MURDOCH-GATE: DON'T GET SCHADENFREUDY JUST YET
I suppose it's a good thing that Rebekah Brooks was arrested this morning in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, but the timing is a tad suspicious. On NPR today, Andy McSmith of The Independent explained why:
The form of arrest was, she was invited to present herself and be arrested, Now, normally, when suspected wrongdoers are arrested, the police turn up at their door first thing in the morning. So this was a very polite arrest, and the police may be doing her a favor, because it's not at all clear now that she can be made to appear in front of a Commons committee on Tuesday. That's still to be decided. But she's got a pretty good legal case for saying, "I can't answer questions because I've been arrested and I might incriminate myself."
A Bloomberg story adds:
Lawyers and lawmakers said the arrest casts doubt on Brooks's appearance at the hearing in front of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee....
Niri Shan, a lawyer at Taylor Wessing LLP, said Brooks’s ability to answer questions will be limited.
"Her lawyers will advise her not to answer questions that might damage her defense," Shan said in an e-mail. "All the questions will be directed to her level of knowledge. That's going to be a key part of any case against her, and a key part of any successful defense."
And The New York Times adds:
Although they will still get to question her former bosses, Rupert and James Murdoch, committee members seem disappointed at the prospect of losing Ms. Brooks. Some even said that they wondered if the timing of the arrest was intended to ensure that she was unavailable to answer their questions.
"Being of a suspicious mind, I do find it odd that they should arrest her now by appointment," said Chris Bryant, a Labour member of the committee, who suspects his phone was hacked by The News of the World.
It's clear from the lead story in today's print New York Times how cozy the relationship between Scotland Yard and the Murdochs has been. Now Brooks seems to have been eased out of testifying by the police, even as the head of Scotland Yard has resigned.
And speaking of cozy, there's also this regarding the hearings in the House of Commons:
John Whittingdale, who will be in the chair when MPs question Rupert and James Murdoch tomorrow, had to fend off accusations yesterday that he was too close to the pair.
The Conservative chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee defended his contacts with Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton, two senior figures in the Murdoch empire who have resigned over the hacking scandal.
The Independent on Sunday revealed yesterday that Mr Whittingdale is the only MP among 386 "friends" listed on Ms Brooks' Facebook page or among Mr Hinton's 93 "friends"....
I wish I thought Murdoch would get what's coming to him, but all this makes me still think that he'll escape justice again.