Monday, 18 July 2011

The latest on the News International scandal - UPDATE

News International have been denying any wrongdoing for a long, long time.

The Guardian has provided excellent coverage of the hacking scandal and are awaiting confirmation of some further wrongdoing:

IPCC investigating whether John Yates helped daughter of Neil Wallis get job at Metropolitan police, the Guardian learns. Yates denies the claim.

John Yates is the Metropolitan assistant commissioner, who resigned earlier today. It follows the resignation of commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson yesterday.

Neil Wallis was deputy editor of the News of the World.

It seems that there's been a lot of mutual back scratching among News International, the police and some politicians over the years.

So far, a few people have resigned, including Murdoch's protegee Rebekah Brooks, who was arrested on Friday, which could make her appearance before the select committee tomorrow less than spectacular. She may refuse to answer some questions on the grounds of compromising the police investigation.

It's all very dodgy, and I don't trust Murdoch at all. There appears to be some manipulation of the events behind the scenes, or perhaps I'm too cynical, having seen the results of numerous inquiries by select committees in the past.

If this inquiry bears any fruit, many other heads will roll and it will help events in the US gain momentum.

Interestingly, Murdoch has sought the services of a team of legal eagles in the US:

Rupert Murdoch is assembling a team of US lawyers with expertise in fighting large federal criminal cases, suggesting he is readying himself for a bitter legal battle in America as a result of the phone-hacking scandal.

It may have something to do with a certain "Brain Room" that was built in the Fox News headquarters in New York:

A former producer with Fox News claimed in a lengthy essay gaining new traction this week that the conservative television station has a "Brain Room" in its New York headquarters, which enables employees to view private telephone records with ease.

Though published years ago, the allegations have returned to relevance in the wake of the phone hacking scandals that have rocked News Corporation to its very core, threatening to topple one of the world's largest and most powerful media conglomerates.

In addition, people are starting to make information about hacking available, and not in the UK...

An alleged 2003 News of the World phone hack of actor Jude Law and his personal assistant Ben Jackson while the duo were in New York is the first specific case of Rupert Murdoch’s law-breaking reporters operating in America.

Because the mobile phones were operating on American networks, United States law applies. Hacking into phones is a violation of Federal law and could also involve civil suits. Both Jude Law and Ben Jackson have retained counsel.

The plot is getting very convoluted and thickening by the minute.

On the UK side, I have some hope that the Guardian and the Independent won't let go of any of this, forcing the authorities to act decisively. Not all politicians and not all the police are under a cloud of suspicion and many of them are clean, with nothing to fear from Murdoch. I place my trust in them.

As for the American side, we don't know the extent of any hacking or who has the most to fear in case Murdoch has any dirt on them. His legal team may be able to make things go away, we'll have to wait and see.

One thing I know for sure: The penalties in the US are much stiffer than in Britain when people are found guilty of any crime.

Let's keep our fingers crossed!


From The Guardian:

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."

I thought I'd include this update, even though the police are not treating his death as suspicious at the moment. They're very cagey at the start of any investigation. The timing of Hoare's death is certainly suspicious, and I'll keep an eye on any further developments.

If this proves to be murder, it will change everything. Let's hope it doesn't come to a complete whitewash.