Friday, 22 July 2011

Murdoch and the breaking of the News International omerta

Rupert Murdoch has poisoned political life in Britain since his hero Margaret Thatcher elevated him to power when she was Prime Minister.

Why is it that Labour mutated into New Labour when in 1997 they would have won the landslide election even with a chimp in charge?

Seumas Milne writes in the Guardian today:
But Murdoch is a case apart, not only because of his commanding position in both print and satellite TV, but because of the crucial part he played in cementing Margaret Thatcher's political power and then shaping a whole era of New Labour/Tory neoliberal consensus that delivered enfeebled unions, privatisation and the Iraq war. His role in breaking the print unions at Wapping in the 1980s by sacking 5,000 mostly low-paid workers is still hailed in parts of the media as a brave blow for quality journalism.

... several of these opportunities [ ... to weaken the unaccountable corporate power that has dominated the British press and create the space for a freer, more diverse media] have come and gone. First the official deception of the Iraq war, then the collapse of a deregulated banking system, then the exposure of systematic sleaze in parliament revealed a growing crisis in the way the country is run. Now that crisis has been shown to have spread to the media and police. Official Britain isn't working. Sooner or later, pressure for change will become unstoppable.

This is a brilliant piece. Please read it in full.

Meanwhile, former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith asks why Ken Macdonald, former Director of Public Prosecutions (later employed to write for the Times by NI), and the police commissioner at the time neglected to widen the investigation into the phone-hacking, limiting the case to the prosecution of Goodman and Mulcaire when evidence pointed to the illegality going further.

James Murdoch has been contradicted over the "for Neville (Thurlbeck)" email (which implicated the News of the World newsroom) by sacked legal director Tome Crone and former editor Colin Myler following his assertion he knew nothing when he was questioned by the Commons select committee on Tuesday.

David Cameron has had to admit that BSkyB was mentioned in conversations with News International executives despite his attempts to evade the issue in PMQs yesterday.

We now know why Cameron wouldn't give the name of the company vetting Andy Coulson. He wasn't, or at least not to an appropriate level of security clearance given his role at the centre of government. One wonders if this is because someone knew what a closer look would reveal.

We are noticing that the lower down the food-chain, the more culpable you are. Those at the top knew nothing while those at the war-front weren't even following orders — they were making it all up by themselves. Who knew there was such anarchy in the heart of the News of the World?

The Guardian us running an exhaustive Hackgate live-blog every day. Thursday here.

UPDATE: Today in the Guardian — 12.58pm: The Law Society has been contacted by solicitors who say the police have notified them that their phones may have been hacked by News of the World journalists.

Also in today's Guardian: 12.25pm: Paul Owen writes: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the US department of justice is "preparing subpoenas as part of preliminary investigations" into Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. The subpoenas relate to alleged foreign bribery – presumably News International's alleged payments to police in Britain, the subject of the Metropolitan police's Operation Elveden – and alleged hacking of the answerphone messages of 9/11 victims, a story reported by the Daily Mirror which has not been confirmed elsewhere.

On Craig Murray's excellent website today, a comment from "Mary" who writes:
"On another topic, the Torygraph no less is reporting that Judge Leveson is a friend of Matthew Freud the PR guru who is married to Elisabeth Murdoch and has been to their parties. Also that Geo Osborne was in NY recently and had dinner with Rupert Murdoch.. Note his other contacts whilst there. Bloomberg, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley etc etc"

Madam Miaow on Hackgate:
Jon Stewart on the Murdochs: David Cameron PMQs in Parliament today Live Blog 20th July 2011
Rebekah and the Murdochs in the Thunderdome 19th July 2011
Hackgate: what I've learnt from Twitter 19th July 2011
Rupert Murdoch: Ain't our democracy wonderful? 17th July 2011
On #hackgate in Twitter

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