It all started when News Ltd.'s John Hartigan sacked the 'Herald Sun' editor-in-chief, Bruce Guthrie, in November 2008 at the urging of Peter Blunden. Even though he got paid $844,523 when he was sacked, Guthrie sued News for unfair dismissal and won an extra $580,808 plus costs.
The full transcript of the judgment is a lengthy read. 'Crikey!' has a pretty succinct summary but a longer, more detailed, collection of the juiciest bits of the judgment (read all about how cosy Blunden and Neil Mitchell are or how glassy-jawed Andrew Bolt is) have been collated over at 'Spring Hill Voice'.
The three witnesses for News Ltd. were Hartigan, Julian Clarke and Blunden. All three were rejected by the Judge to various extents. In a general sense, the judgment is unsurprising in what it makes of Murdoch peoples' attitude to truth and the legal process. If you cared about such things, you would have trouble showing your face in decent company after reading this about you or your associates:
"Shortly after those exchanges, the luncheon adjournment occurred. After that adjournment, Mr O’Bryan questioned Mr Blunden generally about the issue. Mr Blunden then gave what, to my perception, was clearly a pre-rehearsed speech, ... The answer which Mr Blunden gave, and the manner in which he gave it, showed that it was the product of thought over lunch. It is flawed. ... I do not accept Mr Blunden’s proffered explanation in his cross-examination, which, as I have stated, bears all the hallmarks of ex post facto rationalisation."Ouch!
But that's just one of many criticisms of these people, read the summary for more. It really is a spooky insight into how Murdoch people think. The fact is that none of this will bother the Murdoch machine one bit, it's how they're programmed.
For example, in Sarah Ellison's 'War at the Wall Street Journal - How Rupert Murdoch Bought an American Icon', she writes about the imminent negotiated sacking of Marcus Brauchli and how Murdoch and Gary Ginsberg are trying to orchestrate and control the event before it leaks out. If it wasn't managed properly it risked upsetting the puppet editorial independence police, the "Special Committee":
"'Can't we just say that this thing's been written and he's going to sign it?' Murdoch yelled, clearly accustomed to revising reality so the facts served his needs." [p.208]And it isn't just a few isolated events. It is deeply ingrained News culture in all things. Think the NRL/Storm salary cap fraud was just an unfortunate aberration? Here [p.206] is what Ellison writes about Murdoch's agreement to keep editorial independence once he takes over the 'Wall Street Journal':
"Though many within News Corp. had found it mildly insulting to have to sign an agreement that implicitly said Murdoch was unfit to run a respectable paper, Murdoch was willing to weather such slights. They were minor, temporal; they always faded. Murdoch thought the separation between a newsroom and its owner was another false conceit of American newspapers, ... But if they helped him get what he wanted, he was willing to sign on to an artificial set of rules he would inevitably circumvent."It's how they do everything.
Action? Well, if you get the chance, sue them! But remember how they conduct themselves in litigation!