A tiger wife springs into action

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 July, 2011, 12:00am


Rarely has a single volleyball blow had such an impact.

Described variously as a right hook to the head, a volleyball spike or an old-fashioned clip around the ear, Wendi Deng Murdoch's actions in literally leaping to her husband's defence in the British parliament saved the day for the embattled Murdoch clan.

During some three hours of humbling testimony, News Corporation tycoon Rupert Murdoch appeared out of the loop and his son, James, out of his depth.

Only the 42-year-old Deng, shooting daggers throughout while seated behind her 80-year-old husband, came out of the affair well.

When, towards the end of the grilling, Murdoch's assailant pounced with pie made of foam, Deng moved faster than anyone in the room, leaving both British bobbies and a flustered James floundering in her wake.

It is just as well she played volleyball in her younger days in Guangzhou. One shudders to think what might have happened if she had mastered the darker martial arts.

Her actions, of course, had a broader impact. They provided a useful diversion from what was otherwise a pretty bleak day at the office for Murdoch and son.

Contrite, and at times emotional, Murdoch senior nonetheless refused to take responsibility for the actions of his journalists or the private detectives contracted to his newspapers.

Murdoch Jnr, meanwhile, confirmed the controversial payment of private legal fees to staff convicted and disgraced at the start of the scandal.

As stunning as Deng's actions were, it will take a great deal more than a single act of resolute defence to save the Murdoch empire as its troubles mount on both sides of the Atlantic.