TWEETING FOR JUSTICE

 
BEYOND CONTEMPT:
THE INSIDE STORY OF THE PHONE HACKING TRIAL

Peter Jukes
(Canbury Press, £15.99)

THIS BOOK is that rare beast — a ground-breaking volume that’s also entertaining and informative.

A writer’s eye view of what went on during the 130 day Old Bailey trial of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, it’s based on Jukes’ experiences as he reported live via Twitter.

Note the word writer in that last sentence.

PETER JUKES PHOTOGRAPHED OUTSIDE the Old Bailey — his workplace for nearly four months — Peter Jukes covered the trial in thousands of live tweets.  Photo: Olivia Beasley / oliviabeasley.com

PETER JUKES
PHOTOGRAPHED OUTSIDE the Old Bailey — his workplace for nearly four months — Peter Jukes covered the trial in thousands of live tweets.
Photo: Olivia Beasley / oliviabeasley.com

Jukes isn’t a professional journalist, he’s a dramatist and novelist.

He follows Peter Burden, the writer and entrepreneur whose 2008 book News of the World? was the first to expose the dark heart of the News of the World.

But Jukes’ tweets were only made possible by an enlightened judge.

Sir John Saunders is another rare breed — a judge concerned that justice in this country isn’t being reported as it used to be.

As newspapers decline, press reporting of court proceedings is fading away.

By permitting Jukes to live tweet, Saunders was allowing a fascinating experiment to take place.

Generally speaking, it’s been accepted as a valuable addition to the proceedings.

Jukes also pioneered crowd-funding — where followers underwrite the cost of the reporting — in British court reporting.

BROOKS & BROOKS THE LOVELETTER that revealed  of Rebekah Brooks' long-standing affair was one of the

MR & MRS BROOKS
THE SENSATIONAL love letter that revealed Rebekah Brooks’ long-standing affair with Andy Coulson was one of the battlegrounds of the trial.   Photo: PA

And, by adding this book to the tweets, he’s brought another dimension to his coverage of the trial.

The book doesn’t repeat (retweet) the tweets.

Instead, it goes behind the scenes and shows what, normally, only court reporters get to experience.

There’s a little of Dickens’ sharp observational eye in his accounts of the David v Goliath battle that took place in Court 12.

Naturally, this being the underlings of billionaire Rupert Murdoch versus The Crown, the normal rules were suspended.

In this trial, it’s the Crown that’s David.

The formidably talented and fantastically expensive battery of QCs acting for the defendants is Goliath.

The Crown’s two QCs were outgunned by the magnificent seven of the defence.

Jukes’ account of their battle over the love letter Rebekah Brooks wrote in 2004 — but never sent — to her lover Andy Coulson is fascinating.

Initially, although it’s hard to believe, the defence tried to argue that bringing it into the trial would infringe Rebekah Brooks’ … privacy.

Then they tried to keep it out of the prosecution opening because it would generate adverse publicity …

Both attempts failed but many reporters felt the defence overwhelmed the prosecution.

The book isn’t perfect — in the haste to get it out, there are typos and the index is spartan and sometimes unhelpful.

But these are small quibbles.

The book is a triumph and begins to show the internet, as well as hammering the viability of newspapers and magazines, is starting to throw up new forms of writing and journalism.

Paddy French

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One Response to “TWEETING FOR JUSTICE”

  1. peterjukes Says:

    Reblogged this on Live Tweeting the hacking trial and commented:
    A Kind Review of the Book by Press Gang

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