Scandal has provided me with riches beyond avarice

Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive officer, News International, giving evidence in the House of Commons

Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive officer, News International, giving evidence in the House of Commons

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Among my favourite conspiracy theories is the one in which the Earth is forecast to slip on its axis. It means the north and south poles will swap positions with devastating consequences – like Greenlanders suddenly being expected to play cricket.

Meanwhile, you could be forgiven for thinking something similar has already taken place in the world of politics, police and the papers. The baddies are playing the role of the goodies; the hunters are now the hunted and the powerful have suddenly become the meek who will no longer inherit the Earth.

For people like me, whose working life has been spent in journalism and for whom politics has long been a consuming passion, the past few weeks have provided riches beyond avarice.

I am now reduced to accessing the BBC website every 30 minutes to find out the latest person to resign, be arrested or otherwise implicated in The Great Phone Hacking Scandal.

If I leave it any longer I get withdrawal symptoms, like fidgety finger and an inability to concentrate on any conversation which does not include words like ‘Murdoch’ or ‘I leave with my integrity intact.’

The select committee’s confrontation with the Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks provided the most compelling television since the Frost-Nixon interviews more than 40 years ago.

I loved the old boy’s interminable pauses before replying to questions. It disconcerted the MPs and had number one son glancing sideways to see if his father had died with his eyes open.

I revelled in the flinty-eyed exchanges between Paul Farrelly and Rebekah Brooks, which had clearly been fuelled by many years of mutual antipathy.

Before he arrived at Westminster, Farrelly (a former journalist) had held senior positions on the Independent and the Observer – both cheer-leaders in the discomfort of News International.

He knows how newspapers work, and had a neat line in incredulity whenever Mrs Brooks affected ignorance of, or responsibility for, any of the nefarious practices which had brought her former company to its knees.

To be continued, I’m delighted to say.

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