love, said: “Vulnerability is the key. They have to come across as open and soft, to show humility, shock at what has gone on and an acceptance of blame.”

Ms Cannon, former senior acting coach at Rada, said: “James (Murdoch) doesn’t blink and that’s very off-putting. It gives the appearance of being robotic and overly intense. No-one will perceive you as being vulnerable if you don’t blink. They must avoid anything that comes across as being snippy, over-confident or arrogant.”

Rebekah could shed a tear when the Milly Dowler allegations are aired. “It can become emotional and moistened eyes are ok as long as she doesn’t cross the line in to weeping.”

Like actors, the trio must work out an “objective” for the scene. “They need to know what the goal is. In this case it is exoneration. That comes from being soft and showing you are connected as a person to your own feelings.”

Ms Cannon advises the witnesses to take deep breath inhalations, in order to deliver oxygen to the brain, in a private room before the hearing starts.

To help relieve visible facial stress, the witnesses should scrunch up their faces (think Les Dawson) and release after a few seconds, Ms Cannon said.

Max Clifford, the PR guru, said the witnesses should catch their inquisitors off-guard: “I would advise them to come armed with new evidence that they can use to convince people who are extremely doubtful that they are telling the truth,” he said.

“Rebekah has been leading this investigation for the past two years .They know where the bodies are buried and have all the information.”

The Murdoch clan could muddy the waters. “They need to make the point that there are vested interests here,” Clifford said. “The wider media is out to destroy the competition. They need to make sure the inquiry spreads to other tabloid papers.”

“This is a platform for them to defend themselves vigorously. I encouraged Rebekah to do this years ago. I left a message for her to say how sorry I am (after she resigned). If she wants more advice before Tuesday, she knows where I am.”

“Rebekah’s got to nail the Milly Dowler allegation. That is the most important one. She told me there is now way she knew about any of these investigations whatsoever and I believe her.”

“The best they can hope for is that the British people believe that they had no knowledge or involvement in any shape or form in those activities.”

Alastair Sava, a communications psychology expert at the Leadership Agency, said: “Sit up straight. If they don’t sit straight, then they’re not straight; they’re crooked. The body is a picture, and if you look uncomfortable or unreceptive then people will read into that.”

The witnesses should employ a “good make-up artist” to mask any sweating and make constant eye contact. Mr Sava said: “They should make use of silence; this will indicate sincere reflection and a measured, non-panicked response.”

He concluded: “An optimistic mindset is important, it feeds behaviour and communication; if Brooks and the Murdochs think that they have done something wrong, then they will appear guilty. People often criminalise themselves by acting overly defensive, thus invoking suspicion amongst the audience.”

However despite the expectations of fireworks next Tuesday, Mark Stephens, the leading media lawyer, predicted a “slow, tedious and painful” hearing.

He said: “It could be a damp squib. They will bring a retinue of lawyers and refuse to answer anything that might compromise ongoing investigations.”

Just being obstructive won’t be enough though. Mr Stephens said: “It needs care and you need a co-ordinated strategy. If you selectively answer some questions but not others it could point to the area where you are guilty.”

“There are sanctions for lying to Parliament. Not giving honest answers could lead them not to be regarded as fit and proper persons to hold a television licence.

“The flaw in the system is that MPs are not forensically trained like barristers to cross-examine the eye-teeth out of people.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss