There are rare days in the former convict city of Sydney when all the money and power in Vaucluse aren’t enough to win. Yesterday was one of those days.

In throwing out the ASIC case against the One.Tel founders, NSW Supreme Court judge Robert Austin demolished the idea that two of Sydney’s richest kids — the Packer heir James and the Murdoch heir Lachlan — were unsuspecting victims of One.Tel management in the failed telco’s boardroom.

As His Honour noted in his 3105-page judgement, James Packer gave “argumentative, and non-responsive answers, and even occasionally evasive answers” and used the words “I can’t recall” 1951 times under cross-examination in the One.Tel court case. As for Lachlan Murdoch, who under oath couldn’t “recall” 881 times, his evidence “should be treated with caution because of his poor recollection,” said the judge.

Outside the court after the judgement, defendant Jodee Rich added to the humiliation suffered by the two mogulistic families by accusing former Prime Minister John Howard of attempting to intervene to stop the One.Tel case from proceeding in 2001 via a phone call from Howard’s brother Stan to Rich’s father Steven. ”The prime minister was sending a message through Stan Howard that it was very important that I settled and didn’t defend the case,” said Rich. (Howard later denied the claim).

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History shows that money, power, media muscle, connections and a large inheritance can get you a long way in the Harbour City of the Clever Country.

But not every day.