Donald Macintyre's Sketch: MPs fail to land punches in trial of Hacked Off

 

If Monday’s Commons debate was post-Leveson showdown lite, today’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing was the real thing. We had Max Mosley, who famously won a 2008 court action against the (late) News of the World after it turned over his private life. And we had at least three Tory MPs who could barely contain their fury at Hacked Off’s starring role in the Ed Miliband-hosted talks which secured the cross-party regulation deal with David Cameron.

True, the 72-year-old Mosley raised eyebrows when he said he was “just an ordinary member of the public”. Philip Davies, a self-confessed advocate of self-regulation who voted against the deal on Monday night, accused him of not being “straight”. “You are not here to represent a free press… You’re here representing the Hugh Grants of the world.”

But Mosley, who has given financial help to hacking victims, said Davies had “absolutely no right” to say that. “Everything that’s happened to me has happened. My interest is to see that it doesn’t happen to other people, and that if it does happen they can afford the costs of the proceedings I brought. Don’t say I’m not straight.”

This set the tone for what Davies and his colleagues appeared anxious to turn into the Trial of Hacked Off. Tory MP Conor Burns conducted a vigorous cross-examination on “why did you need to be in the room eating pizza with Ed Miliband doing a deal to change the system of press regulation in this country?” (“Nobody offered us pizza,” protested Hacked Off director Brian Cathcart).

The interrogators had two problems, one of which was the witnesses’ robustness. Mr Tomlinson is the kind of QC who has the confidence to say (when asked by Tory MP Angie Bray about an ennobled fellow silk’s criticism of the exemplary damages to which newspapers who opt out of the new system could be subjected): “I have the greatest respect for David Pannick... but on this point he is just wrong.”

The Tory trio were also getting angry with the wrong people. A frustrated Burns asked if David Cameron’s “ambassador” Oliver Letwin had been “surprised” to find Hacked Off sitting in the room. No. The unspoken sub-text of the questioning was “Why the hell not?”, but that would have required a politically much more awkward interrogation of Letwin, not to mention the Prime Minister.

Earlier, opening a startling second front, Labour MP Jim Sheridan said: “What concerns me is the parasitical elements within the press who abuse their position in here… hiding behind their pen and calling people names… I don’t understand why they are allowed to come into this place and behave in the way that they do.”

Some seasoned Westminster observers suggested he was referring to sketch writers.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
News
Pistorius leaves Pretoria High Court to be taken to prison
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

Life and Style
tech

Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes

News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Life and Style
health

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

French Teacher

£21000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: French Teacher ? Sou...

Geography Teacher

£21000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Geography Teacher ? ...

Cover Supervisor

£50 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienced Cover Super...

Cover Supervisor

£50 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Randstad Education is looking to e...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album