Rebekah Brooks is not for humbling – The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
y 2002, Rees was serving a seven year sentence for conspiring to plant cocaine on an innocent woman and get her sent to prison, because she was involved in a custody battle with one of Rees’s clients.
Another major client of Jonathan Rees was the News of the World, and in the 1990s a certain Alex Marunchak, one of that newspaper’s most senior journalists, was running a business from Rees’s premises.
The policeman who was conducting the murder inquiry, and his wife, and their children, soon found themselves under surveillance. His wife – also a police officer – told Sarah Ferguson:
I saw a van at the end of my driveway parked up and what was I suspect a camera lens looking back … However hardened you are as a police officer, when you become part of the case and your children are involved, it’s hard to actually explain how frightening that is.
The detective got his colleagues to stop the van on the freeway. The driver turned out to be Alex Marunchak.
Called to Scotland Yard and accosted with these facts, the editor of The News of the World seemed untroubled. Sarah Ferguson reports:
By all accounts Rebekah Brooks offered no explanation. All she had to say was that Marunchak was a great reporter doing great work for the paper.
Not only did Alex Marunchak continue to work at a senior level for the News of the World, on his release from prison Jonathan Rees was again hired by the paper.
Just one example of the culture of impunity, the sense that the rules did not apply to them, that seems to have surrounded News International’s newspapers in those years. And the flip-side of that brazen lack of caution was the fear that they were able to instil in policemen, and politicians, and public officials.
As British Labour MP Tom Watson told the House of Commons in 2010:
The truth is that, in this House we are all, in our own way, scared of the Rebekah Brookses of this world.
But in truth, there are not many Rebekah Brookses. She is a one-off. What did she know? When did she know it? What did she demand, and order, and threaten? What did she cover up, and obfuscate, and ignore?
Those are the questions that many, many Britons – especially the members of the ‘chattering classes’ so derided by Rupert Murdoch, his columnists and editors over the years – would love to see answered.
You do wonder when, if ever, those arrested – sometimes in dramatic dawn raids with plenty of sound and fury – will actually face charges that relate to the substance of the scandal and its cover-up.
Of course, the shenanigans that took place in the News of the World building last July may have been intended to prevent such charges ever being laid, at least against Rebekah Brooks. But compared to those matters, last year’s shenanigans are indeed a sideshow