Tag Archives: Phone hacking

Phone hacking trial: Coulson found guilty, Cameron apologises

andy-coulsonThe long-awaited trial of David Cameron’s former director of communications, Andy Coulson, concluded today, with the jury finding him guilty of a charge of conspiracy to intercept voicemails as part of the phone-hacking scandal. All Coulson’s co-defendants, including former Sun and News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks, were all found not guilty of various conspiracy charges.

It’s just over 7 years since Cameron appointed Coulson as the Conservatives’ communications director – we noted in May 2007 his connection to what became known as the phone hacking scandal but which back …

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Leveson: it’s a good thing Nick Clegg was there

Today’s latest revelations from the Leveson Inquiry are a reminder of how wise it was to create a judge-led inquiry with wide terms of reference and powers. And who was it who did that when the Coalition Government was drawing up the plans, rejecting the talk of a lesser inquiry? Step forward, Nick Clegg.

PS I should have added that it was of course Lib Dem MP Adrian Sanders who was the first in the party to be calling for a judicial inquiry, following his experience on the DCMS Select Committee.

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A five point plan to reform the media post-Leveson

As investigative theatre goes, the Leveson Inquiry has been top-notch. As a route to embarrassing individuals for their past performance, it has excelled. As a way of unearthing previously secret information, it has been gripping.

But as a route for reforming the media? That’s a rather different story.

Some things have already been achieved. The Press Complaints Commission has already been sent to the retirement home for failed regulators and politicians have already been shamed into distancing themselves from newspaper moguls. It will be a long time before Ed Miliband repeats this sort of photo op, for example.

There is, however, an awful lot left to do, especially as Lord Leveson has not been looking at the underlying causes. As I wrote much earlier in the proceedings:

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ITV: Three ex-News International executives misled Parliament say MPs

ITV News reports:

The long-awaited and potentially explosive report on phone hacking from the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee is due tomorrow morning.

MPs had their last meeting this morning to sign off the report and ITV News can reveal some of the findings.

MPs are set to find Colin Myler, Tom Crone and Les Hinton guilty of misleading the committee and therefore Parliament.

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Paddick accuses Met of leaking confidential witness information

Yesterday former policeman Brian Paddick gave evidence to the Leveson inquiry, including these claims about the Met Police:

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Opinion: Hacking scandal should not be an excuse for politicians to settle scores with the media

I have deliberately kept away from the hacking and press freedom story over the last few years but now I have had a full apology from News International, it is time to offer a view.

The recent arrest of Sun journalists over alleged payments to police brings to over thirty the number of journalists currently being investigated by the Metropolitan Police as part of the phone hacking scandal. It has become one of the biggest investigations for decades and will result in court cases and further evidence to the Levison inquiry. It’s right that criminal investigations take place, but as …

Posted in Op-eds | 17 Comments

Missing: the people the Leveson Inquiry won’t be talking to

“Follow the money”. It’s a cliché of investigative journalism for a very good reason. If you want to get to the heart of what is really going on, knowing who has paid what to whom frequently exposes the real action being hidden away behind warm words, evasive statements and muttered “no comments”.

It is also at the heart of many a public inquiry. Want to know why something happened? Who pays whom is again right at the centre of the story. Whether it is understanding drugs policy and the economics of the illegal market or looking at problems of rail safety, …

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Opinion: We need a general right of information

The call made by Mark Pack, amongst others, for suggestions for media reform is both timely and important. For the majority of the country, the media represents the most important source of information we access on a daily basis. As a result, it cannot help but shape our opinions and inform our democratic decision-making; it is a key part of our national discourse and must be seen as such.

And yet the phone hacking scandal has demonstrated that we cannot rely wholly on journalists to hold themselves and their colleagues to account for their own ethical transgressions. A press …

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Opinion: Privacy and investigative journalism – a balancing act

The recent phone hacking scandal has thrown into sharp relief a corrupt nexus: between media organisations (I use the plural advisedly) that consider themselves above the law; a craven police culture that makes it effectively so; and a body politic so in thrall to that same media power it’s unable to distance itself from those responsible for illegal activity, much less hold the press to account. As enquiry after enquiry ensues, we seek the reform of the press, of the police and of politics, the need for which has rarely been clearer; we must also seek to strike a balance …

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Media reform in the UK

Anthony Barnett (Our Kingdom), Sunny Hundal (Liberal Conspiracy), Mark Pack (Lib Dem Voice) & Will Straw (IPPR) write…

July 2011 will be remembered as one of those rare moments where the nation came together in shared outrage and disgust. The hacking of Milly Dowler shocked the country and led to a series of unprecedented events which would have seemed inconceivable just weeks before. The drama culminated in the resignation and arrest of several News International executives and senior police officers; the termination of a 168-year old national newspaper; and the appearance of a humbled Rupert Murdoch before a public hearing.

The various …

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“From hero to zero and back again” – Vince Cable profiled in the Independent on Sunday

Yesterday’s Independent on Sunday featured a profile of business secretary Vince Cable. Vince’s stock certainly appears to risen in recent weeks, his reputation for prescience partially restored by the woes of the Murdoch empire.

But it is his real passion – economics – on which the piece focuses. With the spending review and tuition fees out of the way, what can Vince and his department do to improve the lackluster growth figures?

Well, George Osborne has his Plan A, but Vince has his Plan A+:

“Plan A+ is about really mobilising growth, thinking outside the box, not breaking your fiscal rules –

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Opinion: Why David Cameron will not be Prime Minister in a year’s time

Bizarrely, I was watching dancing coal miners dressed in tutus when I heard the news of Sir Paul Stephenson’s resignation last Sunday evening. A little trigger went off in my mind. Suddenly, the unthinkable had become thinkable. “Cameron will be next” I thought.

OK. We’re now in the “long grass” of the parliamentary recess. Cameron put in a “Tory Trebles all round”, barn-storming performance at the dispatch box on Wednesday. He must have been thankful it was jet-lag proof Johannesburg he had come from (where he met a different type of Tutu) and not New York, with its jet-lag on the …

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Tom Brake MP writes: Sir Paul Stephenson’s resignation

Tom Brake MP is Lib Dem Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities Co-Chair.

A friend texted me over the weekend, after the news of Sir Paul Stephenson’s resignation, saying ‘What next?’. I texted back, ‘The Queen abdicates?’.

Revelations about phone-hacking and the Metropolitan police have been coming so thick and fast over the last couple of weeks that nobody would bat an eyelid (all right, I exaggerate slightly) if Her Majesty revealed a previously unknown Met and NOTW connection.

Sir Paul’s departure is just the latest extraordinary development in the phone-hacking saga.

Even though he was widely recognised as an outstanding commissioner who …

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LibLink | Vince Cable: I declared war on Murdoch… now everyone agrees with me

Business Secretary Vince Cable has an interview in the Evening Standard, in which he discusses his declaration of “war” on Rupert Murdoch, his referral of the BSkyB takeover bid to Ofcom and Murdoch’s role in the phone hacking scandal:

…the Business Secretary also reveals for the first time that he considered resigning from Cabinet during the furore when he said he was “at war” with the media tycoon.

“I certainly felt rather low at the time because I was heavily criticised,” he said at the end of a week that has seen the tables comprehensively turned between the two men.

“And I

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Nick Clegg’s reply to party members’ emails on phone hacking

Last week, Nick Clegg emailed Lib Dem members to appeal for their views on next steps following the allegations of widespread phone-hacking by the News of The World.

Over at Richard Morris’s blog, you can find a copy of Nick’s reply:

This is clearly an issue that so many people in our party – myself included – feel strongly about. I received over 1000 emails within just 24 hours of my request and I think this is testament to our party’s democratic culture and willingness to engage with the issues that really matter. As you know, events are moving very

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PMQs: The tectonic plates shift

Oh, what a joy to be Leader of the Opposition at times like these!

Prime Minister’s Questions today was certainly one of the most important this year. David Cameron has been in a sort of partial purdah for the last few days, no doubt preparing his answers. What we got was quite a substantial exposition of the response to what I’ll call, for the purposes of brevity, “Murdochgate”.

The exchange between Cameron and Miliband started with a large degree of agreement. Indeed, it was almost as if the PM had pulled the rug from under the Leader of the opposition by …

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“Yates must go” – Dee Doocey exposes News International and Met Police’s cosy relationship

A Freedom of Information Request has revealed that the then Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman and Assistant Commissioner John Yates had lunches and dinners with News of the World and executives of News International while investigating alleged criminal allegations against the News of the World.

Dee Doocey, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly policing spokesperson and member of the Metropolitan Police Authority said:

Such a cosy relationship between the News of the World, News International and senior Met police officers who were leading an inquiry into the News of the World phone hacking allegations goes to the very heart of the

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LibLink Nick Clegg: Regulating media, empowering citizens

Nick Clegg has a piece in Huffington Post UK today, on media regulation, responsible reporting and replacing the Press Complaints Commission.

He calls new news outlets, such as the newly-launched UK version news and comment website Huffington Post, “a welcome breath of fresh air” at a time when public confidence in the media establishment is being rocked by phone-hacking allegations.

Here’s an excerpt:

The hacking scandal throws up an array of insights. But one in particular stands out to liberals: information is power. It always has been. When elites deploy secretive and opaque practices, it is nearly always to protect their own

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LibLink: Tim Farron – The phone-hacking stench will linger

Yesterday’s Independent on Sunday featured an op-ed by Liberal Democrat party president, Tim Farron, on the ongoing phone-hacking scandal. Tim makes the point that while both Labour and the Conservatives (Labservatives, anyone?) spent much time and effort ingratiating themselves with News International in all its guises, the Liberal Democrats resisted any such activity.

Here’s a sample:

Labour and the Conservatives spent decades cosying up to Rupert Murdoch and his cronies in the hope of an endorsement or a favourable headline. The Liberal Democrats did not.

What David Cameron, Tony Blair or Gordon Brown knew about the practices of the newspapers they sought to

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“The pillars of the British establishment are tumbling” – Clegg

The Independent features an interview with Nick Clegg, given on Friday during his visit to Paris.

He speaks of “politicians falling to their knees ingratiating themselves with media moguls”, “too many vested interests tied up with each other” and “a culture of arrogance and impunity” as he lists the casualties of recent crises: journalism and hacking, MPs’ expenses, and banking.

Here’s an extract:

The deputy prime minister senses a rare opportunity in the hacking scandal to carve out a separate niche. The Liberal Democrats have never wooed or been wooed by the media moguls. Unlike David Cameron and Ed Miliband, Mr Clegg

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Brian Paddick writes: The Lib Dem Guide to phone hacking

Uniquely perhaps, I was a victim of the News of the World’s private investigator, Glen Mulcaire, when I was a senior police officer at New Scotland Yard, working along the corridor from the officers who conducted the first phone hacking inquiry in 2002. But they never told me I was victim.

It was only a couple of years ago when my solicitor received a call from a Guardian journalist, that I knew Mulcaire had my name and mobile phone number in his notebook.

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Nick Clegg emails Lib Dem members about phone hacking

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has just emailed party members, appealing for their views on next steps following the allegations of widespread phone-hacking by the News of The World:

I’m sure like me you have been shocked and appalled by the allegations of widespread phone hacking by the News of the World. As I made clear at Deputy Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons yesterday the behaviour of those involved is grotesque and beneath contempt.
 
The PM and I have agreed, as he announced today at PMQs, that there will be inquiries into both the original police investigation and

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Green Party called it wrong on phone hacking

Just a month ago, London Green AM and Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones criticised the Metropolitan Police for spending too much time investigating phone hacking:

Jenny Jones, the Green Party member on the authority, said that the investigation, which is being handled by the Met’s serious crime directorate, was diverting officers away from more important crimes.

“Although this is not a victimless crime it is not something we should be spending a huge amount of time on,” she said.

“There are murders, child abductions and rapes that these officers could be investigating. All these people have to do is not use the

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DPMQs: “Grotesque” and “beneath contempt” – Clegg on the Milly Dowler phone hacking allegations

The highest profile issue at Deputy Prime Minister’s questions today was the issue of press phone hacking in the light of the allegations concerning Milly Dowler and the News of the World.

Harriet Harman asked Nick Clegg to back Ed Miliband’s call for a general public inquiry into illegality in the newspaper industry. As someone has said, this is a bit like holding an inquiry into why we get bad weather. In a sign of divisions within Labour, Chris Bryant, in contrast, has called for a more narrow inquiry.

Nick Clegg stopped short of backing an inquiry but, instead, emphasised the importance …

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