You wait years to see Rupert Murdoch called to account over phone hacking and then some fool slaps foam in his face and MPs are congratualting the old man on his on his “immense courage”. This is not a foam-in-the-face matter. Ask the hacking victims. Ask all the people who have been fired or sacked. Ask people who care about improper influence.
The questioning — though we’ll see precious little about it in the headlines — was slow and it could hardly be called methodical, but there will be plenty in the transcript that sheds new light on this affair, not least in James Murdoch’s unimpressive answers about the Harbottle and Lewis email haul and the £700,000 payout of Gordon Taylor.
On the latter, which was discussed here he was astonishingly vague and uninformed, but it was clear he had no serious or plausible answer to the question of why he should have made a huge payout if it was not to silence Mr Taylor. Instead, we saw what appeared to be some new fallings-out, between the Murdochs and former employees such as Tom Crone (former legal adviser) and Colin Myler (former NoW editor). And also with lawyers and ex-lawyers, of which more, one hopes, at the public inquiry.
You might expect me to write this, but if we wanted proof of the need for a systematic public inquiry staffed by informed and forensically-minded barristers, this was it. What we have here, my guess is, is a small army of hostages to fortune.