Murdoch seems angry, and on Friday was also reported to be
'Toothless' press watchdog is in politicians' sights as pressure mounts
for crack down on journalistic practices.
Yard will this week demand more emails from the News of the World as
part of a fresh investigation into phone-hacking allegations. The move
comes as it was revealed that police are investigating claims of more
emerged that the coalition government has lost confidence in the Press
Complaints Commission and is moving to crack down on unlawful
Metropolitan Police reopened the investigation after a "limited" number
of emails were handed over by the News of the World. This followed a
"crisis visit" to London by News International's owner Rupert Murdoch to
order executives to end the damage being inflicted on the company.
sources familiar with the emails handed over described them as "very
significant", saying they suggested Ian Edmondson, the executive sacked
by News International last week, was aware that phone-hacking was going
on. The emails were handed over after the company brought in the law
firm Burton Copeland to advise it. Police are expected to request more
emails this week.
Prosecution sources familiar with the case said: "We should have had
this stuff three years ago. Any keyword search would have produced these
documents. We shall be asking why we didn't have it before."
prosecutor said police and lawyers were angry that News International
had failed in its duty to co-operate with their investigations.
Detectives are understood to be working under a wider interpretation of
the phone-hacking law. Three years ago David Perry, QC, advised the
initial investigation that if intercepted phone messages had already
been heard by its intended recipient, then listening in wasn't a crime.
However the DPP's new interpretation is broader.
Following the IoS's revelation last week that Tony Blair had asked the
police to investigate phone hacking, political pressure has mounted. It
emerged last night that the coalition is to tighten up on the activities
of newspapers in the wake of the saga.
Liberal Democrat minister Lord Wallace told peers last week that the
role of Press Complaints Commission and the strength of its code of
practice needed to be addressed. "While the Government believe that a
press free of state intervention is fundamental to our democracy, there
is no place for illegal activity," he said.
Government sources said last night that ministers had lost confidence in
the regulator's ability to protect the public from journalistic
harassment and illegal activity. They are already discussing changes
including a tighter code of conduct, stiffer penalties for those who
breach it ' and even statutory interventions.
an independent body which deals with complaints against the industry,
has faced severe criticism over its response to the hacking scandal. An
independent report by the International Federation of Journalists last
year found the PCC's actions had "weakened its credibility" and
"revealed major failings in its ways of operating".
Government source said the coalition was committed to self-regulation in
the media but added: "We are no longer convinced the PCC is capable of
carrying out this function. It's a pretty toothless outfit and we are
going to have to do something about it."
proposed shake-up in media regulation would only take place once the
official phone-hacking investigation is completed. But it has already
opened up divisions between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats,
who complain that their coalition partners are unwilling to take on "big
further groups of possible litigants came to light yesterday. Scottish
police are investigating fresh hacking allegations in connection with
the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial. Sheridan's lawyer Aamer Anwar has
reported "current hacking" to the police after being notified by
Vodafone of attempts to hack his mobile. Solicitor Mark Lewis confirmed
he was advising. "Investigations are currently underway and court orders
will be sought," he said last night. He also confirmed that the former
England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson had asked him to
investigate whether his phone had been hacked.
It has also emerged that
layers in connection with the possible
hacking of their phone in the days following their daughter
Madeleine's disappearance in Portugal.
Rupert Murdoch really angry, or is this just a ploy?
certainly seems angry, and on Friday was also reported to be
"depressed". At a crucial time for his megabucks bid for BSkyB, he and
his company have been humiliated.
Murdoch is understood to have told
David Cameron, who was concerned about controversy involving his media
chief Andy Coulson, that police had got to the bottom of the
phone-hacking allegations and that the affair was politically motivated
by his enemies. Yet recent events have undermined that claim. Even
Murdoch's fiercest enemies would not accuse him of knowingly telling an
untruth, so he is entitled to wonder where things went wrong. A friend
of Murdoch reports that only in the past few weeks has he been fully
apprised of the situation and, understandably, he is angry. That is why
the journalist Ian Edmondson, previously suspended pending a News
International inquiry, was sacked last week.
that the end of it?
it. He has effectively thrown a petrol bomb into the fireworks factory.
Where before News international's senior people sought control of the
situation, Murdoch's anger may have relinquished it. Last week the News
of the World, under advice from lawyers Burton Copeland, a leading
criminal litigation firm, handed over some of Ian Edmondson's emails to
the police, which they have described as very significant. Another
prosecution source said they suspect it is "the tip of a very big
iceberg". Edmondson is talking to the paper about a severance deal, but
if he faces criminal charges he will be required to tell all. This could
implicate a great many other people, some of them very senior. Those who
know him well say he is unlikely to be willing to carry the can alone.
can't just wait and see what their ex-employee Edmondson does?
has been a force for more openness than some of his senior consiglieri
advised, but he still has a way to go if the stables are to be truly
cleaned. It would be consistent with his style to take a proactive role
and remove those whose behaviour has recently failed to impress him. As
former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil reported last week, one senior
Times executive said: "They are willing to sack anyone who is guilty as
long as their name isn't Murdoch."
really meant it when he said they had a zero-tolerance policy on
Up to as
point, yes, even if some in his own organisation, for reasons of their
own, hoped he didn't. As someone close to the affair said: "Murdoch has
not been well served by those around him. The absolutely shocking
conduct of the News of the World ' not least in failing to release all
their files on the matter three years ago ' has lost the confidence of
everybody, and they are having to make these large payouts as a result."
But the zero-tolerance claim faces a test over the New York Times
revelation of the existence of a tape of Glenn Mulcaire, the private
investigator jailed over the NoW phone hacking four years ago,
instructing a journalist how to access someone's phone. Was ' or is? ?
that (unnamed) journalist working for a News International company'
the story going next?
police are likely to ask to see all of Edmondson's emails, in addition
to the "significant" ones they already have. This could incriminate a
lot of people. There are also plenty of celebrities (and, shall we say,
former celebrities) in the queue for payouts. How News International
handles this will be a mark of its openness. If each celebrity claims,
say, £30,000, the bill could be enormous. There are said to be thousands
of names on Mulcaire's files, but as the police will tell you, in law
that doesn't mean their phones were necessarily hacked. It is that doubt
' and the potential for embarrassing News International ' that some were
seeking to exploit before last week. The Commons media committee is also
talking about reopening its inquiries.
should we trust the police? Didn't their shortcomings effectively bury
the matter last time?
police have always said they would respond to any new evidence, and now,
they say, they have it and are doing so. Their problem has been a lack
of witnesses and a strict interpretation of what is required in order to
prove that hacking has taken place. Having secured the conviction of
journalist Clive Goodman and Mulcaire four years ago, they felt a
message had been sent and their job done.
about the people they failed to investigate?
Yates admitted to the Commons media committee, they should have asked
more about "Neville", whose name appeared on one of the documents
unearthed by the police when they raided Mulcaire's office. The same
would presumably go for the other names ("Ian" and "Greg") that have
emerged recently. Those close to the original inquiry, led by Andy
Hayman, a former assistant commissioner of the Met, say there was a lot
of hearsay but little concrete evidence and little prospect of securing
a conviction. Hayman himself wrote an article in The Times which said
there were "only a handful" of victims. Critics say they had thousands
of documents ? which have been emerging in the privately brought cases ?
and they could have cleaned the whole thing up. They also say that a
judge would never have given them permission to raid the NoW's emails.
It would have been seen as a "fishing expedition" conducted on a whim.
This time they appear to have more to go on, and know they have ground
to make up.
David Cameron been damaged by this?
office has been at pains to distance him from the story, even though he
appointed Coulson ? who denies all knowledge of the hacking ? just
months after his exit from the News of the World, and hung on to him
until as recently as 10 days ago. They also offered guidance that when
he dined with Rupert Murdoch's son James and News International's chief
executive Rebekah Brooks over Christmas, they didn't discuss phone
hacking or the BSkyB bid.