|The News of the World was closed after its journalists faced police inquiries into phone hacking [GALLO/GETTY]
Rupert Murdoch's "humble" apology and subsequent attack by a shaving foam pie-wielding assailant dominated headlines in British papers on Wednesday, as the country continued to reel from the fallout from the News of the World phone hacking scandal.
"From humble pie to custard pie: Wendi to the rescue after Rupert tells MPs how sorry he is but doesn't feel responsible for anything" said the Daily Mail, summing up the media mogul's eagerly watched appearance in front of a parliamentary inquiry which ended with Murdoch's wife jumping to her husband's defence in front of a stunned committee room.
"In farcical scenes that were deeply embarrassing for Parliament, Mrs Murdoch, 42, grappled with a protester who had made his way unchecked through 'airport-style security'," the paper said.
"Foam whacked!" read the headline on the front of the tabloid Daily Mirror, while Murdoch-owned Sun perhaps unsurprisingly chose to focus on its owner's contrition under the headline: "The most humble day of my life".
Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian, which has spearheaded reporting into phone hacking, called the session, in which Murdoch, his son James and his former British newspapers chief Rebekah Brooks were questioned by parliamentarians, as "the best political thriller of our times".
"That fact alone was dramatic: the Wizard of Oz brought before the munchkins, forced to defend himself from the MPs he had once intimidated and disdained," Freedland wrote.
"Before the low – and contemptible – act of pantomime, the attempted foaming, this was a tableau bursting with drama, both public and curiously domestic."
But Max Hastings, writing in the Daily Mail, expressed disappointment over the committee members' failure to extract solid information from the media mogul and his son.
"The MPs asking the questions revealed themselves, almost without exception, as spineless invertebrates... Everybody concerned told us repeatedly how sorry they were about phone-hacking, but how little they knew about it."
The Independent agreed the Murdochs' inquisitors failed to put the pair under enough pressure.
"The Murdochs visibly relaxed as the hearing went on. Compared with US Congressional committee hearings, this was an amateurish show," the paper reported.
"The MPs of the select committee, with some honourable exceptions, did nothing to ensure that it would be. But the questions are not over. And Mr Murdoch's day of true humility might still be to come."
The Daily Telegraph, though, said the proceedings had been "an extraordinary day" for the British parliament.
"It demonstrated the continuing relevance of our parliament to public life. Never before can Rupert Murdoch have been put on the spot in the way he was by the MPs of the culture committee," said the paper.
"If it was ever true that Mr Murdoch wielded a spell over British politics, then it was broken in the space of three hours at the House of Commons."
But the Guardian's caustic columnist Marina Hyde was less convinced that the afternoon's events had been a dignified experience for anyone involved, commenting: "Historians may well judge the events of Tuesday to be Britain's official resignation from international life.
Comparing the pie attack with the assassination of US President John Kennedy in 1963, Hyde wrote: "We do not know if the foam-thrower who targeted Rupert Murdoch was acting alone, or if there was a second pie man on the committee room knoll.
"But if the spectacle of a pink-jacketed consort throwing herself across her under-fire husband was not history replaying itself as farce, it was certainly tragedy replaying itself as slapstick."