REBEKAH Brooks is a ridiculous person. I mean, she's very well dressed, in neck-high crepe, essaying a Winona Ryder chic circa the shoplifting years. It worked on me. It would have worked on you.
Someone said of her that it was a waste of time wondering what she was like, because when you actually met her, all you cared about was what she thought of you. It's a charm you don't believe until you're within 15 metres of it. And I can tell you the secret of her success, which is the ability to be haughty with your peer, and obsequious to your superior, in the same conversation, in the same sentence. Impatient and at times a bit cantankerous with counsel for the inquiry Robert Jay, QC, she always turned to Lord Justice Leveson with a meek ''sir''. She was holding off calling him ''sire'' only by a giant act of will.
But ultimately, this is a ridiculous person. You couldn't live a life with this bad a memory. Never mind that you'd never be able to do a demanding job, you wouldn't be able to pass your exams.
Former News International chief Rebekah Brooks found many details hard to recall when she fronted the Leveson Inquiry. Photo: Reuters
And that makes the whole business grating to watch. ''I can't remember'' is the defence of a person whose mind was somewhere else. When that same person launches a full-blooded defence of her tabloid stable as the beating heart of the nation, it's a little bit - how would a legal mind put it? - vom-worthy. According to Brooks, The Sun has a unique relationship with its readers - it's an almost sackable offence to be rude to a reader. ''Our readers call us when they're lost and need directions,'' she boasts. (Though it's not much of a boast, is it, really? It's a category error, like calling an ambulance when you've lost your phone.)
We had hours of not being able to remember anything. So, she can't remember whether or not David Cameron was at her 40th birthday. (''It was a surprise party,'' she gives, by way of explanation. It's always hard to remember anything when you've had a surprise. It's a bit like a concussion.)
She can't remember the identities of the politicians who have sent her messages of support, nor really the substance of any of the messages.
How did Mr Cameron come to be in Santorini at the same time as Rupert Murdoch and Brooks in 2008? She can't remember. ''I think it was born out of the fact that Mr Murdoch was in Europe that summer and Mr Cameron was travelling to Europe.'' (It really couldn't get any less specific, could it? Dear Mr Murdoch. This summer I plan to be on Earth. Would you care to meet me, given that we are both on Earth?)
What did they talk about? She can't really remember. ''I was witness to one [conversation] between them. It was about Europe. Because we were in Europe.'' She remembers the month that The Sun decided to withdraw its support for the Labour Party - June 2009. She agrees that Mr Cameron was told of this on September 9, 2009.
And yet, pressed on why The Sun announced its change of heart directly after Gordon Brown's speech at the Labour conference in October 2009, she delves into her tumbleweed memory to produce this: ''For all we know, they could have come up with a fantastic policy for Sun readers.'' I wonder what line Mr Brown would have had to take to undo a done deal that had been in place since June? It would have had to be something large and unexpected - a paedophile's head on a stick for every Sun reader?
''I'd never compromise my position as a journalist by having a friendly relationship with a politician,'' Brooks said. It came right after quite a long segment on the rights and wrongs of outing Mr Brown's four-month-old son as the sufferer of a dangerous illness.
Most people would be left wondering ''what's to compromise?''
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