Encroaching on Mr MacKenzie's space to ask a few innocuous questions about his resignation as managing director of BSkyB was, if disgruntled former employees are to be believed, about as easy as getting a foreign news story on Sky News.
Firstly it is impossible to get remotely near his door, never mind his bins.
'I can't let you in, love, because I could lose my job,' called the gardener through high iron security gates for which some Sun interviewees would happily have died.
As Mr MacKenzie's loyal employee sprinkled and tended the manicured lawn, it was impossible even to glimpse the house, let alone the man. Nestling in comforting obscurity in a Kent country lane, Broomfield, the MacKenzies' new pounds 700,000 des res, is conveniently masked by a gatehouse larger than the average Sun reader's home.
The compound is surrounded by thick, prickly hedge and a high stone wall. The only way to glimpse the whitewashed house is to stand on the top bar of next door's fence. No need to feel embarrassed. Mr MacKenzie promotes people for such professionalism.
Relaxed in shorts and shirt, Mr MacKenzie was first spotted walking
the family labrador at the far end of the garden. He waved. He smiled. He ignored a series of polite requests for a chat on the video camera intercom.
But as the temperature rose, the man who can wither veteran newspaper men at 100 yards became a gent. He came to the gates to pass cans of ice-cold Pepsi through the iron bars.
He would not comment on whether his 20-year affair with the media mogul Rupert Murdoch was really over and what his plans were now. All the tricks of the reporter's trade were tried. There were pleas for just a few sentences, a word, any old cliche to satisfy the news desk. 'I'm not saying anything, I'm going to lunch with some friends. Why not take a picture of the dog?' said Mr MacKenzie, who was accompanied by a man who would
identify himself only as 'the husband of the editor of the People'.
Mr MacKenzie is unlikely to remain unemployed for long. Roy Greenslade, former Daily Mirror editor, doubts whether the MacKenzie-Murdoch partnership is really over and predicts Mr Murdoch will move Mr MacKenzie to the New York Post. Others say that British tabloid editors can already feel Mr MacKenzie breathing down their necks.
Broomfield, near Sevenoaks, needs a wage earner. The only thing the new home seems to lack is a satellite dish. It may not be installed yet. Then again, maybe the house is wired for
Mark Lawson, page 19
View from City Road, page 33
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