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The flood of the UK phone hacking scandal has not subsided

The flood of the UK phone hacking scandal has not subsided

The UK phone hacking scandal shows no signs of abating, the latest development being the resignation of Andy Coulson, Downing Street's director of communication, on 21 January.

His resignation had been anticipated for some time, The Economist noted. "Mr Coulson's troubles date back to his time as editor of the News of the World. Under his watch, investigative reporters at the Sunday tabloid newspaper had been exposed using techniques such as the hacking of voicemail messages to unearth stories about celebrities, politicians and even Royalty. He resigned over the revelations in 2007, but denied (and continues to deny) having any knowledge or complicity in these illegal journalistic practices", the article said.

As the paper underlined, many questioned the plausibility of those denials, he has been dogged by suspicion ever since.

The Guardian noted that despite Coulson's departure the illegal phone hacking could dog the government for months and could still create a "greater stench" for David Cameron, Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp and the Metropolitan Police. The article quoted Tim Montgomerie, editor of the conservativehome blog, who said on Twitter that Murdoch, Coulson's former boss, had pushed him to resign amid concern the hacking scandal risked damaging the media mogul's aim to complete a £8.3bn takeover of BskyB.

Both The Economist and the Guardian highlighted that the allegations have, in fact, come at a critical time for News Corp. "There is speculation that News Corp executives were keen to see Coulson quit, amid fears that his continued presence inside No 10 was damaging the company's commercial interests", the Guardian wrote. Downing Street denied categorically that Murdoch had ordered Coulson to quit. Coulson's resignation has also prompted Labour frontbencher Chris Bryant to call for the police to conduct a new investigation.

On the other side, an article from the Observer said that the scandal threatens more newspapers. Mark Lewis, the lawyer who acted for Gordon Taylor of the Professional Footballers' Association in a damage claim against the NoW, confirmed to the Observer that he was now representing four people who believe they were targeted by other newspapers. None of the four, Lewis said, had been hacked by News Group Newspapers. "Lots of people were doing it", Lewis said, "it was such a widespread practice".

The Guardian's Roy Greenslade analysed
how the press covered Coulson's resignation. The Guardian gave it significant coverage, with four pages inside, a leading article and a comment, as did the Independent, carrying it big on page one with three pages insides, a leader and comments. Notably, Greenslade pointed out that News Corp's The Times carried two-and-a-half pages inside plus a leader, which argued that ever since Coulson's appointment "there was always a risk that this story (about phone-hacking) would return".

By contrast, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Sun gave little space to the story.
The Sunday Express carried a "short anodyne piece on page 10," Greenslade said. The Sunday Mirror's columnist Mark Austin made a passing comment and The People had a short piece on page 2. "Perhaps the absence of full-on coverage by the Saturday and Sunday tabloids confirms The Observer's story - which appeared first throughout yesterday on Sky News incidentally - about other papers becoming embroiled in the scandal", Greenslade concluded.

Sources: The Economist, Guardian (1), (2), The Observer

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Federica Cherubini


2011-01-25 11:19

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