Phone hacking: media reputations are at stake
With phone hacking, and social media, we must work together to uphold the highest ethical standards
We don't yet know for certain the full extent of it. Some of those alleging their phones were hacked may not be victims after all. But it seems certain that many of them were – that the same media companies targeted them.
This is one of the biggest scandals in public life for decades, and yet our response has been weak. The police have been slow to react, which may be linked to their close ties with those media companies. Sir Paul Stephenson, the commissioner of the Metropolitan police, recently said he would rather his men were investigating more serious crimes like robbery. But isn't the theft of private information still theft?
When it first became clear that the Royal Household phones had been hacked, there was no logical reason why the phones of other public figures had not also been hacked. And so it turned out.
Similarly, if the tabloids could hack phones in the investigation into the disappearance of Milly Dowler, there is no logical reason why they were not routinely hacking the phones of victims and their friends and families during other high-profile investigations.
Someone should now look at tabloid reportage of all recent murder investigations for stories which could only be from phone hacking. It was probably a commonplace.
Indeed, it would be very interesting to see if any coverage of past murder investigations quietly disappears off tabloid websites tonight.
The bugger, bugged
Published 12 April 2011/New Statesman
* 315 comments
After a chance meeting with a former News of the World executive who told him his phone had been hacked, Hugh Grant couldn’t resist going back to him – with a hidden tape recorder – to find out if there was more to the story . .
Revealed: Brooks’ past link with Milly private detective
Revelation piles pressure on Murdoch executive whilst advertisers boycott News of the World as scandal grows. Now police contact Sohamparents amid fresh allegations
By Cahal Milmo and Martin Hickman
Wednesday, 6 July 2011/the Independent
Rebekah Brooks with Rupert Murdoch
Rebekah Brooks, the embattled chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, personally commissioned searches by one of the private investigators who was later used by the News of the World to trace the family of the murdered Surrey schoolgirl Milly Dowler, The Independent can reveal. Ms Brooks, while editor of NOTW, used Steve Whittamore, a private detective who specialised in obtaining illegal information to “convert” a mobile phone number to find its registered owner. Mr Whittamore also provided the paper with the Dowlers’ ex-directory home phone number.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which successfully prosecuted Whittamore for breaches of the Data Protection Act in 2005, said last night it would have been illegal to obtain the mobile conversion if the details had been "blagged" from a phone company.
Ms Brooks, who said yesterday she was "shocked and appalled" at the latest hacking claims, admitted requesting the information. But she said it could be obtained by "perfectly legitimate means". She faced demands for her resignation last night. ....<cont>
Tit for tat, it seems.
David Cameron under growing pressure to hold public phone-hacking inquiry:
David Cameron and the attorney general, Dominic Grieve, will come under sustained pressure to hold a public inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World and the conduct of the police investigation into the practice over the past five years. Ministers are also likely to face calls for a cross-party initiative to examine media regulation.
On a day when it appeared that a dam protecting News International finally burst, senior politicians competed with one another to condemn the company. ...<cont>
How News of the World editors lost self-control – and all respect for the law
For papers, phone hacking is a moment of truth: commercial pressures have warped ethics – and the public will want action.
Editing a newspaper at the start of the 21st century is a tough job. The concept of mediating world events to a select group of readers has been blown apart inside a decade. Reporters, writers, editors and printers are wandering round like victims of a bomb blast, enveloped in a cloud of digital dust. The profession of journalism staggers about, choking for air. Nobody knows quite what is happening. ........
....... For all newspapers, the News of the World phone-hacking scandal has become a moment of truth. It has shown how far commercial pressure from the web and from within big corporations has distorted ethics. Journalism has always tested the bounds of investigatory intrusion, but it cannot break or interfere with legal process. A law on privacy would be cumbersome and hard to police, but as the Press Complaints Commission is a broken reed in this matter, each scandal makes it harder to stave off calls for legislation. Such legislation would be a bad idea.