It is a great pity, I think, that when the Culture, Media and Sport Committee resolved to grill the Murdochs, they stopped short at James and Rupert and did not call Iris. I know she is dead, and was unfortunately gaga for a while before that, but when it is claimed to leave no stone unturned, then no stone should be unturned, including the stones atop Iris Murdoch’s grave. They ought to have been duly turned, and she dug up, and a few bolts of Frankensteinian electricity blasted through her before she was hauled into Portcullis House to sit alongside the media mogul and his unnerving son.
It has lately been said, ad nauseam, that the phone-hacking scandal is Britain’s Watergate. Certainly one thing they share is the sense that the whole seething mess can be evoked by a simple litany of names. John Dean, Chuck Colson, Jeb Magruder, H R “Bob” Haldeman, Kenneth Clawson , Howard Hunt… just reciting the list takes one back to 1970s Washington. One may no longer be clear about who was who, but even at the time, as new names entered the frame, the waters were muddied. One thought one had a grasp of the matter, and then all of a sudden the papers are full of references to Richard Kleindienst. Who is he? What are his connections? What did he know and when did he know it? This sort of stuff keeps drooling obsessives happy as larks.
And so it is now. Andy Coulson, Rebekah Brooks, Neil “Wolfman” Wallis, John Yates, Glen Mulcaire… and suddenly we have the previously unheard-of Dick Fedorcio elbowing his way in, hoovering up the newsprint, to be fitted in to the jigsaw. This is precisely why an opportunity was lost when it was decided – by whom? when? upon whose advice? – not to question Iris Murdoch. As if all the sex and death and good and evil and power and morality were not enough, I think we have a right to know where precisely Madge Casement and Mrs Tinckham and Hugo Belfounder and Mischa Fox and Hunter Keepe and Nan Mor and Dora Greenfield and Toby Gash and James Tayper Pace and Patchway the gardener and Bruno and Lisa and Miles and Danby and Maureen and Will and Adelaide and Diana fit into the whole shenanigans. Only Iris Murdoch can tell us, and tell us she must, and the public will expect to see robust transparency and transparent robustness and prosecutions and convictions and tittle-tattle and footballers’ wives and soap stars and page three girls… er…
Frank Key has gone to have a lie-down