Trust me, I’m your friend. So said the Sun King last week after an off market raid netted him a 7.5% stake in bitter rival Fairfax. He even rang Ron Walker to reassure him his intentions were above board and publicly at least Ron is giving every indication he’s inclined to believe him.

But on Friday one of Rupert’s Australian lieutenants, editor of The Oz Chris Mitchell, launched a second raid on his new best friends at Fairfax, this time at dawn. Photographers were sent to stake out Fairfax Chairman Ron Walker, CEO David Kirk, SMH editor Alan Oakley and Age editor Andrew Japan.

The photographers had no luck with Walker but as we reported yesterday they landed their prey with pictures of a crumpled Oakley and a furtive looking Jaspan that made them appear more like fugitives than editors.

Age editor Andrew Jaspan told Crikey this morning he was caught coming into the Lonsdale Street office at about 9am after a swim:

He just stuck the camera right in my face. I didn’t know what was going on. I went straight to security. I called [Herald Sun editor] Peter Blunden who said it wasn’t him.

What’s it all about? There was no context for it. The story I guess was, we bagged 7.5% of your shares and we caught you off guard. While you were asleep in your beds, we got you.

I reckon given they got Alan Oakley at about 7am and they got David Kirk very early on his way to work. I know they had someone outside Ron’s house. If you get four people, four shifts, that’s a lot of money to spend.

Rupert and Ron spoke and Rupert said this was a friendly investment. How does that extend to dawn raids?

Good question, don’t you think? We put it to Oz editor Chris Mitchell this morning who said the decision to stake out four senior people at Fairfax was taken by an enthusiastic new picture editor without his knowledge.

But it’s nothing they wouldn’t do to us, he said.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW