Something to Say with Keith Newbery: The phone hacking scandal... a few facts

LET’S get a few facts on the table, guv.

Andy Hayman is a retired assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard and was in charge of the initial (and deeply shambolic) phone hacking investigation six years ago.

A News of the World fall-guy and a private detective were jailed and everyone was asked to believe this was a passing embarrassment caused by two maverick functionaries.

This was tantamount to ignoring the rest of the great train robbers and charging Ronnie Biggs and Buster Edwards with trespassing on British Rail property.

You would have been forgiven for thinking, therefore, that when Hayman appeared before the Home Affairs select committee he might show a smattering of contrition.

Instead, he came across like a sad parody of Jack Regan and Den Watts.

Hayman had social meetings with News International journalists during the investigation into the News of the World.

He accepted a job as a columnist on The Times after retirement because it had been a ‘boyhood dream’ to become a journalist.

He can hardly have been surprised, therefore, when one committee member described him as a ‘dodgy geezer’ as the discussions began to sound less like a parliamentary inquiry and more like a Martina Cole novel.

Chairman Keith Vaz (a man with a peerless ability to irritate) then produced a sound-bite which had not only been prepared earlier, but baked, frozen and carefully re-heated.

“You appeared more like Clouseau than Columbo,” he smarmed, looking awfully pleased with himself.

But it was when one member asked Hayman if he had ever accepted a bribe from a journalist that we left Life on Mars and entered the world of small-town pantomime.

Hamming it up like Kenneth Williams when faced with a vulgar proposition from Hattie Jacques, our former top cop went up an octave or two.

Nostrils flaring and in his best ‘ooooh matron’ tones, he brayed: “Good God! I can’t believe you are suggesting that!”

In the grubby circumstances, people would have been more surprised if such a suggestion had not been made.

At a time when Scotland Yard needs all the positive publicity it can get, there will have been much wringing of hands on the top floor as one of its former luminaries presented such a coarse and insolent image to the world.

DAVID Cameron has begun to wake up these troubled mornings and notice a series of strange circles on the floor.

They are the rings Ed Miliband has run round him since the Murdoch saga began to intensify and deepen with each despicable revelation.

Cameron contrived to totally misjudge the mood of the nation at a time when it seemed impossible to do such a thing.

So, when Miliband snatched the initiative and tabled a motion in the Commons urging Murdoch to withdraw his £8b takeover bid for BSkyB, the chastened and shame-faced Conservatives had no choice but to scuttle along in his wake.

Rarely has a ramshackle old cart been so proud and delighted to lead a lame horse.