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Wednesday, August 09, 2006 

Schadenfreude is my best friend.

Another Screws journalist not known for his honest methods.

Can things get any worse for the News of the World? Within days of losing the libel action brought against the paper by the Scottish Socialist Tommy Sheridan, the paper's royal editor is still in police custody, after the plod were given longer to question him and another man, presumed to be another Screws journalist, over an 8-month long investigation into phone-tapping at Clarence House, Prince Charles's residence. Another man, not thought to be a News International employee, has been released on bail. The Screws offices in Wapping have also been raided by Inspector Knacker.

Rumours are already starting to fly. Guido wonders whether others bugged could include Boris Johnson and Michael Portillo, both recently exposed by the Screws as having affairs or relationships with women. Tom Brady, the ITV political editor, speaking on the 12:30 bulletin today, suggested that anti-terrorist IT specialists had discovered that others bugged could include cabinet ministers. It was the News of the Screws that broke the news of David Blunkett's affair with Kimberley Quinn, which could possibly mean that the bugging has been going on for years. Presumably John Prescott was not one of those potentially bugged, as his affair was exposed by the Mirror.

The arrests cap a miserable few months for the UK's worst newspaper. Mazher Mahmood was found to be a lying fantasist, as the "red mercury" case collapsed around his ears, fresh from being exposed by Galloway as a... lying fantasist. Mahmood also faces another libel trial over the Victoria Beckham kidnap plot that never was, after his partner in entrapment, Florim Ghasi, changed sides. The cheque-book journalism which results in numerous kiss 'n' tell stories every Sunday was left looking like the corrupt practice it is, as a jury in Scotland decided that the Screws' witnesses were lying while Sheridan wasn't. Sheridan's speech afterwards, lambasting the journalism carried out by the likes of the Screws would have been better if he hadn't sold his story straight afterwards to the Daily Record, owned by the same people as the muck-raking Sunday Mirror and People.

What's most amusing is that it's usually the Screws which contacts the police with some crime they've uncovered, or the police which leak stuff to News International for money; perhaps the royal editor will experience similar feelings to those set up by Mahmood when they've only been guilty of being gullible. For once the boot is on the other foot. Either way, anything that's a set-back to the Murdoch papers is to be celebrated. Schadenfreude is once again the enemies of the Screws' best friend.

P.S. - There's nothing in today's Sun about the arrests, something that they'd usually be all over like a rash, although there is a story about a goat dying after being taken for a joyride. Why could that possibly be?

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