Behind all this phone-hacking scandal lurks the corrupting presence of Murdoch

September 7th, 2010

Whenever such a cat’s skein of evasion, misleadingness, distortions and downright lies unravels, there is always a serious and dangerous abuse of power at the root of it.   And that applies here, big time, for all the participants – the police, the Home Office and Home Secretary, the News of the World, Coulson himself, and at the back of it all…..still unquestioned, Murdoch.   Consider the evidence in each case.

The police:

Yates defends the Met by saying they will always look at new evidence if it becomes available.   What he doesn’t say is that the Met has been sitting for years on a pyramid of evidence (widely reckoned to amount to 3,000 illegal phone-taps), but have refused to disclose it or investigate it.   He says he interviewed other News of the World reporters than the royal correspondent, Clive Goodman.   But he won’t name anybody and has not interviewed reporters who the evidence clearly shows intercepted voicemail messages.   He admits not having talked to Sean Hoare, the former NoW reporter who said Coulson was aware of widespread hacking.   But a dozen such reporters spoke to the New York Times about phone hacking, so why has the Met been so negligent in following up the evidence?   The police agreed with the DPP to warn ‘all potential victims’ that their phones had been hacked into, but in fact told only a fraction: why?

The Home Office:

Theresa May said yesterday in the House that “the investigation has already been reviewed by the Met”.   That is highly misleading: Yates when asked a year ago to establish the facts, reported within hours there were no grounds to reopen the 2006 inquiry, and regularly denied he had conducted a review.   She also said “the CPS had full access to all the evidence gathered”.   This is not true: the Guardian unearthed that a crucial email which the police found identifying two NoW reporters handling voicemails had not been handed on to the CPS.   May further said that “there was early and regular (police) consultation with the CPS…to produce the best evidence”.   In fact the police urged the CPS to ‘ring-fence’ evidence to conceal the identities of victims.   And she also said that the “police made it clear that those they believed had been intercepted were contacted by members of the Met”.   They were not.

The News of the World:

The NoW management and the whole Murdoch stable have persisted in claiming that nobody else was involved in hacking besides the two convicted.  But a dozen NoW reporters have explicitly denied this and said phone-hacking was rife at the paper.   Coulson has denied knowing anything about it.  Several of his former employees have insisted he did.   Theresa May stone-walled in a half-hour painful cross-examination in the Commons by saying she could  not interfere with police operational matters.   But of course that’s not true where there’s clear evidence (which there is) that the police have hugely mismanaged this affair.   We need a public inquiry to discover why – a trail that will inevitably in the end lead to Murdoch and his power and his ambitions.

3 Responses to “Behind all this phone-hacking scandal lurks the corrupting presence of Murdoch”

  1. Richard Tobin Says:

    When Police bugged the meeting between Sadiq Khan MP and one of his constituents this appeared to flout the ‘Wilson doctrine’, which forbids the tapping of MPs’ telephones. Dominic Grieve, shadow Attorney General at the time, said: “This also raises wider issues about the extent to which we now have a level of surveillance society where a very large number of areas of intrusive investigation are being authorised by police officers at a senior level but carried out and monitored by police officers at a very junior level.”

    News International needs only to ‘turn the wick-up’ on any such simple story as this to bring the Police leadership and mantra into sharp focus, but to date they have not issued.

    Whilst this Coulson-NOTW matter is apparently being limited to questions of the ‘hacking’ of mobile-phone answering-service recordings, it is simplistic to consider this could be the only covert means of gathering information employed by the press.

    For example it is possible to remotely activate a mobile phone’s microphone and use it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations. The technique is called a “roving bug”. See: http://news.cnet.com/2100-1029_3-6140191.html

    It is possible to track the movement and location of any mobile see: http://www.traceamobile.co.uk and see here how open to abuse this system can be http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/02/02/mobile-phone_tracking/

    Also: http://www.howtovanish.com/2010/01/cell-phone-security-mobile-phone-taps/

    Secret mobile phone codes cracked
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8429233.stm

    How easy is it to hack a mobile?
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11217012

    It is possible such covert techniques have been used by the NOTW staff but what is beyond doubt is that these techniques are used as a matter of course by the Police. Then we can broaden our gaze towards the activity of the Police continuing ‘under the radar’ of anything like full press coverage with the establishment of such as The Confidential Intelligence Unit (CIU) established to ‘remove the threat of criminality and public disorder that arises from domestic extremism’.

    See: http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/news/article-1138755/Secret-police-unit-set-spy-British-domestic-extremists.html
    And: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/henryporter/2009/feb/10/police-civil-liberties

    Bound-up with this no doubt is also the reluctance of the police and security services to allow the use of intercept data in evidence ostentatiously because they do not want to reveal in the public domain the techniques they deploy. It will not be limited to the many ways of using mobile phones but also hacking computers see: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/05/15/soca_hacking/ , remote reading of hard-drives, see: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/04/29/remote_hard_drive_forensics/ and the conglomeration of such activities with agencies such as with the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/05/14/conlib_imp/

    There appears to be little appetite to fess-up publicly as to the facts of just how far and deep the establishment of this surveillance state has become. And it appears that what is thought good for the Police is thought good for News International.

  2. Mike Garcia Says:

    Surely this current witch hunt against Andy Coulson is merely an example of hypocrisy, even tit-for-tat, on all sides. It has been recognised for decades now that regular tapping/hacking of journalists’ phones has been the order of the day.

    This storm in a tea-cup goes down very badly since no one should doubt that governments also listen to our phone calls and read our emails as well, and on the most spurious of excuses. They’ve been doing so for decades.

    Who will speak up for us?

    Mike Garcia
    Beaminster
    DT8 3EH

    01308 861024

  3. investment monitor Says:

    I can´t understand why Murdoch is not in Jail yet…

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