He faced the court defiantly in his dark blue suit, charged with callously and flagrantly disregarding the fundamental human rights of the defenceless. The footsoldiers in his organisation had, it was alleged, acted on his orders with calculated cruelty to attain their ends. There were suggestions that he might not even be taking the court seriously. And was that the ghost of a smile on his lips?
So much for Slobodan Milosevic. But how was Piers Morgan getting on in the High Court? Before Naomi Campbell resumed her occasionally tearful and, yes, fragrant session in the witness box of Court 13, the Mirror editor had been bullish about the prospect of his own impending cross-examination.
But first he was keen to identify Times journalist Tim Reid, who had compared unfavourably his attire with that of the immaculately dressed Campbell. Unfortunately, his ire was rather undermined by the fact he’d had a little local difficulty in the collar region.
Much had been made of the clothes Campbell had been wearing during her two days giving evidence. Apparently, such things are important. For the record, then, Morgan took the stand dressed in a Paul Smith suit, Church’s shoes, cufflinks from Tiffany and a Gucci watch. The delicate scent that had drifted across the press bench during Campbell’s cross-examination was, sadly, missing. He had thought about dabbing some of the supermodel’s branded perfume behind his ears but had thought better of it.
Back at Mirror HQ bets were being taken on how many times Morgan could get Mr Justice Morland to assist him with his documents – as the judge had done in front of a courtful of raised eyebrows when Campbell had been in the witness box on the first day.
Morgan was also hoping, he said, to get the "gagometer" going during his clashes with Campbell’s counsel. And early on, he produced one from the top drawer. "If you go into Hannibal Lecter’s cage," he told the court of Campbell’s dealings with the media, "eventually you’re going to get a nibble on the back of the neck." He also managed to grab an opportunity to trash an old enemy: "If I spent all my time correcting inaccuracies in The Guardian I’d be up all night."
But thereafter his gagometer’s readings were kept at ‘low’ by the withering style of Andrew Caldecott QC, who apparently could barely bring himself to even look at the tabloid editor in front of him. Instead, he spent most of an increasingly chilly exchange addressing a spot on the wall above the judge’s right shoulder.
Before he went on, Morgan had wondered whether this was going to be easier or harder than appearing on Question Time. Now he knows. David Dimbleby never treated him like that.
By Ian Reeves