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July 04, 2011

Comments

Oh Sam Bin Laden

The Scum Of The World strikes again.

Chris Williams

I count myself as quite a cynical man, but this has taken me aback. Swearing fails me.

ajay

It is difficult to imagine any way in which this story could be modified in order to make the NOTW look worse.

Richard J

Jesus.

jamie

Now his voicemails would be worth hearing, assuming he actually existed.

Barry Freed

Wow, someone needs to go to jail.

Steve Williams

It's tempting to consider the politics of it, but I honestly can't get over putting myself in the position of her parents . . . it makes my skin crawl to think of.

jamie

Tom Watson on Channel 4 just speculated that the Soham murder parents had their phones hacked too. Unconfirmed, but it's unlikely this just happened once.

Abelard

I would have thought the smart money now is that this was SOP - anyone who was of sustained interest to the tabloids for more than a couple of days in the relevant era is a potential victim.

skidmarx

Now his voicemails would be worth hearing, assuming he actually existed.
Nailed it.

Richard J

"Barabbas here. Do you fancy hanging out Friday night?"

ajay

Wow, someone needs to go to jail.

I would be astounded if anyone else is actually convicted for anything surrounding this business. Certainly Brooks and Coulson won't be.

Ken MacLeod

Reaching blindly for a heavy enough book to throw at them:

Is it possible that whoever is responsible can be charged with evidence tampering, interference with an ongoing police investigation, or some such? These voicemails - who sent them, when, how the voices sounded - would have been of great interest to the police at the time. Their deletion, also, could have raised mistaken suspicions.

john b

I would be astounded if anyone else is actually convicted for anything surrounding this business.

I agreed with you up until yesterday. However, fucking around with the investigation into a child murder turns the issue from a media-insiders-circle-jerk into a mass-market Angry Mob Issue. I'm just about uncynical enough to believe that *might* be enough to disrupt the under-carpet-sweeping process.

CharlieMcMenamin

This case has turned me into White Van Man : I've passed through the 'hanging's too good for them 'stage and am now idly fantasising about a battalion of troops invading the newsroom - where they pause to fix bayonets before proceeding to the board room...

So, yeah,I can see the salience of a 'mass market Angry Mob'. I just never imagined I'd feel emotionally connected to such an upsurge, however fleetingly

ajay

Is it possible that whoever is responsible can be charged with evidence tampering, interference with an ongoing police investigation, or some such?

Certainly possible, I should think - the Guardian quotes a police source as saying "We need those messages as evidence. Anybody who destroys that evidence is seriously interfering with the course of a police investigation."

I just don't think it's going to happen.

Incidentally, anyone looked at the front pages this morning?
Guardian - Milly phone-hacking ups pressure on NoW
Indy - Rebekah Brooks has some explaining to do
Telegraph - Cameron: Milly Dowler phone hacking allegations 'truly dreadful'
BBC: Police set to meet NoW executives

And the Times?

Exclusive: Adoption czar plan to save a generation

Alex

Charlie: remember, all you need is a handful of reliable men. Fortunately, I don't think you need worry about being derailed by a general strike.

Cian

Whenever I go into our corner store I glance at the headlines. The usual outliers are the Express (cure for cancer! Or "the EU Plan to take Away Your Pension!") and the Guardian (some real story none of the others have bothered with). Sometimes the others will be a bit different, but usually they all run with similar stories - perhaps a sex scandal for the tabloids, and something the government said for the broadsheets.

Except, recently, the Times. Which seems to have turned into the Express.

Richard J

TBF, ajay, I think it is mentioned on the front page of The Times. Just very much below the fold.

Also noticeable that all the tabs are remaining completely silent about this. Let he who is without sin &c.

belle le triste

aims for agitators #1: pin it to murdoch

ajay

Murdoch is standing by his girl, so it shouldn't be too tricky to do.

CharlieMcMenamin

All the tabs remaining completely silent about this

Page 2 of today's Sun

Richard J

Single para on the left hand side of p2 (which, psychologically, is probably the most easily ignored bit of a paper)? Why, it's almost as if they're trying to bury the story...

CharlieMcMenamin

left hand side of p2 (which, psychologically, is probably the most easily ignored bit of a paper)

Why? I mean its not as if the Sun has anything on page 3 to distract the eye....

ajay

Even if it didn't, it's a truism of newspaper publishing that you want your story to go in the following places, in roughly this order:
Front page lead
Front page, below the fold
Odd-numbered page lead
Odd-numbered second lead
Even-numbered lead
Even-numbered second lead
Odds and ends

Richard J

Something about flicking the page from the front page means the eye quickly skips over it - look at the Guardian, for example. Most of p2 is bumf you've probably never noticed - a list of contents, some legalese about publishing addresses, etc.

redpesto

There's no Soham link yet, but apparently the NoW did target Colin Stagg, presumably in the hope he'd confess to the undercover policewoman in a series of kinky voicemails.

ejh

However, they took no action against the News of the World...partly because this was only one example of tabloid misbehaviour. As one source close to the inquiry put it: "There was a hell of a lot of dirty stuff going on."

Oh aye.

I'm sure however that as soon as they heard about the current investigation, they drew the investigators' attention to what had happened in this case.

ejh

I can't be alone in wondering if this was the only Murdoch title in which this practice was apparently rife.

jamie

Well beyond Murdoch I suspect.

john b

FWIW, my unnamed friend who works for the Times says that this is the most repulsive thing he's been associated with, that he's genuinely upset at what the NOTW types have done, and that he hopes that the scandal in question will destroy News Corp to the extent that the Times and the Scum/Lies no longer have to share offices. Also - and would be interested to get Jamie K on this - that this is *not* what hacks do, and people who do this are not journalists but sociopaths.

john b

Justin: I actually suspect this behaviour was confined more-or-less to Scum/NOTW. Other red-tops are too cheap; Mail has a curious code of ethics (yes I know - read Flat Earth News); Express too cheap; Telegraph too irrelevant; Times/Indie/Graun too "posing as serious".

jamie

john - The tabs, led by the Sun and the NOTW, have been moving towards this for years. The best background is Chippendale and Horrie's Stick it up your Punter. I'd quote from it but I gave my copy to a China Daily staffer when she asked me how the British press worked.

ejh

Well beyond Murdoch I suspect.

Oh quite likely, but it interests me that this has all been about the Screws and not at all about the daily. You'd kind have expected it to spread.

skidmarx

Perhaps because Sunday is a slow news day.

septicisle

Pretty much all the tabloids were up to their neck in at the very least blagging via private investigators, as the database Steve Whittamore kept showed, see the Information Commissioner's What Price Privacy? reports etc.

Doesn't necessarily mean that some of those trawling expeditions weren't in pursuit of legitimate, in the public interest stories, as the Sunday Times and Observer also both used Whittamore, but at the very least it suggests that phone hacking also was widespread, most certainly on the other Sunday tabloids.

redpesto

Okay, so they did hack phones in relation to the Soham murders. Maybe the Bulger family will be next.

Phil

most certainly on the other Sunday tabloids

You think? The People (had to check that it still exists), certainly. Beyond that, not sure - I can't see Desmond's Sunday Express spending the money, and the Mail on Sunday is a lay-dee. The lady in question is a lying racist shitbag, but one who prefers the moral high ground to the marshlands inhabited by the likes of Paul "Wormtail" McMullan ("Clearly this was wrong and shouldn't have happened. Would I have done it myself? Well, that's a difficult question. I mean, was it that big a deal? It's the sort of thing that went on...", etc, etc.)

john b

Phil just won at analogies.

Myles

Murdoch can't be allowed to continue owning newspapers and media if he's implicitly allowed this to happen. He could not possibly be then considered a fit and proper person.

Myles

George Orwell, the Lion and the Unicorn:

Is the English press honest or dishonest? At normal times it is deeply dishonest. All the papers that matter live off their advertisements, and the advertisers exercise an indirect censorship over news. Yet I do not suppose there is one paper in England that can be straightforwardly bribed with hard cash. In the France of the Third Republic all but a very few of the newspapers could notoriously be bought over the counter like so many pounds of cheese.

Guess that comparison isn't really true anymore.

ejh

There's an inclination to observe that newspapers bought over the counter like cheeses, it's what you're supposed to do, but assuming the same meaning of "bought" as Orwell, which newspapers have been "bought"? None. It is the newspapers that have been doing the buying.

ejh

(Whoops! Sorry, that's a mess. There should have been an are before "bought", and the italics should have come to an end rather earlier than they did. Much like last night.)

ajay

Yes, Myles is completely missing the point here. The NOTW isn't dishonest in Orwell's sense of the word at all. It's not even being influenced by its advertisers. It's operating as an independent newspaper and it's going after news that the readers want to read.
It's doing so by breaking the law (undoubtedly) and corrupting the police (very probably) but that's a different matter.

Chris Williams

For reasons not unconnected with work, I've spent today trying to think of some similar police/media scandals in UK history of a comparable level of seriousness. It's beating me right now - any ideas?

Richard J

The Met's vice squad in the 70s?

ajay

Can't think of any police/media ones, but there's always the good old WMSCS.

Alex

In fact, in so far as it's being influenced by its advertisers, it's being influenced in the right direction.

Alex

On which topic, you too can go make a phone call to the COI already!

Chris Williams

I did a bit of high-speed databasing about the 1970s, but I can't find anything direct about Moody and co paying off the press. But once I get home I intend to flick through my copy of _The Fall of Scotland Yard_ with a will.

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