The man who threw a foam pie at Rupert Murdoch as he gave evidence to a Commons Select Committee today got his jail sentence reduced on appeal.
Jonathan May-Bowles, 26, pleaded guilty last week to assaulting the 80-year-old media tycoon as he gave evidence to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee about the phone-hacking scandal.
May-Bowles disrupted the proceedings by projecting a paper plate of shaving foam at Mr Murdoch.
He failed in an attempt to overturn his six-week prison sentence, handed down on Tuesday, but it was reduced to four weeks at Southwark Crown Court today.
Judge Anthony Pitts, sitting with two magistrates, rejected arguments that the foam pie attack was in the tradition of comics from Laurel and Hardy to Monty Python.
“That might be funny or have an element of comedy about it in a different situation,” he said.
“But not in this situation. It was intended, it seems to us, to cause fear and it must have caused fear.
“In our judgment, there is an overwhelming inference it caused fear and shock amongst Mr Murdoch, his wife and his son, let alone others in the room who were crying out in shock and disbelief.”
He noted that the committee was sitting as a “quasi-judicial hearing”
and that the offence had “overtones of contempt of court”.
Judge Pitts also suggested that May-Bowles, a part-time stand-up comic, carried out the attack to gain notoriety.
“It is impossible to imagine that he did this without knowing that it would attract huge, probably worldwide, publicity, his assault on Mr Murdoch,” he said.
“He must have known that, he must have intended to be seen in the context of having had the courage to do what he did and to assault this – I put it in inverted commas – ‘wicked newspaper owner’.”