What a difference a Deng makes

Two of Britain’s most powerful men faced a barrage of questions about phone-hacking yesterday — but perhaps the woman sitting behind them was the true power behind the throne.

Rupert Murdoch and his son James put on a double act for the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the younger man’s smooth transatlantic accent complementing his father’s gravelly Aussie drawl.

But it was the glamorous woman in pink in the front row of the audience seats, between the two businessmen, that really caught the eye.

The body language of Wendi Deng, Rupert Murdoch’s third wife, during the hearing spoke more volumes than the full Oxford English Dictionary.

Crossing her arms impatiently, patting her husband on the back, giving looks that could kill, she made her feelings about the line of questioning plain.

And she was the hero of the hour when a protester threw a plate of shaving foam over her 80-year-old husband as he came to the end of his evidence.

While politicians, policemen and James Murdoch remained stunned in their seats, Deng leapt at the assailant and furiously smacked him with the paper plate he had used for his attack.

As police led the man from the room, she smiled to the other Murdoch aides before tenderly leaning over her husband and cleaning him up.

One of her husband’s most vociferous critics Tom Watson MP, was moved to remark to Murdoch senior: “Your wife has a very good left hook.”

Chinese-born Deng, 42, also played the part of Rupert Murdoch’s chief protector during the MPs’ interrogation.

At one point her hus- band became agitated and banged his hand on the table as he explained why the size of his vast media empire meant he could not be expected to know all about wrongdoing at the News of the World.

Deng leaned forward and gently tried to calm him down.

And she glared angrily at the MPs when they suggested her husband should have known what was going on in his company and done more to deal with it.

As British politicians last night queued up to bemoan the lax security afforded the Murdochs, copycat protesters might be having second thoughts about further lowering the dignity of the men facing the questioning, with Deng set to resume her post at their shoulders.

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