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Phone Hacking

with 48 comments

“To listen to your messages press 1

To listen to your messages again press 2

To save your messages press 3

To delete your messages press 4

To allow an investigator to delete your message press 5

To send your messages to a newspaper press 6”

It should not take you long to decide NOT to have this newspaper in your home this weekend!

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Written by curly

July 6, 2011 at 8:01 am

48 Responses

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  1. Hear Hear – but what about the other newspapers owned and managed by the same group?


    July 6, 2011 at 8:41 am

    • Yes, why not?
      Newscorp and News International have an awful lot of questions to answer, neither would it surprise me to learn that other newspapers may have allegedly used the same tactics for uncovering information. Other alleged ways of obtaining information appear to be equally questionable.

      It emerged last night that NI had passed internal emails to Scotland Yard suggesting that payments were made to police by NOTW staff during the editorship of Andy Coulson between 2003 and 2007. The BBC reported that the documents appear to show that Mr Coulson, former spokesman of David Cameron, approved the alleged payments.


      July 6, 2011 at 9:13 am

      • Curly, you can’t really mean to urge a boycott of the Sun!!! There’s no way it should be tarnished with the NOTW brush. The latter offended journalistic ethics (is that an oxymoron?) and legal prohibitions in its investigative work whereas, I understand – never having bought or read it, the Sun only invents its stories, so it doesn’t need to snoop.

        More in earnest, I wouldn’t mind witnessing the collapse of the News Corp edifice around Rupert Murdoch’s ears. The latter, described by Christopher Hitchens as “… that sultan of sleaze and titan of trash…” and “… the most deft practitioner yet evolved in the art and science of blending the known requirements of populism to the immediate needs of the elite …” , has contributed to ever-lowering standards of newspaper outputs, despite his acquisition of ‘quality’ newspapers.

        Of one thing we may all be confident, there’s much more dirt to emerge from the News Corp and News International stables – provided, of course, that the NOTW payments to the police won’t hinder or comprise the investigative process.

        I wonder, how – if they haven’t already done so – will the police account for payments received from the NOTW?

        Michael Peel

        July 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm

      • Wow, a coming of age for Ed Milliband in PMQs. I think he ran circles around Cameron in what is his best performance yet. The point made about showing leadership over this press scandal and the issue of BSky Bs powerful position that labour have urged for some time to be forwarded to the Competition Commission is a case of chickens comimg home to roost. The governments response to the publics genuine concerns in relation to the 7/7 victims, Millie Dowlers parents, and other crime victims was woefully inept. This should never have been an area for party politice and Milliband tried to keep it objective. cameron made ot a party political issue and I also noticed his hands shaking badly. Well done Ed standing up for what every right minded citisen would support. A very poor display of leadership or an understanding of public feeling over this issue by Cameron who was clearly defeated by the logical presentation of Milliband who presented well.


        July 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm

  2. Kevin can you remind us of which year the NOTW first published a story based on a phone hack?
    Are you seriously suggesting that the current government’s “leadership” on this issue is so much worse than the last, of which young Miliband was a senior member?


    July 6, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    • Perhaps the police enquiry may answer your first point – they (the NotW) haven’t been quick in coming forward to admit these things so it could have been going on for years. What I am suggesting is that Ed Milliband, not noted for his strong performances at PMQs, performed well today. He highlighted the dangers of media moguls who can easily have a monopoly and how this can, or may, adversly impact on the quality and ethics of the media, particularly news media. There are the implicit connections between News International and BSkyB – thus there is the greater question of the ethics of the production of media coverage overall. I can of course comment on the current leadership shown because, A – the hacking of Millie Dowlers phone, 7/7 victims phones etc were not made public intil this week. B – It is this governments leadership that is under debate, not the last. Whilst Cameron supports the process of a police enquiry there is little respect for the quality of the Metropolitain Police enquiry, there is far more can be done in the interim. Curly, try to look beyond party politics on this one, again we are talking about real people who are being hurt by the activities of others, don’t defend bad political decisions that hurt and harm people please try to connect with your more caring side. I have worked with victims of crime, as you know, and they will be watching how the government cares for them and supports them on this issue, it is only right that the government is held to account for such issues.


      July 6, 2011 at 1:40 pm

      • Having listened to some of the House of Commons debate this afternoon on the radio it is clear that the Prime Minister is enjoying all party support for his stance in calling for a full public inquiry into the allegations. It was not I who introduced ANY party politics into this discussion, furthermore I don’t see ANY bad political decisions being taken that hurt any of the victims of these alleged malpractices.

        I do however disagree on your assertion that Ed Miliband has started to show some true leadership, on the day that a special debate was to take place I see him guilty of pure posturing and opportunism. Similarly I suspect that the revelation from News International that they had made payments to the police may well have been made to shift the focus away from their operation simply because it was due to be the focus of political attention today. We should remind ourselves that the NOTW started publishing stories based on hacked voicemails as long ago as 2005, and that Rupert Murdoch was in regular contact with Gordon Brown’s government.after shifting his support away from the Tories to Tony Blair, perhaps someone ought to remind Ed Miliband of his five years of reticence!

        One silver lining on this dark cloud might be the reluctance of Ofcom to agree that News Corp is a fit and proper body to take over BSkyB.


        July 6, 2011 at 6:50 pm

  3. Some of us, yourself included, have empathised with the “victims” of Mr M; I have even “floated” the idea of there possibly being grounds for a criminal investigation of said blogger(s), but, to date, no lawyer has commented upon the viability or otherwise of this. The hacking of phones of real undisputed crime victims, if proven, should make the perpetrators and conspirators therein subject to rigorous specialised Police investigation, and, if caught, they should face very serious criminal charges as well as civil claims.Whenever a public sector organisation is caught out in some negligence or inappropriate behaviour, the media hue and cry is sack the CEO, sack the Director, sack the Minister…


    July 6, 2011 at 4:07 pm

  4. Surely hackinginto the mobile phone voicemails of the victims of crimes amounts to an alleged interference with potential evidence in a criminal investigation, and, as such, could the CPS/Police be looking at investigating alleged attempts to pervert the course of justice?


    July 6, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    • I would argue at a push perverting the course of justice, definetly obstructing the police but this rises above the criminal law and hits at the heart of what justice is all about. If I was a betting man I would see new criminal offences emerging from this sad episode.


      July 6, 2011 at 8:43 pm

  5. Curly ‘Are you seriously suggesting that the current government’s “leadership” on this issue is so much worse than the last, of which young Miliband was a senior member?’ this together with a push by you at driving the current issue into the arms of a government which has not been in power for over a year suggests a defensive and political mode. My comments were geared towards the thrust taken by Milliband in support of what most of us will feel – utter disgust at the use of such manipulation by so called journalists. There is no doubt that the events of ‘this’ week have pushed the issue into a ‘new’ arena. It is no longer about celebs or footy players but the lives of innocent families. I am suggestig that victims will wish to be reassured at this time and will want to vent their fury at the happenings. They would have hoped that the PM would also have been more enthusiastic on the issue. I do appreciate that Mr Cameron is in a difficult position particularly in respect of the employment by him of his former staff of the NotW. I would have expected more from the PM – he had little choice but to advocate an enquiry. Not sure he has done much more! But as I say I noted his shaking hands he may be under some pressure at the moment perhaps that will explain it.


    July 6, 2011 at 8:58 pm

  6. Enquiries? Investigations? By whom? I hope that it will not be the police – allegations have already been made about their relationship with NI. I look forward to someone uncovering the truth about this alleged episode. I feel that public opinion will dictate that not only the uncovering of the truth in all this sorry mess needs to happen but also that perpetrators are brought to justice and if found guilty are severely punished. I am sure that in the long term, something will turn up to help to restore our faith in our Society. In the meantime, not a single copy of the NOTW should be sold this week end.

    Mr Micawber

    July 6, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    • I fuly agree, the Met have lost the just cause on this one and the matter should have been investigated by a more reputable outside force. It is clear that Met officers have been accepting monies to divulge issues that were not intended for the public domain, clear cases of corrupt practices. But I would urge people to consider that whilst the NotW is the headline paper in this sorry mess, they are part of a larger organisation who should not be allowed to expand their power base until this mess has been resolved. These type of practices will have been known about at the top, how can you not edit a paper and ot know where your sources originate. Good to see Labour and Conservative MPs on the TV this moring disscussing the issue in harmony and expressing their horror at the feelings victims and their families haev and are enduring, I include the families of our fallen military in that class. This is an issue that could end up being as big as the MPs expenses fiasco – at least on this occassion I hope it leads to longer term confidence in our media many of whom simply should not be tarred with the brush of phone hacking.


      July 7, 2011 at 8:52 am

  7. Curly, I do not think Kevin was attempting to introduce a note of partisanship into this discussion.

    I can’t comment on Ed Miliband’s performance at PMQs earlier today, as I have not yet seen the exchanges between him and David Cameron. While David Cameron is capable of polished dispatch box performances, there has been a a general feeling that EM has yet to come good. Maybe today he did.

    Please, let’s move towards a non-partisan approach to this very important matter. When the complained of acts occurred is less important than how they are dealt with now that they have come to light.

    The PM’s readiness to agree an inquiry, or inquiries in tandem, carries all-party support. Good! That backbench Labour MPs were generously credited across parties for exerting continuing pressure to help bring the recent revelations about NOTW activities is also to be welcomed.

    Sure, Blair sycophantically ingratiated himself with Murdoch, much to the concern of many in the Labour Party. Previously, Mrs Thatcher and Mr Major enjoyed – and now Mr Cameron enjoys – RM’s patronage. But this isn’t about tit-for-tat, it is about how revered and all-powerful he appears to be to some leading politicians.

    Why on earth would any politician allow themselves to be held in thrall by the owner of two of the most prurient and scabrous newspapers produced in this country? Subterranean standards of journalism, tackiness, sensationalism, titillation, trivia, fixation on celebrity, gross intrusiveness and indifference to balanced reporting are the hallmarks of the Sun and NOTW. Further, under his ownership, the Times and Sunday Times fail to match the quality they offered over thirty years ago.

    Quite clearly, those advocates of the self-regulation of the press need to rethink, not just on account of the Murdoch press, but because of the dreadful standards of some other newspapers too.

    While no-one wants to see the press muzzled, most students of the media view the Press Complaints Commission as being ineffectual. It needs to be replaced with a body that is given stronger legal status and regulatory powers to enforce a revised and strengthened code of press conduct, a code that carries heavy, though appropriate, sanctions/fines against newspapers in breach.

    Overall, devising a framework for the press to operate within may require the drafting skills of lawyers but, hopefully, their task will be made easier by an all-Party, non-partisan political approach to implementing the recommendations of one or more thorough and impartial inquiries.

    Importantly, as one Conservative MP said this afternoon, referring to the anguish caused to the Dowler family by the NOTW’s private detective’s erasure of messages on Milly Dowler’s mobile, if we are so upset by that we shouldn’t buy the offending paper(s). Which is where this thread started – and which is the most powerful sanction the public has.

    Michael Peel

    July 7, 2011 at 12:09 am

    • How did the manipulations of Murdochs empire affect the outcome of the last general election? It is now evident that a host of labour ministers were subject to blagging by a variety of rightwing papers over a decade. What impact did their revelations via criminal methods have on public opinion and the election result. An important issue when one considers that there was no overall winner!


      July 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm

      • Interestingly there are, as yet, apparently no reports of blagging, hacking etc re David Cameron. The manipulative power of he press is evident at our micro level, no mention of MR M nor the hunt for the blogger(s) thereof either locally or nationally for several weeks, so it has gone eerily quiet on that subject. Note the apparent complete lack of national media interest in the good news of local boy done (very) good, Joe Mcelderry, as opposed to their willingness to expose and comment upon puerile, talentless tweetings.On that subject there seems to be no let up, and we appear to be seeing an embryonic Chimp scenario developing…


        July 12, 2011 at 7:42 am

  8. Hypocrisy is a word that springs to mind; newspapers taking a high moral tone when purporting to report the failures and foibles of others, whilst indulging in morally, if not legally indefensible practices allegedly invading the privacy of “victims” and some very vulnerable and distressed individuals. Michael is right about the readership boycotting the offending newspapers; my advice is buy local “The Journal”, “The Gazette”, “The Northern Echo” et al.


    July 7, 2011 at 7:27 am

    • Also hoping that major advertisers continue to join the list of those reconsidering doing business with the NOTW.
      (Back to the laptop again today, the monitor has finally expired, hoping my friendly reader checks his email today!)


      July 7, 2011 at 10:33 am

  9. Just thinking about offences that were nearly committed that may need some form of amendment. One that springs to ind is ‘Assisting an Offender’ sec 4 Criminal law Act 1967. This would apply to the phone hacker of M Dowler except for the need to prove intent. Intent is always an issue for the police to prove or at least present to ensure the CPS will proceed. This is more so the case as intent is subjective and held in the mind of the offender, but may be evidenced by their actions. An amendment to this law would be helpful for example to show that they intended or were ‘reckless’ as to whether they impeded an offenders apprehension or prosecution.
    Consideration should also be made of making an aggrivated form of Section 48 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 to increase the penalty.
    Similarly perverting the course of justice – what was the intent – I would argue that if the intent was to pervert the course of justice by deleting voice mails than you have the offence. I guess that the real intent was either to find out information or by deletion of the message to cover the Private Investigators tracks so I don’t think the offence would easily apply here.
    Very often there are laws available but they are not pursued as often as they could be, there has been much debate on this site over the legal issues surrounding defamation (monkey etc.) however I feel that the police will look very closely at the current issue. Moreso as it appears that their original investigation was inept. I still feel that new legislation needs to come out of this – our fast changing world of internet / mobile communications needs to be addressed new laws for new times and circimstances. I hope that the enquiry/s will lead to such moves.


    July 7, 2011 at 4:51 pm

  10. NoTW to close, it will publish its last edition on Sunday (this from BBC News website)


    July 7, 2011 at 5:21 pm

  11. Good news about NOTW. One down, one to go.

    Michael Peel

    July 7, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    • That came as a shock!
      It certainly was not what I might have expected and it does not resolve much either.
      200 journalists who probably had no involvement in phone hacking may or may not be offered other positions within the group, for some it could mean as loss of work. Yet the Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks, who delivered the shock news to them and was NOTW editor during the worst period of outrageous phone hacking, keeps her job!
      I guess with so many companies abandoning the NOTW for their advertising, most of the revenue was disappearing quick, so a cynical and ruthless decision was take to close the 168 year old title, I will be extremely surprised if we DO NOT see a Sun on Sunday very shortly.
      The police investigation will not be blown off course, indeed it is likely to intensify, and the civil actions being pursued by hundreds of victims will also not be affected by today’s news. Perhaps the decision to close may have been taken to safeguard the bid to takeover BSkyB, but surely even this government will now want to stand well back from that decision and allow the appropriate bodies to come to their conclusions after the police investigation has concluded.
      Further pressure on David Cameron focussing attention on his judgement for employing Andy Coulson as his media guru will mount, and we can expect Ed Miliband and Labour to continue down the path they set off on a year or more ago in this respect. The Prime Minister will likely rebut all allegations that he knew much at all about Coulson’s involvement in the phone hacking affair, especially as he had already been before a Commons Select Committee before his appointment to No. 10.
      I don’t suppose charities will be rubbing their hands in glee this weekend either, I don’t see many buyers for the red top this Sunday.

      (Working a new monitor right now, and I’m having awful difficulty getting the right gamma setting to use when editing my pictures, the gamma adjustment on the NVIDIA video card just doesn’t seem to cut the mustard, so I’m about to try the Quick Gamma Loader software and see if that can do the job within the sRGB workspace, I must match it to Windows 2.2 gamma.)


      July 7, 2011 at 7:59 pm

      • A good ploy by News International to attempt to ensure their purchase of BskB! This is a typical capitolist economic strategy that will put printers, journalists, administrators secretarial staff etc. out of work. A case of baby out with the bath water the NotW had 3m readers they could end up being lost (not switching to other papers) and those innocent workers have now been penalised for the deeds of the few, so no rejoicing from me.
        I’m sure we can see throuigh this strategy.
        I do want to suggest something though, if I was the Prime Minister and I was to seek to employ someone in the heart of Downing Street I would have ensured that all security and ethical checks had been made on anyone I employed. Coulson resigned I suggest because he knew what may lie ahead.
        When Labour were in power those with alternative views made every effort to point out missdeeds, bad decisions, poor leadership etc and pour scorn on them. The realiyty is Curly, that unless political leaders are squeaky clean they are also subject to this scrutiny. The criticism aimed at the last government when cross party issues such as expenses were aired landed mostly at the feet of the incumbent government it had to as they were the ones in power even thougfh it was a cross party issue. This is why when in power decisions and image become important. Cameron and the ConDems have made many mistakes and it is for this government to show and prove that it can problem solve some of these issues, they are still young (in office) and we all hope that they mature quickly, these are difficult times to have immature leaders. So I hope Cameron steps up to the mark soon. I feel he has misjudged the current public concerns that have been raised. He needs to up his game, I feel another u (or at least L) turn coming up.


        July 7, 2011 at 8:23 pm

  12. A former NOTW journalist interviewed on Sky News this evening revealed that among his colleagues the paper was referred to as “The News of the Screws”.

    That revealing, in-house soubriquet, allied to the lawlessness into which the paper sunk from the 2000 on, means that I am unable to lament its imminent passing; moreso having favoured a boycott of that paper.

    One can, of course, sympathise with those who were given the news that they are shortly to be out of work – and especially those who played no part in those matters causing so much anger and concern.

    Except for Rebekah Brooks and perhaps a few others, many of those told that they are to be sacked were not even employed by the paper at the time the apparent crime spree was underway. As others have been quick to point out, she should have been the first to go. In this case the buck stops, it would seem, with those unconnected with the paper’s tawdry malpractices.

    Doubtless, having arranged for the delivery of the severed head of the NOTW, News International will quickly seek to regroup and is clearly attempting to cool public concerns about NOTW misdemeanours. Additionally, NI can save money by running a Sun on Sunday and it will hope that its takeover bid of BskyB will be viewed in a more favourable light.

    The current focus on Brooks, Rupert and James Murdoch and the NOTW is likely to shift to David Cameron if, as the Guardian claims, former NOWT editor Andy Coulson is arrested tomorrow.

    Coulson may turn out to be David Cameron’s Suez. Appointed amid concerns and criticism in 2007, the PM persisted with his Director of Communications until the latter’s resignation on the 21st January this year. (The same day Blair appeared before the Chilcott Inquiry – a good day for burying bad news?) The PM’s judgement in this matter is bound to be put under the microscope.

    And this is not simply a case of the Left putting the Right on trial. Peter Oborne*, a highly respected Conservative columnist, has already fired off about the PM being too cosy with Murdoch, Brooks and News International.

    While appreciating that there should be no presumption of guilt should Andy Coulson be arrested, were he to be charged and convicted of criminal offences, it would be difficult for David Cameron to survive. It seems that NOTW tremors may yet register on the Richter scale.

    * Oborne’s “The Rise of Political Lying” a good expose of, mainly, New Labour dishonesty.

    Michael Peel

    July 7, 2011 at 11:07 pm

  13. Cameron did quite well at todays press conference sticking to the brief he had undoubtably been given and avoiding answering any specific questions. I’ve always said he is good in front of a camera, but his poor decision making over the employment of A Coulson was evident and of course we all know he has personal friendships with Brooks and Murdoch etc. Whats the old saying, ‘Lie down with the dogs…’ Cameron has taken three days since question time to eventually accept that enquiries are needed but it looks as if only one of them will be led by a judge. Not good enough in my opinion. Plus some unhelpful suggestions about Blair and the last government as he said, ‘these events are on his watch’. This has been a hard first year for the Condems who have proven to be poor decision makers, have unclear policies (partly due to a difficult coalition relationship) who continually do u-turns, and will have had an ikpact with their approach to the economy and redundancies etc. But this is our government, we are stuck with them for now, one only hopes that public opinion may sway some of their approaches and that they will learn from mistakes and attempt to be more professional and work in the interests of the country.


    July 8, 2011 at 1:57 pm

  14. The PM’s press conference today was, in part, impressive for the mea culpa statement he made concerning the appointment and retention of Andy Coulson – and he will win sympathy for such forthright honesty and the complete absence of dissembling. It was admirable.

    Will it cut the mustard with Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and the media more generally?

    Perhaps not, both he and Nick Clegg were warned by Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian, before the last general election, about taking Coulson into Government and of the risks involved.

    Earlier today the Daily Mail was demanding that the PM apologise for his lack of judgement in this respect. The most devastating charge list appeared in Peter Oborne’s column in the Daily Telegraph yesterday. Entitled: “David Cameron is in the sewer because of his News International friends”, Oborne is unremitting in his criticism of the PM’s membership of the Chipping Norton set, whose membership includes his neighbour, Rebekah Brooks and PR fixer Matthew Freud, married to Murdoch’s daughter, Elisabeth.

    Wrote Oborne: “Mr Cameron allowed himself to be drawn into a social coterie in which no respectable person, let alone a British Prime Minister, should be seen dead”.

    Cameron’s vulnerability, Coulson apart, is that he has been muted on the position of Rebekah Brooks. That she should resign is obvious, accounting for her position at the time of the NOTW crime-wave. Said Oborne: “It may well be dangerous for David Cameron to ditch Mrs Brooks. She may have acquired a great deal of information about him and the senior members of his cabinet, both at those quiet Chipping Norton dinners and quite possibly through other, nefarious means. Mrs Brooks is cornered and liable to strike out. But that is a risk the Prime Minister must take”.

    David Cameron is said to have held several secret meetings with Rupert Murdoch, the details of which, Oborne insists, should be made public.

    For good measure, Oborne added: “The burning question now is whether US tycoon Rupert Murdoch – whose journalists have shown such contempt for ordinary decency – is a fit and proper person to own any British publicly quoted company, and whether it is not time that his media organisation should be forcibly broken up.”

    It’s doubtful that an indictment penned by a Left wing journalist could be more critical and scathing than Oborne’s column yesterday.

    Plainly, Mr Cameron is not out of the woods yet.

    Michael Peel

    July 8, 2011 at 4:06 pm

  15. Reading the Press Complaints Commission Editors Code of Practice one wonders why these practices were ever allowed or authorised. Does the NUJ have a code or guidelines for ethical practice? Perhaps it is ignored as much as the codes of practice and ethics for councillors appear to be.


    July 8, 2011 at 5:21 pm

  16. Is Cameron concerned about what his “friends in the press” might reveal about him and his cohorts, he should be, look what a thorough and professional job of revealing their inner workings Andrew Rawnsley did in his two books about Brown, Blair and New Labour, and, noone, to my knowledge, has accused AR of unethical information gathering, just solid,painstaking investigative journalism. Years ago I made the fatal mistake of dropping my guard in the presence of a journalist at a social occasion,then I was quoted in the press, then disciplined by my employer, quite rightly, I had no viable defence or mitigation. I note that noone is criticising the cost of or use of police resources in this investigation, and quite rightly so, we are all sickened by what has allegedly gone on and the distress being caused to potential targets of the hacking, or their surviving families and friends. But it is important to bear in mind whether you blog, hack or tweet, once you target someone, the potential to cause distress and disruption of their lives is unlimited, the “virtual reality” assault can cause more lasting damage than the proverbial punch on the nose or jaw.In conclusion, the NOTW has campaigned against and exposed criminal activity, and we should reflect upon the fact that every Police Officer assigned to this investigation, is one less available to deal with the kind of criminal behaviour rightyl exposed by the press, and that every pound spent in furthering this investigation is one diverted from the already diminished budget of the Met Police, wonder what” accountability Pickles” would have to say about that.


    July 9, 2011 at 7:42 am

    • Another unhealthy aspect of this scenario is the attempt to swipe the flies away by Cameron, and this morning by the Deputy Chairman of the Conservatives, by constantly refering to ‘Brown had an enquiry but wasn’t strong enough to take it forward, we are’ and ‘This started during the last governments reign and they did nothing’. This is disgusting behaviour designed to remove some of the supertrooper glare aware from Cameron. Yes, he does have rich friends who I don’t particularly rate (Brooks, Murdoch, Coulson), yes he didn’t deal with the issue particularly well at OPMQs. But, he should put himself above this and give some professional lead. No one would suggest that Cameron has been hacking the phones of the dead, so instead of saying that the Labour government whio set up the select committee and instigated a police enquiry, did nothing is wrong. The reality is that the current disgust because of crime victims and military personnel who gave their lives being attacked moved the issue into a whole new scenario. The difficulty is that Cameron is too close to some of the key players, he is their friend, and at one time employer. All he had to do was say ‘I made a mistake about Coulson’ and the current scenario has come on ‘my watch’ and I will ensure that cross party support is gained into any enquiry, and these will be judicial’. Bottom line he didn’t – in effect he has now put himself under more pressure than he needed to. I also hear on the news today that this story is making all the headlines around the world – what does that do for the reputation of our country. Curly, I’m not aiming to make any form of gain here however when on the 6th you said, ‘Are you seriously suggesting that the current government’s “leadership” on this issue is so much worse than the last, of which young Miliband was a senior member?’ – well yes, I am. So is everybody else – why, because the circumstances are different.


      July 9, 2011 at 8:42 am


    Rawnsley’s ‘Servants of the People’ and the ‘End of the Party’ delved into New Labour from its inception almost to its denouement last year. One of the things highlighted in the earlier volume was that the Modernisers (Blair, Brown, Mandelson, Campbell and Philip Gould (author of the ‘The Unfinished Revolution’, a definitive account of the formation of New Labour) were obsessed with image and the belief that they had to refashion the Labour Party to win over some of the press, otherwise the ‘Party would forever remain in opposition.

    While Blair ‘s feet-kissing of Murdoch is hardly excusable, David Cameron’s advances towards the same press Lord are even less pardonable because the default position of most newspapers, (including, of course, the Murdoch press) is to support the Conservative Party.

    Further, there was no compelling reason for Cameron to re-enact the same genuflecting courtship dance around Murdoch that Blair performed because several newspapers that had earlier supported ‘Labour were withdrawing what limited support they had given and were doing so well before the last election.

    The lessons learned from Blair’s smooching with Murdoch ought to have have served as a caution to Mr Cameron. Rather than ape Tony Blair, which appears to be exactly what he’s done, he had the opportunity – and failed – to follow a more ethical trajectory. His decision to take Andy Coulson into Government now appears to be an early sign of his ‘Blair’ intent and a display of his Murdoch club membership credentials.

    Labour was punished for its moral shabbiness at the last election. Certainly, the financial crisis, Iraq and the Brown factor were telling vote-losers, but sleaze and LP in-fighting deterred millions of Labour Party supporters from voting.

    Having chosen to repeat Blair’s sucking up to Murdoch, is David Cameron to be trusted when he says that “the music has stopped” and a different relationship with the media is now to be formed?

    Several factors lead to a negative answer:- a) his harking back to New Labour’s failings is a sign of desperation and of his political insolvency when it comes to explaining or justifying his own conduct; b) the realisation that this is what Cameron got up to in his first year of office and c) the disappointment for people, irrespective of party allegiance, who hoped that much of the murkiness and Realpolitik died with the defeat of New Labour. Maybe “the music has stopped” for now, but one can’t help but feel that David Cameron will quickly find a new partner to shimmy with. Incidentally, anyone doubting just how bad things were inside New Labour should make a point of reading the Rawnsley books.

    The public has Nick Davies and Alan Rusbridger, of the Guardian, and a few solicitors representing clients taking on the NOTW, to thank for their persistence and their contribution to opening up this scandal. Those newspapers now joining the bandwagon and who were at times critical of the Guardian’s doggedness in this matter ought now to be as vigorous, as questioning and as vigilant as the NOTW outrages merit. The media more generally must ensure that the two inquiries are not the means by which issues of the first importance are gently shunted into the sidings.

    Thus far only individuals employed by the NOTW have been prosecuted for criminal offences. And while News International has accepted civil liability in some hacking cases, one wonders about the possibility of criminal proceedings being brought in respect of NI’s corporate liability now that it is known that thousands of phones were hacked – perhaps systemically.

    One welcome, if unintended, consequence of this scandal is that it has helped, for now at any rate, to reduce the malign influence of the Murdoch empire on the conduct of politics in this country.

    Michael Peel

    July 10, 2011 at 9:43 am

    • It appears that Ed Milliband is threatening to force a commons vote unless the government postpone the sale to Murdoch. Why Cameron doesn’t save some embarressment and postpone it is strange, he is already used to u-turns. If it does go to a vote the LIbDems will vote with Labour so the story goes on and it is time for Cameron to wake up and in effect abandon his rich lifestyle and friends for the benefit of the nation and justice.
      Is this a class thing? Is this a nepotism issue? Is it purley a capitolism issue? Surely Cameron must see what damage is being done to his stature and that of the conservatives, or is the reality that he hopes this story will die down?.


      July 10, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      • Some private sector enterprises whether they be building or journalising will inevitably “hang themselves” if left virtually unregulated. Wealth is created, some income is taxed, and, to a certain extent it is true, that it “pays the wages” of the public sector, regrettably, in doing so, paying for those essentail to regulating and investigating the activities of certan elements of the private sector rather than for more doctors, nurses, care workers etc. The NOTW will,in the informed opinion of some, arise like a voluptous page 3 pheonix in some future Sunday incarnation, so hopefully those blameless and professional NOTW reporters, editors and staff will be reengaged/employed. My experience of regulatory services was that certain business enterprises wouldcut corners, push, bend then ultimately break the law of the land, or ignore good practice, disregarding advice given free of charge by those whom they called “jobsworths” and meddling bureaucrats.


        July 10, 2011 at 5:09 pm

      • Hi Kevin,

        This thread may not have gone the way some envisaged, but it’s the oxygen of publicity and debate that has moved things on to reveal that Cameron has shown a serious error of judgement, that NOWT offending was on a massive scale and that this issue is much bigger than the MP’s expenses scandal.

        It may be that oxygen deprivation already affects most noticeably those trying to blame the last Government for failing to deal with the NOWT scandal and who invite us to succumb to stupor when NOTW’s greasy tentacles appear to reach into the heart of the present Government.

        In Henry Porter’s excellent Observer column today he says that a year ago he wrote of the Murdoch clan as being a “crime family”. How apposite, given the open acknowledgement that some British police officers were on the family payroll!

        May I suggest that you might enjoy reading this article. It’s on line, via the Guardian Unlimited website, and is entitled somewhat off-puttingly: “Over more than three decades, no one dared question the perversion of politics by and for Rupert Murdoch”.

        Michael Peel

        July 10, 2011 at 8:27 pm

  18. OFF THE POINT; have actually gleaned some useful information from the sniping all night local twitterati, confirmation that there was a major power cut in the area during the early hours of this am. Perhaps the local grid was adversely affected by the bile in the world of “virtual reality”; Andrew Rawnsley might care to focus his analytical investigative talents upon the ST twitterings…


    July 10, 2011 at 10:28 am

    • A longer power cut in closely defined areas may well be the for the best!
      I think a little oxygen deprivation may give us all some relief in the virtual world.


      July 10, 2011 at 12:56 pm

  19. It is painful to watch the evolving u-turn that Cameron will have to make over this issue. Clegg reminded us today that it is about victims at the end of the day. Pressure on Cameron has now led to Hunt reconsidering the bid process for BSkyB, he may even refer it to the Competition Commission. There are calls for Murdoch to end the bid, this would allow Cameron an easy exit from the current situation. Unless Cameron does see sense than we will perhaps see a commons vote, not good for the government not good for the nation. This whole issue must show the poor quality of the decisions made by cameron and his lack of an ethical approach. Wjhatever he does now wuill have been forced upon him instead of being directed by him. Those Conservative voters from working class backgrounds must be cringing at the moment. My advice to them feed your concerns back into the party, let them know. Whilst I would like to see the opposition reform and adjust following the departure of the last government I still see it as being sad that politics is again being seen as murky, closited in class and all about money. The British public deserve far, far, better than what they’ve had over the past year.


    July 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm

  20. As suspected and forecast above, the u-turn arrives from Mr Hunt who has now referred the BSkyB bid to the Competition Commission. This is not an action they sought to do, it was one fiorced upon them. As I said in the first place no leadership and griowing concerns over the ethical and moral stance taken by this government. Shocking state of affairs, a real insight to the real Cameron, some extraordinarily poor decisions. He said he’d let people be the judge of him. I wonder what his poll ratings will be now?


    July 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm

  21. I wonder what attempts will be made by those of the right to remove this issue from the local limelight. Perhaps fill the media with other news items, in an attempt to push the issue away!!??


    July 11, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    • None here, it’s the story that keeps on giving for Labour supporters, shame that the Tories were not quite so astute when Labour’s ex-journo masters of spin, including Alistair Campbell, were “sexing up” documents that made the case for sending hundreds of our troops to war looking for non existent weapons of mass destruction!
      Not in any way dismissing the severity of what you are discussing about the PM and Andy Coulson, but whose judgement was worse, Blair’s or Cameron’s?
      Whose silence over many years was more telling, Cameron’s or Miliband’s?
      Don’t you find some of the political shenanigans just a wee bit opportunistic?
      Isn’t the criminal investigation far more important at the moment?
      Similarly, don’t you think the BSkyB deal was in deep doo doo before Clegg and Hunt got involved?

      Sorry guys, I’m not deliberately ignoring you all, I’m just still struggling to get a good gamma match on this new monitor, my pictures tend to be pretty high priority and I like them to look just so sparkling!
      I am also involved in another project which will occupy quite a few hours this week.


      July 11, 2011 at 8:40 pm

      • Curly

        July 11, 2011 at 9:12 pm

      • Sorry you’re having problems. However, I thought that the issue surrounding the war in Iraq did receive a great deal of coverage and still does so, I too feel that the UK was dragged along with the US hype. So it has been well aired. The BSkeB deal is now in deep mire, not so sure that it would have been without the present coverage. Also, as I’ve recently said, when you examine the amount of Labour former ministers who’ve been blagged, over a long period of time, by a major media company, of many publications. Then it does beg the question of how that may have impacted upon the result of the general election. How can Brooks say that the revelations of a childs medical record (Browns) is of the ‘public interest’? So whilst i agree it is the job of opporition to oppose and make the most of uncovering the government, the current issues cover (or uncover) a frightening aspect of modern day power, that vested in the media.
        It just so happens that Murdoch and co are capitalists and rightwingers, and Camerons riding and dining buddies. So, in light of the ‘current’ severe ethical and criminal concerns, I feel it only right that Cameron is held to account. It will be a challenge for him to counter the decisions he has made and that he stands by. The reality is that it is Camerons government who are in the seat and it is Cameron who employed Couldson and cameron who is a pal of those responsible for hurtig victims. I don’t think many right of centre politicions will support some of the poor decisions that have been made. As I have said before it is time for the government to wake up, take up some professional leadership and assist the country to recovery.


        July 11, 2011 at 9:39 pm

  22. Under pressure from Labour Cameron performs another U-turn, from Tim at Conservative Home.

    The Gordon Brown angle appears to be unravelling a little with The Sun asserting that they got the story legitimately and Guido pointing out that it came from one of Gordon’s family friends!

    Looks like Brown and his footman Tom Watson are reeking their revenge on Murdoch for his tacit support of Blair.


    July 12, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    • It is one thing to obtain personal details from a ‘legal’ source, yet another to publish it, how can they argue that knowledge of a childs medical condition is in the public interest? Whilst Murdoch chose to swap support between Conservative and Labour, dependant on the fairest wind, there is little doubt that the current list of politicians who have been blagged are predominantly Labour, of course not all blagged politicians may have been revealed, as yet. This then begs the question, to what extent did the media, controlled by Murdoch, impact upon the outcome of elections? Did the Conservatives and Labour have friends and enemies in Murdoch that significantly altered the outcome of elections. This is a very important point, particularly when we have hung parliaments etc. Will the issue ever be fully uncovered? It may be that Labour have had to put up with Conservative governments and Conservatives have had to put up with Labour governments because of the undue skewed approach to publications that may have been taken by News International. Who would you rather have supporting you, unions, who at the end of the day should have the protection of workers at heart. Or capitalists who are interested in mass profit and will use manipulation to get it. All of these ethical issues are now under the spotlight. This raises the bigger question, how democratic is British democracy in light of the influence of the media? At least on blogs, such as this, there is the opportunity to place ones views – no so easy to take on the mass media!
      Be interesting to see PMQs today.


      July 13, 2011 at 9:18 am

  23. As with all bullies and harassers, the leading question is how would they react if the subject of similar treatment. Gordon Brown often portrayed as an uncompromisingly tough figure being reduced to tears is quite an image. I am afraid that I am totally at a loss to understand why details of a child’s health problems are of any relevance when the parent is a politician. Perhaps some of those who have criticised STC for the pursuit of Mr M will appreciate just how much distress can be caused by putting personal, private information into the public domain, even more so when it is allegedly false and/or misleading.


    July 13, 2011 at 10:29 am

  24. You know that I’m not one to gloat,Curly. However, I will. You may remember that many months ago I commented that I saw no benefit to any political party to wallow in the support of Rupert Murdoch. I think he is nearer to a media monster rather than a media mogul! His latest move is surely a waiting game in the hopes that the British Public will prove to have short memories. I pray not! This has to be a sea change in media and political relations. We need changes in the law. Talking of changes, have you, like me, lost count of how many U-turns Mr Cameron has made in the last week, not to mention, in the last few months?


    July 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    • I probably have lost count but I’m glad he made them, this whole scandal feels as though it is spiralling out of control, and it was a good thing that the three party leaders got together last night to agree a strategy on today’s debate. To have the Commons speaking as one voice on behalf of the nation cannot be a bad thing, and for a short time it gets both Cameron and Miliband off the hook over their choices of ex-hack communications advisors. I have to say though that I feel a little vexed by Gordon Brown’s intervention this last two days without any reference to his attendance at Rebekah Brooks birthday party, or her wedding, or his wife Sarah inviting Rebekah and Wendi Murdoch over to Chequers for a girlie night sleep over! Brown almost managed to permanently damage the tripartite agreement this afternoon as his remarks infuriated Tory MPs who were clamouring to interrupt his speech and test The Speaker.

      Now that many of News International’s secrets are out in the open, but with “worse to come” we can perhaps push for the judge led enquiry to widen it’s scope to other newspapers, Guido is intimating Strongly that Piers Merchant, when he was editor of The Mirror had quite a knowledge of how to hack voicemails on mobile phones! He certainly needs to be called to account, and politicians who have managed to get too close to journalists in recent times need to be very wary of their actions, words, and deeds over past decade.

      We still need someone to come clean with some names of police officers too!


      July 13, 2011 at 8:19 pm

      • There are always dangers with political leaders who are unable to stay the course or stick to a given policy. It makes for unstable government. I agree that those who lie down with the dogs etc…but in the case of Brown he was bitten by the dog as well as the fleas and there is some truth in keeping your friends close but your enemies closer. The reality is that this is still an issue where it is generally less likely for a capitalist to attack a right wing government more than a left government. Further, the greed of Murdoch and his desire for more power and money are at the heart of the matter. Curly, you started this blog entry with the naive suggestion that we should not purchase one newspaper (the NotW) I’m not sure how many newspapers you purchase, or whether you read them on-line, I rarely buy a newspaper. There needs to be other ways of controlling the ethics of the media – but you are right they need to be hit in the pocket or at the stock market. There is no doubt that the government (Cameron)has been tested in the last few weeks, one only hopes that he will wake up and become more professional. I note that the latest UKPolling Report would give Labour a safe 92 seat majority – I suspect that in about two to three years time, if the Condems are still in power, they will begin to sweeten the electorate by financal means. I can see little hope for them in the future.


        July 13, 2011 at 8:49 pm

  25. Curly, haven’t I also read that Rebekah Brooks, was ‘ courted ‘ by Cameron at an exclusive dinner party last Christmas and that she was present at his equally exclusive birthday party at Chequers last year .(Perhaps she did not sleep overnight on that occasion !!) Did Cameron include this in the statement in which he spoke of his friend Andy Coulson? A little vexing! Let’s face it there appears to have been inappropriate relations throughout the politcal/media spectrum which need to be addressed.Hopefully,however, the prurient and devastating hacking of Milly Dowler’s telephone messages will stay in the psyche of the British people until politicians, media and police get their acts cleaned up.


    July 13, 2011 at 9:51 pm

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