The Guardian reports the Police have found evidence that Sara Payne, whose 8-year-old daughter was abducted and murdered in 2000, was a target of News of the World‘s investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who specialised in hacking voicemail.
Police had earlier told her correctly that her name was not among those recorded in Mulcaire’s notes, but on Tuesday officers from Operation Weeting told her they had found her personal details among the investigator’s notes. These had previously been thought to refer to a different target.
Friends of Sara Payne have told the Guardian that she is “absolutely devastated and deeply disappointed” at the disclosure. Her cause had been championed by the News of the World, and in particular by its former editor, Rebekah Brooks. Believing that she had not been a target for hacking, Payne wrote a farewell column for the paper’s final edition on 10 July, referring to its staff as “my good and trusted friends”.
The evidence that police have found in Mulcaire’s notes is believed to relate to a phone given to Sara Payne by Rebekah Brooks as a gift to help her stay in touch with her supporters
One of Payne’s close colleagues said: “We are all appalled and disgusted. Sara is in bits about it.”
If this is true then it’s game over for Rebekah Brooks, and one can only surmise a criminal prosecution
Sean Hoare, the News of the World phone-hacking whistleblower has been found dead at his home in Watford, the Guardian reports:
Sean Hoare, the former News of the World showbiz reporter who was the first named journalist to allege Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, has been found dead, the Guardian has learned.
Hoare, who worked on the Sun and the News of the World with Coulson before being dismissed for drink and drugs problems, is said to have been found dead at his Watford home.
Hertfordshire police would not confirm his identity, but the force said in a statement: “At 10.40am today [Monday 18 July] police were called to Langley Road, Watford, following the concerns for the welfare of a man who lives at an address on the street. Upon police and ambulance arrival at a property, the body of a man was found. The man was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after.
“The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.”
Hoare first made his claims in a New York Times investigation into the phone-hacking allegations at the News of the World.
He told the newspaper that not only did Coulson know of the phone hacking, but that he actively encouraged his staff to intercept the phone calls of celebrities in the pursuit of exclusives.
In a subsequent interview with the BBC he alleged that he was personally asked by his then-editor, Coulson, to tap into phones. In an interview with the PM programme he said Coulson’s insistence that he didn’t know about the practice was “a lie, it is simply a lie”.
Earlier this year, Sean Hoare contributed to a BBC documentary, “Tabloid Hacks Exposed”, which examined the extent of illegal activity perpetrated by News International employees when obtaining a story, particularly the interception of computer email communications and phone hacking.
“Tabloid Hacks Exposed” was made for the BBC’s Panorama strand, and was first broadcast in March 2011, and is essential viewing.
Phone hacking was once dismissed by executives at News International as the illegal work of “one rogue reporter”. The defence collapsed with one journalist at the News of the World being sacked and the original police inquiry having to be re-opened.
Panorama exposes the full extent of the “dark arts” employed by journalists across the industry to get their story. The programme reveals a dishonourable history of law breaking that went beyond phone hacking and questions the police inaction that let it continue.
This broadens out the problems in three ways. Firstly, while the information on Brown’s child may not have been hacked necessarily (as is being reported) it was still possibly obtained illegally, through the process of blagging, or obtaining classified information under false pretences. Ironically Brown’s Labour government introduced heavier punishment for blagging while still in power. Secondly, it brings into doubt the old red-tops’ excuse that they only investigate or dig dirt on people who “deserve it” (the argument wheeled out by Paul McMullan on Newsnight last week). As Prime Minister, Brown did deserve to be investigated of possible wrong doing, but exposing private medical details about his new born child just seems like a nasty step too far with no real journalistic purpose other than to put the PM on a Murdoch-controlled leash.
Thirdly it proves, as many people had previously speculated, that the rot within NI has spread much further than simply one or two rogue investigators or even one particular publication. It’s getting harder and harder for the Murdoch organisation to claim that these incidents are isolated, as opposed to part of a broader culture at NI. As more and more salacious details leak out and more journalists, politicians and police are implicated, Murdochgate is shaping up to be he biggest scandal in British public life since the Profumo affair. News Corporation lost $3.4 billion in market capitalization yesterday, and now even the American media is interested, which is really saying something.
So, are these crimes going to be the undoing of the oldstream, printed press? Perhaps, but not fully. Yes News International are up to their necks in a sea of shit, but what is really sounding the death knell for newspapers to my ears is the fact that this is a scandal that is breaking and being consumed on the internet. I can’t remember this being the case before, but the web seems to be the only place to keep track on the ever evolving story, as more and more facts and bizarre twists emerge that prove too much to be neatly encapsulated by traditional news narratives.
Television and newspaper reportage just doesn’t seem adequate in this particular case - it took three to four days of issues being covered by a select few sources before the mainstream media deemed them newsworthy, by which time the public was already well aware of what was going on. The delay in reportage was indeed a bit of a gaffe, but more seriously it also brings up the question of media trustworthiness. Why now trust what the media says when the media themselves are directly implicated in a scandal? Press impartiality is out the window, as evidenced by the lack of coverage of Murdochgate in Murdoch’s biggest UK title The Sun.
While it’s ironic that a newspaper broke this story of press misdoings, what’s more telling is the traffic being directed not to the printed Guardian newspaper itself, but to the paper’s website. This paper’s news blog and its live feed is the premier source for keeping up with the scandal as new elements emerge. It’s also highly ironic that the story that sees internet news coverage really come into its own is the story of the major failings of the mainstream media. The author Will Self, in a slightly verbose but incisive article for the Guardian, calls this a tectonic shift in the media. I think he’s right, and I don’t see how the oldstream press can recover from these multiple knocks in confidence and consumption.
Thanks to Richard Metzger for the financial information.
Not only is oldstream UK media tearing itself apart right now, previously picked on figures are getting their own back too. For the benefit of non-UK readers, “mincemeat” is also known as “ground beef”, and that is exactly what comic Steve Coogan makes of former deputy features editor for News Of The World, Paul McMullan, on last night’s BBC Newsnight program’s round table discussion concerning the phone-hacking scandal, the closure of NotW by Rupert Murdoch, and his still possible takeover of the BSkyB TV network. Paul McMullan is no stranger to celebrity revenge, as a covertly-recorded pub conversation between himself and Hugh Grant, in which he admitted the extent of the NotW’s phone-hacking activities, and which was then published in the New Statesman, was responsible for reopening this whole media can of worms.
Steve Coogan has had a tussle with the tabloids before, when it was claimed he was having an affair with Courtney Love (which was denied by both parties, but which caught the public imagination). But what’s going on here is not simply revenge - as Coogan rightly points out in his very first sentence, Paul McMullan is a walking PR disaster for the tabloid press and News international. He comes across as oily, evasive, self-interested and a hypocrite - perfectly fitting the public image of everything bad about tabloid-level journalists.
Journos love to pick on politicians, but in the British public imagination they are second only to them in terms of being disliked. I’ve always wondered if they know this and pick on politicos and celebs to deflect attention from themselves, or if they genuinely, honestly, believe they are doing some kind of public service. According to McMullan it’s the latter (though I can’t believe that he is completely unaware of the level of animosity the public has for him and those in his trade).
So perhaps they really are that self-deluded, but the other thought echoing through my mind during all of this coverage is “these people work/live/breathe the media - so how can they look so bad on the TV screen?”. OK so the press seem to be trying to outdo each other to find the worst picture of Rebekah Brooks, but also take for instance News International’s Director of Corporate Affairs Simon Greenberg (interviewed here by Channel 4 News’ Jon Snow) or Roger Alton, Joint Executive Editor of The Times (also owned by parent company News international). These people deal in exposé, guilt-admission and subsequent rehabilitation for a living. So why aren’t they acting humbled, the way they tell everyone else they should act?
Interestingly, Paul McMullan has had some bad things to say about his then editor Brooks (neé Wade) recently. Brooks, more than anyone, is the central figure in this row, and it is claimed that Murdoch has sacrificed the oldest running, and most widely circulated newspaper in British history, just to protect her. But McMullan is not the only disgruntled former employee of NotW willing to dish the dirt - internet hype has been building around a Twitter account that has gone online during the last couple of days called ExNOTWjourno. The account is run by a journalist who has now found herself jobless, and who intends spill the beans on life behind the scenes of NotW under Rebekah Brooks, in a new blog. According to the account there are now 16 newly unemployed journalists working on dishing the dirt (and running stories planned for the last ever publication of NotW tomorrow), and the blog is due to go online sometime this evening. This is going to get interesting…
The demise of the News of the World, the paper at the center of the UK’s ‘phone hacking scandal, has less to do with guilt, remorse or even people power, and everything to do Rupert Murdoch’s desire for power - no matter the cost.
Tonight Murdoch’s son, James announced the end of the 168-year-old tabloid, claiming it had been “sullied by behaviour that was wrong” and that “wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad”.
He went on to say:
“Indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our company.
“The News Of The World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself.”
James Murdoch also echoed his father in giving his full support to the former NOTW editor, Rebekah Brooks, saying:
“She has a good standard of ethics and her leadership is the right thing for the company.”
Brooks was editor at the time when it is alleged a private detective, employed by the paper, hacked into the voice mail messages of the murdered teenager, Milly Dowler.
Brooks stated earlier this week that it was
“inconceivable that I knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations.”
In light of this week’s revelations, what is truly inconceivable is the fact Brooks has not either
b) been sacked.
If she did not know that a private detective had been employed to hack ‘phones, then she failed in her role as editor, and should be sacked.
If she did know about it, then she should resign.
Whichever way you look at it, Brooks has to go.
Instead the Murdochs have pulled together and sacrificed a best-selling tabloid to defend Ms. Brooks.
The question is: Why?
Tonight, it was also announced that another former editor, Andy Coulson, who resigned in 2007 over the NOTW ‘phone-hacking, will be arrested by the police tomorrow.
Why protect Brooks and not Coulson?
What is disturbing about the whole NOTW ‘phone hacking scandal is the glimpse it gives of Rupert Murdoch’s power.
Since the days of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, politicians have courted Murdoch as an ally to win power.
Tony Blair met with him regularly and was a guest at a major News International party in Australia prior to Labour’s victorious election in 1997. Gordon Brown went on pilgrimage once a year to Sun Valley, to court Murdoch. Now David Cameron continues this tradition of fore-lock tugging.
It is a criminal offense to pay the British Police for information.
When questioned at a Select Committee hearing in March 2003, Brooks admitted to paying police for information.
“We have paid the police for information in the past.”
When asked if she would do so in the future, she replied:
Rebekah Brooks admits paying the police for information - a criminal offense - in March 2003
If it was known back in 2003 that Brooks and the News of the World had committed a criminal offense then why wasn’t she prosecuted?
Are Britain’s politicians too frightened, too cowed, by Murdoch and his tabloid press? And if they are, why? What imaginary power does he hold over them?
And what power does Rebekah Brooks hold over Rupert Murdoch?
The question is: Who benefits by Murdoch sacrificing the News of the World? Does it make easier for Murdoch to now own BSkyB? Does it mean News International won’t have to pay out large sums to victims of ‘phone-hacking if there is no longer a News of the World?
What David Cameron must do now is initiate a judge led enquiry in to the News of the World, Brooks, Coulson and Murdoch, as the police, in light of their involvement, cannot be trusted to investigate this thoroughly.
Cameron also has to stop Murdoch’s plans to take over BSkyB.
Both are a small step towards severing Murdoch’s influence over parliament.
To stop Murdoch’s plans to take over BSkyB sign the petition here.
In 2002, 13-year-old Milly Dowler disappeared. In the hours that followed, her family left desperate messages on Milly’s cell phone begging her to get in touch. There was no response, and the family’s messages soon filled Milly’s voice mail.
Then something strange happened - the messages were deleted. This gave the family hope that Milly was still alive.
But the truth was: Milly hadn’t deleted the messages. She was dead, murdered by Levi Bellfield.
It now turns out that it was a private detective, Glenn Mulcaire, employed by Rupert Murdoch’s paper the News of the World, who had allegedly hacked into the ‘phone and deleted the messages. As the Guardian reported on Monday:
Scotland Yard is now investigating evidence that the paper hacked directly into the voicemail of the missing girl’s own phone. As her friends and parents called and left messages imploring Milly to get in touch with them, the News of the World was listening and recording their every private word.
News International’s Chief Executive, Rebekah Brooks was the paper’s editor at the time. In an email to staff Brooks claimed she was “appalled and shocked” by the allegations, and thought it “inconceivable that [she] knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations.”
Of course, this is what Brooks has to say, until there is evidence to the contrary.
Even if that evidence is forthcoming, it is unlikely that Brooks would have sanctioned such actions on her own, which opens up the whole of Rupert Murdoch’s News International for very serious and critical examination.
“...pursue this in the most vigorous way that they can in order to get to the truth of what happened.
“I think that is the absolute priority as a police investigation.”
Which may bring interesting results, as another former editor of the News of the World tainted with phone-hacking allegations is Andy Coulson, who was appointed by Cameron as his Director of Communications - a position Coulson eventually quit because coverage of the phone-hacking affair.
1. Boycott the paper. Treat it just as the people of Merseyside did when The Sun ran its infamous Hillsborough story in 1989 following the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters.
2. Pressure advertisers and media buyers not to buy space in the News of the World and to withdraw ads they’ve already booked.
3. Back the call for an independent public inquiry into the whole hacking affair. It will be officially launched tomorrow at a meeting in the Lords.
4. Demand to know who has been, and is, paying the legal expenses of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was jailed for intercepting voicemail messages on behalf of the News of the World.
5. Ask the PCC if it has inquired of News Int whether it, or any of its associated companies, has been responsible for paying the legal fees of a convicted man? If it has not, why not? And is it therefore time that it did so?
Crucially, the ‘phone hacking allegations come just as Murdoch has succeeded in gaining regulatory permission for a 100% takeover bid for the British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), the UK’s largest pay-TV broadcaster, with over 10 million subscribers.
avaaz.org are currently organizing a campaign to stop Murdoch’s media take-over:
We have just three days to flood the government’s public consultation with requests to stop the deal.
We’ve done it before—in the last consultation Hunt said our avalanche of 40,000 messages delayed the deal as his officials had to read each email carefully, fearing a legal challenge. But the government is pushing the deal through despite the hacking scandal of murdered Milly Dowler—the latest grim episode that shows how Murdoch’s media tramples standards and ignores ethics.
Murdoch already controls more of our media than is legal in many countries – and is notorious for using his power to skew our politics. The official consultation ends this Friday—let’s tell the government we don’t want his media empire to control our largest commercial broadcaster. Send a message now—using your own words to make it stand out—calling on Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron to refuse Murdoch’s BSkyB deal until there’s a full Competition Commission review and a full public inquiry into phone hacking.