21 August 2011

Smoking GunAs far as “smoking guns” go, the latest revelation in the on-going phone hacking saga concerning Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is pretty significant. One can certainly smell the cordite if not actually see the wisps of smoke. The latest document to be released this week by the Commons Select Committee is a letter written by Clive Goodman four years ago protesting his sacking from the News of the World following his conviction and imprisonment for hacking the royal family. News Corps has always alleged that he was the “one rogue reporter.” However, his letter claims that phone hacking was widely discussed at editorial meetings until Andy Coulson, the editor at the time and more recently David Cameron’s media adviser, specifically banned further references to it, that Coulson assured him his job would be safe if he did not implicate the newspaper when he came to court and that his own hacking was carried out “with the full knowledge and support” of other senior journalists whom he named.

Of course, it’s still just an allegation – one person’s word against another’s but the evidence against News Corps is progressively and seemingly irresistibly mounting. The continuing assertions that it was all down to one rogue reporter, that the original incidents were thoroughly and exhaustively investigated and that no one further up the food chain knew anything about anything are all increasingly looking very hollow.

An interesting aside:

Two versions of his letter were provided to the Select Committee. One which was supplied by the law firm of Harbottle & Lewis has been redacted to remove the names of journalists, at the request of police who are, of course, still investigating. The other, which was supplied by News International, has been redacted to remove not only the names but also all references to hacking being discussed in Coulson’s editorial meetings and to Coulson’s offer to keep Goodman on staff if he agreed not to implicate the paper. Hmm. Why do you think they wouldn’t want that information to get out?

The company also faces a new claim that it misled parliament. In earlier evidence to the select committee, in answer to questions about whether it had bought Goodman’s silence, it had said he was paid off with a period of notice plus compensation of no more than £60,000. The new paperwork, however, reveals that Goodman was paid a full year’s salary, worth £90,502.08, plus a further £140,000 in compensation as well as £13,000 to cover his lawyer’s bill. A modest discrepancy of £183,502.08.

When will they learn – it’s the cover-up that gets you.

Adam and I carried out another successful project the other day – it’s great having him around. We successfully set up an old wireless router I had which was gathering dust to extend the range of our wireless network. It’s something I had wanted to do for some time and I was hoping to do it wirelessly. However, while some routers can be configured to act as a wireless bridge, neither of the two I have could (or at least we couldn’t work out how to do it). So, it was a matter of stringing an Ethernet cable up from my study, up through Penelope’s office and into the loft and then down again at the other end of the house where the “old” router could sit unobtrusively on the dressing room window sill providing enhanced wireless range. Most importantly, the wireless now extends reliably out into the back garden for when I need to relax in the hammock whilst surfing the net. And while Ms Playchute may not be too enamoured with the cable dangling down from the ceiling in the dressing room, another Stragnell and Son project successfully completed.

Greg and AdamIt was a lovely day on Friday – warm and sunny. So, after our many successful projects Adam and I took off on a leisurely bike round around the neighbouring lanes and byways. You can tell who’s the amateur and which one of us is the professional by looking at the shorts (and the gloves, I suppose). Nevertheless, having ridden in my slipstream for the whole eighteen miles, he sprinted to overtake me as we entered the drive and thus secured the stage victory. Still, I got all the King of the Mountains points and still hold the polka-dot jersey (a present from Nick and Lucy).

J's Birthday CakeWe celebrated Penny’s sister J’s “Don’t Even Ask” birthday on Saturday night. Quadruple chocolate cake with Greg’s home-made liquorice ice cream. OMG! What a sensational combination.

Today, the weather appearing to be moderately fine (if not the scorching sun and blistering hot 90 degree temperatures some weather channels were predicting), we are off for a picnic this afternoon up the road at Fawsley.  Fixings and preparations have been ongoing for several days so it should be half decent. Fortunately, all I’m responsible for is the wine.

Love to you all,

Greg