The Week in Politics: Sun sets on Murdoch
Week begins with new newspaper, ends with resignation. The saga of Murdoch's empire rumbles on.
By Ian Dunt Follow @IanDunt
The first print run of the Sun on Sunday seemed a little rushed. It came just days after being announced and its first edition was an unremarkable, toothless affair. Gone were the mandatory exposes. In was the soft-focus photo shoot and heart-warming stories of childbirth. There was barely a romp to be found. This would be fate of all newspapers post-Leveson, we were told darkly.
The truth was a simpler affair. By Monday, the Met's deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers was giving evidence to the inquiry which would not have seemed out of place in Pakistan. She spoke of a culture of bribery of public officials on a big scale. Pretty unforgiving stuff and as the week wore on it became increasingly clear why the Sun on Sunday might need to be rushed out.
Hours later, Charlotte Church settled with News International. Her account of what happened to her family made even the most cynical, celebrity-averse onlooker feel nauseous. Michael Gove, who had criticised the inquiry to a lobby lunch during its time off, found himself roundly attacked, first by Leveson himself, then Ed Miliband during PMQs. A new procession of witnesses provided new problems, not least of all Brian Paddick, who suggested the Met might have watered down their rape strategy for PR purposes.
Scotland Yard had a torrid time. Yates of the Yard, whose reputation for ably handling contentious issues now seems laughable, gave evidence via video link. He was in Bahrain, training the local police force who showed such restraint during the recent Arab Spring demonstrations. Yates spent most of the time insisting none of the free drinks he had at various fancy London hotels had any effect at all on his decision not to re-open the investigation.
When it came out the Met actually gave Rebekah Brookes, then News of the World editor, a horse, Twitter basically lost it. Every variation of pun was utilised, usually to terrible effect. A few days later, in a plot twist Armando Iannuci would have blushed at, David Cameron admitted he actually rode the horse himself. Twitter had another breakdown.
The most damaging thing about the drip-drip of Leveson revelations was not so much their content, as the sense we were still feeling at the edges of a culture which created severe conflicts of interest in the media, police force and government. In a sign of that scope, James Murdoch finally resigned from his News International role so he could 'concentrate' on News Corp's TV business across the pond.
That's all the dominos fallen. First Andy Coulson, then Rebekah Brookes, then James Murdoch. At each stage, the ranks closed, but damage would not be contained. As many commentators pointed out, there was only Rupert left. Once James went, the spotlight shone on the father. Could his resignation end up increasing pressure on the media mogul? Judging by the pattern of recrimination so far, that seems likely.