Rebekah Brooks trial clashes with press regs announcement
'Everyone innocent until proven guilty' says Murdoch; try telling that to Chris Jeffries, say detractors
RUPERT MURDOCH has stirred up accusations of hypocrisy after tweeting that the big media trials of Rebekah Brooks and other former Murdoch journalists will start in two weeks, with the comment: “Remember, everyone innocent until proven guilty, entitled to fair trial in most countries.”
That provoked a backlash from Murdoch watchers who reminded the media mogul that his journalists' victims didn’t always get a fair hearing before being pilloried in his newspapers.
One replied to Murdoch’s tweet: “That has been so thoroughly untrue in your UK tabloids for so many years. Kangaroo court of The Sun & NOTW [the now defunct News of the World].”
Lefty blogger Owen Jones accused Murdoch of "bludgeoning irony to death" and added: "How's this for 'everyone innocent until proven guilty'?" - giving a helpful link to The Sun's front page treatment of the absolutely innocent Christopher Jeffries in December 2010: 'Jo Murder Landlord Held – The Strange Mr Jeffries.”
Jeffries, who was Joanna Yeates's landlord and was briefly under suspicion before the police finally arrested the right man, was understandably aggrieved by the paper's treatment and joined Hacked Off, the campaign by victims of hacking - from Hugh Grant to John Prescott - for tougher regulations on the press.
But Murdoch’s disclosure that his former chief executive and others are going to be in the dock in a fortnight brings more questions.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller gave a deadline last week of 30 October for the government's decision on press regulation following the Leveson inquiry. That means the announcement will come around the same time - possibly even the same week - that the big media trials begin at the Old Bailey.
The timing is brilliant for those seeking to regulate the press for the first time in 300 years. They include all three main parties who – almost uniquely in this Parliament – are united in their determination to act against the press, with opinion polls showing the majority of the public are behind them.
The newspapers – with the notable exception of The Guardian and the FT - are lined up against Parliament and no doubt planning an offensive over the freedom of the press for the end of the month.
With the Murdoch executives in the dock and facing the prospect of long jail terms if criminal charges for hacking into victims’ mobile phones are proven – Brooks is also facing the serious charge of perverting the course of justice – the public are unlikely to lift a finger to stop the press being regulated.
Can the timing be merely coincidence? ·