Thursday, July 09, 2009

Not just obnoxious. Criminal too.

They've illegally tapped thousands of phones and then paid huge amounts to keep it quiet: here's journalism according to the Sun and the News of the World.

These are revelations that not even the biggest critics of both the Sun and News of the World could dream up. It emerged today that "Rupert Murdoch's News Group News­papers has paid out more than £1m to settle legal cases that threatened to reveal evidence of his journalists' repeated involvement in the use of criminal methods to get stories".

Up to three thousand politicians, public figures and various celebrities had their phones tapped, courtesy of the News of the World cajoling BT and other phone companies into letting them in on private details and voicemail messages.

According to ex-Murdoch editor Andrew Neil, certain practices were/are endemic at those tabloids. "Particularly in the News of the World", he said yesterday, "this was a newsroom out of control … Everyone who knows the News of the World, everybody knows this was going on. But it did no good to talk about it. One News of the World journalist said to me … it was dangerous to talk about it."

Not that surprising really, from a paper that has long made a living out of a toxic concoction of making up stories, peeping through private lives, perving on tits and bullying people.

What's most depressing is the evidence that Murdoch's clout on all aspects of British life is beyond the most pessimistic predictions. Aside from confirming the sheer ineptitude of the Press Complaint Commission, the revelations show awful practices on the part of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service for failing to investigate the repeated and criminal breach of the Data Protection Act.

Like John Prescott said to the BBC: "those of us that had our phones tapped and the police were aware of it - why were we not told? Why were they [the News of the World] not prosecuted? Why was a separate deal done in the court and then put away, and not made available to us? To the legal authorities [I would ask] why did you do this?"

"News International is not above the law", said former Home Secretary Charles Clarke. Well, not quite.

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