A perfect storm is gathering for David Cameron in the autumn. His Downing Street spin doctor friend Andy Coulson and Rupert Murdoch’s favourite News International employee, Rebekah Brooks, are facing trial for alleged phone hacking .Now Lynton Crosby, his Tory election strategist, looks likely to be embroiled in a libel action in Australia while the country is engulfed in an election campaign.
The two cases will overlap and will mean a very interesting examination of Crosby and partner Mark Textor’s election disputed ” push polling” techniques to denigrate Labor opponents and might well provide a useful insight into how Crosby will try to get Cameron re-elected.
The case has been bought by Crosby and Textor against a Labor minister, Mike Kelly for tweeting as the Sydney Morning Herald reported “”always grate [sic] to hear moralizing from Crosby, Textor, Steal and Gnash. The mob who introduced push polling to Aus.” This led to a libel suit on the grounds that it damaged their business and ” push polling ” is meant to be illegal in Australia. They also deny doing it.
They seek aggravated damages because they say Dr Kelly failed to apologise, used sensational language and published the tweet knowing it was false, or with reckless indifference to its truth or falsity.
But what is really interesting is the man Crosby is fighting. He is not the guy you might think is an obvious Labor or Labour politician.
No the defence materials minister is something else. Crosby is taking on an Australian military hero – a rare case of a soldier turned politician. He has a decorated military record. He has worked with the UN peacekeepers in Timor and hostage rescue in Kenya.
He was involved in the legal prosecution of Saddam Hussein and the execution of a Somali warlord after he was convicted of 31 murders. He also served with the International Red Cross in Bosnia.
The warlord Hussan Gutaale Abdul had attacked and killed 16 aid workers and repeatedly driven an armoured car into emaciated refugees awaiting food distribution He was arrested by an Australian patrol, held in a cage at Baidoa airport and later flown to Mogadishu to be held by US forces. He was found guilty of 31 counts of murder.
When the death penalty was pronounced Gutaale physically attacked Kelly and Kelly wrestled him along the road to his place of execution.
For his bravery,Kelly became a Member of the Order of Australia for ” exceptional service or performance of duty”
Kelly told the Sydney Daily Telegraph :
“There was quite a bit of scuffling. I got attacked. He had always threatened he was going to take me with him if he went down. He jumped on me in the court room. I had to use my rifle to subdue him by buttstroking.”
He said a price was put on his head as a result of his work to bring warlords to justice: “There were continuous radio broadcasts calling on people to do all sorts of nasty things, to disembowel me. It wasn’t an office job.”
Crosby of course is none of these things. His previous life as a farmer’s son is sketchy but his main interest at Crosby Textor the company co founded with MarkTextor, is pretty vicious campaigning for right wing parties in Australia and the UK. Their client list is secret but the ones that have been disclosed involve tobacco, fracking and banking.
I don’t know who is going to win the libel action. But if I had a choice of buddies it would be Kelly over Crosby.
Kelly is brave and has been fighting against evil dictators and war lords and trying to bring peace and stability to the world. Indeed he might deserve a place in the Imperial War Museum in Lord Ashcroft’s roll call of military heroes.
Crosby seems to be solely motivated by money and is filling his boots with gold from a product that will spread cancer world wide. No wonder David Cameron can’t give a straight answer to journalists about his involvement in dropping plain packaging for cigarettes.
Crosby is a cancer in the heart of Whitehall. He and Textor’s contribution to the world is to help increase cancer rates and damage the environment for their own private gain through a company that hides its clients from public view.