The Sketch: Red-top chiefs in orgy of forgetfulness

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The Independent Online

The News of the World came to tell all to the culture committee about the phone hacking scandal that saw its royal editor given a four-month jail sentence.

The personnel included highly paid, highly trained executives at the peak of their powers and careers.

Nonetheless, I doubt I could procure any of them a place in a nude three-in-a-bed gay love rat Nazi Alsatian sex romp even if – I'm sure Mr Crone would point out – they had the time to attend. What's that? The "inclination" to attend? Ah, there it is, the nicety of the legal mind. I wouldn't want to give an impression that there was any connection between the legal manager of News Group and gay nude love rats – apart, at least, from the paper he works for.

And while there was a distinctly rat-like element in editor Colin Myler's make-up I wouldn't want to suggest there was anything feminine in it. Or nude. His rat-like characteristics were completely masculine, non-Nazi and fully, not to say decently furred.

Exhausting, this legal sketching.

These fellows told us they had fully investigated the phone tapping scandal and concluded no one else was to blame.

But wait, what about this story concerning a royal girlfriend leaving a blistering message on her prince's phone – a message which was reprinted verbatim in a page 7 splash with a front page teaser. What was the result of the investigation into that story with its prima facie evidence of phone hacking?

Mr Crone deployed the full Inner Temple brilliance of his mind. He'd never seen the story before in his life. He had "absolutely no recollection of it".

But then an even more ingenious argument occurred to him. It was a message hacked from the prince's mobile. But he, Mr Crone, was only investigating stories about phone hacking on staff members in the royal household! As they say about News of the World footballers: "You can't legislate against talent like that."

The £200,000 that Private Eye said it had paid its convicted royal editor? Mr Crone shot that down with the words: "That's not my area."

It was also stated the story was inaccurate (the punctuation may have been faulty), and then (they were by now admitting it) that it was a contractual pay-off owed as a long-term freelancer (convicted and jailed for six criminal offences committed for the commercial gain of the paper he was working for).

Who authorised the payment? The editor didn't know, the legal manager didn't know, the ex-managing editor didn't know – and none of them knew who might know.

When we get the witness recalls in the recess for more evidence (which it is, technically) we'll have another double-page, red-topped, spread 'em wide festival. It'll be an orgy! I can't wait.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

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