The Sketch: It's Rupert versus those effete Le Monde-loving lawyers


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The Independent Online

So, Counsel Jay likes Le Monde, eh? Rupert Murdoch dropped this little nugget into the courtroom proceedings after one of their private, tea-break conversations. Jay is [distant smile] "one of the few people who likes Le Monde". That is: a high-minded member of a cloistered, liberal elite. It was a gloss on the "people like you" jab Murdoch had landed earlier.

"Some may say," Counsel Jay had started, and Murdoch went up under the ribs with "People like you may say!"

And there's the culture clash. Jay and Lord Leveson are both creatures of the Royal Courts of Justice, a world away from the gruesome mechanics of capitalism, business, tabloids, cash payments and door-stopping paps.

Murdoch became a billionaire by creating an authentic voice for the English working-class – cocky, witty, fiercely patriotic. It's why the Left hate him, MPs are in awe of him, and the legal lot can't understand him.

Perhaps as a result, they didn't really get anything out of him we didn't already know, believe, suspect, dream of in our professional nightmares.

Lord Leveson had a comic reaction to the deal made with the Max Mosley girl. She'd have her published face pixellated in return for spilling her story. Leveson was shocked – really shocked.

Counsel Jay – a little too eager to be unintimidated perhaps, and patronising as a result – asked a lot of high-sounding questions based on an underlying contempt for the values of The Sun. "I'm trying to get you to see this as a spectrum of unethical behaviour, shading into civil and then criminal offences. Do you see that?"

For his turn, Murdoch generally managed to conceal his feelings for the legal profession.

But then: "I should have thrown all the damned lawyers out," he said of the in-house investigation into the News of the World. He would have found out the truth and "torn the place apart".

Never mind the regulatory regime of compliance officers.

No system will make up for the sheer jungle force of a press proprietor's will.