So just what has the death of Kerry Packer done to relations between the Murdochs and the Packers? It would be fair to assume that relations were already quite strained when Lachlan Murdoch dobbed in James Packer at the One-Tel hearings for crying in his kitchen.

While Rupert Murdoch released a generous statement the day after Kerry Packer’s death, The Australian’s tough editorial a couple of days later took the opportunity to attack Packer’s sweetheart deals with governments of all persuasions and suggested relations were quite strained.

Then there were the very aggressive attacks by the News Ltd press on Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon and his freebies at the Packer casino in Melbourne ahead of the Betfair licence announcement. This has caused plenty of headaches for James.

But although relations appear strained at a corporate level, the rockets have not degenerated into personal matters, suggesting that a long-standing agreement to not attack each other’s families remains intact.

Who can forget the way the Murdoch press did not report James Packer’s separation from Kate Fischer in 1998? Then there was The DailyTelegraph‘s decision to pull a story on the day of James Packer’s wedding to Jodhi Meares which was going to highlight the fact that her father had not been an invited.

Piers Akerman famously wrote a column on May 6, 1997, which began as follows:

Federal Cabinet will today ease the way to give Australia’s principal pornographer, Kerry Packer, the Fairfax media empire. If the Howard government – which courageously tackled gun control despite a firestorm from angry rural constituents – stands for societal values as it stated repeatedly at last years elections, it will reject Mr Packer’s candidacy for this media prize.

This, not surprisingly, generated an abusive call from Kerry Packer to Lachlan Murdoch in which the agreement not to attack each other’s families was mentioned repeatedly. There was no repetition from anyone in the Murdoch empire and we’re still waiting for any of the Murdoch tabloids to mention the existence of Packer’s mistress, Julie Trethowan.

The Australian only did it circuitously last week but the same reporter, Caroline Overington, followed up with this soft piece on James Packer’s girlfriend, Erica Baxter, in Saturday’s paper.

Maybe this is a case of mutual assured destruction whereby the Packer and Murdoch families can have their corporate skirmishes, but both have enough dirt on the other to ensure it is in nobody’s interests to start producing uncomfortable stories about private lives. The DailyTelegraph‘s utter failure to mention the mistress would certainly seem to be a case in point. What must John Brogden think given the fiction the paper produced on page one about his so-called catalogue of sexual indiscretions?