Friday, April 27, 2012

Makes A Deal, With A Smile, Knowin' All The Time His Lie's A Mile

For four years News Corporation and their many executives, headed by billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch doggedly stuck to the defence that 'one rouge reporter' was responsible for all of the phone-hacking that was unfit for them to print. They were firm about it. No phone-hacking here, guv. No siree, Bob. None of that. Well, maybe a little bit, but it was just one bloke and his private dick. Now, it seems, that it was actually 'one rogue newspaper.' Billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch now confesses that there was a 'cover-up' at the Scum of the World but insists that it was 'kept hidden' from him personally. The billionaire tyrant told the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics that he and other senior executives were 'shielded' from the extent of phone-hacking at the tabloid, which he was forced to close in disgrace and ignominy last year. Asked if he should have known about it, he said: 'I failed, and I am very sorry about it.' He was giving evidence at the Royal Courts of Justice for a second day. Until today everyone thought billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch loved the Scum of The World the mostest, baby. But now, he said, he wished that he had closed it down earlier. He was also under the impression that if he had stepped in when the allegations first emerged he could have gotten to the truth of matters himself. Questions still remain as to which Rupert Murdoch we saw on Thursday. Was it the one who used to phone The Sunday Times on a Saturday over 'idle curiosity' about the news list, or was it the one whose opinion can, he proudly claimed on Wednesday, still be read in every Sun editorial? Was it the man who never asked an MP for anything or was it the man who said politicians knew his philosophy? On claims that 'one rogue reporter' was responsible for phone-hacking, the eighty one-year-old claimed that senior executives were all 'misinformed' about its extent. 'I do blame one or two people for that. Someone took charge of a cover-up we were victim to and I regret that.' He claimed that a lawyer, whom he described as 'a friend and drinking pal' of journalists at the Scum of the World, 'forbade' staff to report instances of phone-hacking. And, he said that the editor, Colin Myler, had 'failed to report back.' Myler, who became editor in 2007, told the inquiry last year that he had accepted phone-hacking must have been limited because police had not shown him any evidence otherwise. But, he said, he feared 'bombs under the newsroom floor' in the form of possible widespread wrongdoing in the past. Murdoch went on to apologise to all the 'innocent' staff at the tabloid who lost their jobs when the newspaper closed. 'I am guilty of not having paid enough attention to the News of the World, probably throughout all of the time that we've owned it. I was more interested in the excitement of building a new newspaper and doing other things. It was an omission by me." Explaining why he closed the Scum of the World, he said that after the Milly Dowler story was given 'huge publicity' he 'could feel the blast coming in the window,' and that he 'panicked.' At times billionaire tyrant Murdoch painted himself entirely as a victim, saying people had lied to him and about him, and there was 'an industry' in that. When asked by counsel for the inquiry, Robert Jay, whether the Scum of the World had a taste for celebrity gossip and 'tittle tattle', which of course even its biggest defenders would cheerfully admit it did, Murdoch said that was 'a vast exaggeration.' Certainly, it was interested in celebrities, just as the public is. 'A much greater investment went into covering the weekend soccer. Coverage of celebrities? Yes. Salacious gossip? No.' Earlier, Murdoch claimed that he was 'surprised' by how long e-mail contacts between one of his executives and the government went on during his BSkyB bid. But, he added that Frederic Michel, who repeatedly referred to contacts with the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt, had 'not done anything wrong.' Hunt's special adviser Adam Smith has quit over the e-mails and the minister is facing calls to follow him out the door. Asked whether he was surprised by the extent of Michel's contacts, Murdoch said: 'I didn't see anything wrong with his activities. Was I surprised it had gone on so long - there were so many e-mails.' Michel is News Corp's senior vice-president of government affairs and public policy. The media mogul and billionaire tyrant said that he did not believe he had ever met the vile and odious rascal Hunt (and, let's face it, if he had, he'd almost certainly have remembered it) and he 'certainly didn't discuss' the bid with the vile and odious rascal Hunt. Before the inquiry opened for the day, Labour leader Ed Milimolimandi said that it 'beggared belief' that the vile and odious rascal Hunt was still in his job 'because to believe he should stay, you have to believe that his special adviser acted as a lone wolf.' Or, you know, a 'single rouge adviser', perhaps. Milimolimandi told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the vile and odious rascal Hunt is, 'if you like, acting as a firewall, because if he goes, the questions will then move to David Cameron's conversations with Rebekah Brooks, with James Murdoch and others.' But John Whittingdale, chairman of the culture select committee - with his tongue rammed firmly own his own party leadership's chuff - said it was 'unclear' to what extent the e-mails were accurate and it was right to wait and see what Lord Justice Leveson concludes. So, leave it to someone else, eh? Marvellous.
The former legal manager of the Scum of the World branded allegations by Rupert Murdoch that he was responsible for covering up phone-hacking by the paper's journalists 'a shameful lie.' Tom Crone issued a strongly worded statement on Thursday afternoon saying the same applied to Murdoch's suggestion at the Leveson inquiry earlier in the day that a Scum of the World lawyer had prevented journalists from telling News International executives about allegations that phone-hacking at the paper went beyond a single 'rogue' reporter. Although Murdoch did not name Crone during his testimony, the former News International lawyer said he can only have been referring to him. 'Since Rupert Murdoch's evidence today about a lawyer who had been on the News of the World for many years can only refer to me, I am issuing the following statement,' he said. 'His assertion that I "took charge of a cover-up" in relation to phone-hacking is a shameful lie. The same applies to his assertions that I misinformed senior executives about what was going on and that I forbade people from reporting to Rebekah Brooks or to James Murdoch,' Crone added. 'It is perhaps no coincidence that the two people he has identified in relation to his cover-up allegations are the same two people who pointed out that his son's evidence to the parliamentary select committee last year was inaccurate. The fact that Mr Murdoch's attack on Colin Myler and myself may have been personal as well as being wholly wrong greatly demeans him.' Crone, a long-serving News International legal executive, left the company after the closure of the Scum of the World in July 2011, as did Myler. The pair then became embroiled in a public row with James Murdoch. They claimed they had told the News Corp deputy chief operating officer in 2008 that phone-hacking at the Scum of the World went beyond a single reporter. Murdoch denies this. Myler was appointed editor in January 2007, after the Scum of the World royal reporter, Clive Goodman, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire admitted phone-hacking and went to prison. His predecessor, Andy Coulson, denied any knowledge of phone hacking but resigned, saying he took responsibility for what happened.

So, in essence Rupert Murdoch sees himself as 'the victim' of the phone-hacking scandal as much as Milly Dowler, Sienna Miller, Steve Coogan or the families of crime victims whom Glenn Mulcaire gleefully hacked on his newspaper's behalf. He claimed there was 'no attempt' at his level to engineer a cover-up, and blames 'one or two people' below him. There was a trace - just a trace - humility however as billionaire tyrant Murdoch apologised to 'a lot of innocent people who lost their jobs.' Next Tuesday sees a crucial report from MPs who have looked into phone-hacking. If that committee decides that in evidence to them, James Murdoch in particular contradicted himself (or even, dare one even suggest it, that he deliberately misled the committee), all of a sudden it could be a very difficult ball game. Because there is a team at Ofcom looking at all this evidence and deciding whether BSkyB is a fit and proper holder of a broadcasting licence. There is a possibility that this could, very quickly, go from a debate about embarrassment to something with a real commercial impact. At the start of the day Robert Jay, turned back to Murdoch's account of his conversation with Gordon Brown over the former prime minister allegedly 'declaring war' on News Corp over the Sun's decision to support of the Conservative party in 2010. Brown, on Wednesday, swiftly denied that he had ever told Murdoch he'd 'declared war' on News Corp. 'I said that very carefully yesterday, under oath, and I stand by every word of it,' the billionaire tyrant replied when those comments were put to him. Murdoch continued on his relationship with Gordon Brown: 'I would just point out in the materials you put to me, Lord Mandelson who was then the most senior member of the cabinet, charged News International with having done a deal with Cameron. I pointed out that Lord Mandelson, in his book, said he did this under orders from Mr Brown knowing it to be false. That's in his own autobiography but he, reluctantly, did what he was told. I think that reflects Mr Brown's state of mind at the time.' Brown claimed he only spoke to Murdoch during that period about a letter which he wrote to the mother of a British soldier killed in Afghanistan. Did Murdoch remember that conversation? 'I don't remember. At the time I spoke to the editor I thought it was too hard on Mr Brown. He had taken the time to write, in a hurry, the handwriting wasn't very good. I don't think I rang him personally to apologise or talk about it,' Murdoch alleged. Murdoch was asked about comments made by David Yelland, the former editor of the Sun, about eventually seeing the world 'through Rupert Murdoch's eyes' after serving as his editor. Murdoch dismissed Yelland's claim, adding, rather spitefully: 'You should take it in the context of Mr Yelland's very strange autobiography, in which he said he was drunk all his time at the Sun, which we didn't notice.' Jay then referred to Murdoch's remarks on Wednesday, that if politicians want to know what he thinks about an issue - any issue - they should read the Sun's editorials. Murdoch said that he agrees with 'almost, if not all' of what the Sun stands for. Including tits, horrible use of English and telling lies about dead Liverpool supporters one wonders? Jay didn't say that - although we wish he had - but, instead, noted: 'There are only two ways the editors could know what you were thinking - either you tell them or they work it out.' I am in Britain less than ten per cent of my time, Murdoch argued, agreeing that editors 'know my philosophy.' Murdoch added: "'ertainly I don't flinch from my responsibilities and I certainly do take part in the policy decisions of the Sun. I think that is my job. I don't say it's absolutely parallel in every detail, it's not. But generally the issues we get interested in, that we fight for, you will find them in the Sun and you will find that I would agree with most of them if not all.' I'm not sure, exactly, who 'we' are supposed to be but, just in case you were wondering, billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch, you don't, even remotely, speak for me, or for anyone I know. Glad we got that sorted out. Murdoch was asked about Michael Gove, the education secretary and former senior journalist at The Times. Murdoch claimed he is 'very passionate' about education and that the state of schools in the US and Britain is 'a disgrace.' He said it is 'a crime against the younger generation, and we are determined to do something about it. We keep, keep, keep hammering it at.' James Murdoch the small apparently was the one who told his father when Vince Cable was stripped of his responsibility for the BSkyB takeover. Murdoch said: 'We were shocked by both what Mr Cable said and the unethical means in which that was deleted from the story in the Telegraph. They were clearly running a paper for their own commercial interests.' Was he oblivious to whether the vile and odious rascal Hunt was more 'on side' than Cable, asked Jay? Murdoch claimed he thought 'we'll probably get a fairer go with anyone other than Dr Cable.' He added that he was 'not aware' of comments on the vile and odious rascal Hunt's website, which praised the Murdochs and their role in UK business. Murdoch conceded that the phone-hacking scandal directly caused News Corp to drop its takeover bid for BSkyB. 'The hacking scandal was not a great national thing until the Milly Dowler disclosure. Half of which – I'm not making any excuses – has been disowned by the police.' Well, you clearly are making excuses, as it happens, but let's leave that to one side for them. Moving on to the phone-hacking scandal itself, Murdoch said in his witness statement that he first learned about the initial arrests in a phone call with Les Hinton. Did News International not co-operate with police, asked Jay? 'I don't agree, we appointed a law firm to look into this and aid our co-operation with the police. When the police after the charging of Goodman they said that was it, we are closing the file. Can't believe they would have done that if they were not happy with our co-operation.' Jay noted that's not the evidence we now have. 'One way or another, News International were being obstructive. Does that not shock you?' 'It shocks me deeply and was not aware of it until you just said that,' Murdoch claimed, which probably proves that for one thing, he doesn't even read his own newspapers since The Times had reported most of the claims by Met officers that they were actively obstructed by members of Scum of the World staff. Murdoch suggested that Scum of the World editor Andy Coulson volunteered his resignation following the jailing of Clive Goodman. 'He came forward and said I knew nothing of this but it happened on my watch and I think I should go.' His next job was working for David Cameron. Were you aware of any aspects of Coulson's settlement package, Murdoch was asked? 'No,' he replied, flatly. Jay picked up on Murdoch's own use of the phrase cover-up. 'Throughout this narrative there is a consistent theme of cover-up, in relation to the police, by Burton Copeland, and then cover up subsequently. From where does this culture of cover-up emanate, Mr Murdoch?' Murdoch responded: ''From within the News of the World, and one or two very strong characters there who I think had been there many, many, many, years.' He claimed that employees were forbidden to report to James Murdoch or well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks. 'The person I'm thinking of was a friend of the journalists and a drinking pal and a clever lawyer, and forbade people to go and report to Mrs Brooks or to James.' On News International's law firm Harbottle & Lewis, Murdoch said: 'They were appointed and given a file. It's argued that they were only given a very specific brief. I've got to say that I have not gone through that whole file of e-mails they were given but I have tasted them and I cannot understand a law firm reading that and not ringing a chief executive of a company and saying, "Hey, you've got some big problems."' Murdoch said that a new editor was appointed - Colin Myler, although he did not specifically name him - at the Scum of the World 'with specific instructions to find out what was going on. He did, I believe, put in two or three new steps of regulation but never reported back that there was more hacking than we had been told.' Murdoch claimed Myler 'would not have been my choice' for editor but, was, instead, Les Hinton's choice. The billionaire tyrant said that he thought there were 'stronger' people at the Sun. Jay asked, was Myler a 'weak' individual and 'the wrong man for the job'? 'I would say that was a slight exaggeration,' claimed Murdoch. 'I would hope Mr Myler would do what he was commissioned to do.' Jay suggested that News International's collective response to phone-hacking was 'a desire to cover up not expose.' 'With minds like yours,' Murdoch said before, quickly, adding 'I take that back.' Leveson, the usually convivial and almost kindly-old-uncle figure suddenly made a noise that sounded very much like extreme disapproval. Jay assured the billionaire tyrant: 'I'm very thick-skinned Mr Murdoch, do not worry one moment.' Lord Leveson asked how the atmosphere or climate at the Scum of the World had encouraged reporters to think that it was 'acceptable' to hack phones. 'In newspapers reporters do act very much on own, they protect sources, do not disclose to colleagues what they were doing,' Murdoch argued. 'I am guilty of having not paid enough attention to the News of the World.' Moving on to the Gruniad Morning Star's 2009 revelations that phone-hacking was more widespread than just one hapless lone rogue and his dick, Murdoch claimed: 'The police totally disowned it, said it was wrong.' He added: 'We chose to take the word of the police over the word of the Guardian.' Ow, that's got to hurt. He claimed that he was 'surprised' by the size of the Gordon Taylor settlement. '[That] seemed incredible. It still does seem incredible.' Did he ask his son, Murdoch the small, why they had paid so much money? 'He said I was given a short time, he was given two boxes which one do you tick? One relatively low, and one infinitely bigger. His advice was to tick the lower one. That's what happened, he was pretty inexperienced at the time, he had only been there a few months, Mr Myler and Mr [Tom] Crone put it to him,' Murdoch claimed. Jay clarified his question - wasn't Murdoch the large told if they didn't settle there was a risk of many more cases coming to light? 'I was never told that,' he claimed. Are you sure? asked Jay. Murdoch said that he was sure. 'In hindsight, as I said later, the buck stops with me' but he carried on to argue that he 'delegated' responsibility to Les Hinton to check what Myler was investigating. Lord Justice Leveson followed up a Jay line of questioning by suggesting that Murdoch 'would have wanted to know what the hell was going on.' He asked Murdoch 'whether you really did try to understand what was going on, or you felt you didn't really feel the need to understand what was going on, it's over, move on?' Murdoch said that the police file was closed and if he was in Hinton's place he would have closed it too. 'I have to admit that some newspapers are closer to my heart. I also have to say that I failed. And I am very sorry about it.' Jay told Murdoch that Scotland Yard never used the 'one rogue reporter' line, that was coined by News International itself. Murdoch said that News International set up an internal committee – comprising, Myler, their counsel, the HR director and Harbottle & Lewis – in 2009 and it confirmed what the police have said. Murdoch refused to say that the phone-hacking scandal would never have been exposed without the Gruniad. He did, however, somewhat grudgingly offer praise to the media organisation, saying that the Gruniad 'look after their audience pretty well.' And, if you actually look up 'backhanded Gruniad compliments' on Google, you'll find that one right at the top. Murdoch said that Jay's assertion he has 'a visceral hatred' for the Gruniad is 'a little too high.' He added: 'I've often expressed admiration for them.' Through gritted teeth. Murdoch also claimed that he is not planning to read Tom Watson's new book Dial M for Murdoch on the hacking scandal. Oh you should, Rupert. You might find out about all of them things you claim you didn't know about and when you didn't know them. Jay asked why Murdoch refused to talk about phone-hacking during an interview with his own FOX News network after the Gruniad published its article in 2009. He claimed that it wasn't, clearly, anything to do with him being chicken-shit scared but, rather: 'I just wasn't up to date. I was thousands of miles away in Idaho.' Murdoch denied that he had asked Tony Blair to persuade Gordon Brown to get MPs on the culture select committee to back off from their investigations. Murdoch was asked about the Scum of the World brand. He claimed that when he first bought the paper it was 'more interested in court coverage', but eventually turned into 'a campaigning title.' Jay pointed out that Murdoch does not include the Scum of the World's long-established taste for celebrity gossip and 'tittle tattle.' Murdoch argued: 'That's a vast exaggeration. Certainly, it was interested in celebrities, just as the public is. A much greater investment went into covering the weekend soccer.' Murdoch was asked why he told a waiting pack of reporters outside his London flat last year that his main priority was 'this one', a reference to well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, the then-chief executive of News International who was under fire at the time for her alleged role in the Scum of the World phone-hacking malarkey. He refused to withdraw his comment, adding that well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Brooks 'needed a boost of self confidence.' She resigned days later. 'It's part of the game, I was being harassed, I was trying to walk ten yards across the street.' Keir Simmons of ITV immediately tweeted: 'Amazing - Rupert Murdoch now talking about his harassment by the media! Complaining of cameras in his face as he tries to cross the street.' Murdoch was asked about the Scum of the World's Max Mosley story. Murdoch claimed that he has not read the judgment by Mr Justice Eady, who ordered the tabloid to pay a great deal of damages to Mosley over the now-infamous story. Eady came to the clear conclusion, alleged Jay, that 'at least one of your journalists had perpetrated blackmail of these two women?' Murdoch replied: 'I respect him and I accept what he says. I am just simply saying that a journalist doing a favour for someone in returning for a favour back is pretty much every day practice.' The billionaire tyrant added that he is 'much more shocked by the behaviour of Mr Brett in not telling him a lot of things', a reference to the former News International lawyer Alastair Brett who withheld details of e-mail hacking to the same judge in a separate court case over the outing of the NightJack police blogger by The Times. Leveson intervened at this point, also correcting Murdoch who had claimed Mosley was involved in a 'Nazi' orgy. 'In all your experience of journalism, is it appropriate to say to a member of the public, we have got this photo of you we can do this two ways. We can embarrass you by unpixellating your photograph or alternatively you give us some money and you tell us the inside story?' He continued: 'I find that approach somewhat disturbing. I don't think Mr Justice Eady is using too strong a word if he describes it as some form of "blackmail." If this is the culture of the press that this is acceptable, I would like to know that.' Leveson asked Murdoch to 'examine' Eady's judgment on Mosley and decide whether it revealed 'a culture and practice' that is accurate and inappropriate. Jay asked whether Murdoch could recall being interviewed by Anne Diamond in the 1980s. Diamond told the inquiry last year that she told Murdoch his newspapers were 'ruining people's lives.' Murdoch denied subsequently ordering his newspapers to 'target' Diamond in retaliation. Did he brush that comment aside at the time, asked Jay? 'I try to answer every question,' he claimed, adding that he 'knows the claim' was made by his former housekeeper and 'he is a very strange bird indeed, although he did keep [the house] clean.' Murdoch was sidetracked on to the Daily Scum Mail's front page story on Tuesday, which attacked Google for not filtering out pornography on its search engine. He said: 'Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I happen to agree with every single word of it. But that was a very, very strong attack. If a company is doing wrong, I think it's fair to debate it and debate in strong terms.' Murdoch then attacked, in turn, the Daily Scum Mail editor Paul Dacre, who told the Leveson inquiry recently that his newspaper opposed News Corp's BSkyB takeover for commercial reasons. Murdoch said: 'I'm under strict instructions by my lawyers not to say this, but I'm going to. I was really shocked by the statement by Mr Dacre the other day. I was shocked when he said the editorial policy of the Mail was driven by commercial interests.' He described this as 'about the most unethical thing I've read for a long time, and from the most surprising source as I have great respect for his abilities.' What, more unethical than hacking the phone of a missing schoolgirl, or the families of the victims of other shocking crimes, you mean? Blimey, must be bad. Murdoch claimed that he had recruited Dacre to edit The Times when he was at the Evening Standard, but Associated Newspapers found out about the offer and Dacre was made the editor of the Daily Scum Mail 'at, I have no doubt, a vastly increased salary. Some friends of mine would disagree strongly but I think he's been a great success,' said Murdoch. Jay pointed out that Dacre's comments were made in the context of the alliance against the BSkyB takeover. Murdoch was having none of it and said Dacre was 'very clear that he was going to be driven by commercial interests in his editorial policy. I might expect it of other newspapers, I didn't expect it of the Mail.' Murdoch claimed that Andrew Neil, the former editor of The Sunday Times, has found it 'very profitable to spread lies about me.' Andrew Neil promptly tweeted: 'Amazed Murdoch says he neglected News of the World. Editors used to tell me he was never off the phone!' The billionaire tyrant claimed that 'spreading myths about Murdoch' had become an industry, which he hoped the Leveson inquiry would put to bed. Murdoch asked whether the inquiry will put all his evidence on the public website. 'I don't give answers to questions, Mr Murdoch, I only ask them,' Jay replied, to something of a bemused grin from Murdoch. Leveson then assured Murdoch that all of his evidence would be made publicly available. Jay then turned to questions which had been put by another core participant. Did Murdoch ever instruct an editor to promote his other business interests? 'I have no business interests,' Murdoch claimed, to incredulous gasps from many in the courtroom. Because, of course, Twentieth Century Fox, HarperCollins and Sky Sports don't exist, do they? 'I would certainly suggest to the editor of the Sun that it would be good to mention what's coming up in our new newspaper on Sunday.' Murdoch was asked about Piers Morgan's diaries from time he was editing the Scum of the World. He had been criticised by the Press Complaints Commission over using Earl Spencer's private photographs. Murdoch denied the odious Morgan's claim that he said to Morgan 'I'm sorry about that press complaining thingamajig.' Murdoch denied telling his journalists to cross-promote his TV channels or films in his newspapers. 'You wanna read the reviewers in the New York Post of Fox Films – they kill 'em/.' Has he asked his newspapers to make life uncomfortable for his rivals? Murdoch said he hadn't. Why did he close the Scum of the World rather than tough it out? Murdoch replied: 'I think that's explained in my statement, but I could put it a little more succinctly. When the Milly Dowler was first given huge publicity – I think newspapers took the chance to make this a huge national scandal, it made people all over the country aware of this, you could feel the blast coming in the window. I'll say it succinctly: I panicked, but I'm glad I did. And I'm sorry I didn't close it years before and put a Sun on Sunday in. I tell you what held us back: News of the World readers. Only half of them read the Sun. Only a quarter, regular.' Murdoch denied that News International 'managed the legal' risk of phone-hacking by covering it up. 'There was no attempt either at my level or several levels below me to cover it up. Set up enquiry after enquiry, hired legal firm after legal firm. We perhaps relied too much on conclusions of police.' He described the phone-hacking scandal as 'a serious blot on my reputation.' Is reputation a vital commercial asset that needs to be managed in any business, Jay asked? 'Yes, that's what keeps the public relations business going,' said Murdoch. Did Murdoch's business assess the risk to be of these proportions? 'No, it was a decision taken by my son and Ms Brooks,' he claimed, referring to the actual decision to close the Scum of the World. Murdoch did admit that it was 'disrespectful to parliament' for his company to rely on the rogue reporter defence for so long. Murdoch said he remained 'greatly distressed' at the hurt caused to the families of the Sun journalists who were arrested in February. Appearing before MPs last year, Murdoch said, he pledged 'to clean it up. And I did.' Murdoch said the company had examined three hundred million e-mails. ;We went way beyond what the police asked us to do and I remain greatly distressed that people who have been with us for twenty or thirty years, great journalists, friends of mine, my distress would be presumptuous to compare it with immense disturbance and hurt to the people who were arrested. We are now a new company with new rules, with compliance officers, we are showing with the Sun we can still produce the best newspaper without the bad practices that were exposed.' He described News Corp of today as 'a new company, altogether.' At this point, a former Scum of the World journalist, Tom Latchem tweeted: 'Murdoch dumping over everyone today, no matter how loyal they were to him. Classy chap. Classy family.' Murdoch claimed that he should have intervened in 2007 when Clive Goodman claimed that others at the Scum of the World were involved in phone-hacking. 'I should have gone there and thrown all the damn lawyers out of the place and seen Mr Goodman one-on-one. He'd been an employee for a long time. [I] should have cross-examined him myself. If I'd have found he was telling the truth I would have torn the place apart and we wouldn't be here today.' Murdoch was asked a complex question about ethics and the law. He said that some activities may be unethical but not illegal, and hoped that he, personally, has committed neither. Jay explained that he was trying to get Murdoch to see newsgathering activity on a spectrum, from unethical activity, to civil wrongs, to actual criminal behaviour. Murdoch said he was guilty of 'not paying enough attention to the News of the World at any time I was in charge of it.' On corporate governance, he said that the Scum of the World editor and lawyers were 'responsible for checking every story.' He said that new lawyers 'of the highest calibre' have replaced others at News International. Were the editor Colin Myler and Tom Crone, head of legal at the Scum of the World, responsible for what went on at the now-closed, disgraced and disgraceful title, asked Jay? 'I think editors are all responsible for their papers. I certainly hold them for that,' he replied, adding that the Scum of the World should not have had the same legal chief for two decades. Murdoch was asked to share his concerns about the future of regulation. The law is 'perfectly adequate, it's been the lack of enforcement', Murdoch claimed. And, on this one thing at least, yer actual Keith Telly Topping and billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch agree completely. On the subject of the Internet, Murdoch said that it is 'absolutely in our space' as a source of news. 'I think it's been responsible for a loss of circulation, we're seeing everybody under great pressure,' he added. 'There is a reason for that. There is a disruptive technology. Certain things can be done to control the major players, but in the long run it is just too wide. People can send their blogs from Beijing or the Cayman Islands and, whatever you do, you can't regulate that. I honestly believe that newspapers are a huge benefit to society. What we have here, and I take some credit for it, the industry was on its knees before the unions and twenty years behind the rest of the world. I took a very unpleasant and painful strike, as a result every newspaper has had a good run which is coming to an end because of these disruptive technologies.' He added: 'In a very short time, less than five years, there will be billions of tablets in the world. Furthermore, there will be more billions, may be twice as many, of what we call smart telephones.' Murdoch said he prefers the 'tactile' experience of reading a print newspaper or book, and that he thinks they will be around for twenty years. 'The day will come when we will have to say we can't afford the trucks, we can't afford the presses and it will become electronic.' Murdoch got so enthused in his soliloquy that he apologised to Jay for repeating a private conversation in which the inquiry counsel apparently said that he enjoyed The Times and Le Monde. No need to apologise for that, surely? Shows Mr Jay to be a man of taste. Still on the Internet, Murdoch criticised Google for linking to pirated content. He added that the BBC website makes the corporation the biggest media force in the UK. 'That must be affecting, one of the reasons, why newspaper circulations are in decline,' he added. Murdoch continued that the BBC has, over the years, expanded into 'taxpayer-funded' local websites. 'I don't think it's really added to the diversity of information of the press,' he complained. Murdoch described local newspapers in the UK as 'having a great history' of contribution to democracy and laments their decline. 'I don't know. They could be saved, they could be saved from the BBC, but that might not be enough, possibly. We really have enormous disruptive technologies. But we have to meet that challenge and turn it into an opportunity.' So, there you go. It's all the BBC's fault, apparently. Wondered how long it would be before we got to that conclusion. Murdoch was asked about online publications. He said The Huffington Post has 'quite cleverly' developed from an online political pamphlet to be broader, but said it has done so 'mainly just stealing stories from existing newspapers.' On the most popular English-language newspaper website in the world, MailOnline, Murdoch suggested that it is 'unrecognisable as part of the Daily Mail.' He added: "'hey have their own gossip, it's a great gossip site, or bad, whichever way you look at it. It comes right up to the barrier of fair use of what is acceptable.' The media editor of the Financial Times, Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, tweeted about Murdoch's remark that the future of the Internet was above his pay grade: 'Last year's compensation $33.3m [But] solving the challenge of Internet publishing is above Rupert's pay grade apparently!' Murdoch was now asked about a 'cavalier attitude' on his papers towards business risk. Murdoch denied this. John Hendy, the lawyer for the National Union of Journalists, asked Murdoch about the culture, practices and ethics of News International's titles. On one question about News Corp's management and standards committee, Murdoch said that 'the MSC did not disclose any sources of any journalists at all, as they feared.' Hendy asked about 'unethical' treatment of journalists and photographers by News International. Murdoch said he did not believe there has been any such thing, adding that they are 'perfectly free' to join the NUJ whenever they want. Hendy, read anonymous testimony from one former Scum of the World journalist who claimed to have experienced 'constant bullying' at the title. 'Why didn't she resign?' asked Murdoch to the astonishment of just about everyone in the room. Leveson intervened to suggest that she 'probably needed a job,' to laughter from the public gallery. And, in that one exchange you have everything you need to know about billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch said that News International journalists 'have always struck me as a happy crowd.'
The former PR for the Scum of the World, Hayley Barlow, wasn't a member of a happy crowd today, being decidedly unimpressed with Murdoch's testimony. Barlow wrote on Twitter: 'For all his News of the World black sheep strategy today, is this the same man who once stormed into our editorial conference after we had won a raft of industry awards, fawning all over News of the World execs: "Bloody great paper, bloody great journalists, keep it going. It's just bloody great."' She added: 'Murdoch apologises "to all the innocent people on the News of the World who lost their jobs." You can keep your apology Rupert. Too little, too late.' And: 'Murdoch on his "this One" priority comment. It's up there with the most hurtful moments in this whole sordid ordeal.'

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, meanwhile, has come under opposition attack over his apparent willingness to lobby on Rupert Murdoch's behalf to assist News Corporation's attempt to take over the broadcaster BSkyB. Scottish Labour leader Johan Lamont said that some would describe Salmond as 'devious, conniving and double-dealing.' She said a 'rich man had played him for a fool.' Salmond accused Labour of 'cant, humbug and hypocrisy.' Which might well be true but it doesn't, necessarily, mean they're wrong. He said the job of a First Minister was to advocate jobs for Scotland and that's what he'd continue to do. For the moment.
News Corporation has withdrawn evidence from the Leveson inquiry which suggested that Rupert Murdoch had met David Cameron on at least three occasions that had not been declared by Downing Street. A schedule of meetings between Murdoch and successive prime ministers that Downing Street said showed the News Corporation chairman had met Cameron on at least eight occasions since he entered Downing Street was revised and resubmitted after the prime minister's office said it could find 'no evidence' of any of meetings on 25 March 2010, 22 July 2010 and 16 March 2011 which it said had 'originally been declared by Murdoch.' The edited record, released by the inquiry on Thursday afternoon, showed four meetings did take place, all of which have been previously acknowledged by Downing Street. Another was described as 'possible' and another as 'probable.' The original evidence was withdrawn before it was published after its existence was highlighted by the Labour MP Chris Bryant in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Bryant, a victim of phone-hacking himself, is a core participant in the inquiry which allows him access to the material. Several newspapers ran stories saying the News Corp diary details appeared to show Cameron had held 'undeclared meetings' with the media mogul at a time when his company was mounting a takeover bid for BSkyB and as the phone-hacking scandal inside News International spread. 'As far as we can see there are no meetings of any sort on those days,' said a Downing Street source, adding that officials had 'searched the prime minister's diaries' and other records.

The vile and odious rascal Hunt's political career has received yet another blow after his most senior civil servant declined ten times to confirm the secretary of state's version of his role in the BSkyB affair. Jonathan Stephens, the permanent secretary at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, said that he would 'neither confirm nor deny' his alleged role in allowing Adam Smith, the vile and odious rascal Hunt's special adviser, to speak to James Murdoch's office. It follows the vile and odious rascal Hunt's claim in parliament on Wednesday that Stephens had 'agreed' that Smith would be 'the point of contact' with News Corp. Smith resigned on Wednesday after the publication of e-mails showed that he had communicated extensively with News Corp while it was bidding for full control of BSkyB. Appearing before the public accounts committee, Stephens was asked by the committee's chair, Margaret Hodge, whether he knew that Smith was acting 'as a channel of communication' between the department and Murdoch's office. 'He [the vile and odious rascal Hunt] has made it clear that he's providing full written evidence and is looking forward to providing oral evidence to the Leveson inquiry. There was a statement by the special adviser yesterday that made it clear that he accepted that the nature and content of those contacts was not authorised by the secretary of state or by me and I think that that is the right forum for those matters,' said Stephens. Which might be the answer to some question, but it's clearly not an answer to the one he was actually asked. He was then asked a further nine times to 'clarify his role' in approving Smith's position as a go-between, but declined to do so on each occasion. Michael Howerd would've been well-proud. At one point, Hodge accused Stephens of 'stonewalling' on these issues. Stephens stuck to his position, and said that he was 'only prepared' to answer questions on the Olympics. 'I am very sorry. These are very important matters. They are rightly the subject of interest of parliament. That's why the secretary of state made a full statement yesterday and answers questions. I have come ready to speak about the Olympics. I have made clear the position set out in various statements yesterday and I think I need to stand on that without any implications being drawn whatsoever. I was not given any notice of these questions,' he said. So, that's you told, Madge. Stephens was appearing before the committee to discuss the Olympics, but Hodge said that she had been contacted by Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative chair of the public administration committee, which oversees civil servants, and had been asked to raise questions about the vile and odious rascal Hunt with Stephens. The vile and odious rascal Hunt told parliament on Wednesday: '[Smith's] role was agreed by the permanent secretary, but he was not the only person.' At one point, Hodge said that she was 'astonished' the secretary of state had claimed that Stephens had approved Smith's role. 'It just rather takes me aback from all my experience as a minister that you would have approved a special adviser to act as a channel of communication between one party and the department when the department and [secretary of state] was playing this semi-judicial role. It just seems so inappropriate. I think clearly the secretary of state has to answer for his actions and I understand that under the ministerial code he is responsible for the conduct of his special adviser. But in this instance the secretary of state chose to tell parliament that you had specifically approved the role and that astonishes me,' she said. Following Stephens' appearance before the public accounts committee, a DCMS spokesman said: 'The permanent secretary did not feel it was appropriate to provide further information ahead of the department's evidence to the Leveson inquiry. As Jeremy Hunt's statement yesterday made clear, the permanent secretary was aware that Adam Smith was amongst a small number of individuals in the department who were in contact with News Corp and was content with that arrangement. As Adam Smith's statement makes clear, the content and extent of his contact was done without authorisation, and were contrary to the clear requirements set out by Jeremy Hunt and the permanent secretary.'
Deputy leader Simon Hughes has become the first senior Liberal Democrat to join calls for an inquiry into whether the vile and odious rascal Hunt breached the ministerial code of conduct. Downing Street said that there are 'no plans' to investigate the contact between News Corp and the vile and odious rascal Hunt's ex-special adviser. And that, effectively, they're going to leave him swinging in the wind for a bit and see what happens. Hughes said he could not understand why the issue was not being referred to the independent watchdog immediately. The vile and odious rascal Hunt, who was responsible for Smith's actions under the ministerial code of conduct, said he 'strictly followed due process', and denied that News Corp had any 'back channel' of influence with his office, which had to rule on the bid. Hughes said on the BBC's Question Time on Thursday that at the moment he did not think the vile and odious rascal Hunt should resign. But, he added: 'What I cannot understand is why the matter of the ministerial code of conduct is not something the prime minister immediately should refer to the person who's been given the job to do it. Only the prime minister can do that. He has so far, I gather, resisted doing it. I don't think it gets in the way of the Leveson Inquiry and the evidence - it's a separate matter. I don't know why he hasn't done it but I would have thought, to give confidence in the system, I hope the prime minister reconsiders his view. That must be in Jeremy's interest. If Jeremy is correct in what he's said, he'll be vindicated. If he's not, then he has to take the consequences.' Hughes said there were 'severe questions' the vile and odious rascal Hunt had not yet answered.

Downton Abbey's Elizabeth McGovern has admitted to feeling 'underwhelmed' by the show's second series. The actress, who plays Lady Cora Grantham, said that the ITV period drama 'wasn't fully equipped' to tackle 'the gravity' of WWI. 'There is a slightly different tone to the second season,' she explained to the Los Angeles Times. 'It's kind of a taste thing. And the show in the first season was more to my taste than the show in the second season. [We had to] deal with this huge elephant. In some ways, Downton Abbey wasn't set up for that.' However, possibly after the threat of a damned good thrashing from Lord Snooty, McGovern has since released a contrite statement to clarify her comments: 'I am horrified that my comments about the second series of Downton Abbey have been taken out of context and misinterpreted. I was in no way criticising the second season or implying that I loved or enjoyed it any less. When asked about the second series I said that the tone differed slightly from the first. There would be some people who would naturally prefer the more domestic detail of series one and others who would love the faster pace and heightened drama of the war years. That does not translate that series two was any less entertaining than series one - and many millions of people around the world agree with me. Julian Fellowes is a brilliant writer and I am proud and privileged to be part of this show. The third season is so rich with character detail, storylines and new faces that I can't wait for people to see it.'

Benedict Cumberbatch has admitted that he is 'desperate' for Sherlock to be a hit in the US. The actor argued that the BBC detective drama is 'only a cult thing' in America, where it is broadcast on PBS. 'I'm desperate for America to really take to this,' he told the New York Times. 'It has taken it into its heart as a cult thing, but I'd love it to hit the mainstream this time. Because I just think it's of that quality, and it belongs there.' Cumberbatch added that he was 'envious' of the success enjoyed in the US by Downton Abbey, recalling an incident at the Golden Globes in which PBS Masterpiece producer Rebecca Eaton had light-heartedly taunted him with the show's award. 'I just looked at it and went, "Begone, woman. Bring it back when it says Sherlock Holmes or Steven Moffat or myself - someone else who's more deserving than the second series of Downton Abbey."' However, the actor refused to be drawn on his criticism of the ITV period drama. 'I know too many people who are in it,' he said. 'I thought the first series was good. That's what I'll say.' Seems Elizabeth McGovern agrees with you, at least, Benny. Who is pictured below during a 'whose got the biggest talent whilst sipping champagne' face-off with Huge Laurie and Idris Elba.
The BBC1 drama Prisoners' Wives has been given a second series, it has been confirmed. Creator Julie Gearey revealed to the Radio Times that she is already 'bursting at the seams' with new stories for the second run. Series two will be a slightly shorter run of four episodes, which will be broadcast in 2013. Emma Rigby, Polly Walker, Pippa Haywood, Natalie Gavin, Jonas Armstrong and Adam Gillen starred in the South Yorkshire-based drama about four women coping without their partners, who are all in prison for various naughty shenanigans and malarkey. The first run ended earlier this year with over five million viewers for the sixth episode. Its first series was highly praised by critics, with the Gruniad Morning Star describing the show as a 'thrusting character-driven piece with a cast you can't take your eyes off.' But then, who gives a stuff what they think? Well, except billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch, obviously.

The Syndicate has also been picked up for a second series. The BBC1 drama concluded on Tuesday night, drawing in 5.4m viewers. Sam Hodges, head of communications at the BBC, announced the renewal on Twitter: 'Great news for fans of The Syndicate - a second series has been commissioned for BBC1 next year.' The show - written by Kay Mellor - followed five supermarket workers who enter into a lottery syndicate and win the jackpot. Each episode focused on a different character, with Timothy Spall, Joanna Page, Matthew McNulty, Lorraine Bruce and Matthew Lewis playing the lead roles. Lewis previously commented on the 'fantastic' reaction to The Syndicate. 'People seem to have really taken to the programme,' he said. 'Most people aren't too fond of my character Jamie, though, and they've let me know.'

ITV has commissioned two new comedy series. The channel announced that it has ordered six episodes of both primetime sitcom The Job Lot and post-watershed, if you will, 'dramedy' Great Night Out. The Job Lot takes place in a job centre and stars Russell Tovey and Miranda's Sarah Hadland. It was commissioned following a successful pilot produced by Rev's Hannah Pescod and directed by Richard Laxton of Him & Her. Executive producer Kenton Allen said: 'The moment I read the script I immediately thought The Job Lot was a comedy idea that captured the spirit of these times and could be the answer to ITV's ambitions to reignite primetime comedy on ITV. We are all delighted with the pilot and can't wait for audiences to get to know the brilliant characters that lurk within Brownall Job Centre.' Great Night Out centres on four male friends in their mid-thirties (Waterloo Road's Will Ash, Misfits star Craig Parkinson, Lee Boardman and Stephen Walters) who have a weekly boys' meeting. The series was written and created by Mark Bussell and Justin Sbresni of The Worst Week of My Life. The Job Lot is scheduled to broadcast in 2013, while filming of Great Night Out has already begun in London and Stockport.

Amusing moments in the life of yer actual Keith Telly Topping, number eight: A genuine conversation held in a pub last week. Question (from an acquaintance who shall remain nameless. Let's call him Ray for the sake of argument): 'Have you any idea what football team Jenna-Louise Coleman supports?' Keith Telly Topping's reply: 'I'll ask her.' Raymond's witty retort: 'I didn't know they played football, I thought they were into shooting moose.' Yes, dear blog reader, my life has been reduced to this, a straight man. Tomorrow, 'would you like a cake or a meringue?'

The BBC is shaking up its daytime schedule by calling time on long-running series. In future, commissioned shows look set to have runs of no more than fifteen episodes, with the exception of Doctors and 'one big drama per quarter.' The new strategy is part of the Delivering Quality First initiative aimed at saving money. Daytime controller Liam Keelan has also pledged there will be no more than two programmes of any genre shown each day. Under plans announced previously, BBC2 daytime shows are due to be predominantly replaced by news and factual repeats Keelan said: 'With the future focus on one channel, the aim is to retain as much variety within the day as possible, so it's important we mix it up where we can. That means no more than two quizzes a day, or two consumer shows, antiques or collectables, and property,' he told industry publication Broadcast. Keelan used last year's decision to pull the plug on Cash in the Attic - which will come off the air in early 2013 - and To Buy or Not to Buy as an example of the new approach. 'The parts of the schedule that have been freed up by that - the 11am slot, for example - have had more factual and consumer-related programming, which you can't keep the same all year round,' he said. The new schedule will also comply with the BBC Trust's call to make more distinctive programming. Keelan wants programme-makers to come up with a host of new ideas, like arts programme Show Me the Monet, which is returning for a second series this summer.

ITV has apologised after its HD broadcast of Wednesday's Champions League semi-final was interrupted during extra-time. In the third minute of extra-time in the Real Madrid versus Bayern Munich game, cameras suddenly cut to ITV newsreader Mark Austin preparing for News At Ten. The interruption lasted for about fifteen seconds before match coverage resumed. An ITV spokesman claimed that 'a technical fault resulted in a brief break in transmission.' Viewers saw Austin standing in the news studio, fiddling with his jacket buttons and staring into the distance. 'We would like to apologise for this interruption to the game,' the spokesman said. He added that the error had only affected viewers in the London and South-East regions. Although, as we all know from reading the newspapers, they're the only ones that matter. Commentators also offered an on-air apology after the interruption while the channel tweeted an explanation for the fault. Austin himself also tweeted over the incident, saying: 'Button tending is an underrated habit.' It is not the first time ITV has mistakenly interrupted a football match - in June 2010 HD viewers missed Steven Gerrard's goal for England in a World Cup match against the USA. In that instance, some viewers reported seeing a car advertisement. The year before, viewers also missed the winning goal in a Liverpool versus Everton FA Cup tie when coverage cut to another advert.

The first image from the new series of Red Dwarf has been released. New episodes of the popular SF comedy - starring Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Robert Llewellyn and Danny John-Jules - will air on Dave later this year.
Gina McKee, Jan Ravens and Phil Nice have joined the cast of BBC2's new comedy series Hebburn, created by stand-up Jason Cook. Filming on the six-part began in the eponymous Tyneside town this week, with the script based on Cook's own experiences growing up there. Fellow comic Chris Ramsey plays the central character of Jack, while, confusingly Cook plays his best friend ... who's called Ramsey. Vic Reeves and Our Friends In The North star Gina McKee will play Jack's parents, while comedy stalwarts Ravens and Nice play the parents of Sarah, the Jewish girl Jack secretly married after leaving home for Manchester. She will be played by Fresh Meat's Kimberley Dixon. Nice said: 'Having seen Jason Cook's show in Edinburgh last summer, I'm not surprised that the writing in this series is so good – the characters are really strong and I'm very happy to be part of Hebburn.' Ravens added: 'Jason Cook has such an individual style. It's earthy, outrageous and has a heart of gold. And it's dead funny.' Also newly announced in the cast is stand-up Steffen Peddie, who will play Jack's friend, Big Keith. Ideal creator Graham Duff also worked on the scripts for the show, which is being made by Baby Cow and Channel X. And, from a few on-set reports From The North has heard, it sounds really rather good. Looking forward to this one.

Meanwhile, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer are returning to Channel Four after nearly twenty years. They will be back on the channel on which they made their name as part of a season to mark its thirty years of pioneering comedy. The celebration will mix old C4 favourites with new pilots, and will be broadcast in the two weeks of August between the Olympics and Paralympics. Among the new shows expected to get a trial airing is a new chat show from Fonejacker's Kayvan Novak, hosted his 'Cockney geezer' creation Terry Tibbs. Vic and Bob's Big Night Out started on Channel Four in 1990, after their cult night at the Goldsmiths Tavern in South London attracted the attention of TV executives. It quickly gained a huge following among the nation's students and NME readers. But after two series they transferred to BBC2 for The Smell Of Reeves And Mortimer. Lads, you just wouldn't let it lie.

The creators of Merlin have hinted at the future of the show's female leads. Gwen (Angel Coulby) was crowned queen of Camelot in the BBC drama's fourth series finale. 'All the characters will have moved on a lot [when series five starts],' Johnny Capps told SciFiNow. 'Gwen has a very different role than she's had in previous seasons. When we start series five I think everyone will be surprised where all the characters are.' However, co-executive Murphy sought to reassure fans that Arthur's marriage would not affect his relationship with Merlin. 'I don't think it will change the relationship between them,' he said. 'I hope it will make it a greater dynamic - three often shakes it up and makes it richer, and without it trying to, I think the writing will do that.' Murphy also promised that Morgana (Katie McGrath) will become 'a stronger and more committed enemy than ever before. The stakes are becoming higher now that Arthur is king and the future of Albion is being created,' he explained. 'There's more for Merlin to fight for and more for him to protect.'

Jim Gray, the editor of Channel Four News, is to step down after fourteen years. Gray joined ITN, which makes Channel Four News, in 1997 after seventeen years at the BBC where he worked on Radio 4 and Newsnight. He was promoted to the role of editor of Channel Four News six months after joining ITN. Gray has been responsible for developing Channel Four News from a weekday-only operation into a seven-day programme as well as hiring talent such as Krishnan Guru-Murthy, who joined to present alongside Jon Snow in 1998. Last year, Channel Four News hired Newsnight's political editor, Michael Crick, and correspondent Jackie Long, and BBC World News America presenter Matt Frei. 'Jim Gray is the spirit and inspiration that is Channel Four News,' said Snow. 'Maverick, anarchic, strict, mildly permissive, imaginative – there is no better editor in the United Kingdom.' Gray will remain in his role as editor for the next few months to help Channel Four and ITN find a replacement. 'The programme is in fantastic shape, produced every day by an incredible team and it's time to let someone else take the reins and have the fun,' said Gray. 'Whilst I'm sad to do so, I'm also excited about what else is out there.'

Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads has admitted revelations in his unofficial biography caused him to bury his head in a pillow. But the music mogul effectively endorsed Tom Bower's book Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads by attending the launch party. Speaking to a star-studded gathering at London's Serpentine Gallery, Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads apologised 'to anybody I embarrassed.' He told guests: 'I will be honest with you, I spent last week under a pillow in my bedroom. Newspapers were banned.' The book, which was serialised in last week's Sun newspaper, details Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's alleged relationship with fellow X Factor judge Dannii Minogue and his 'fascination' with Cheryl Cole. It is currently sitting at number five in The Bookseller hardback non-fiction chart in its first week of release. It is the Twentieth unauthorised biography written by Bower - with other subjects including Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who attended Thursday's launch, along with retail boss Philip Green and Apprentice star Karren Brady. Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads said: 'When I first got the call saying someone was writing a book about me I said "good, who is it?" They said "Tom Bower. Not good."' After speaking to Ecclestone he decided to collaborate with Bower so the author could write a more accurate account of his life, explaining: 'I did take Bernie's advice to invite him in. Then I read the serialisation. I always know how bad things are when my head of TV sends me these really sweet messages saying "are you OK", which means it's really bad. I want to publicly apologise to anybody I embarrassed because I have tried to keep my private life quiet a bit and I do have to apologise to certain people and certain members of my family. That's the score.' Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads added: 'Being invited here tonight when Tom called me was rather like a cat inviting a mouse to a dinner party. While we are here tonight I'm going to announce something quite exclusive, I am not going to any more television for the next year. I have decided I am going to write a book. It may change but I am going to call it The Sordid Sex Life of Tom Bower, and we are going to be spending a lot of time together.'

All of this, hilariously, comes on the day that Heat magazine (I know, I know) alleges that Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads 'has a romantic interest' in his Britain's Got Talent colleague Alesha Dixon. According to Heat, The X Factor boss is attracted to the woman he hired from the Strictly Come Dancing panel for his own show. 'Simon thinks she's beautiful,' a supposed friend told the magazine. 'He's always complimenting her hair, and her hands. As soon as he saw her on Strictly he knew he wanted her for BGT, and he even sent her twenty white roses to charm her.' They added: 'Since they've been working together Simon's become even more keen. He's really turned on by feisty, gutsy women. Like Cheryl, Alesha bounced back from a painful divorce and Simon thinks she's really something.'

There is 'no evidence' to suggest the secret service was involved in a cover-up over the death of Gareth Williams, an MI6 officer has said. The officer - Witness F - was giving evidence to the inquest into Williams' death from behind a screen. She apologised to Williams' family on behalf of MI6, for the delay in reporting him missing. Williams' naked body was found curled in a locked holdall at his London flat on 23 August 2010. A GCHQ employee has also confirmed that MI6 failed to follow their own policies, when staff realised Williams was missing. Witness F told Westminister Coroner's Court MI6 were 'profoundly sorry about what happened.' Relatives of Williams walked out of the inquest in tears during Witness F's evidence, and their lawyer Anthony O'Toole said the agency showed a 'total disregard for Gareth's whereabouts and safety.' O'Toole blamed the delay for preventing the family from saying goodbye to Williams while his body was in an 'acceptable form', and for making it more or less impossible for detectives to establish how he died. 'Because of the decomposition of the body, any forensic evidence that could have been derived from it has disappeared, so the police investigation has in essence been almost defeated,' he said. During her evidence, Witness F denied that officers from the secret service entered Williams' flat, before or after the discovery of his body. She said the secret service had 'no reason' to suspect any foreign intelligence service posed a threat to Williams or had identified him as a target. Witness F insisted that MI6 had not tampered with any electronic evidence on Williams' computer, and denied the agency had leaked information to the media that the codebreaker had visited bondage and sadomasochistic websites. O'Toole asked Witness F whether speculation about Williams' private life might have made him unsuitable for intelligence agency work. She indicated that his sexual preferences would not, in and of themselves, pose a problem: 'There's no set template as to what [an employee's] lifestyle should be. Individuals have lifestyles and sexual choices which are perfectly legitimate. Our concern in the vetting process is to identify whether anything in the individual's background, lifestyle, creates a risk for him.' On Wednesday, a written statement was read to the coroner from Williams' former landlady in Cheltenham, which described how she once found him tied to his bed wearing only his boxer shorts. An internal secret intelligence services' review in 2011 found no link between the codebreaker's death and his work. On Wednesday, coroner Fiona Wilcox pressed Williams' line manager at MI6 - Witness G - for an explanation of why it took a week for his disappearance for be investigated. The officer said that he believed the thirty one-year-old was 'working on another project', or had missed meetings 'due to delays on public transport.' Witness F admitted a day later that HR policy was not followed and that it 'clearly took too long' to notice the codebreaker's absence from work. She blamed Witness G for 'a breakdown in communication', but said the codebreaker's boss should not face disciplinary action for his actions. Williams was on secondment to MI6 from GCHQ, the government's listening agency. Helen Yelland, from GCHQ's personnel department, told the court they were notified on 21 August 2010 that Williams had not been in work. She confirmed MI6 knew what steps it needed to take on 20 August - three days before his body was found - but did not follow them. Checks to see where Williams had gone should have been made soon after 10am, on the first day of his absence. Yelland said the police were alerted in the afternoon of Monday 23 August 2010. Police records of the call showed officers were told 'he's recently been pulled off the job, and I think he's taken it badly.' Williams had requested an end to his secondment, and was due to leave London before his death. Specks of unexplained DNA were found on the holdall containing the curled-up body Williams. Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire said 'two minor components of another contributor's DNA' were found on the zip toggle and padlock. She said it was her opinion 'that a third party had been involved.' Williams's death has puzzled Scotland Yard detectives who have been unable to determine a cause of death or establish whether he had locked himself into the bag. But Sebire, who is leading the investigation, said: 'My thought or my opinion since I went into the scene is that a third party had been involved in the death or by putting the body in the bag.' The fact the DNA had been found meant there remained 'future work that needs to be done,' she said. But she added that the vast majority had already been carried out and there was 'limited scope' for further forensic discoveries.

Honduran TV presenter Noel Alexander Valladares was killed alongside two other people when they came under a hail of gunfire as they drove away from the studios of Maya TV in the capital, Tegucigalpa. Valladares, twenty eight, and popularly known as 'El Tecolote' (The Owl), died his along with his uncle, Renán Adonis Valladares Escoto, and his bodyguard, Marcos Adrián Gutiérrez Andrade. Valladares's wife and co-presenter, Nelly Yorleny Pavón, was wounded. She told police there were four attackers wearing ski masks. Valladares is the third journalist to be killed in Honduras this year and, according to the International Press Institute's 'death watch', twenty one journalists have been killed in Honduras since the beginning of July 2009.

Robert Redford has criticised David Cameron after he suggested that British film-makers should focus on 'commercially viable movies.' Earlier this year, Cameron suggested that the British film industry should concentrate on 'mainstream films.' Whatever the hell that means. Redford, who is in London to showcase independent film as part of the four-day festival, Sundance London, called it 'a very narrow view. That may be why he's in trouble,' joked the veteran Hollywood actor. In January, Cameron said he wanted to help 'UK producers to make commercially successful pictures that rival the quality and impact of the best international productions.' 'I don't want to say it speaks of the man,' said Redford, on Thursday. 'But I think that view is a very narrow one and doesn't speak to the broad category of film-makers and artists in the business.' Redford was speaking to reporters at the launch of Sundance London, begining on Thursday at the O2 arena. The programme features twenty two independent American films, including documentaries, feature films and short films, and is designed to represent 'the alchemy' of Sundance. 'Sundance started as a path for new artists, new voices that wouldn't otherwise have a chance to be heard,' said Redford, whose films include All The President's Men and The Great Gatsby. 'The festival has grown to such a degree that we wanted to move internationally,' he added. 'We wanted to bring the alchemy of what we do in Sundance, and see how it was received - that's why we're here.' As a champion of independent film, the festival is credited with bringing films such as Reservoir Dogs, Blood Simple and Sex, Lies and Videotape to global attention. While Redford insisted it was not his intention to 'deny or eliminate mainstream film', he admitted some misgivings about the new direction of commercial film, with technological advances such as 3D overshadowing the craft of film-making. 'I am not a particular fan of 3D at the moment. I think technology has probably got a little too far, too fat. But I think the fall-out will occur on its own, organically. I think the audiences will decide,' said Redford. 'Time will tell whether it really works or not, and I'm not sure it will.' His comments are in stark contrast to Hollywood contemporary Martin Scorsese, who has been fulsome is his praise of 3D and had great success with the medium in his Oscar-winning film Hugo. No indication has yet been given as to whether Sundance London is a one-off, or will return in future years - and Redford would not be drawn on it, opting for a wait-and-see approach. However, he admitted to being wary of 'losing the soul' of Sundance. 'Success has a dangerous side to it, something that I have been aware of my whole life,' said the Oscar-winning star. 'You don't embrace it, so much as shadow-box with it. In reaching for the money, you can lose yourself. So I always pay attention to who we are, who we were and who we try to stay being. And at the same time, to welcome success but use it wisely, rather than poorly.'

The BBC has defended the size of its coverage team for the London 2012 Olympics this summer, after it was revealed that the corporation's staff will outnumber Team GB. This week, it was announced that the BBC has accredited seven hundred and sixty five staff for the Olympics, an increase on the four hundred and ninety three for Beijing. The corporation said that the staff increase is necessary to produce the many hours of daily live television across BBC1, BBC2 and BBC3, along with the twenty four live, high definition streams that will cover every venue and every event, from morning to night. Alongside this, there will be extensive coverage on 5Live and temporary digital radio station 5Live Olympics Extra, while London 2012 will be the first ever 3D TV Olympics and the BBC will run tests of Super Hi Vision - a new technology 16 times sharper than HD - at Glasgow, Bradford and London. However, many newspapers - and, you know exactly which disgraceful shit-scum ones they are before even asking - have honed in on the fact that the BBC's team will far outnumber the size of Team GB, which is expected to have around five hundred and fifty athletes. But Roger Mosey, the BBC's director of London 2012, said in a blog post that 'big events require significant staffing levels. Our American colleagues at NBC have used over two thousand eight hundred staff at previous Olympics, while The Times reported that there were three hundred and eighty staff working on Sky Sports' excellent host-broadcasting operation for last year's Champions League final at Wembley. Sky have said in the past that one hundred and thirty people are involved in covering a single Premier League game,' he said. 'Meanwhile, there's also the very strange argument that it's a problem if the BBC staffing levels are greater than the size of Team GB - as if a Team GB of one thousand people would then make it okay for us to have nine hundred and ninety nine. In fact, we have to cover all the nations taking part in the Olympics; and our teams are driven by the scale of the overall coverage, not the number of British athletes competing.' To keep costs low, Mosey said that just twenty three per cent of staff covering the Olympics will come down from the new Salford base at BBC North, and most of the team are already London-based. 'For those who do travel down, there will be overnight stays; but we've always been clear that almost all of them would have qualified for it anyway given the need to start early, finish late and get to venues on time - and many will be put up in low-cost student-type accommodation,' he said. 'At every stage of the BBC 2012 operation, we've been conscious of the need to run as efficient an operation as we can do and to spend our budget wisely. But equally we know that British audiences expect us to cover these Games well, and it's a once-in-a-lifetime moment for this country where the broadcasting will be required to live up to the event. We believe we're striking that balance, and we'll aim to supply our best-ever range of content this summer to tens of millions of people.'

Johnny Marr and Mike Joyce have both denied reports that The Smiths will reform and that rumoured to that extent have been greatly exaggerated. The band's former guitarist and drummer responded to speculation that the group would get back together with frontman Morrissey and bassist Andy Rourke for live shows this autumn. And thank God for that, frankly. Some things achieve perfection and are best left as they were, no matter how much the prime minister might claim to have loved them. Marr wrote on his official Facebook page: 'The rumour of the Smiths reunion is untrue. It's not happening.' Speaking to Beat Wolf Radio, Joyce said: 'It's not happening folks, as far as I know. Which could be a good thing. Now if it was going to happen sans me then, yeah, I don't know. Avec me, then I would have known about it, wouldn't I?' Of the possibility that the band ever reforming at some point in the future, he added: 'Who knows, in the future? Only time will tell.' He later added in a press statement: 'After today's reports of The Smiths reforming I can confirm that they are NOT.'

The final line-up for the London 2012 Festival has been announced, with Stephen Fry and comedian Tim Minchin the latest names to join the Olympic arts celebrations. Other new events include a landmark dance event in Glasgow and a comedy barge trip from London to Edinburgh. The twelve-week arts festival is the climax of the four-year Cultural Olympiad with twelve thousand events taking place. The UK-wide festival pulls together major spectacles and smaller events. At Thursday's launch event at the Tower of London, festival director Ruth Mackenzie said the festival would 'showcase the best in international culture when the eyes of the world are on us this summer.' Embattled lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt was also at the launch, and said Britain's arts institutions would be in 'the global spotlight as really never before.' A bit like the vile and odious rascal Hunt his very self at the moment. He emphasised the range of events on offer, 'from Beethoven to Jay-Z; from Shakespeare to Mike Leigh; from Stephen Fry to Wallace and Gromit.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt also made a reference to his current predicament, with claims that he broke ministerial rules in his dealings with Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Looking out at the assembled reporters, whose numbers had been massively boosted by his presence, he remarked: 'I'm delighted there is so much media interest in the London 2012 Festival.' However, the minister hurriedly left the launch before a planned - awkward - question and answer session. The festival begins on Midsummer's Day, and runs through to 9 September - the end of the Paralympic Games. Organisers are keen to point out that ten million free tickets are available across the UK. The latest arrivals on the programme include Playing the Games, a two-week 'comedic commentary' on the Games at London's Criterion Theatre, curated by Stephen Fry. 'It's going to be pretty wild,' Mackenzie told the BBC. 'Stephen has been a huge fan of this Olympics from the bid onwards.' She added: 'We always said we'd leave comedy for the end, because comedians aren't so good at telling you two years in advance where they want to be, and they're still not that good which is why we've got pop-up events yet to be announced via the website.' Australian comedian and musician Tim Minchin, who wrote the songs in hit West End show Matilda the Musical, will perform a gig at Cornwall's Eden Project. Monty Python star Terry Jones and composer Anne Dudley have created a new children's opera The Owl and the Pussycat that will travel through London's canals. Meanwhile, Tales of the Riverbank will see a group of comedians travel by canal boat from London to Edinburgh with pop-up performances along the route during July. Actress Julie Walters, who appears in the BBC's Shakespeare season and the National Theatre's The Last of the Haussmans, said she was 'utterly thrilled' to be part of the festival. But she added with a laugh: 'I didn't realise I was until a only a couple of weeks ago!' Asked if she worried about the costs of the festival, she said: 'You can't just cut everything back. The arts are really important. People need their entertainment, they need to be able to look at themselves on all sorts of levels and that's what art does.' The opening day of the festival on 21 June will see Lake Windermere lit up by pyrotechnics, an open-air concert in the shadow of Scotland's Stirling Castle, a Peace One Day Concert hosted by actor Jude Law in Londonderry and the UK premiere of a choral work in Birmingham. At the end of the festival, Scottish choreographer Michael Clark has been commissioned to create a large-scale, participatory dance event at Glasgow music venue Barrowlands to mark the handover to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Among the quirkier festival offerings are the world premiere of Stockhausen opera with a string quartet playing live from four helicopters. There will also be an artwork inspired by the final scene of Michael Caine movie The Italian Job. Richard Wilson's Hang On A Minute Lads, I've Got A Great Idea... will see a full-sized replica coach balanced on the De La Warr pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea. But not all of the announced works have gone to plan. Scandinavian Olafur Eliasson's proposed art project Take a Deep Breath was turned down for a one million smackers grant after the Olympic Lottery Distributor said the piece 'no longer met its criteria.' The installation would have invited people to inhale and exhale on behalf of 'a person, a movement or a cause' and record it on a website in a personal 'breath bubble.' Eliasson still appears on the London 2012 Festival programme, with an as-yet-untitled 'major new commission' at Tate Modern. Meanwhile, a question mark hangs over artist Anthony McCall's planned vertical tower of cloud which is set to rise over Merseyside 'as far as the eye can see.' The half-a-million quid publicly-funded artwork - simply called Column - has faced delays due to aircraft safety concerns at the nearby John Lennon The Alcoholic Scouse Wife-Beating Junkie Airport. But Ruth Mackenzie said she was 'absolutely confident' that the column of mist would get off the ground after liaison between the Civil Aviation Authority and the local authorities. Perhaps they could build it a bit closer to the Ringo Starr Baggage Carousel instead? Just a thought. Mackenzie also said that a potential boycott by campanologists of a nationwide bell-ringing event to launch the first day of the Olympics had been averted. Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed wanted the whole nation to ring whatever bell they have to hand for three minutes at eight o'lock on 27 July as part of his Work No. 1197 All the Bells. In November, the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers described the plans as 'misconceived' and suggested they might not take part. But Mackenzie said campanologists were now 'all signed up', along with the Royal Navy which would be ringing ships' bells on the day.
And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. hey, I don't just throw these things together, you know. Thursday night saw yer actual Keith Telly Topping attend the latest of Mr Drayton's Record Player events at the Tyneside, an evening of Innervision from yer actual Mister Stevie Wonder his very self. A soul groove, brothers and sisters. Possibly the best one so far. When Stevie sings, I heard synthesizers.