IN THE FAST MOVING SAGA that has led News International to close its most profitable title, the News Of The World, this weekend, Britain’s political elite – as usual – has chosen to blame the messenger for its own incompetence and innate corruption.
First, it was the Telegraph that exposed the MP’s expenses scandal, which was berated for daring to publish the full extent to which many went to feather their own nests at public expense – and then, while the new influx of MPs in May’s general election quietly went about dismantling newly introduced rules to ensure proper accountability, it was the Guardian whose investigative pieces regarding the cosy relationship between Murdoch’s News International and the coalition government became the target of politicians’ scorn.
And now, as the veil begins to lift on the conspiracy between Britain’s police force, politicians, and the formerly out-of-control editorship of the NoW, both Cameron and Miliband point to the Press Complaints Commission as the reason behind the unethical interception of private communications and police officer bribery that was endemic at that particular red-top.
This is not about the PCC, although it is fair to say that body would be better served if it actually had some teeth with which to carry out proper investigations and impose meaningful penalties on miscreants. This is all about why Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson thought they could get away with illegally bribing police officers and using last resort investigative techniques, unethically, and on a daily basis, to simply trawl for stories.
And it is also about why neither politicians, nor the police, chose to act when Brooks admitted to making illegal payments to police officers during a Parliamentary Enquiry.
Let us be clear here: investigative journalists do employ phone hacking; computer hacking; subterfuge; electronic surveillance; hidden cameras and overt breaking and entering when justifiable in the public interest and when there is no other option to obtain the hard evidence required to back-up a story and avoid a libel claim. Those that think otherwise really need to get a life – because the ungodly do not answer questions and do everything they can to destroy any evidence that exists against them. But every journalist knows that, when they do employ such methods, they may need to defend their actions in court.
It is simply untenable to believe that a group of individual journalists at the NoW would resort to such methods on a daily basis without being instructed to do so by their editor. And unimaginable too for any editor to instruct their reporters to regularly undertake such actions without either being instructed to – or having their action cleared – by the title’s management and lawyers.
It seems obvious, in the NoW case, that its lawyers were not involved (since anyone with a basic Law degree would immediately veto any such suggestion) – and that can only lead to the conclusion that the original instructions came from the top.
That, given the timeline, would seem to have been when Brooks was editor, and, if true, would shed some light on why Murdoch has chosen to sacrifice over 200 innocent journalists and a 168 year-old title to surround News International’s Chief Executive in cotton wool.
Rebekah Brooks and her relationship with the Murdochs; Britain’s political parties and its police force, it appears, is the key stone to this whole sordid affair. An affair that threatens to expose yet more endemic corruption at the top of British society…