Something to Say with Keith Newbery: Politics, police and the papers... slipping on their axis

AMONG my favourite conspiracy theories is the one in which the Earth is forecast to slip on its axis.

It means the north and south poles will swap positions with devastating consequences - like Greenlanders suddenly being expected to play cricket.

Apparently, this particular cataclysm is due to take place on December 21 next year, which should make for an interesting Christmas if nothing else.

Meanwhile, you could be forgiven for thinking something similar has already taken place in the world of politics, police and the papers.

The baddies are playing the role of the goodies; the hunters are now the hunted and the powerful have suddenly become the meek who will no longer inherit the earth.

For people like me, whose working life has been spent in journalism and for whom politics has long been a consuming passion, the past few weeks have provided riches beyond avarice - with the promise of much more to come.

I am now reduced to accessing the BBC website every 30 minutes to find out the latest person to resign, be arrested or otherwise implicated in The Great Phone Hacking Scandal.

If I leave it any longer I get withdrawal symptoms, like fidgety finger and an inability to concentrate on any conversation which does not include words like ‘Murdoch’ or ‘I leave with my integrity intact.’

The Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport committee’s confrontation with the Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks provided the most compelling television since the Frost-Nixon interviews more than 40 years ago.

I loved the old boy’s interminable pauses before replying to questions. It disconcerted the assembled MPs and had number one son glancing sideways to see if his father had suddenly died with his eyes open.

I revelled in the flinty-eyed exchanges between Paul Farrelly and Rebekah Brooks, which had clearly been fuelled by many years of mutual antipathy.

Before he arrived at Westminster, Farrelly (a former journalist) had held senior positions on the Independent and the Observer - both unabashed cheer-leaders in the discomfort and decline of News International.

He knows how newspapers work, and had a neat line in incredulity whenever Mrs Brooks affected ignorance of, or responsibility for, any of the nefarious practices which had brought her former company to its knees.

To be continued, I’m delighted to say.

A DISCONCERTING side-effect of the upheaval caused by Hackgate is that we now have the likes of John Prescott and Hugh Grant posing as moral crusaders.

Yes, that’s the Prescott who confessed to an affair with one of his secretaries and the Grant who was caught in flagrante with a prostitute in a car near Sunset Boulevard.

Both men claim their mobile voicemails were intercepted - and if this is true they have every right to be angry and indignant.

The irony is that it was probably their extra-curricular capers which singled them out for special attention in the first place.

Either way, to have his lordship blabbering and scowling on Newsnight always adds to the gaiety of the nation.