Monday, April 22, 2013

The question on everyone’s lips: did they? (No, not shag – discuss Leveson business! Some people!)

A short, rather ridiculous statement which the Guardian carried, but which I’m sure has appeared elsewhere (i.e. that I saw it in the Guardian is neither here nor there) is a useful jumping off point for commenting on an issue which will roll on and on before anything much is settled. Oh, and legions of well-heeled lawyers will become even better-heeled in the process. The issue is, of course, the Leveson Inquiry. The short, rather ridiculous statement came from an up-and-coming young brief involved in the inquiry who was on Leveson’s payroll (so to speak – she was part of his team). But a bit of background might help (though not of the whole shooting match – if you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about and want to know try here (the official site), here (a site which takes a rather more jaundiced view) and here for the details. From here on I’m assuming you do know what I’m writing about.

Leveson had his team of lawyers and all those witnesses giving evidence against our evil press (and in many case urging that all current editors and those with even half a mind to climbing that particular greasy pole should be shot and their bodies buried in lime) also had their briefs. One such lawyer batting for Lord Leveson’s side was Carine Patry Hoskins. Another taking was David Sherborne, the lawyer representing the actor Hugh Grant. (What, I hear you ask, is that the same Hugh Grant picked up by the LA vice squad for hiring Mrs Estella Marie Thompson, who went by the name of Divine Brown, to suck his dick in his car on Hollywood Boulevard? Yes, that’s our lad – it was in all the papers. So guess who isn’t as sweet on our British newspapers as once he might have been? You get just the one guess.

To be fair to Grant it wasn’t the stories about him getting head which upset him but that assorted newspapers had found a way of hacking into a mobile phone to listen to any messages which had been left on them. And Grant’s phone was one the tapped into regularly.) In the broadbrush way these things are described, Patry-Hoskins – a double-barrel name never hurts in Old Blighty, especially if you are making your way in one of ‘the professions’ – and Sherborne were on ‘opposing sides’ and should not have discussed their Inquiry work. And there’s no suggestion they did.

Thing is are now ‘an item’ – ‘going out’, ‘going steady’, ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’ – and that has raised several eyebrows as well as led to suggestions that the chances they obeyed the rules and didn’t discuss the Inquiry are not very great. Patry-Hoskins – divorced with one marriage behind her – and Sherborne – divorced with

two marriages behind him (I hope Patry-Hoskins is a sensible gal because one divorce might be misfortune, but two is getting to be a bit of a track record) insist they did not become ‘an item’ until last October, after the Inquiry finished. Alert hacks then discovered that they were, possibly, being a little economical with the truth in that they had been away on holiday, spending time together on the Greek island of Santorini in August.

And now to come to the short, ridiculous statement: Patry-Hoskins insists that at the time they weren’t an item, but (she ‘told friends’) they had gone away to Santorini ‘to discuss the possibility of a relationship’. The question on everyone’s lips is now, of course: but was shagging involved? I mean you don’t have to be in a relationship for a bit of how’s your father, and if you’re going to negotiate – they’re lawyers, remember – the terms of the relationship you are considering having – you’re surely not doing it 24/7. There must have been a bit of downtime and a bit of downtime, a drink or two, no deadlines, loads of sun, relaxing, gorgeous girl, gorgeous guy, well . . . Or am I being just a tad cynical?

On the other hand two intelligent, mature adults might well know how to resist undoubted temptation and behave with the decorum expected of two representatives of Her Majesty’s legal industry. Yeah, right. And if you’re really as anal as having first to ‘discuss the possibility of a relationship’, why go all the bloody way to Santorini? Why not settle for a chat over a few shandies and two packets of cheese n’ onion in the Dog and Duck? If nothing else it would be a lot cheaper. The state of Patry-Hoskins and Sherborne’s relationship was first reported in both the Daily Mail and the Sun and then taken up by other papers. And given that once Leveson had inquired, he then published a 2000-page report which was not much to the press’s liking, it is unsurprising that they have jumped on a ‘possible conflict of interest’ with glee.
Here is an excerpt from a leader in the Daily Mail which gives you some indication of how sanguine they are that it might no longer be business as usual:

 As counsel to the inquiry, Mrs Patry Hoskins was required to be scrupulously impartial. Mr Sherborne’s role was quite the reverse. He was employed by Hugh Grant and other celebrity hacking victims to attack and denigrate newspapers at every opportunity.

Mrs Patry Hoskins had access to confidential information supplied under compulsion by media organisations, cross-examined several of Mr Sherborne’s clients, and helped formulate some of the thinking behind the Leveson report.

Her dealings with Mr Sherborne should have been strictly at arm’s length. Indeed, under Bar Council rules, both lawyers should have informed Leveson of their relationship – which neither did – and at least one should have withdrawn. Frankly, this affair shows how incestuous, self-righteous and hypocritical the legal profession can be.

Along with doctors, they are one of Britain’s last great unreformed institutions – self-policing and impervious to external criticism.

That’ll learn them! There are few things quite as impressive as a newspaper leader in full, fulminating, outraged mode. Magnificent!

. . .

It would be farcical were it not so tragic, but a Somerset businessman made up to £50 million by selling fake bomb, drug and people detectors to Iraq and Afghanistan. They were completely useless. He based them on a novelty – for which read ‘joke’ – item from the U.S. which as marketed as a device for finding lost golf balls. By the sound of it the novelty item was something you would give our golf-playing dad, husband, boyfriend or son for Christmas as a jokey present. The businessman, James McCormick, bought the golf ball finders from the U.S. for $20 each, repackaged them and then sold them to Iraq and Afghanistan for up to £27,000 ($40,000) knowing they are completely useless. He was able to carry on selling them for several years. The very first thing that occurred to me when I read the story on the BBC website was: did it not occur to anyone actually to test them, to hide an IED or drugs and then see whether the device would detect them? Apparently not. Several senior Iraqi officials who knew the devices were bollocks but who were bribed by McCormick to keep quiet have since been jailed. So perhaps – perhaps – the explanation might be that word came from these guys up high to us the new device and everyone thought tests had already been done. But I’m being charitable.

1 comment:

  1. Wouldn't it be ironic if chummy had been sentenced to finding his way out of a minefield armed only with a £27k detector?

    There's something to be said for this eye for an eye thingy.