Diarmuid Lynch: Memories of the 1916 Easter Rising

diarmuid lynch
Diarmuid Lynch (1878-1950)

A HUNDRED years ago on Easter Monday began a short, futile and unpopular insurrection in Dublin against British rule. Though it ended in inevitable failure within a week, British over-reaction would sow crucial seeds that eventually led to a partial Irish Free State, five years later. This is why the commemorations in Dublin this week are so big and why as a schoolboy many years ago I was taught to revere the Proclamation of Independence as read out on the steps of the Dublin General Post Office in 1916.

But the teaching of Irish history was not a cool, dispassionate thing at least not the version I got from blinkered Christian Brothers. I have written how the Black and Tans who featured prominently in the War of Independence in 1920-1921 were not evil as their reputation would suggest. So with the help of the wonderful Bureau of Military History, I decided to check out eye-witness testimony of 1916. Most of the leaders were executed before they could leave their memories but a search of “GPO” brought me quickly to the testimony of Diarmuid Lynch, who is little known, but a key participant during the rising in Dublin and someone who survived until 1950.

Lynch was a member of the Supreme Council of the Irish Republication Brotherhood and a later member of Dail Eireann. Born in Ireland in 1878, he emigrated to America as a young man where he became an influential member of the Gaelic League promoting the Irish language. When he returned home in 1907, he was contacted by the IRB and took on a leadership role in Cork. As the Irish Volunteers rose to face the threat of the Ulster Volunteers in 1913, he went back to the US on a fundraising mission and was away during the “split” where more radical members of the council decided on military action against England during the First World War.

When he returned again in 1915, Lynch allied with the insurgents and was aware of secret plans for the uprising under Patrick Pearse’s leadership. As an American citizen he had to register as a “Friendly Alien”. His job was to secure a port, initially Ventry Harbour and later Fenit in Kerry for an arms landing. In early 1916 planning for an Easter rising was well advanced. Pearce gave Lynch his orders “to hold the (Cork) County to the south of the Boggeragh mountains – left flank contacting the Kerry Brigade which was to extend eastwards from Tralee; Limerick was to contact the Kerry men on the south and those of Limerick – Clare – Galway to the north. Limerick, Clara and Galway were to hold the line of the Shannon to Athlone”.

However events would throw Lynch directly into the action in Dublin during Easter Week. In the paranoia before the Rising, none of the leaders would confirm it was happening. From his appearances at the delightfully named “Committee for Manholes” during April led by Sean McDermott, Lynch was convinced a Rising was planned for Easter Sunday. On Good Friday he lunched with McDermott who gave him sketches for the planned attack on the South Dublin Union, Four Courts, and Jacobs and Bolands factories. Lynch notified three other revolutionary leaders, Eamonn Ceannt, Thomas MacDonagh and fellow American Eamon De Valera.

On Easter Monday, Lynch and Jim O’Neill put together a “necklace of gelignite” in Liberty Hall for the manhole in front of the Dame Street entrance to Dublin Castle. He then reported for service at the GPO which had been commandeered by Volunteers. Lynch’s first job was to help smash the door and glass partition which separated the Public Office from the Primary Sorting Office. Then he led a group which manned and barricaded the front and side windows.

At 12.45pm the following day (Tuesday), Lynch was ordered out as part of a bodyguard for Pearse to the centre of O’Connell Street opposite the main entrance to the GPO. Standing on an improvised elevation, Pearse read the “Manifesto to the assembled citizens of Dublin”.  Within a half hour a regiment of British Lancers arrived, forcing the rebels back inside the GPO. There they looked through official communications from RIC headquarters which spied on Volunteer activities, but which failed to predict the Rising.

On Tuesday afternoon, Lawrence’s shop diagonally across from the GPO was set ablaze by looters and a large crowd assembled in O’Connell Street. Lynch told James Connolly about the fire danger that threatened their position at the corner of Earl Street. Connolly ordered Lynch and George Plunkett to take a squad to stop the fire from spreading and compel the looters to cease. The Fire Brigade arrived and Volunteers raised the wires strung across O’Connell St that morning to enable the fire engines to get close to the burning building. A man and woman on the top of the building seemed intent on jumping to the street to avoid the flames, the Volunteers fired their pistols to force the crowd back and let the firemen get to work.

On Wednesday morning Connolly ordered Lynch to take men and bore through the south wall of the GPO Henry Street end and then continue through the adjacent buildings until they met Frank Henderson’s men operating from the Coliseum. Contact was soon made. Returning to General Connolly he joked “We captured three English Generals” and after a moment’s pause added: “We got them in the waxworks”. Lynch said there was a flicker of a smile across Connolly’s face.

On Wednesday night Lynch was sent to inspect the position held by men under Liam Cullen on the second floor overlooking Henry Street. “They were quietly alert at their posts and especially watchful lest some of the enemy might have come over the roofs from Parnell Street from which they could have enfiladed our positions,” Lynch reported. His men shot out the glaring electric amps that still overhung Henry Street about 1am.On Friday MacDermott ordered Lynch to get a few men and transfer any surplus bombs and explosive materials from the upper building into the basement.

gpo
The GPO after the fighting

About daybreak MacDermott asked him to carry word to the outposts in O’Neill’s (corner of Liffey and Henry Streets), Lucas’s shop and the old Independent House on Middle Abbey Street, ordering retirement to the GPO. Proceeding through Williams Lane and Abbey Street he knocked at Independent House but the men not knowing who was there did not answer. “Those in Lucas’s, directly opposite, saw me: I crossed and gave them the order, Regressing to Independent House I was admitted,” he said.

He advanced on the south side of Liffey Street where he was spotted by a British garrison. He sped away back to the GPO via Abbey Street where all the recalled men lined up in the GPO yards and roll call showed only one missing – Sean Milroy. “But as Sean was said to have known every nook and cranny in the neighbourhood it was felt he would return in due course,” Lynch said. And Milroy did return. MacDermott and Clarke congratulated Lynch on his work and for three hours he enjoyed his first sleep of the week, on a mattress in the hospital section. Lynch became conscious of cannons booming knowing a shell would bring instant death but he somehow slept on. The booming increased but no shell struck the rear of the GPO.

Before resuming duty, Lynch permitted himself the luxury of a shave. British gunners soon had their range and the roof caught fire. To stop a frontal attack Lynch ordered his men to fill sacks with coal and build an L-shaped barricade midway on the floor. The flames ate their way through the glass roof of the cupola. While the garrison assembled in the General Sorting Room pending final evacuation, the fires spread along the Henry Street side of the roof. Sparks were coming down the open air-shaft to the basement near the explosives storeroom which had no door. MacDermott despatched men to fetch a fire hose. When this arrived The O’Rahilly temporarily put the fire out.

Lynch ordered 30 men to stack their arms and transfer the munitions to the Princes Street side to avoid an explosion. The O’Rahilly noted their prisoners (a British officer, privates and some DMP men) were in a room at the other side of the underground corridor endangered by the fire. Lynch told Connolly who told him to shift them to the rear of the General Sorting Room under guard.

At the subsequent court martial the British Officer testified he and his fellow prisoners had been “left to die like rats in a trap”. Lynch said their detention in the basement was temporary pending evacuation of the GPO and they were quickly moved once the explosives were removed. Lynch had his men soak mail bags in water and spread them over the explosive materials with the help of Harry Boland. Meanwhile the evacuation had been completed so Lynch may have been the last man to leave the GPO “which was a matter of no consequence as I view it,” he said. On reaching Henry street and crossing into Henry Place he saw rebel forces near a dead volunteer, killed by friendly fire (he had been shot by the discharge of a comrade’s gun during an attempt to break the door with its butt).

Then he met Pearse who ordered him to take half a dozen men, break into O’Brien’s and cross the roofs to Moore Street to avoid running the gauntlet of machine-gun fire down Moore Lane. From O’Brien’s roof they stepped across an open air-shaft and into the next building. They were blocked by a laneway and exited through a window on the groundfloor into Henry Place and proceeded to Moore Street where they entered a corner building. They bored through the walls with pieces of iron with slow progress to Henry Street. The men were exhausted from lack of sleep but took turns to bore the walls and barricade the windows.

The flames from the GPO spread across Henry street pushing towards them. At daybreak on Saturday Lynch reported his situation to GHQ and got orders to join the main body at Moore Street. Connolly was badly wounded and the only enemy force they could fire on was the barricade at Parnell and Moore Streets while they were pinned down with fire. Lynch saw one desperate chance to escape, via “a bayonet charge from the yard abutting Sackville Lane against the enemy sand bag barricade located 50 yards away”. Lynch passed word to officers to line 50 men up in the yard with rifles and bayonets.

Lynch told Pearse his plan but the commandant refused. Pearse told him negotiations had been opened with the British Command. Lynch could not go back to the yard to tell the men the decision, instead he went to talk with MacDermott who said Connolly was being taken on a stretcher to meet the British commander. MacDermott told Lynch to discard his Sam Brown and pistol and accompany the Connolly stretcher party.

Lynch unhesitatingly stepped out to the sidewalk and two British officers in Riddall’s beckoned him to advance. The party was searched, which Lynch protested on the ground they were under a flag of truce and “the search was a reflection on our honour as Irish soldiers”. In Lynch’s pocket tunic they found loose pistol ammunition which he had overlooked. Then, surrounded by a heavy armed guard the party advanced to the Parnell Monument before being ordered to Dublin Castle.

In the Upper Castle Yard Lynch asked Connolly if he had any message to send thinking they would be sent back to Moore St. He said no and the party were marched off to Ship Street Barracks. They never saw Connolly again. Lynch protested their detention as prisoners but they were kept there overnight. Next morning his request to be returned was denied and on Sunday afternoon around 25-30 prisoners were marched off to Kilmainham. There a warder unceremoniously cuffed and pushed them through the doorway. Lynch’s protest against such treatment of “prisoners of war” was answered by a baton on the jaw.

The jailers vented their spleen against the new prisoners with sneers, threats and provocation. One stole Lynch’s pig-skin gaiters. An inquisition was afoot in an adjoining room where British officers demanded the name of each prisoner, his rank, position during the fight and the name of his commanding officer. Lynch insisted his men not answer the questions.  The inquisition ceased and they were marched off to the disused rooms of the old prison infirmary. Early on Wednesday morning they were awakened by peculiar noises which Lynch wondered were the sound of volleys. Later they found out three leaders had been executed. Three more followed Thursday morning. That day all prisoners in the hospital were transferred to Richmond Barracks, several hundred prisoners (including many from country districts who had not participated in the Rising) were lined up in the barrack square for deportation to England, the rumour ran.

Lynch found himself with de Valera, Count Plunkett, John O’Mahony, Laurence O’Neill, and others. De Valera was taken and did not return. Lynch asked a guard to request his sister-to-law bring along a suit of ordinary clothes next day. “This he delivered to me and the following day took out a parcel which contained my uniform coat, breeches, shirt and tie. These mementos of Easter Week I still possess,” Lynch said. He dispatched a note to the American Consul requesting he be present at a courtmartial.

On Thursday May 18, the court decision was announced to Lynch at Kilmainham. He was sentenced to be shot – and then the further information this was commuted to 10 years penal servitude. Lynch was sent to Pentonville prison in England and released on June 16, 1917. Back in Ireland he helped fellow rebel Michael Collins reorganise the IRB, and he was arrested again in 1918 for seizing pigs in Dublin bound for Britain. A balled “The Pig Push” was named in his honour. He was deported to America and became a TD in absentia for Cork South East in the first Dail.

Lynch fell out with De Valera over strategy in America and resigned his seat in 1920. He stayed away during the War of Independence and subsequent Civil War. In 1933 he returned to County Cork. He contributed greatly to the work of the Bureau of Military History in the late 1940s not just with his own detailed testimony but in collecting witness statements from those who had taken part in the War of Independence and in reviewing historical publications. He ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1944 and died in 1950 aged 78. As he said about one of his accusers “thank God he and his ilk have passed into the limbo of forgotten things.” Alas the same may have happened to Lynch, but his testimony at the BMH shines on.

Advertisements

A drive from Mount Isa to Bedourie and back

With a few days off at Easter, I decided to head 500km down the road (considered a short hike in these parts) and spend a couple of days with friends in Bedourie. It was an excuse to check out the races in Boulia on the way back.

IMG_2929.JPG

The “highway” is the Diamantina Development Road which is bitumen almost the entire way (apart from a few small stretches) between Boulia and Bedourie but mostly single lane for the 300km stint to Boulia. There isn’t much traffic but both drivers need to have the passenger-side wheels on the gravel while passing (apart from one truck which refused to move aside forcing me to get completely onto the gravel).

IMG_2928.JPG

Termite mounds are everywhere in the north of Australia, littering the side of the road.

IMG_2931.JPG

Here’s a close-up of one. According to Wikipedia, the structure can be very complicated. “Inside the mound is an extensive system of tunnels and conduits that serves as a ventilation system for the underground nest. In order to get good ventilation, the termites will construct several shafts leading down to the cellar located beneath the nest. The mound is built above the subterranean nest. The nest itself is a spheroidal structure consisting of numerous gallery chambers.”

IMG_2932.JPG

The land is mostly flat on my Easter Thursday drive, though green after recent rains.

IMG_2937.JPG

Though there is plenty of brown to go round. Remnants of the Selwyn Ranges dot the landscape.

IMG_2938.JPG

As I said, traffic was sparse. Though amazingly I saw one 4WD stopped by police for a ticket (not photographed). It’s very difficult to resist the temptation to speed on these apparently not-so-lonely roads.

IMG_2939.JPG

The further south you go the most desert-like the landscape becomes. The Simpson Desert is not far away.

IMG_2941.JPG

Halfway between Mount Isa and Boulia is the tiny township of Dajarra. A former cattle railhead, it is still the home of 429 people though not one was visible when I passed through. With 350km still to drive, I resisted the temptation to pop inside the pub.IMG_2945.JPG

Bedourie is not mentioned on this sign but is halfway between Boulia and Birdsville. Alice Springs would be a temptation but the Donohue Hwy is a 4WD only track.IMG_2949.JPG

Trees like this one on the outskirts of Dajarra were rare on my journey.

IMG_2951.JPG

Cattle were rare too but with no fences on the road, you had to slow down whenever they were nearby.

IMG_2958.JPG

Desolate landscape south of Dajarra. This is hard country to make a living from.

IMG_2963.JPG

Just north of Boulia is the turnoff to the Donohue Hwy. Alice Springs is a mere bone-jarring 800km journey that-a-way.

IMG_2972.JPG

Boulia is the home of the Min Min Light, a mythical and unexpected light with no apparent local source. Whatever it’s dubiousness, it is good for attracting the tourists who have detoured 365km west of Winton.IMG_2973.JPG

Next to the Min Min Encounter is the Boulia Shire Hall, a beautiful building which shimmers in the hot sun. It was about 38 degrees as I came through around 1pm.IMG_2974.JPG

Onto the road to Bedourie and we are truly in scrubby Simpson Desert country.

IMG_2976.JPG

Sand and dust dominate the landscape.IMG_2977.JPG

But there is water too. The Georgina River is still rising north at Camooweal and the creeks are full.IMG_2979.JPG

All this water will eventually end up in Lake Eyre, one of the world’s largest endorheic basins, which is just a fancy way of saying it’s a closed system that doesn’t go out to a sea or an ocean.IMG_2983.JPG

We pass the marker for the Tropic of Capricorn, so leave the tropics for the sub-tropics as we drive south.

IMG_2984.JPG

Cattle enjoy the greenery in the desert.

IMG_2992.JPG

The view from the top of the Vaughan Johnson Lookout east towards the Channel Country is immense. They have recently put bitumen on the drive to the lookout which is a gem near the Boulia-Diamantina shire border.IMG_2995.JPG

Big sky seen from the lookout.IMG_2999.JPG

The view south from the lookout.IMG_3005.JPGAmusingly named creek in Diamantina Shire. Thankfully this was not an omen for me.

IMG_3013.JPG

Tree in the desert.

IMG_3021.JPG

The landscape and colours change again as I approach Bedourie.IMG_3022.JPG

View from a hilltop looking west into the surprisingly green Simpson Desert.IMG_3025.JPG

An oasis at Bedourie.

IMG_3027.JPG

Bedourie Community Centre: Where the Simpson Desert meets the Channel Country. IMG_3030.JPG

Bedourie pub. Was closed on Good Friday so I had to quench my thirst elsewhere.

IMG_3036.JPG

“Sand, dust and gibbers” Indigenous sculpture at Bedourie.IMG_3037.JPG

Simpson Desert Oasis: Stop for a Coldie! Though again, not on Good Friday.

IMG_3039.JPG

Time to head north on Saturday, though Darwin will have to wait another time.

IMG_3043.JPG

Flat desolate country north of Bedourie.

races1.jpg

Welcome to Boulia races.

races10.jpg

Horses scatter the dust.

IMG_3058.JPG

Back on the road and it’s tempting to detour through “Australia’s Longest Shortcut” linking Cairns and Perth.

IMG_3070.JPG

Rocky plains south of Mount Isa.

IMG_3071.JPG

You gotta take those opportunities when they come.

IMG_3079.JPG

Almost home again to Mount Isa.

IMG_3082.JPG

Diamantina Power Station on the outskirts of Mount Isa. Home after a 1000kms in three days.

Dial M for Murdoch

imageThe book Dial M For Murdoch by British politician Tom Watson and journalist Martin Hickman is a frightening read. It is frightening not only because it described a state of affairs where politicians, media and police colluded to hide criminal activity but because the crimes it describes have been almost completely forgotten and the criminals still act as if nothing has changed and they are still in charge.

As the authors say in the introduction, the book describes how a global news company exerted a poisonous and secretive influence on British public life and when exposed, it used its power to bully, intimidate and cover up with help from its allies at the highest levels of politics and the police. Yet the authors’ hope the scandal would force the perpetrators to clean up their act hasn’t eventuated. While the scandal ended with public inquiries, the humbling of Rupert Murdoch and the death of the News of the World (NotW), it hasn’t fundamentally changed the government or Murdoch’s behaviour nor has it chastened the rest of the tabloid pack in Britain who remain a mostly unaccountable right-wing rabble.

Tom Watson is a Labour Party MP who attracted the ire of Murdoch’s empire. His mistake was to plot against Murdoch favourite Tony Blair, an action that earned him the lasting enmity of Rupert’s powerful attack dog Rebekah Wade, who rose from a secretary to editor of the NotW in a decade. The Sun called him a “treacherous lump of lard” and a “mad dog trained to maul”. The NotW went further and raided his message bank as they did with many others.

It was the fierce level of competition Murdoch inspired that encouraged this behaviour, even pitting their own reporters against each other for the perfect tabloid scoop. The NotW had deep links into the police with Wade even admitting to a 2004 parliamentary inquiry they routinely bribed the force. But it was a successful model with the Murdoch tabloids making money and the NotW having a reputation as a muckraking award winning bastion of investigative journalism.

But its methods were vile. Some like chequebook journalism were well known, others like “blagging” confidential records or paying corrupt officials for private data were less well understood and there was no appetite to expose it by police forces anxious to have cordial relations with Fleet St. It took the involvement of the royal family to start the unravelling.

In 2005 Prince Charles’ staffers were alarmed when they saw very detailed gossip about his sons appear in NotW. They came to the conclusion the tabloid could only have got their information from phone hacking. They contacted Scotland Yard who began Operation Caryatid. The Royal revelations were appearing in NotW column Blackadder written by Royal editor Clive Goodman. Scotland Yard compared Goodman’s columns against the phone numbers they knew were being hacked and built a case against him. At the same time senior police officers were wining and dining with then NotW editor Andy Coulson.

Operation Caryatid made a breakthrough when O2 told them about a blagger wanting to change royal phone codes. He was private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who Goodman kept on a weekly retainer to hack voicemails on an industrial scale – not just the royals. Yet police made the decision to restrict the case to “less sensitive” witnesses. In 2006 Goodman and Mulcaire were arrested with no effort made to widen the inquiry to other journalists despite circumstantial evidence. Instead police gave Wade a full briefing on what they found because she was mentioned in Mulcaire’s files. Unsurprisingly Wade did not wish to make a complaint against her employers. They didn’t tell the many victims named in Mulcaire’s files and neither did the phone companies (except O2) for many years.

In 2007 Goodman was jailed for four months and Mulcaire got six for illegal invasion of privacy. NotW editor Coulson had to stand down in the scandal but the paper hid behind the “bad apple” defence. Goodman was sacked but was furious as he believed he was just a scapegoat and threatened to appeal publicly. Mulcaire admitted in court hacking football union leader Gordon Taylor and now Taylor was threatening to sue. His lawyers had gained police evidence including a Mulcaire email “for Neville” believed to be for NotW journalist Neville Thurlbeck.

Yet Murdoch had bigger fish to fry setting his sights on Dow Jones Wall St Journal and British pay TV and throwing his support behind the Tories under sympathetic new leader David Cameron – and his new press secretary Andy Coulson, formerly of NotW. Taylor was paid off for almost half a million pounds, a record, on condition of silence.

In 2008. Guardian journalist Nick Davies became aware of the scale of the illegality at News through a police contact. He scoured NotW for stories that might have used intercepts as a source.  In 2009 he broke his story saying Murdoch had paid a million pounds to settle legal cases like Taylor’s that threatened to reveal evidence of criminality. He had found the For Neville email and quoted a police source saying thousands of phones were hacked. Labour was outraged saying Cameron should sack Coulson but police refused to reopen the case. Murdoch himself denied it, saying if they had paid out Taylor he would have known about it. The Times counterattacked rebutting the Guardian allegations and calling Davies dysfunctional. News lawyers admitted to Watson at a parliamentary inquiry James Murdoch had approved the Taylor payout.

But at the end of 2008 the Press Complaints Commission exonerated NotW saying no new evidence had emerged. The Guardian’s stories had not lived up to their “dramatic billing” the PCC decided. Scotland Yard urged the paper to drop its hostile coverage as “over-egged”. But the Guardian persisted and discovered Mulcaire had accessed the inbox of 100 customers of Orange, O2 and Vodaphone. They were supported by Watson’s parliamentary culture committee which accused News of hindering their inquiries. NotW accused Watson of shamefully hijacking the committee.

After the May 2010 election Cameron became PM and Coulson his press secretary despite Coalition partner LibDem reservations. Just as he did in the Blair years, Murdoch had a private audience in Downing St with a plan to take sole ownership of BSkyB. But the storm clouds were gathering. People who appeared in Mulcaire’s files like Sienna Miller and Steve Coogan began legal action though could not prove they were hacked. The Guardian shared their files with the New York Times which quoted a disgruntled News journalist saying Coulson knew of the hacking which spread well beyond one reporter. News claimed the Times was carrying out a vendetta because of its rivalry with their Wall St Journal. Coulson “emphatically” denied wrongdoing.

Watson raised the matter in parliament, especially on the news Scotland Yard had deliberately ended the investigation despite extensive evidence. Watson was warned by News they would target him if he didn’t back off but with media refusing to publish his allegations he put them on the blog Labour Uncut. When LibDem minister Vince Cable threatened to refer the News takeover of BSkyB he was undone by a sting from undercover Telegraph reporters and resigned. New Tory minister Jeremy Hunt was more compliant to Murdoch.

Four years after the arrest of Goodman, Met Police finally interviewed his boss Andy Coulson. They announced there was no new evidence but didnt reveal the key evidence they had all along. Miller took her case to court revealing News editor Ian Edmondson knew of the hacking and he was immediately suspended by his employers. Coulson resigned in January 2011 despite claiming he had been punished twice. The Met launched a new inquiry into hacking. A senior Met officer admitted to Watson they never looked at all the Mulcaire files. With evidence growing, the BBC finally started to take an interest. Yet Hunt continued to back the BSkyB bid despite growing reservations.

News set aside 20m quid for payouts to settle with a growing list of victims as they tried to pick off civil claimants before their day in court. The pressure was building on what Rebekah Brooks knew, despite her closeness to Murdoch. But the tables turned on July 4, 2011 when Davies revealed a new hacking victim: murdered school girl Milly Dowler. Davies overreached by claiming NotW deleted messages from her phone to make room for others, giving false hope to her parents she was alive. But the impact was devastating and News had to admit it was a “great concern”. Social media went berserk and even the PCC admitted it was misled. Advertisers threatened to leave NotW and News’ share price plummeted.

With news emerging of Murdoch papers’ corruption of police, the noose tightened. On July 7 NotW called an all staff meeting which read out a James Murdoch email admitting they had misled parliament. At the end was a bombshell: the paper would close down after that weekend. Coulson was arrested and it was open season on Murdoch in parliament. With BSkyB shares in freefall Murdoch finally got the message and withdrew his offer. A week later Wade resigned and Rupert and James were summoned to give evidence to the Culture Committee.

Murdoch’s memorable phrase was about his most humble day of his life but his evidence was accurately satirised by Private Eye as “we are sorry we have been caught”.  His feeble defence was they had only recently found out the problem and would only admit they had been “lax”. By then Wade had been arrested and the Met Police chief was forced to resign. Wade also fronted parliament but claimed she couldn’t remember authorising payments for hacking. Cameron claimed not to have discussed BSkyB with Murdoch, but Labour couldn’t press too hard. After all, they had been in bed with the Dirty Digger too in the Blair years.

At the end of that summer News announced profits of $982m mainly from television and Murdoch was awarded a $12.5m bonus. As they hived off their troublesome newspaper business, it was back to business as usual, the Murdochs holding on to power against rebellious shareholders thanks to their powerful voting shares. While the PM distanced himself, his education minister Michael Gove still had stars in his eyes. “Murdoch is a force of nature and a phenomenon,” he said. “I think he is a great man.” The Sun on Sunday would soon fill the NotW gap and while the Leveson Inquiry brought many embarrassing revelations, they were soon forgotten in the relentless 24 hour news cycle. It did not take long for Murdoch papers to resume their role as kingmakers. As Watson ruefully concluded, the empire stood shaken and ostensibly apologetic for a while,  but it is still there and Rupert Murdoch is still in charge. British – and Australian – media remain in his thrall.