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Tommy – The continuing Soap Opera

So the Prime Minister’s former press secretary Andy Coulson has been charged with committing  perjury at the Sheridan trial in 2010.

Pants on fire. Coulson goes to Govan.

All good and well, he almost certainly did.

Many folk including Tommy himself are now speculating that Tommy would probably win an appeal against his own conviction on the grounds that News International had a conspiracy against him.

It seems clear that Murdoch and co were out to get Sheridan but………

As I wrote here Coulson was a witness for the defence, called by Sheridan himself. Tommy didn’t as far as I can recall, challenge any of the evidence presented by the News of the World but rather he challenged the methods by which it was obtained.

Coulson’s replies would seem to be the reason for him being charged.

So I am confused. How can a convicted perjurer claim that his conviction is unsound because one of his own witnesses lied at his trial?

And how does the fact that at least one of Tommy’s witnesses lied mean that somehow he (Tommy) didn’t?

I don’t know the answer to that but if there are any legal bods looking in, you may be able to elucidate.

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Taggart

A meeting room at a production company somewhere in Glasgow in spring 2010. Scriptwriters and producers discuss a new Taggart story.

“The script is about a media organisation operating completely out of control, using illegal methods to publish information. Their leader is a power mad autocrat, consumed with self belief, with a thing for younger women….”

“Oh that Wikileaks stuff  will be old hat by the time we get to production”

“Stay with me – Firstly one of their editors has to resign because he was complicit in illegal phone tapping. Then he gets hired by the prime minister as press secretary”

“Sigh!”

“Then he has to resign from that job because a whistleblower starts telling tales. That whistleblower is later found dead – apparently suicide. There’s also a ruthless woman who is friendly with the Prime Minister and she has to resign”

“OK so what’s the police angle?”

“Well Sergeant Reid has been accepting money to give stories to the newspaper that the editor had to resign from”

“This is the guy who becomes the PM’s press secretary?”

“That’s right – and then the chief of police, who has hired another journalist from that newspaper to act as his press secretary, has to resign because he’s been accepting money too”

“And then the proprietor of the newspaper, his son and the woman who has resigned have to appear at the House of Commons to be questioned”

“And what about the guy and the woman who resigned?”

“Oh they get arrested”

“OK – end of meeting. Even by Taggart standards this storyline is horseshit. Back to the drawing board”

 

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All Human Life Is Here

That was the motto of the News of the World back in the day.

Matthew Engel in his book Tickle the Public: One Hundred Years of the Popular Press (Gollancz, 1996) says that the “News of The World” of the 1890s was “a very fine paper indeed”. The paper was not without its detractors, though. As one writer later related:

Frederick Greenwood, editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, met in his club one day Lord Riddell, who died a few years ago, and in the course of conversation Riddell said to him, `You know, I own a paper.’ `Oh, do you?’ said Greenwood, ‘what is it?’ `It’s called the News of the World—I’ll send you a copy,’ replied Riddell, and in due course did so. Next time they met Riddell said, ‘Well Greenwood, what do you think of my paper?’ ‘I looked at it,’ replied Greenwood, ‘and then I put it in the waste-paper basket. And then I thought, “If I leave it there the cook may read it” —so I burned it!

Tommy – A Soap Opera Revisited

I wrote here on Christmas Eve last year, about the end of the Sheridan trial and its various up shots.

One passage read:

The story goes that Tommy’s original QC Maggie Scott strongly advised him not to call former NoTW editor and current press man to David Cameron, Andy Coulson as a witness. His insistence to do so was allegedly the reason that she and Tommy parted company.

Why would anyone call a hostile witness in their own defence?

All Coulson was ever going to do was remind the jury of the core evidence against Tommy in the case. All Tommy was ever going to do was to question how the evidence was obtained, not that it wasn’t true.

So now we know that Coulson most probably lied at the Sheridan perjury trial (Quelle surprise!) about phone hacking and paying corrupt police officers for information. If proved then Mr Coulson is in very serious trouble. It is an offence to pay police for information, it is an offence to hack phones. It’s a moral outrage to hack the phones of relatives of murder victims and, heaven help us, a teenage murder victim herself.

I notice today that two MPs, namely Jim Sheridan (no relation) and Tom Watson have called for Tommy’s conviction to be overturned because Coulson committed perjury at the perjury trial. (Tommy) Sheridan’s solicitor has reported Coulson to Strathclyde Police, for perjury.

But hang on………Coulson was a defence witness, called by Tommy himself. Scumbag though Coulson undoubtedly is, the cross examination of him by Tommy at the trial centred on the methods by which he had obtained evidence, not that the evidence itself wasn’t true.

Hopefully Coulson et al will get their just deserts, but the chances of Tommy wangling a get out of jail free card into the bargain are about as remote as Murdoch’s bid for control of Sky being approved any time soon..

Edit: Just reading about some ‘missing emails’ turning up at News International pertaining to the Sheridan case (and evidence from NoTW editor Bob Bird) too, but again it would seem however inconvenient and damaging they may be mto News International, they don’t seem to be relevant to whether TS committed perjury or not.

Edit (2): These stories continue to move. It seems that Tommy is to be considered for parole within a fortnight. Meanwhile the cesspit that is News International continues to reach new depths of despicability by the hour.

Edit 3: How long before we find out the REAL reason for police not initially proceeding with the investigation into phone hacking?

Hacks and Hacking – A Repost

Originally posted on April 10th

Here is a list of quotes from Newscorp representatives about allegations of phone hacking by the News of the World.

What are we to make about the final statement, which appears to contradict most of the others?

Rebekah Brooks (then Wade), News International chief executive, 10 July 2009

“It [the Guardian] is rushing out high volumes of coverage and repeating allegations by such sources as unnamed Met officers implying that ‘thousands’ of individuals were the object of illegal phone hacking, an assertion that is roundly contradicted by the Met assistant commissioner’s [John Yates’s] statement yesterday.”

“The Guardian coverage, we believe, has substantially and likely deliberately misled the British public.”

Andy Coulson to the culture media and sport select committee, 21 July 2009

“I have never condoned the use of phone hacking and nor do I have any recollection of incidences where phone hacking took place.”

Former News International chairman Les Hinton, giving evidence to the culture, media and sport select committee, September 2009

“There was never any evidence delivered to me suggesting that the conduct of Clive Goodman spread beyond him. The News of the World is populated overwhelmingly by decent hard-working people. If anyone were found conducting themselves in the way that Clive Goodman did, there is no question there would be instant dismissal.”

News of the World spokesperson, reacting to a New York Times investigation into phone hacking at the paper, September 2010

“The News of the World repeatedly asked the New York Times to provide evidence to support their allegations and they were unable to do so. Indeed, the story they published contained no new credible evidence and relied heavily on anonymous sources, contrary to the paper’s own editorial guidelines.

“In so doing, they have undermined their own reputation and confirmed our suspicion their story was motivated by commercial rivalry. We reject absolutely any suggestion there was a widespread culture of wrongdoing at the News of the World.”

Rupert Murdoch addressing News Corporation’s annual general meeting, 15 October 2010

“We have very, very strict rules. There was one incident more than five years ago … the person who bought the bugged conversation was immediately fired. If anything was to come to light, and we have challenged those people who have made allegations to provide evidence … we would take immediate action.”

Rupert Murdoch, delivering the inaugural Baroness Thatcher lecture, 21 October 2010

“Often I have cause to celebrate editorial endeavour. Occasionally, I have had cause for regret. Let me be clear. We will vigorously pursue the truth – and we will not tolerate wrongdoing.”

Andy Coulson at the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial, 9 December 2010

“I don’t accept there was a culture of phone hacking at the News of the World. All I can tell you is that, as far as my reporters are concerned, the instructions were very clear: they were to work within the law and within the PCC code. It’s in their handbooks.”

David Cameron on Andy Coulson’s resignation, January 2011

“[He is] being punished twice for the same offence. This is all about the past. It has gone on and on and I can understand why he feels the pressure of that. I choose to judge him by the work he has done for me, for the government and for the country.”

Andy Coulson after resigning as Downing Street’s director of communications, 21 January 2011

“Unfortunately continued coverage of events connected to my old job at the News of the World has made it difficult for me to give the 110% needed in this role. I stand by what I’ve said about those events but when the spokesman needs a spokesman it’s time to move on.”

Press Complaints Commission chairman Baroness Peta Buscombe on the commission’s investigation into phone-hacking which found “no evidence” of widespread wrongdoing, February 2011

“There are a lot of new allegations and a lot of revelations … It sounds now as if we weren’t fully informed.”

News International statement, 8 April 2011

“Following an extensive internal investigation and disclosures through civil legal cases, News International has decided to approach some civil litigants with an unreserved apology and an admission of liability in cases meeting specific criteria. We have also asked our lawyers to establish a compensation scheme with a view to dealing with justifiable claims fairly and efficiently.”