x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Rupert Murdoch pie thrower is jailed for six weeks

Lawyers for Jonathan May-Bowles have lodged an appeal against his jail sentence, saying the assault on Mr Murdoch represented an expression of the 'widespread revulsion' over the phone hacking scandal.

Jonathan May-Bowles arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court. He pleaded guilty to throwing a plate of shaving foam at media tycoon Rupert Murdoch as he gave evidence to a British Parliamentary select committee. Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP Photo
Jonathan May-Bowles arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court. He pleaded guilty to throwing a plate of shaving foam at media tycoon Rupert Murdoch as he gave evidence to a British Parliamentary select committee. Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP Photo

LONDON // The protester who shoved a plate of shaving foam into Rupert Murdoch's face as he gave evidence to British MPs on the phone-hacking scandal was jailed for six weeks yesterday.

Jonathan May-Bowles had pleaded guilty last week to assaulting the 80-year-old media tycoon as he and his son James were questioned by the parliamentary culture and media committee on July 19.

The incident left Mr Murdoch's face and suit jacket smeared with shaving foam and led to the committee briefly adjourning its hearing.

Mr Murdoch's wife, Wendi, sitting behind her husband in the committee room, had pushed May-Bowles away and later threw the remains of the foam in his face as he was led away by police.

Sentencing the 26-year-old yesterday afternoon, the District Judge Daphne Wickham said May-Bowles should serve three weeks in prison before being released on parole. She also ordered him to pay a £15 (Dh89) victim surcharge and £250 costs.

Judge Wickham condemned the actions of May-Bowles, a part-time stand-up comedian with the stage name Jonnie Marbles, because she said the evidence Mr Murdoch and his son were giving to the committee was "of huge importance".

She added: "This is a parliamentary process, which as you know, conducts itself with dignity and in a civilised fashion.

"Everybody else in the room expected that, with one exception - you. You attended those proceedings with only one intention: to disrupt them."

The judge said that, in deciding to jail May-Bowles, she had taken into the account the fear of injury that Mr Murdoch must have felt because he could not have known what was in the foam pie.

May-Bowles, wearing black jeans and a lumberjack shirt, stood in the dock showing no reaction to the sentence.

Last week, as he was leaving court after admitting assault and causing harassment, alarm or distress, he used the same words to reporters that Mr Murdoch had used in his evidence to MPs.

"I would just like to say this has been the most humble day of my life," he said.

Last night, lawyers for May-Bowles lodged an appeal against his jail sentence, saying the assault on Mr Murdoch represented an expression of the "widespread revulsion" over the phone hacking scandal.

His jailing at Westminster Magistrates' Court came hours after police arrested Stuart Kuttner, former managing editor of the News of the World, the Murdoch-owned newspaper at the centre of the hacking allegations.

Mr Kuttner, 71, who denied at the time of his resignation two years ago that he was leaving because of the voicemail interceptions, became the 11th person to be arrested this year as part of the latest Scotland Yard investigation into the scandal.

A police spokesman confirmed that a man was being interviewed at a north London police station last night on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and of the bribing of police officers.

Mr Murdoch ordered the closure last month of the News of the World - Britain's biggest selling newspaper - after it emerged that the phone of an abducted 13-year-old schoolgirl, who was later found murdered, had been hacked.

dspasted@thenational.ae