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Leveson Inquiry: News of the World journalists hacked each others phones

by | 17th, January 2012

LEVESON Inquiry: today the Times and the Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger take the stand. It should be interesting. In 2009, News International’s interim director of legal affairs, Simon Toms, revelsed that the Times knew about phone hacking on its paper in 2009 (via the Press Gazette):

Question: Explain whether you, or The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun or The News of the World (to the best of your knowledge) ever used or commissioned anyone who used ’computer hacking’ in order to source stories, or for any reason.

Answer: I am not aware that any NI title has ever used or commissioned anyone who used “computer hacking” in order to source stories. I have been made aware of one instance on The Times in 2009 which I understand may have involved a journalist attempting to access information in this way. However, I also understand that this was an act of the journalist and was not authorised by TNL. As such, I understand it resulted in the journalist concerned being disciplined.

Meanwhile, of the Guardian, which has reported on the Leveson Inquiry with oodles of tabloid sensation, the FT reported:

The Guardian said it would give the judicial inquiry into press methods “all information necessary” about an article its chief investigative reporter wrote in 2006 admitting that he had hacked into a mobile phone.

The newspaper has led the investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World, but until now had not been implicated in any illegal journalistic methods.

David Leigh, then investigations editor of The Guardian, wrote in 2006, just as two staff on the Sunday tabloid had been convicted of phone hacking, that he had listened to the voicemail of ‘a corrupt arms company executive’ who had left his personal identification number on a printout.

He said he was not, like the News of the World men, seeking “witless tittle-tattle” but investigating a story of bribery and corruption.

Only the rules makes no distinction between hacking phones of arms dealers or celebs.
The phone hacking debate can only turn out badly for the media. The Guardian has gone for Rupert Murdoch’s press with gusto. But it is not whiter than white. The story has becomd less about ethics and more about one paper scooping and undoing another. It was ever so. In 2006, the Press Gazette reported:
An ex-News of the World staffer said the practice was so prevalent on the paper when they were there that journalists even did it to each other: “When I was on the paper there was a war between the features department and news. Features would hack into the phone of somebody who was on the newsdesk to see what story they might be working on.”
It’s a tough business. Has the Guardian’s crusade made it tougher..?



Posted: 17th, January 2012 | In: Reviews Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink