Posts Tagged ‘News International’

Give Ed credit – his leadership has just changed gears

11/07/2011, 01:00:14 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Last week was a watershed for lots of reasons. It saw a recalibration of the relationship between the tabloid media and politics. It spelled the end of Rupert Murdoch’s infallibility; with the media Mephistopheles left looking vulnerable and hopelessly out of touch. And it marked the point where David Cameron’s teflon coating started to rub off. The familiar attacks on his poor judgement and his arrogance fusing in one perfectly resonant episode.

But it saw something else too; the point where Ed Miliband looked, sounded and acted like a leader. He was not the architect of the events that unfolded last week – opposition leaders seldom make the weather like that – but he has become the first leading politician in living memory to get up off his knees and challenge the malign hold Murdoch and his acolytes have on British politics.

Tentative at first, by the end of last week his positioning was assured. In calling for Rebekah Brooks’ head, the scrapping of the press complaints commission and then pressing for the appointment of a judge to lead the hacking-gate inquiry, Ed was on the front foot throughout. His robust performance at this morning’s press conference further evidence that this episode marks a change in gear for his leadership. (more…)

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BskyB vote: time to put your money where your mouth is

11/07/2011, 07:00:54 AM

by John Woodcock

After Ed Miliband made the running last week, members of parliament from all parties have said sensible things about the need for a new relationship between politicians and the press.

But the test of whether we understand the gravity of the current situation will come on Wednesday when the house of commons votes on Labour’s motion to delay the BSkyB takeover bid until the current criminal investigation into News International has concluded. I hope MPs on the government benches will put aside their differences and vote with us. They will have spent the weekend listening to constituents who simply will not understand if they talk a good game but fail to act.

Ed has been bold and astute. Over the past week he understood and communicated just how much changed with the revelation that this activity systematically targeted the public not just the famous. But of all the calls he has made, the most important may ultimately prove to be the way he has positioned Labour as champion of a continuing free press in Britain. (more…)

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You cant reform a monster – News International must be broken up

07/07/2011, 12:26:59 PM

by Anthony Painter

When information empires become too powerful they have to be broken up. News International and connected companies have become too powerful. They should be broken up.

Tim Wu’s The Master Switch details many such moments in US history where communications and media companies have reached a size where they dominate the marketplace and begin to infect public and cultural space. Courts or the federal government have stepped in to either break up or place such behemoths in a regulatory stranglehold. It happened when the Nixon administration began the break up of AT&T in the 1970s for instance.

All this begs the immediate question: what is too powerful? It can take a number of different forms. In the case of News International, it is its ability to subvert democratic process and divert law enforcement from its proper course. In other words, it’s not the morally reprehensible and criminally abhorrent phone hacking that occurred at the News of the World per se. It is the fall out from hacking that makes clear the degree to which News International and the News Corporation have been able to prevent due process from occurring and its capability to resist political and public revulsion at its behaviour. (more…)

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Commons sketch: PMQs

06/07/2011, 01:33:42 PM

by Dan Hodges

It must have been a bit like this in Paris in 1793. The cruel expectation. Morbid anticipation. Come, witness the brutal righteousness of the mob.

For years MPs had lived in fear. Of the late night phone call, or knock on the door. “I’m calling from the News of the World. We’re running a story about you tomorrow, and I wondered whether you’d care to respond”.

Not today. The chamber was packed as MPs fought for the best position to view the spectacle. On the Labour front bench Harriet Harman took out her knitting. On the other side Ken Clarke was handing out souvenir postcards.

Then in walked David Cameron. Head of the Committee on Public Safety. Directly opposite sat Ed Miliband, his deputy. It’s an open secret the two men are bitter political rivals. But the Head of the Committee was confident that for now they would unite in the interest of the people against the common foe.

The prime minister pulled himself up to his full height. He looked sober and statesmanlike. Just as his former advisor, ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson, had taught him.  Phone hacking was ‘absolutely disgusting’, he said. Everyone in the House and in the country would have been ‘revolted’ by what they’d seen and heard on the television screens.

It was a strong sound-bite, and Cameron sat back down confidently. His attack on the newspapers would read well in tomorrow’s newspapers.

Ed Miliband rose. The actions of the NOTW were, ‘immoral and a disgrace’. His delivery was strong and measured. His own senior media advisor, former News International journalist Tom Baldwin, had also prepared him well.

The prime minister’s assurances on a public and independent enquiry into the actions of the media were welcome. But what about other issues? Such as the impending BSkyB bid? He had argued it should be dealt with by the competition commission, not the new revolutionary council. It was what the people were demanding.

Cameron looked uneasy. It wasn’t supposed to be him on trial. As the crowd began to bay his face reddened. There were laws. They had to be followed. His rival was opportunistically playing to the gallery, ‘I note that the leader of the Labour party said yesterday that the issue of competition and plurality is a separate issue’.

Ed Miliband shook his head slowly. Weak. Very weak. The people do not like weakness. ‘The public see a major news organisation in this country where no-one appears prepared to take responsibility for what happened’, he said. There was no denial that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked. ‘Nobody is denying it happened on the watch of the current chief executive of News International, who was editor of the newspaper at the time. Will the prime minister, if he believes in people taking responsibility, join me in saying she should take responsibility and consider her position?’.

There was now fear in the prime minister’s eyes. What about due process. It had to be followed. We should let the police do their work.

It was useless. By now the mob was in full cry. And the mob belonged to Ed Miliband.

‘These events show a systematic set of abuses that demonstrate the use of power without responsibility in our country’, he said. It was in the interests of the public and democracy that these issues were sorted out. The Head of the Committee on Public Safety, ‘hasn’t shown the leadership necessary today. He hasn’t shown the leadership necessary on BSkyB. He hasn’t shown the leadership necessary on News International’.

David Cameron sat silently. Behind him, sunlight glinted upon cold steel.

Dan Hodges is contributing editor of Labour Uncut.

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Joint statement by John Yates and Keir Starmer on phone hacking

11/04/2011, 05:38:20 PM

Joint statement by MPS Acting Deputy Commissioner John Yates and the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC:

There has been a significant amount of interest in recent weeks among the media over understanding of the complex law in respect of phone hacking, particularly in relation to the prosecutions of Goodman and Mulcaire. We have both written to, and appeared before, the relevant Parliamentary Select Committees providing detailed evidence on this matter to give an account of our best understanding of what took place five years ago.

Neither of us had responsibility for this case at the time it was originally prosecuted. We have, therefore, both sought to interpret, as best we can, the original documentation and the recollections of those involved. The relevant information is now in the public domain.

We, and others in our organisations, would now like to focus together on the current investigation, in the same way that we work closely and constructively on a daily basis on numerous other cases and complex issues.


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Saturday News Review

09/04/2011, 09:00:04 AM

News International admits liability over phone hacking

Rupert Murdoch’s News International has issued a public apology to eight victims of phone hacking, including the actor Sienna Miller and former culture secretary Tessa Jowell, and admitted for the first time that the practice was rife at the News of the World. In a move likely to cost the company many millions of pounds, it said it would offer compensation to some of the 24 high-profile figures who have started legal proceedings against the paper in the high court for breach of privacy. It also admitted its previous investigations into hacking had not been “sufficiently robust”. The unprecedented statement of contrition is a remarkable volte face for the country’s most powerful news organisation that was claiming until the start of this year, in the face of growing evidence to the contrary, that hacking was the work of a single reporter. – the Guardian

News International’s admission that it was responsible for the hacking of the phones of public figures ranging from a former member of the Cabinet to a Hollywood actress represents a seismic moment for the management of Britain’s biggest newspaper publisher, reverberating all the way back to Rupert Murdoch. The acceptance of liability on a grand scale has implications which stretch across the Atlantic to the heart of News Corporation. Why, Mr Murdoch will surely ask himself, didn’t he take a personal grip of this situation before it reached such a pass? At Dow Jones & Co, the publishers of Mr Murdoch’s prized Wall Street Journal, the chief executive Les Hinton might ask himself why, as executive chairman of News International (NI) throughout the period in question, he presided over an organisation responsible for such behaviour, but told MPs that “there was never any evidence delivered to me” suggesting that phone hacking went beyond Clive Goodman, the royal editor of the News of the World jailed in January 2007. – the Independent

The biggest question is for the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who was poised to wave through News Corporation’s bid for full ownership and control of BSkyB, thereby creating the largest and most powerful media company Britain has ever seen. It is now apparent his predecessor as culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, had her phone hacked. Imagine if a bank had hired investigators to hack the chancellor of the exchequer’s phone. It is difficult to imagine that Mr Hunt could possibly allow the bid to go through in the circumstances when so many unanswered questions hang over the company and where so many documents have yet to be revealed. Only a full judicial inquiry can now answer the many unresolved issues. – the Guardian

Now George’s business buddies make U-turn on growth

Some of the UK’s most prominent business leaders, including individuals who gave their personal stamp of approval to the chancellor’s aggressive spending cuts, have said they have growing concerns about the state of the economy, warning of weak growth and rising inflation ahead. Archie Norman, the former Tory MP who now chairs ITV, said the government’s growth targets were too optimistic. The former Asda boss Andy Bond, Carphone Warehouse founder Charles Dunstone, Tory peer Lord Wolfson, who runs Next, and Yell chairman Bob Wigley predicted tough times ahead as soaring inflation dents consumer spending power, although they continue to support George Osborne‘s austerity strategy. Bond expressed doubt about the ability of the private sector to create as many jobs as hoped. “I don’t think the private sector is going to be able to pick up the slack in this climate,” he said. Bond, who ran the UK’s second largest supermarket chain for five years, forecast a two-year “retail recession” earlier this week. He was one of 35 bosses who signed a letter to the Daily Telegraph six months ago supporting George Osborne’s plan to slash the deficit and arguing that businesses “should be more than capable of generating additional jobs to replace those lost in the public sector”.- the Guardian

Clegg to make AV plea

Nick Clegg is to compare proposed changes to the system for electing MPs to giving women the vote and lowering the voting age to 18. The Lib Dem leader will say arguments against the alternative vote (AV) will look as “nonsensical” in the future as those against female suffrage now do. But one senior Labour politician said his reading of history was “dodgy” and the current first-past-the-post system had “stood the test of time”. Voters will be asked whether to retain first-past-the-post or switch to the alternative vote – where voters can rank candidates in order of preference – in the UK-wide poll. Putting the case for AV in a speech in London, Mr Clegg will say it is a “very British reform” and represents an “evolution” of the existing system. Referring to the series of legislative steps which extended the voting franchise in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, he will say a switch to AV would fit into a pattern of constitutional change “by instalments”. – the BBC

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News International statement

08/04/2011, 03:58:09 PM

News International statement with regard to voicemail interception at the News of the World during 2004-2006:

Following an extensive internal investigation and disclosures through civil legal cases, News International has decided to approach some civil litigants with an unreserved apology and an admission of liability in cases meeting specific criteria.

We have also asked our lawyers to establish a compensation scheme with a view to dealing with justifiable claims fairly and efficiently.

This will begin the process of bringing these cases to a fair resolution with damages appropriate to the extent of the intrusion.

We will, however, continue to contest cases that we believe are without merit or where we are not responsible.

That said, past behaviour at the News of the World in relation to voicemail interception is a matter of genuine regret. It is now apparent that our previous inquiries failed to uncover important evidence and we acknowledge our actions then were not sufficiently robust.

We continue to co-operate fully with the Metropolitan Police. It was our discovery and voluntary disclosure of this evidence in January that led to the re-opening of the police investigation.

With that investigation on going, we cannot comment further until its completion.

News International’s commitment to our readers and pride in our award-winning journalism remains undiminished.

We will continue to engage with and challenge those who attempt to restrict our industry’s freedom to undertake responsible investigative reporting in the public interest.


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Why are we wasting time and police resources on phone hacking?

01/02/2011, 11:30:10 AM

by Dan Hodges

Westminster is gripped by a strange madness. Last week it was announced that the economy is teetering on the brink of the precipice, a swathe of cuts are set to scythe through every community in the land and that the 350th British life had lain down for its country in Afghanistan.

But what is dominating our political discourse? Phone-hacking. The hunt to uncover which journalists eavesdropped on the mobile messages of which politicians and minor celebrities. This is now the burning issue of our age.

We are witnessing the car crash of the British establishment. Our MPs are piling into the media. The media are piling into the police. The police are piling into everyone. All the while the public are gliding slowly by watching, with incomprehension, the unfolding spectacle.

On the surface, the hacking controversy raises important issues. Laws have been broken. The privacy of public figures invaded. There are questions over the integrity of senior police officers.

These matters should not be taken lightly. But nor should they be whipped into a frenzy of rumour, speculation and accusation. (more…)

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Tom Watson: Who paid Andy Coulson’s legal fees?

12/12/2010, 01:00:43 PM

If you can’t see the letter in the document viewer below, the plain text version is here.

Gus O Donnell Andy Coulson Legal Fees

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