Maybe it’s just me but in my moments when I am not being a daytime HR Consultant or writing this blog, I am spending more of my time watching the exquisite ‘cat and mouse’ drama that we best know as the Leveson Inquiry.
For some this might sound as exciting as watching the proverbial paint dry but I am quite drawn to it. Maybe it has something to do with my time as an Internal Auditor investigating a range of malpractices and abuses, my interest in TV and Film court cases (I kind of grew up on ITV’s ‘Crown Court’) or my special interest on how to interview people.
The real ‘star’ of the Inquiry is Robert Jay QC who has already been inducted in the ‘Beard Hall of Fame’ by the previously unknown Beard Liberation Army (I kid you not). Jay as lead inquisitor (sorry, senior counsel to the inquiry) gets the prime picks of people to question- Rupert and James Murdoch, Alistair Campbell, Rebecca Brookes and yesterday and today (24-25th May) Adam Smith, one of the Culture Secretary’s political advisers.
Yesterday was a master class in forensic investigation from Jay in his questioning of Smith who tried to play a straight bat throughout but Jay got the better of him. Jay’s approach is not that of what you might call the Jeremy Paxman school of interviewing (although Jay also questioned him) where you are aggressive towards the interviewee in the hope that they will blurt out something they don’t mean to say. Rather, he has a understated kind of style, engaging but always in control of his brief and ready to point out any inconsistencies or falsehoods.
Witness his examination of the young Adam Smith who in his initial evidence tried to argue that his boss (Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP) had no opinion of the News International bid to secure the remaining shares of BSKYB. But after a 15 minute period of taking Smith through the evidence exhibits, Jay pointed out the memo that Hunt had written to the Prime Minister which championed the BSKYB bid. With some lovely dexterity, Jay put it to Smith that this showed that Hunt was in fact in favour of the bid, which after some prompting he accepted, only for Jay to point out that this was the opposite of what he had said 15 minutes before.
Jay is very good- he has a wonderful way when trying to establish why a text message was sent or what the meaning of it was, to just say “Can you help me with that please, Mr….?). The tendency is to want Jay and others to ask the obvious killer question when evidence given does not match up and although it may take time, Jay gets there. And in the process we are entertained hugely…