James Cusick: Is there an agitator in Wapping?


Click to follow

There is an often repeated phrase by Oliver Cromwell, used when someone has overstayed their time. "In the name of God, go!" the Lord Protector shouted at the Rump Parliament. Geoffrey Robertson, QC, is a fan of the lawyer, John Cooke, who provided Cromwell with the legal cover he needed to take on Charles I. Mr Robertson knows a thing or two about taking on kings and governments. So it should come as no surprise that he is championing News International journalists in their battle with News Corp's global sovereign, Rupert Murdoch.

As leading counsel in landmark cases involving the European Human Rights Act, Mr Robertson is the go-to silk if your rights have been trampled on. But even Sun journalists who've watched their sources being handed over to Scotland Yard, in the News Corp-approved so-called "swamp cleaning" exercise, must have scratched their heads is disbelief as they read Mr Robertson in The Times laying out his case on their behalf.

That's like free ad space for Shell and BP in Green Car Monthly or a pro-Iran celebrity personality feature of Mahmoud Ahmadinjad in The Jewish Chronicle. You simply have to ask, why? Would Mr Murdoch have approved the Robertson welcome as he flies into London to deal with The Sun's crisis? No. Would The Times' editor have wanted to show solidarity with their tabloid brethren? No, not if it caused them harm, their future and the wrath of Rupert.

Perhaps the strangest decoding of Mr Robertson's words appearing in The Times is a behind-the-scenes nascent revolution, where those on high inside News Corp's board have discreetly shouted "in the name of God, go!" at their one-time untouchable master. And I have no doubt who they really wanted the message to be heard by: the US Department of Justice. And it will have heard.