The man at the centre of a phone hacking scandal which threatens the very integrity of the British press is facing further pressure over an incident involving a custard tart and a rather disgruntled tea boy.
Rupert Murdoch, head of the much-maligned News International, was being questioned by a Commons media committee when an unnamed servant entered bearing refreshments. The press baron had apparently ordered a banoffee pie from the canteen, and was dismayed to hear that, due to government cutbacks, only custard tarts were available.
Enraged, Murdoch’s personal assistant slapped the kitchen attendant square in the mouth, leaving him with a slight scratch and a face full of custard pie. The servant was immediately removed from the building by police armed with electric shock hand buzzers and Chinese finger traps.
“If Mr Murdoch is more of a fruit man, he should have come on Wednesday, when we make a fantastic banana sundae. He would have been able to get a free hot chocolate, too, but since we don’t appreciate attacks on our staff, it’s more likely to be lukewarm now.” – Head Chef at the Commons Kitchen
The committee had to be temporarily disbanded as the cleaners quickly moved in to polish 30 square centimetres of tarnished floor tile, while officials sent for a replacement servant and custard tart so that the hearing could continue. A visibly shaken Murdoch soldiered on without his banoffee pie, though he had to order an emergency Horlicks to make it through the two-hour debate. Though the taste was slightly weak, the media mogul acted more calmly and consumed the beverage through gritted teeth as he endured serious questioning.
Sky News, in whom News Corporation has a 39.1% holding, bemoaned the state of the British tea servant industry, launching a scathing attack on the UK’s leading catering colleges. Later this week, the channel will run a 30-minute feature on violence amongst the Commons kitchen staff utilising hidden cameras and first-hand accounts from the likes of Ian McCartney and John Prescott:
“I would walk into the canteen and they were there, waiting to pelt me with rotten eggs. I thought nothing of it, and proceeded to deck each and every one of them before scraping up the eggs. Oh, how the family used to enjoy omelette night! My punching arm got a great work out and all.” – Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott
The News of the World phone hacking scandal looks set to keep mainstream media outlets busy for some time to come, giving Britain’s leading fiction novelists a break from penning further chapters in the Cheryl Cole soap opera.