Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Is The Family Turning on Rupert?

With perfect timing a new book has just been published by Murdoch Books- Making News by Melbourne sport's journalist Tony Wilson.

Murdoch Books is owned by Sydneysider Matt Handbury who is the son of the late Helen Handbury, Rupert Murdoch's older sister. When Sir Keith Murdoch died in 1952 he left the Adelaide Advertiser, his only newspaper to son Rupert and a small publishing firm to Helen who subsequently passed that firm on to Matt.

Matt Handbury built the company into highly successful publishers of  magazines and books selling off the magazine section in 2004 for $77M to Perth media mogul Kerry Stokes.

The London Evening Standard says Making News is a  thinly disguised novel which is highly critical of the behaviour of news-hounds in Australia and Britain

Says author Wilson : “The phone hacking scandal is right on topic for my second novel, Making  News. Phone hacking is an important part of the plot, albeit in the sense that the hacked know they’re being hacked, and deliberately spread misinformation to the tabloids in the hope of a defamation success. It’s a satire of British tabloid misbehaviour.
In the first half of the book, a young ‘weekend trainee’ learns the standard hack tricks. In the second, the trainee’s celebrity father is caught up in a sex scandal that sweeps the world, and motivates the trainee to seek revenge against his mentors. The main inspiration for the novel was a memoir by a celebrated tabloid editor.”

Matt Handbury & former wife Fiona
The diarist who penned the Standard piece says: " As a publisher, Handbury has not previously been critical of his uncle. But maybe he feels Murdoch’s days of influence and power are on the wane".

But it's been long rumoured around town that the Murdochs and Handburys aren't the greatest of friends.

Clare & Matt Handbury
The Shuttle recalls attending a party at the magnificent harbour side mansion Altona when the Handbury's owned it and asking Fiona Handbury-then married to Matt , if they would be attending the wedding of Lachlan Murdoch and model Sarah O'Hare.

"Certainly not " replied Fiona, "Matt and I are regularly forgotten when it comes to family invitations. The only one we seem to get is the annual family get-together organised by Dame Elisabeth Murdoch at Cruden Farm"

Matt and Fiona divorced in 2000 and Fiona received Altona as part of a divorce settlement promptly selling it for $29M to publisher Deke Miskin (it's currently on the market for a reported $60M).
Fiona-now the Countess of Dartmouth married William Legge, the 10th Earl of Dartmouth and the grandson of the legendary romance novelist Dame Barbara Cartland.

Matt Handbury married Clare Strang in 2002 and they now live in the beautiful council owned Bronte House overlooking Bronte Beach on a 50 year lease. Once a year they are obliged to open Bronte House's splendid gardens for public viewing.