Rod Liddle

Rebekah Brooks takes her place in a perfect picture of modern Britain

An asphixiated badger? An obese burger eater? No, this is my Britain…

28 June 2014

9:00 AM

28 June 2014

9:00 AM

What image comes to mind when we think of Britain today? I was moved to contemplate this question after reading the Prime Minister’s inspiring treatise on British values, which seemed to involve ‘being quite nice’ and not referring to other people as kaffir and then trying to blow them up. Fair enough. I suppose — as an image of Britain, Sonny and Cher jihadis bringing their arcane and vicious sandblown squabble to the streets of London is perhaps a more modernist take on John Major’s vision of an old maid cycling to morning communion through the early morning mist.

I suppose cyclists should be somewhere in our new vision of Britain, but I don’t think they’d be on their way to communion; they’d be dressed in Lycra and self-righteousness, screaming obscenities at motorists and pedestrians. A morbidly obese chav cramming a ton of cardioburger down his vast gullet while waiting in the queue for white goods at Argos? That’s an immediately resonant snapshot, I reckon. An asphyxiated badger? A personal injury lawyer in a Porsche which has a humorous sign in the back window saying ‘My Other Car’s A Porsche’? An elderly person being abused by a cretinous thug of a nurse in an old people’s home while the victim’s offspring, inured to irony, complain to the papers about such corporate ‘neglect’? This is the thing; Britain is diverse. It could be any and all of these and a thousand more besides.

For me, though, the thing which has become defining of the country right now is the magnificent hoop-de-doodle of the politically motivated show trial, each one costing untold millions and millions of pounds and each one accompanied by a howled demand for some sort of retribution from the absolutist metropolitan elite, while the filth are shown carrying out those black plastic bags at dawn (the cameras always handily present) — and then, later, sometimes a hell of a lot later, a jury comprised of ordinary people thinking about the whole thing long and hard and almost always deciding to acquit. Trials driven by some newly discovered obsession and which get us all whipped up into a frenzy for ages — until the verdicts come through, mostly.


And usually somewhere at the heart of these trials, the slebs: the famous or just the semi-famous. It might be the octogenarian light entertainer pursued for years by claims of sexual abuse dating back four decades or so. Or it might be the younger, pristine, upstanding Christian slebs who think it wrong — on a matter of principle, mind you — that their phones may or may not have been hacked and that as a consequence of this transgression the press has to be shackled and the evil, incalculably powerful media scum what done it banged up sharpish. And yet in most cases, the juries see through these fervid demands for a kind of retributive justice, and convictions are the exception rather than the rule.

OK — Operation Yewtree nailed Max Clifford, but most of that sad procession simply had their lives ruined before either acquittal or seeing the charges dropped. And now Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor and, uh, ‘political strategist’ for David Cameron has been convicted of conspiring to hack phones, as we all suspected he might, while another former editor of the newspaper, Rebekah Brooks, has been cleared of all charges.

The jury decides the case on their view of the evidence but when all is said and done there may be those who will feel that this was overall a politically motivated show trial. That seems a little adolescent, a statement tinged with the spittle-bedecked hysteria of the conspiracy theorist. But it appears to me that these various trials — as well as that which resulted in the conviction of two of the horrible young men accused of murdering the black teenager Stephen Lawrence — were not quite a normal part of the disinterested, politically non-aligned, British judicial process. There were other forces at work; a mania and, in each case, a political agenda. I do not know either Brooks or Coulson, and have never worked for either of them. I met Rebekah Brooks once, at some ghastly media party and she seemed to be pleasant enough, if not terribly bright — but that may just have been the alcohol.

I don’t agree with hacking phones; aside from anything else it always seemed to me a form of cheating. I don’t agree with hacking computers, either — although the liberal left has managed to confect subtle distinctions between these two illegal invasions of privacy; Assange and Snowden good! Brooks and Coulson bad! My suspicion, though, is that the relentless pursuit of News International journalists and factotums was motivated more by a visceral loathing of Rupert Murdoch, who is seen by some deranged sections of the left as satanic, than any grave worries about invasion of privacy. I’ve never met Roop, either, by the way, although I do work for the bloke, I suppose.

You might hope that the acquittal of Brooks will be the final nail in the coffin of those supposed liberals who wish to limit the power of the press. Lord Justice Leveson’s findings, made when the tumult was at its height, have largely been ignored by both the newspapers and the politicians, suspected of being both unworkable and undemocratic. And yet last week one of Hacked Off’s leading lights, the comedian Steve Coogan, became a patron of the charity Index on Censorship (presumably to argue that censorship is a really bad thing unless it applies to coverage of his own behaviour). So the mania continues for a while….

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Show comments
  • right_writes

    Index on Censorship’s original founding principles state:

    “All over the world censorship is being employed as an instrument of government… Freedom of expression is not self-perpetuating, but rather has to be maintained through the constant vigilance of those who care about it.”

    – Index on Censorship magazine, 1972″

    Just like most of the spoiled left, they suspend reality if it doesn’t fit into their own personal reality map, and go on to invent their own.

    Obviously it is important to understand, just who has the freedom to express themselves, and that certainly isn’t some of the more marginal members of UKIP, but it does include the local friendly jihadist.

  • Kitty MLB

    Yes, the politically motivated show trials. Where justice is a mere
    game and . And the beautiful wild haired temptress Rebekah
    Brookes who suffered deeply due to not knowing how all these
    stories landed in her newspaper…and now friends of the poor
    little lamb say she was the real victim of phone hacking.
    As we know it all became about the shallow world of vain celebrities wishing for revenge, as well as the politically motivated.

    • Kitty MLB

      I think I must add the above was a my dark humour.
      In a court of law Mrs Brookes was found innocent, and
      I might also add treated very shabbily by the police.
      Who treated her like a terrorist.

      • TowerOfBabble

        Yes, I wonder if the over-the-top police behaviour was an attempt to look good after prior revelations about money-for-info relations between senior officers and News International staff. The greater scandal has been the way the hacks were treated (dragged through the courts) relative to the policemen caught up in this (I believe, mostly allowed to resign/pensioned off).

      • davidofkent

        The police are going over the top on other issues as well. This may be because they rarely solve any crimes and need some nice easy targets to hit to persuade us that they are useful.

      • trotters1957

        She was not found innocent, she was found not guilty.
        There is a very big difference.

        • Colin

          In the eyes of English law, they are exactly the same things. Get over it.

          • Archer Tuttle

            Get over the sham that passes for British justice. It’s a big ask

        • logdon

          No there isn’t and your flawed semantics miss the crucial term which is, ‘found’.

          There’s the difference. Not ‘is’ but ‘found’ and a world of difference.

          Whereas ‘is’ is an absolute, ‘found’ is judgemental and whether the opinion of one or a thousand is not neccessarily the truth, never mind the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

          • Andrew Morton

            What if she ‘is found’ not guilty?

          • logdon

            Come on.

        • Moriarty

          No. There isn’t.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        That`s Plod for you. They just love the soft target.

  • Tahitiholiday

    If Steve Coogan doesn’t stop it — now — I shall never watch another d9mn thing he makes or appears in.

    • AtMyDeskToday

      “Steve Coogan… I shall never watch another d9mn thing he makes or appears in.”

      After watching the recent Trip to Italy, based on that alone, I feel the same way.

      • dado_trunking

        erhm … no, that Italy series was in fact one of the best travel programmes in disguise for ages.

      • Guest

        Agree. He is a total moron.
        Off topic but do you know why Allymax was prevented
        from posting. Miss the chap that introduced me to
        Scotlands beautiful and tragic 7 day Queen.
        I hope he comes back..with a painted face and new
        poetry..he would get that 🙂

  • Tahitiholiday

    If Steve Coogan doesn’t stop it — now — I shall never watch another d9mn thing he makes or appears in.

  • AtMyDeskToday

    The CPS in England certainly seem to have adopted an approach in all cases of let’s charge *everyone* with *everything* and see how it comes out in the jury’s deliberations.

    • logdon

      Unless you’re Muslim of course.

  • Peter Stroud

    I am so pleased Rebekah Brooks was acquitted. She and her husband were treated like terrorists, by a heavy handed mob of the Met. And most intimate details of her life were dragged into the proceedings, in an attempt to tie her in with Coulson’s criminality. But real evidence was clearly missing. This country must back away from politically motivated show trials: we must not risk sinking to the level of a third rate, undemocratic little country.

    • William_Brown

      Ooops….too late.

    • MikeF

      “This country must back away from politically motivated show trials” – which means abolishing the concept of ‘racial aggravation’ because all trials with that on the charge sheet are precisley what you describe.

  • laurence

    You omitted tattoos. Every saggy-arsed, leisure wear-wearing cretin has a tattoo. I particularly like them when inscribed upon the neck: It obviates the need for conversation to identify a person as an irredeemable idiot.

    • Andrew Morton

      Went to Brighton last week-end. Tattoos-a-plenty. Also…..the huge washer earrings. Big fat discs with holes in the middle that make a whistling sound when the wind is high. Ugly and for why?

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        “Ugly and for why?”
        Just an average day in Trash Culture UK.

      • Guest

        🙂

  • Colin

    Listening to Prescott on QT last night was interesting. He seemed to have forgotten one or 2 inconvenient facts regarding the labour party’s relationship with N.I. He claims to have been strongly against it, all along. Clearly, he wasn’t that against it, as he remained Deputy PM (No, really…), until the bitter end. It’s like he wrestled with his conscience, and, his ambition and vanity won. After all, why pass up on the chance of a peerage? Even after a couple of reporters were prosecuted in 2006/2007, he put up with it all. At least Andy Coulson had the good grace to resign, as a result of that.

    • Moriarty

      To be fair to Prescott he probably didn’t know he was breathing, let alone he was “Deputy PM”.

      • Mc

        Him and his secretary were keen to see whether at least some parts of him were alive and functioning.

        • Terry Field

          The odd twitch?

          • Mc

            Can anyone remember if they did find any signs of life? Wading through Prescott’s mounds of blubber in order to find a pulse must’ve been a coronary-inducing effort for the poor secretary.

          • Wessex Man

            wasn’t his secretary babbling on about chipolatas?

          • Mc

            Do you mean she was babbling in despair like someone who is distraught that they’ll never find what they’re looking for? Guess Prescott should’ve just bought himself an extension, as advertised in those spam emails.

          • Terry Field

            She was originally looking for his brain, but, on failing to discover it, she decided to search for other organs that that played a bigger part in his political thinking.

    • Wessex Man

      well being Deputy PM entitled him to 100% discounts at the Fish & Chip Shops.

  • Chris Kimberley

    does anyone believe shes innocent, really, hundreds of phones hacked while she was senier staff then editor and she had nothing to do with it?
    puuur-lease how gullible do you think we are, shes best buddies with murdoch, cameron, osborne, blair….. of course she was going to get away with it
    The problem is that the article above is written by a tabloid hack 😉 , and we now know they are about as trustworthy as a politician.

    • Nick

      Good post.

      • Ooh!MePurse!

        Rubbish post! An evidence free rant based on supposition and prejudice. Ridcully’s post explains why.

    • Ridcully

      What you believe isn’t the point. The prosecution clearly couldn’t prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt, as is required for a criminal conviction.
      “Better that nine guilty men go freee…” as the Guardian-reading classes are so fond of saying.

      • MikeF

        Unless they are charged with a ‘racially aggravated’ offence then the Guardian line is quite different.

    • Terry Field

      The red-top press is pretty sewer-like; innocence there is relative.
      She is exposed as herself; fragrant?
      For some, maybe.

      • Wessex Man

        yep, I’ll go along with that.

    • Mc

      I haven’t followed the case, so am not familiar with its details. But evidence of guilt would most likely be obtained by following the money trail for paying the hackers. Who physically handed over the money, who accounted for the money and who authorized the payments? I can’t see how large sums of money could be doled out without relatively senior authorisations.

      I’m guessing the police work and prosecution case was so shoddy that they didn’t address basic questions like that.

      • Wessex Man

        nor have I but reckon that she got off when the men on the Jury saw her legs.

        • Mc

          Did she cross her legs like a Sharon Stone?

  • Sean Lamb

    So how does this work, Rod, do you get an email telling you to write something nice about Becca? I mean 12 good men( or women) and true have got together and decided Rebekah Brooks was too bone-headed to know how her paper was getting all these scoops and that her husband was motivated purely by the fear that her taste in lesbian porn might become public and suddenly all over the world News Limited scribes are moved to describe in heart-rending tones the ordeal of St Rebekah. while everyone not employed by News Ltd seems callously unmoved.

    I do hope you get a nice fat bonus for being forced to humiliate yourself in this way.
    http://www.smh.com.au/national/murdoch-editors-told-to-kill-whitlam-in-1975-20140627-zson7.html

    • Baron

      You don’t get it, Sean, it has FA to do with Rebekah and co indulging in hacking, if it were, there would be a queue of defendants miles long, it’s all about toeing the line of the progressives. The BBC and its mutants cannot stand any other pyramid of power than their own.

      • Sean Lamb

        I am only interested in the international coverage and although the BBC is pretty appalling, that is nothing compared with the outright identical brazen mendacity found in each and every one of News Limited mastheads.

        728 papers and every one editoralised in favour of invading Iraq.

        • Baron

          You can always not buy, read them, Sean. It’s a free country, still.

          • Sean Lamb

            Thats a bit like living in Nazi Germany and not buying the Der Voelkischer Beobdacter . Its true I don’t have to read them but unless I shut myself from the outside world altogether I can’t avoid the malign effects of their hate propaganda.

            As it is I feel obliged to read them in order to try and determine what civil war they are going to attempt to incite next.

          • Amanda

            Are you drunk? First it’s Mrs ‘Brocks’ (you wish!), and then it’s the ‘Beobdacter’, which sounds a bit like a tree in Africa but is certainly not the Munich right-wing paper to which you refer. Anyway your points are pants but that’s to be expected from the irrational.

          • Terry Field

            He thinks speaking nazi is the stuff of a Big Man.

          • Terry Field

            There was no d in it.
            grauniad or what!!!
            Julius is forgotten and needs to stay that way, old cocker!

          • Havequick

            This from the moron that comes on the NS blog and thinks he is dead clever by spelling Miliband “Billimand”.

          • Terry Field

            No moron, thickhead. The spelling Billimand denotes an appropriate lack of respect.
            SImple.
            You need help.
            Seek it; it can be found.

          • Havequick

            Seems that lack of respect is your forte when attempting to validate your argument, as illustrated this morning. Sorry I confused you for a moron when you are indeed a thickhead.

          • Terry Field

            OH dear, you cannot argue against the central point that socialism is a failed idea that had impoverished the very people it purports to serve, and has at the same time assisted in the impoverishment of the states where it holds sway, and has also degraded and corrupted the democracy that allowed it to flourish in the first place.
            SO you attempt to insult the messenger.
            You must be Greek.

          • Havequick

            Yes, funny that you didn’t answer points on another place about Thatcher’s political demise, instead going on a pre scripted repetitive rant about the death of Socialism etc. You then did nothing but push Thatcherite drivel on a left wing blog and then accused me of being a partisan idiot on an issue about drugs. You have all symptoms of a complete charlatan. Toss in a bit of Latin to make everyone think you have something upstairs, when in reality it seems like it’s programmed by Central Office. Spice it with some insults for good measure and there there you are, just another crude establishment mouthpiece. Socialism wasn’t dead enough when it came to throwing taxpayers money at the wretched banking system when it nearly brought our society to it’s knees, was it? Dubbya must have been the biggest Socialist in human history, what with him throwing taxpayers money at the American banking system at such an alarming rate. State intervention eh? Who would have thought it of Dubbya? Insulting the messenger? I think the messenger brought enough insults of his own to the table, don’t you? I thought it was “shooting the messenger”. I don’t know if the bit about me being Greek was meant as an insult but I think that being thought of as Greek is rather a compliment actually.

          • Terry Field

            You seem an idiot today – the socialist actions are the problem – irrespective of the marketing label applied to the relevant government. Bush acted as a big-state socialist, but the recipients of his taxation largesse and debt finance were the rich – even more wicked than the actions of the british Labour part.
            As for mutualising ban debts, rather than repeating the better actions of the 1930s, the socialist governments have been hard at work in destroying the future of the West irrespective of the marketing mane they apply to themselves.
            In reality we live in a corporate state that makes the efforts of Mussolini look amateurish.
            Oh dear, you sound hysterical.
            Do calm down.
            I am sure you are not so stupid as to believe all that leftie propaganda codswallop.
            Maybe you do, in which seek help; it an be found

          • Havequick

            Gosh Terry, still can’t make points without calling people idiots or saying they “need help”. Not progressed very much since our last little chat have we? I’m actually fascinated that you don’t just reserve your bile for “lefties”, you are equally unpleasant to everyone. Poor old Colonel Mustard eh? The recalcitrant Cluedo character, poor dear, din’t realise the sneering contempt that is specially reserved for people who don’t share the medieval Terry Field outlook on the world. Yes, the “socialist actions” are the problem. All those secret Marxist Lehman employees reading “Das Kapital” just before the financial crash. Coincidence, I don’t think so. Heh, heh, heh.

          • Terry Field

            You are not worth y of an apology, as you have not forsworn the evils of state socialism. You merely identify elements of the socialist corporate state.
            Recognise the extent of the evil- it is far more pervasive than you think it is.
            I accept you as not an idiot, but you MUST rid yourself of the infection.
            My view is not medieval. I recognise the corporate state for what it is.
            The Middle Ages were pleasant in comparison. We now live with a black death of the mind. All are becoming infected. Few survive to think for themselves.

          • Havequick

            “Middle Ages were pleasant in comparison”? I will absolutely take your word for that. After all I was not there to witness it. Wow, I must be evil through and through, what with me wanting bus services and utilities run for people’s needs instead of not being able to function without someone making a buck out of it. Please direct me to the nearest free market acolyte so I can get absolution for my wayward leftie heresy and turn to the way of private sector entrepreneurship so I can be set on the true path of righteousness. Incidentally you have still not fixed the caps lock button on your keyboard. It comes across that you are shouting at people to make a point.

          • Terry Field

            Pleas get this simple truth.
            You have quite properly identified the beneficial utililty of taxation redistribution from those with extra personal resources to those without, either in the form of service provision or other intervention. That is not what is the subject of criticism. The extent of debt financing to buy the votes of millions has both impoverished the future and distorted the democratic proces. Ally that to a nexus between financial institutions that strip the assets from the population and misappropriate them and the socialist politician who wants nothing other than to keep as many people as possible dependent upon the state for life itself, and you have the makings of the corporate state. We are much further down the road than that.
            I have no problem with your desire for modern utility – but if you seek a functional state then look to Germany, where balanced budgets are in the constitution, and the great parties of the centre are so close they can form a coalition – then contrast it to the horror of dysfunctionality that is the hallmark of British political and social life.
            No shouting. JUst truth.
            Another example of English foolishness.
            All health systems in the advanced countries of the world – where much better health outcomes are experienced than in the UK – have a mix of private and public supply that is available to all, and they have better funding as a result of a blend of insurance and state funding.
            But what do we hear in the UK?
            Bitter codswallop from the Labour Party about ‘privatisation’ – it is infantile, tribal, dysfunctional and plain evil in its malign results.
            I am pleased I live elsewhere and can access an excellent healthcare system.

          • MikeF

            “hate” – another word the left have abstracted from the English language, leached of meanining and turned into a fetishistic mantra intended to demonise those against whom it is directed. The proper word is ‘hatred’ – but that doesn’t lend itself to incantatory repetition as a substitute for argument.

    • Ooh!MePurse!

      I hope Rod sues you for libel.

      • Sean Lamb

        Don’t see why. I at least pay him the compliment of assuming he finds marching lock-step with the umpteen other News Ltd writers and hangers bewailing the plight of Ms Brocks this week distasteful.

    • Kitty MLB

      Good God! I know I said a few words about the flame haired
      temptress above but that’s my pixie type nature, but you mean it. She was found not guilty…are you suggesting she
      was pretending to be upset, looked genuine to me.
      Stop being so ungallant.

      • Wessex Man

        he seems a very ungallant sort to me, then he tries to pretend he buys the red tops for their journalistic views, hur hur.

    • The Masked Marvel

      Mr. Liddle wasn’t trying to be nice about Rebekah Brooks at all. He was instead, in his inimitable, roundabout, get a few digs in on pet peeves while we’re here style, criticizing what everyone except his old mates at the BBC, their celebrity luvvies, and fellow travelers at the Guardian, knew all along about the true motivations behind Leveson and Hacked Off. On this point he is correct, late to the party as he may be, and one gets the impression that the vestigial reasonable journalist still lurking deep within him is not well pleased at the state of things. One isn’t entirely sure he’s lashing out at anyone in particular, but rather at the situation, but so what?

      He’s not defending Brooks or NOW or nasty old Rupert or anything of the sort. If only he would abandon his belief that all press should be partisan, one might give him more credit for standing up for freedom of the press in this way.

  • Baron

    Excellent slicing of the current obsession to muffle the press, which has already quite voluntarily embraced self-sensorship when it comes to issues deified by the progressives.

    What irks Baron is this. Even leaving aside the border line hacking (freedom versus the need for secrecy) of Snowden at al., papers other than the NoW, lawyers, other institutions were also at it for reasons not dissimilar to those of Rebecca and friends, but there seems no desire to go after them. It appears we indeed live in an age of elasticity, the anointed decide who should get hit, the MSM hacks, the police and even the judiciary go for the kill. And you right, Rod, in this case it is the old Australian they are after. Thanks be to God for the common sense of the juries.

    • Wessex Man

      yes I was actually looking forward to throwing rotten fish at Piers Morgan in the stocks.

  • Andrew Morton

    No smoke without fire for a flaming red head.

  • philiphuw

    There are also worse crimes in jounalism than hacking. At least hackers are after the truth. What about Johann Hari, formerly of the Indy? He got caught fabricating quotes and plagiarising other people’s work. That is far, far worse. Robert Fisk (at the same organ) has also been accused of (how shall we put it?) being reliably able to come up with gripping stories on quiet news days.

  • ohforheavensake

    Oh, Rod- you sad, silly man.

    • Wessex Man

      He not sad and he’s not little, do grow up.

  • Bob339

    So Rebekkah was innocent? Wow! Who’d have thought it? Oh right! Folk who work for Murdoch.

  • rtj1211

    Dear me, you’ll be telling me next that she knew nothing about Sun journalists bunging police officers for tips, leads etc. That’s against the law too, but the little lamb is too sweet and innocent to have known anything about that.

    Screwing another editor when both were married and one had children is just a story which should be run every time the Sun tries to moralise about sex. Sauce for the goose/gander and all that.

    If there is one thing we know, it is that the Sun is not the rightful moral guardian of this nation and never will be.

    It’s a comic which should stick to being a comic and its publisher should stop trying to engage in politics in a country where he neither lives nor pays personal taxation.

    • Terry Field

      The Sun is a paragon of fine investigative journalism, and MS Brooks is an exemplar of the art of journalism.
      Praise to her name!
      Praise to the name Burdock!
      A dandelion amongst men!!!

  • John Smith

    This mobile hacking thing always deserved more inspection. Most folk did not understand the security on their phone’s and in most cases left the default code in place . Most still do, even after hackgate et al It was a student prank to ‘hack’ some unsuspecting fellow students phone. May still be .. . .

  • The Masked Marvel

    Rod, you forgot to mention McAlpine while discussing what was politically motivated. In any event, you bear some personal responsibility for all of this. If you hadn’t gotten yourself sacked from Today, Kevin Marsh would never have gotten such a prime opportunity to advance himself to eventually becoming executive editor of the BBC College of Journalism, on which strength he co-founded the entire politically motivated enterprise: Hacked Off. Which you also somehow forgot to mention.

    One also wonders if you aren’t being somewhat hypocritical here as well. After all, haven’t you said that openly partisan journalism is a more enlightened approach?

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    “I was found Not Guilty of the crimes of which I was accused.”
    Sure, Luv.

  • Sean L

    Snooping on people’s personal phone calls was considered fair game for many years. Every media outlet played tapes of Princess Di’s personal calls, or published transcripts and no one batted an eyelid.

    The game changer was the Milly Dowler case. Or rather the Guardian’s timing their revelations to coincide with the conviction of her murderer, while the gruesome details were still all over the media.

    Thus *all* such hacking was retrospectively tainted: those whose personal tittle tattle was a staple of the gossip columns acquired an otherwise inconceivable victim status denied their royal predecessors.

    And I dare say if it weren’t for the Milly Dowler case it would still be standard practice for the red tops. Then perhaps the Met could have extended their precious resources to a higher cause. Broadening the scope of Operation Yewtree perhaps . . .

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