If only someone could invent a way of eavesdropping on Rupert Murdoch's voicemail messages, or hacking into Wendi Deng's emails, or even finding a public official who was happy to be bribed.

Then the world might learn just what it is that caused the 82-year-old billionaire to file for divorce from his formidable 44-year-old wife.

But, in the absence of these aids, the world is left with continued and ever more fanciful speculation, much of it fuelled by the teasing claim from the BBC's Robert Peston that the reason for the break-up was "jaw-dropping". No one yet seems to have the slightest idea what he could have meant by this (least of all himself, apparently).

It has been left to the planet's Twitterati to indulge their favoured activity: debating with profound ignorance the private lives and motives of people they've never met. We are forced to rely on the few crumbs falling from the tables of people who might actually know something.


Such as the News Corp insider who said that the leak of the impending divorce took Murdoch by surprise, almost as much surprise, in fact, as did the revelations some years ago in the Wall Street Journal of his wife's chequered history with older men. (When barely out of her teens she so beguiled the 50-year-old husband of the couple who brought her to America that he began an affair with her, was booted out of house and home, married the young Deng, and then, less than six months later, found himself being cuckolded.) The cooling of Murdoch's octogenarian ardour is not - according to his biographer, and, by hearsay, his son Lachlan - a sudden development.

The formal word was that the "irretrievable breakdown" had occurred over the past six months, but it may have been much longer in gestation than that.

Lachlan Murdoch, reportedly, has told several people that his father had long since concluded that marrying Deng was "a mistake". And the tycoon's biographer Michael Wolff has said that, when he was regularly meeting Murdoch in 2008, the media mogul gave every appearance of not having slept at home, "but, rather, had arrived minutes before me with clothes bundled in his briefcase".

Further evidence that the split had been some time in the planning came with the swift announcement of the lawyers the pair had engaged. Hers is Pamela M. Sloan of Aronson Mayefsky & Sloan, his Ira E. Garr, who acted for Ivana Trump in her divorce from Donald.

Ivana Trump, incidentally, claimed more than was stipulated in her pre-nup agreement, a portent, perhaps, of things to come. There is, with fancy homes on most continents except Antarctica, and the tussle over not just her share of his assets, but Murdoch's future legacy for her daughters, much to argue about. Genuinely jaw-dropping it may yet become.

- Independent