Donald Macintyre's sketch: Angelina Jolie thrives in select committee appearance

Collegiate, courteous and eloquent, she made no attempt to steal the show

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George Osborne, knowing the journalists were not there for him but for someone much more famous, told them wryly as he passed: “I know my place.” One of the more improbable double acts in global politics, Angelina Jolie and William Hague were about to do their thing.

Ms Jolie was in sober black, her left hand occasionally making notes on the papers she had brought in her business-like ring binder.

Collegiate and courteous, she made no attempt to steal the show. Yet with her evenly delivered catalogue of the human cost of rape as “not sexual but a violent brutal  terrorising weapon of war”, she could not have been more eloquent.

Most immediately demanding international action was that Isis was now using rape as the “centrepoint of their terror”.

“The most aggressive terrorist group in the world today knows what we  know; that it is a very  effective weapon… and their way of destroying communities and families and attacking, destroying and dehumanising.”

But she also remembered, she told the Lords committee on sexual violence in conflict, meeting a girl of seven or eight “and she was rocking backwards and forwards and staring at the wall and tears streaming down her face because she had been brutally raped multiple times.

“You couldn’t talk to her, you couldn’t touch her; I felt absolutely helpless and didn’t know what to do for her.”

And then there was the 13-year-old girl she met in Iraq, one of many taken out in pairs, and “brought to this very dirty room with this dirty couch and raped repeatedly.” Worse than that was the worthlessness the girls felt as they watched friends being sold and heard men haggling about the price.

“Whether they were $40, $50. What was the price of them, what was their value and how humiliating that was. It made her question what she was worth.”

There’s always a danger with a Hollywood megastar on a mission so big, that she crosses a line between helping her cause and submerging it with her celebrity. It’s fair to record Ms Jolie never came near to that.