So now we know. Apart from their failure to predict the unscheduled appearance of a plate of shaving foam, the multi-million dollar advice to Murdoch Senior and Junior in preparation for their appearance before the Commons committee was very simple.
Murdoch the Elder had clearly been told: “Pause at great length before answering, thereby swallowing up valuable committee time. When you do manage to cobble together an answer, slap the desk at the same time to give an impression of a man still wielding power and prestige. If under pressure, point out that the News of the World is about one per cent of your global business and therefore hardly worthy of your scrutiny. And, by the way, talk about your feelings of humility”.
As for the News kid with his head on the block, the advice was even simpler. “Look, James, everybody knows you are a busy man, so keep pointing out that you do not have first-hand knowledge of this, that or the other. ‘I think it’s a very good question, a very important question’ is a particularly effective way of prefacing an evasive reply. In terms of body language, we think an appearance of wide-eyed innocence would work best”.
So for a total of 145 unrevealing minutes, it dragged on, with the old man and his boy attracting neither admiration nor sympathy…until the arrival of a man with a plateful of shaving foam.