HACKGATE SKETCH: Busy doing nothing, having a lovely time

Lawrence Abramson…separated from Maurice Saatchi at birth

Resignations, unemployment and confidentiality ethics are making life hard for the Hackgate players

Now that campaigning Labour MP Tom Watson has set the Serious Fraud Office on Rupe, it’s probably a very good time to indulge in a little recreational burglary. What with endless senior resignations and three separate operations at work on Newscorp, one wonders who’s doing all the real work. Am I alone, by the way, in seeing Tom Watson as a dead ringer for Phil Jupitus?

Still, I’m sure we were all reassured by the stopgap appointment of Cressida Dick as Sir John Stephenson’s replacement. Dick it was who led the sharp-end of the ‘anti-terrorist’ operation against Brazilian student Charles de Menenzes, wherein he got 439 bullets in his brain from close range, and a grudging, posthumous statement from Cressida and her lads that he was innocent, not a terrorist, didn’t vault a barrier and didn’t run away, on account of having a head-full of bullets. This was the operation where Executive Producer Andy Hayman allegedly turned to a man he’d only met once for a cup of tea, and got him to splash complete falsehoods in that weekend’s News of the World. This chap was, of course, Andy Coulson….the man who shortened Sean Hoare’s life.

At the same time as we can look forward to a clean start with Ms Dick, we can also rest assured that the entertainment value of statements from Harbottle & Lewis will remain high. We have already made the acquaintance of partially-sighted Lawrence Abramson, the man who missed all the evidence of criminality in 300 Newscorp emails about the Windsors. Last week, his spokeswoman told us that she made it a rule never to comment on Mr Abramson’s cases. This is the kind of job I’d like: you’re supposed to speak, but your lips are sealed. Like being a lifeguard on a beach with no water, or a solicitor constantly being paid to find nothing, I’d imagine it’s the sort of employment where you get to work on your golf handicap.

Lawrence Abramson has now departed Hackgate for Fladgate. The suffix ‘gate’ obviously appeals to him, and it’s not a bad signpost as to where the ethics might be buried: the Fladgate firm were involved in the Jersey-owned Orb Estates scam of some years back. That’s the one where the judge on Jersey told the Fladgate chaps they represented the worst case of malpractice he’d ever witnessed. Still, I’m sure there’s a new intake in there now, all squeaky-clean and helping Abramson feel comfortable in his new surroundings.

Meanwhile, back at Nobottle & Lawless, they too released a lengthy comment yesterday saying that is is their policy never to comment in cases where client confidentiality must, of course, come first. You have to feel sympathy for H&B, because this is a letter of great length they can’t charge to a client, which as we all know is every legal practice’s worst nightmare. But some of it did make me smile:

‘Despite the constraints upon us, we can make it clear that many recent press reports have not accurately described the extent of our retainer from News International in 2007. Unfortunately we are not at present able to correct these errors.’

Hmm. “I know I’ve got this bloodstained knife in my hand officer, but I am unable to explain it due to a confidentiality agreement with that corpse over there”.

It makes an odd sort of sense I suppose….until one revisits what happened. Abramson was asked by recently-departed Newscorp legal Jon Chapman to look for evidence of wrongdoing (in 300 emails between NotW management) relating to Royal hacking. He wrote back to say there was no evidence of it at all. The stash was then given by recently-arrived Newscorp General Manager Will Lewis to his pet gerbil, who instantly spotted rather a lot of incriminating evidence.

That seems pretty clear to me, but Bluebottle & Clueless say no, not at all, this needs further clarification:

‘All of these issues will no doubt become clearer in due course, especially when all of the relevant parties co-operate fully with the various investigations and inquiries. In the meantime, we will say more as and when it becomes professionally possible to do so”.


And talking of bollocks, today’s the day: from 2.30 is this afternoon, the Culture, Media & Sport sub-committee (chaired by a one of Rebekah Brooks’s closest friends John Whittingdale – a man who also lists Les Hinton as a friend) will be ‘grilling’ the Troika of Global Evil on why they and/or their employees have been lying to Parliamentary committees since the Civil War. Like The Slog, Whittingdale breezily told everyone at the weekend that Becky Redtop wouldn’t be there, she being under Plod’s orders to remain silent. But somehow this has now changed, and she will be turning up: the turf war continues.

This creates the possibility of probably the silliest CM&S examination of all time. For last night, rumours were rife that James may have to resign his post as Chairman of US Newscorp almost immediately, the bloody Yanks being picky about top US management bribing foreign officials an’ all. Rebekah is already unemployed, and as the Newscorp stock price was in freefall yesterday afternoon EDS, Rupert may be at the mercy of the bailiffs by 2.30. The Committee may thus be interviewing three vagrants who don’t earn or own anything. Perhaps they will now claim Legal Aid.

Related: Sensational claims of hacking ‘Brain Room’ in Fox News HQ