John Whittingdale on phone hacking: ‘I like to believe people are generally truthful’ | Politics | The Guardian
“I don’t know what the audience was, but I would have said it was certainly in the tens – probably the hundreds – of millions,” he marvels. “It went out live across America, Australia, Canada, China.” Passersby from London to Sydney stop to congratulate him; one taxi driver wouldn’t even take his money. “It was almost out of some sort of sentimental rom-com,” Whittingdale giggles. “He said: ‘No fare, just keep up the good work.'”
To everyone enjoying the Murdochs’ fall from grace, Whittingdale’s work seemed particularly good precisely because it must have gone against every partisan instinct. Once asked who he most admired in the media, his reply was Rupert Murdoch, and before the phone-hacking scandal blew up he supported News International’s bid to take over BSkyB. He was even friends with Les Hinton, one of the former News International executives his committee has now found guilty of misleading parliament. (He was also Facebook friends with Rebekah Brooks and Elisabeth Murdoch, though rather too much has probably been made of that; as he says: “A friend on Facebook is not, in my view, the same as a friend.”) Yet throughout the hearings, Whittingdale drew widespread respect for maintaining – to coin a phrase – a quasi-judicial approach. If anything, he conducted himself more like a civil servant than a party politician.