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UK phone hacking scandal shows no signs of coming to an end

UK phone hacking scandal shows no signs of coming to an end

2,45 pm 18 Jan update: Press Gazette reported that Guardian News and Media has now answered Press Gazette's phone hacking questions.

"I'm pleased to report that the Guardian News and Media has now responded to the questions", Dominic Ponsford wrote. GNM says that phone hacking has never been raised as an issue at the paper, thanks to its own code of conduct (in addition to that of the PCC), regular legal training sessions and the paper's readers' editor.
Could the other four news organizations say the same?


Press Gazette described how a wall of silence was raised by five news organisations in response to its questions about phone-hacking that Press Gazette planned to use for the Big Question feature in its February edition.

After a source told editor Dominic Ponsford that phone-hacking was widespread across Fleet Street before the 2007 News of the World scandal, Press Gazette decided to ask what it considered reasonably transparent and helpful news organizations to answer some questions on the sensitive issue. But Guardian News and Media, Telegraph Media Group, Trinity Mirror and the BBC all declined to comment, and the Daily Mail did not yet give an answer.

Press Gazette's Nikki Wicks asked:

"How seriously do you think the News of the World phone hacking allegations have undermined the reputation of British journalism?"
"Have you ever had a complaint about one of your journalists being involved in phone hacking?"
"What steps have you taken to ensure that none of your journalists are involved in phone hacking?"

And this is what they replied:

The BBC: "We don't have anyone to comment on this one."
Guardian News and Media: "Thanks for thinking about us for this feature. I have been looking into this for you and unfortunately no one is available."
Trinity Mirror: "I'm sorry we are not able to help on this one".
Telegraph Media Group: "Thanks for asking and for following up. This won't be one for us, but another time do get in touch."
The Daily Mail: no response (yet).

The phone-hacking scandal erupted in 2007 when Clive Goodman, the News of the World's royal editor, was jailed for intercepting phone messages of aides to Princes William and Harry. Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator contracted by Goodman, was also jailed and admitted hacking into the phone of five other targets. Rupert Murdoch's company News International, which owns News of the World, denied of being aware of that illegal practice.

Speculations emerged about a possible involvement of Andy Coulson, the Prime Minister's director of communications, who was editor of the News of the World at that time. Prime Minister David Cameron refused to confirm stories about a possible Coulson's resignation, Guardian's Roy Greenslade reported.

Four years after the emergence of the scandal the story refuses to die, The Observer noted. "Each week another celebrity launches a legal action against the paper, generating a fresh batch of damaging allegations that Rupert Murdoch's media empire could do without", the article underlined.

Other separated legal actions were taken against Mulcaire, who is appealing against the decision to make him divulge the name of other journalists of the paper involved in phone hacking.

Earlier this month Ian Edmondson, a senior News of the World executive, was suspended by the paper due to "serious allegation" that he was involved in a phone hacking case concerning Sienna Miller.

"There is speculation that, if the names of other journalists on the paper were to be confirmed by Mulcaire, it would bolster claims that phone hacking by the publication's staff was systemic", the Observer noted.

And this brings us back to the questions raised by the Press Gazette: was it a widespread practice, at the News of the World and elsewhere?

Sources: Press Gazette, Guardian, (1), (2), (3), The Observer
Graphic source: Pete Guest, The Guardian
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Federica Cherubini


2011-01-18 12:54

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