As Piers Morgan contemplates his next move, there hangs over him the issue of phone hacking, and how much he knew while he was editor of the Daily Mirror from 1995 to 2004. Lord Justice Leveson, it will be recalled, found his protestations of complete ignorance “utterly unpersuasive”. Without suggesting that there was evidence that Morgan had ever sanctioned phone hacking, the judge concluded that “he was aware that it was taking place in the press as a whole and… was prepared to joke about it.”
For what it is worth, the judge’s conclusions have support from Charlotte Church, who is now 27 and wiser than she was when, as a teenage star, she first met Morgan, though no less prone to using strong language. “I remember interviewing Piers Morgan when I was 17, for the Oxford Union, and he was such a prick,” she told Stylist magazine. “His argument basically centred around, ‘You’re rich, you’re making money out of this – who the f*** are you to question it?’ I was like, ‘I hate you!’ I wanted to storm out, and it took all my strength not to – and in that talk he basically told me about phone hacking and everything.”
They’ve got Mogg’s number
Respect to Channel 4 news for transporting Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Tory MP who doesn’t even pretend to be anything but a southern Tory toff, to South Shields to see what they would make of him up there. One exchange in the street with a woman pushing a buggy went as follows; She: “I like Labour.” The Mogg: “You like Labour? Why do you like Labour?” In one short sentence, she set out her opinion of David Cameron, by coincidence using the very term that Charlotte Church used to describe Piers Morgan.
Later, the Mogg was set up to call the numbers in a bingo hall, and called out 89, adding that it was one more than the number commonly known as ‘two fat ladies’. When a voice in the audience cried: “You can’t say that any more,” the Mogg disarmingly replied: “Oh, but there are only thin ladies in here so I didn’t think anyone would mind.”
A night to remember
The Politics Home website reports that an unnamed Labour MP’s office keeps receiving misdirected emails from Lib Dem high command, because the MP’s researcher has a name “strikingly similar” to that of a Lib Dem peer. The Labour staffer is said to have been taken aback to receive a mysterious missive from Lord (Paddy) Ashdown, declaring: “That was great last night. Thanks for how much you put into it.”
You have to feel sorry for the couple from Romford, Essex, after rays from the sun refracted through a crystal ball they had left on their window sill and set their curtains on fire. But they should have foreseen it.
A fate worse than sprouts
Lord Pearson, a Ukip peer, has suggested that the Government should mark the 25th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 2016 by honouring Vladimir Bukovsky, a 71- year-old Russian now living in Cambridge. He was the first to expose the misuse of psychiatry to silence dissent.
For that and other displays of stubborn courage, he spent 13 years in and out of prison or mental hospitals before being deported. On his arrival in the West in 1976, he tried to describe some particularly disgusting vegetable that was served to prisoners. Someone suggested that he meant Brussels sprouts.
“No,” exclaimed Bukovsky, “they’re delicious!” Try to imagine a vegetable compared with which Brussels sprouts are “delicious”, and you have a small insight into what Bukovsky went through in defence of free speech.