Tag Archives: phone hacking

Breakdown: What we’ve learned from phone hacking documents release

Earlier today, the Culture Media and Sport select committee published a mine of new correspondence between the committee and key players in the phone hacking scandal. Here’s what we’ve learned so far:

  • Clive Goodman wrote to News International after he was sacked for phone hacking, to make a claim for unfair dismissal. In the letter, he states that Andy Coulson was aware of the practice of phone hacking, and that it was regularly discussed in editorial meetings until “explicit reference of it was banned by the Editor.”
  • The version of Goodman’s letter provided to the committee by News International had redacted all references to hacking being discussed in editorial meetings.
  • According to James Murdoch, Clive Goodman was paid £243,502.08 in settlement of his unfair dismissal claim.  Also, approximately £246,000 was paid to Glenn Mulcaire’s lawyers to cover his legal fees.
  • The Editor and Managing Editor of the News of the World could authorise payments of up to £50,000. Deputy Editors could authorise £10,000 and Desk Heads, £2000.
  • 54 staff have been disciplined under News International’s Corporate Code of Conduct since 2000, including 3 this year.
  • While NI have records stating Rebekah Brooks was on holiday at the time the Millie Dowler story which had been sourced through phone hacking broke, James Murdoch says they do not have records showing who deputised for her, or who the on duty lawyer was.
  • Mark Lewis, Gordon Taylor’s lawyer, says he was told by a lawyer representing News International that he was “negotiating with Murdoch.” Lewis says “I did not know whether he meant Rupert Murdoch or James Murdoch at that time, but it seems likely that the reference was to James.”
  • The 2007 email review carried out by Harbottle & Lewis, far from being a full, unrestrained investigation, was restricted to five email subfolders – and only to look for evidence regarding Clive Goodman. The “limited” selection of documents were examined over a period of two weeks, by junior employees.
  • When James Murdoch the legal firm had been brought in to find out “what the hell was going on”, he may have been, say Harbottle & Lewis, “confused or misinformed.”
  • News International’s former Director of Legal affairs Jonathan Chapman told the committee the 2007 Harbottle & Lewis email review could not be characterised as the “wider internal investigation” it had been made out to be at the committee hearing. He said the attempt to do so could be said to be “a diversion.”

Have we missed anything? If you’ve found something juicy in the documents that we haven’t listed, let us know.

Did Piers Morgan mislead DCMS select committee on tabloid hacking?

As new allegations of phone hacking swirl around CNN primetime host Piers Morgan, he may yet come to regret the swashbuckling hubris of his performance at the DCMS select committee in 2003. Ranging much further than the behaviour of his own red top, the then Mirror editor gave a forceful defence of the entire newspaper industry over invasions of privacy. Political Scrapbook has the footage.

Then seven years into his tenure as editor, Morgan told MPs that the press should be “congratulated” on its ethical approach to privacy issues, characterising the questioning as a “ritual bollocking”. Committee chair Gerald Kaufman stepped in several times to reprimand Morgan for his “discourteousy”.

In a bravodo-fuelled performance, Morgan claimed unwisely that the press behaved “with sensitivity” towards war widows and “absolutely responsibly” towards Princes William and Harry. His former paper the News of the World was already targeting the phones of dead soldiers’ families and would be caught bugging royals just two years later.

What may really land Morgan in hot water, however, are claims relating to his personal knowledge of privacy:

“In terms of ordinary people, I just don’t believe that they’re intruded in an unjustified way. I don’t see evidence that that happens at the Mirror. I didn’t see evidence that that happened on the other papers that I’ve worked on.”

“If there are particular grievances about how the Daily Mirror has behaved, and I say that our record in this area is exemplary, exemplary. I don’t say this because we somehow got away with this, I say this because we operate the [PCC] Code of Practice effectively and seriously.”

The DCMS select committee will meet tomorrow to discuss recalling five people who gave evidence recently, including James Murdoch. Scrapbook is sure that Piers will be happy to clarify his previous outbursts in light of recent developments. From the sounds of things he may soon have a lot more free time on his hands.

Better get those bags packed.

The News of the World column written by Sarah Payne’s mother – before she was told they hacked her

The mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne wrote a valedictory column in the final edition of the News of the World. The piece gushed about her “trusted friends” on the paper — but she has now been informed that hackers targeted her voicemails on a phone given to her by editor Rebekah Brooks.

Under the headline “News of the World proved it is a force for good” [hi-res image], Sara Payne defended the paper, which led a campaign to establish “Sarah’s Law”  – giving parents the right to know if paedophiles live nearby:

“The News of the World, and more importantly the people there became my very good and trusted friends … God only knows why the News of the World has stuck by me for so long…but the reason I’ve stayed with them is that they have always been a paper that cares and a voice for the people”

Sara is said to be “absolutely devastated and deeply disappointed” by the news.

The full text of the article is reproduced below.

IT is fair to say I have not had the happiest or easiest of decades.

Over the past 11 years I have been in the News of the World on more than one occasion, and they have been as much of a driving force behind the Sarah’s Law campaign as I have.

In fact they have helped a great deal more than I can say and I know it would have been a longer and harder fight without them in my corner. Read More »

The Times guilt-trip their readers with a cartoon of starving children

As the phone hacking scandal rumbles on to the dismay of News Corporation, there was speculation that Tory backbenchers had been primed by the whips to say that the public want MPs to move on to other issues, and Louise Mensch attempted to deflect the attention to Piers Morgan by taking quotes in his book out of context.

But the third and most tasteless prong of resistance has come from a graphic in The Times depicting children in Somalia, suggesting that talking about phone hacking has prolonged their starvation.

No one is stopping The Times covering both stories.

The phone hacking letter that David Cameron ignored

Back in October, Tom Watson sent a letter to the Prime Minister ahead of the Dispatches report ‘Tabloids, Tories and Phone Hacking’, questioning Andy Coulson’s continued employment at Number 10: “If a government minister were to be the subject of similar allegations, they would be forced to stand down immediately while an investigation is carried out.”

The letter was mentioned in the Commons earlier, and Watson’s website has gone down due to a huge surge in traffic. We’ve republished it here in full:

4 October 2010

Dear Mr Cameron,


You will be aware of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s Press Standards, Privacy and Libel report of February 2010 in which Mr Andy Coulson, your Communications Director, told MPs that he had no recollection of incidences where phone hacking took place whilst he was Editor of the News of the World.

New allegations made today to Channel 4’s Dispatches programme, by a former senior executive of News International, however, claim that Mr Coulson did in fact know about hacking, and that he listened to tapes of intercepted voicemail messages. These allegations are new, far reaching and warrant investigation.

The report to be broadcast on the Dispatches programme casts doubt on the accuracy of the oral evidence provided to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on 21 July 2009 by Mr Coulson in which he said: “I was, as you know, Editor of the News of the World for four years from January 2003 until January 2007. During that time I never condoned the use of `phone hacking and nor do I have any recollection of incidences where `phone hacking took place”.

Accordingly, I think it is necessary for you to make a statement in Parliament on this matter next week. If a government minister were to be the subject of similar allegations, they would be forced to stand down immediately while an investigation is carried out. We are now at the point where I firmly believe you should consider a similar course of action with regards to Mr Coulson’s conduct.

I am sure you would agree misleading a parliamentary committee of the House of Commons is a very serious matter, and therefore these allegations need to be investigated. Parliament and the public would expect nothing less from you.

I look forward to hearing from you, at the earliest opportunity, in response to the points that I have raised.

Yours sincerely


Tom Watson

Member of Parliament for West Bromwich East

UPDATE: Number 10 have now released a letter, which. Cue paroxysms from the right. Cameron didn’t even remember having replied in the chamber — because it was a stonewalling, non-reply which <em>ignored</em> the substantive allegations.

NewsCorp to launch new search engine

Are you lacking in specific knowledge on a particular subject? Are your search results unconvincing?

News Corporation are here to help.  It’s not just the Culture Media & Sport select committee who get to question Rupert – simply visit AskMurdoch, and you too can get answers from the Dirty Digger himself.

We’ll be working hard to keep search results up to date as the evening goes on.

“Comedian” splats Rupert Murdoch with custard pie

As if today’s events weren’t exciting enough…

Shortly after 5pm, a man in a checked shirt, thought to be activist and comedian Jonnie Marbles, thought things needed spicing up a little. He planted a paper plate filled with shaving foam on Rupert Murdoch as he was giving evidence to the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee.

As Tom Watson pointed out at the end of the hearing, Mrs Murdoch has a mean left hook.

Up to 15% less likely to buy News International titles after hacking

A survey for Press Gazette shows the extent of reputational damage to other News International papers, with up to 15% of the public less likely to buy Murdoch titles because of hacking at the News of the World. The poll also suggests implications for the print media at large, with 21% of respondents saying they were less likely to buy any paper.

With pollsters ID Factor asking further questions on an alternative choice of newspaper for former News of the World readers, the Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Mirror “stand to pick up more than 400,000 extra copies each”.

We may see Murdoch launch his new Sunday red top in less than three weeks.

  • Follow us on Twitter