Let’s not forget that Rebekah Brooks was a victim too. Goodness me, yes…

How could we dispute the Murdoch press’s reporting of the outcome of the hacking trial?


Beside the Thames in Wapping, the tide of victimhood turns. Following last week’s Southwark Crown Court verdicts, the Murdoch titles would have us believe that the person whose rights were shamefully violated was not a murdered schoolgirl, but a “vindicated” former chief executive of News International.

The conviction of one News of the World editor, Andy Coulson, is lightly glossed over as a virtual irrelevance in favour of castigating those responsible for prosecuting the one, Rebekah Brooks, who was acquitted. The Sunday Times devotes not only a full page to wondering aloud why Brooks was ever brought to court, but also a leader. “Mrs Brooks insisted on her innocence from the start, and said she was being subjected to a witch hunt,” it proclaims, as if outraged by the police’s impertinence in not taking a suspect’s word on trust. “The jury’s verdict goes a long way to bearing her out and gives the lie to those who believed phone hacking was endorsed at senior level by News International.”

No one would be so arrogant as to dispute a verdict, of course, though a certain newspaper took the trouble yesterday to remind us that it can be fallible. And so to the report in the same Sunday Times about a mock trial – conceived by the real judge who presided, and featuring real barristers – designed to illuminate flaws in the jury system. Peculiarly, it starred Alan Johnson MP, as an armed robber who stole £68,000 from a betting shop.

A dozen separate juries watched the identical trial on video, so The Sunday Times relates, and 10 of the dozen acquitted. This outcome, says Johnners, “showed that even though I was as guilty as hell, they had to be sure beyond reasonable doubt to convict me, and that is very difficult”. So it is.

One admires the newspaper’s mischievousness in juxtaposing that with its self-righteous cant about Mrs Brooks and her “witch hunt”, and appreciates its timely reminder of the distinction between proving the absolute innocence of a defendant and the prosecution’s failure to convince a jury of the certainty of the accused’s guilt.

At least Cameron is consistently cack-handed

Say what you like about the Prime Minister’s form on foreign battle fields, but acknowledge his consistency. With Jean-Claude Juncker, just as when he personally associated himself with the initiative to bring the World Cup to England, Two-Votes Cameron persuaded precisely one other nation (Hungary) to his way of thinking.

The cap is also doffed to Jeremy Hunt for dismissing those who did support Juncker as “cowards”. It isn’t every day you can praise the Health Secretary for speaking with expertise, least of all about the NHS, but he opines on personal courage with the authority of the braveheart whose reflex, on spotting journalists while on his way to a private dinner with Rupert Murdoch, was to hide behind a tree.

READ MORE: What is David Cameron playing at? His anti-EU stance is totally irresponsible

Andy Coulson and the second-chance saloon

A delight, as ever, to find William Hague cleaving precious moments from Brangelina’s company to grace Andrew Marr’s BBC1 show from his Chevening retreat. Yesterday, he was inevitably invited to comment on David Cameron’s hiring of Andy Coulson.

“Sometimes,” said the Foreign Secretary, parroting the line to take, “you give someone a second chance.” We will return to this matter, and try to understand the second-chance saloon distinction between breaking the law and being fitted up by it, if Andrew Mitchell is not recalled to the Cabinet in the forthcoming reshuffle.

READ MORE: Hacking trial: The Establishment is dead. Long live the Establishment

Even white noise is better than Andy Townsend

At the risk of labouring the point, something must to be done about Andy Townsend, who retains the post of ITV’s premier football co-commentator he inherited from Ron Atkinson. Which target audience Mr Townsend has in mind when he deploys the monotone to repeat what the commentator has just said about a piece of action is not clear, and we must leave it to a judicial enquiry to determine whether it is the blind or the insomniac.

It the meantime it cannot be beyond a developer to invent a piece of smart TV software that recognises his vocal patterns, and instantly replaces him with white noise, the radio news pips, nail scraping over blackboard, Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” or any other sound known to humanity, in time for next season’s Champions League.

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