If we know where the NOTW ‘phreaking’ story began, where does it end?

It’s hard to find the right words to describe what Glenn Mulcaire appears to have done in the case of the murdered teenager, Milly Dowler. ‘Phreaking’, we’re told, rather than ‘hacking’ is the correct portmanteau term [*see Comrade Stalin’s comment below].

And that word is disturbingly resonant with a News of the World operative not just listening to Milly’s phone messages, but deleting some to make space for more, thereby falsely raising the family’s hopes that she might have still been alive, in effect further intensifying their distress:

Milly Dowler disappeared at the age of 13 on her way home in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, on 21 March 2002. Detectives from Scotland Yard’s new inquiry into the phone hacking, Operation Weeting, are believed to have found evidence of the targeting of the Dowlers in a collection of 11,000 pages of notes kept by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator jailed for phone hacking on behalf of the News of the World.

“A gross intrusion of privacy” says her family’s lawyer. As Nick Davies pointed out two years ago, when the end of this story was being widely touted as being over:

The Guardian’s story is not about Clive Goodman. It is about the activities of News of the World journalists generally. Nobody is suggesting that Goodman alone hacked into thousands of phones.[Emphasis added]

Back then it was seen by many Westminster insiders as a one-off political story with limited wider implications.  John Lloyd was not one of them:

Whether it was on a modest scale or an industrial scale what some journalists were doing was using their power and their money and the backing of their news organisation to substantially diminish people’s privacy and their civil and human right and that from people who’s job is, whose ideals are to uphold people’s rights [and] that they hold power to account is a terrible thing to be done. It is very, very serious.

And this morning the FT observes serious corporate level concern inside the Murdoch organisation:

News Corp, News International’s US parent, has in recent weeks appointed two directors to oversee its response to the phone hacking scandal, according to one person familiar with the company. The appointment of Joel Klein and Viet Dinh, both former US assistant attorneys general, shows for the first time the extent of News Corp’s concern about the investigation.

There is enough in this one story to extend into lengthy litigation. But it must also strengthen those members of the Metropolitan Police (not including Yates of the Yard) who believe this form of ‘journalism’ is worthy of  much deeper and wider investigation. It wasn’t always thus:

In January 2007 Clive Goodman, the paper’s royal editor and Glenn Mulcaire, a private detective on contract to Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday tabloid, were jailed after admitting conspiracy to intercept mobile phone voicemails.

At the time, the 15-month police investigation was limited to Mr Goodman and Mr Mulcaire and subsequently News International was adamant that only those two men had been involved in the illegal activities.[Emphasis added]

As Brian noted, also two years ago:

Why did the police and others leave it to a newbreak before taking action, when they knew the facts long ago? If they are right now, they were wrong then. And there may be much, much more to come. We need not assume that the Murdoch press were the only ones up to dirty tricks.

Indeed.

Update: Robert Peston notes (H/T Malc):

News International executives tell me they fear there may have been worse examples of alleged hacking by the News of the World than that of Milly Dowler’s mobile phone. The mind reels.

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  • pippakin

    This is one of those rare cases where I can say my heart goes out to the family. Not only was their child missing, their hopes were raised and their privacy invaded in a most sadistic fashion.

    Its time News International was brought to brook but its also a damning indictment of lazy modern journalism generally.

    Then as if all that were not bad enough the trial of Milly’s murderer must also have been an additional and terrible ordeal for the family, and one of the lowest points in the history of the British legal profession.

  • Its not a story which the “red tops” are leading on today.
    Why not?
    Journalists love stories about Journalists.
    A Russian dissident journalist gets murdered or a guy gets killed in Afghanistan and another gets arrested in Tel Aviv.
    Thats the narrative that Journalists like to present of themselves.
    Yet we are led to believe that there were five people known as “Prince of Darkness” in the NOTW newsroom and no journalist actually thought it was a story in itself.
    The only conclusion that is reasonable is that this was and would still be the “norm”.
    Hence the other “red tops” not rushing to jump on the NOTW.
    Hard also to take the Sky News coverage seriously.

    Of course the problem is that broadsheet journalists like to believe that their form of Journalism is “different”. But they are all members of the same profession and all signed up to the same code of ethics.
    In the wider freemasonry of Journalism, respectable journalists are right to shine a light on this seedier side of their profession…..but rather like top civil servants, politicians, football officials etc……their record at exposing all this has been mixed.
    Honourable mentions to those who have dared to break ranks and blow the whistles.
    But too often Journalists have had a misguided loyalty to the profession….they believe that self regulation is the answer. “Freedom of the Press” is more important than systematic abuse of peoples rights by Journalists.
    There is we are told grey areas……journalists have to work on the edge of legality……that career making or career saving “scoop” is too important to worry about legal nicety.

    But when people start arguing about “grey areas” we discover that there are areas which are simply BLACK. And its hard to imagine more disgusting behaviour than that meted out to Millys family.
    Yet theres several scenarios here.
    A dispute between NOTW Executives and their own Journalists. Either the Executives are remarkably naive ..the story of bad behaviour being a “one off” as presented to a Parliamentary Committee….is no longer sustainable.
    At best Execs seem to have worked on “dont tell me more than I need to know” or at worst they condoned or tolerated the behaviour which we have learned about piece-meal over the last few months.
    Yet another statement from NOTW. They are “investigating”…..like they investigated before.

    And probably a war within the NOTW newsroom. People look to their own survival. A war within journalism between “real” journalists in broadsheets and the “reptiles” in the Red Tops.
    “We are ……different”.
    Working on the edge is bad enough but tolerated in journalism. Working over the edge is intolerable. And those working on the edge who want to distance themselves from the Dowler case have unwittingly
    faciliated the very wrong doing that has undermined Journalism itself.
    Yet there are elephants in the room.
    Where is the “doorstepping” of Rebecca Brookes?
    Is she at her desk?
    Is she at home?
    Does no Journalist know her address or phone number. Is nobody thrusting a microphone at her and shouting “can we have a comment Miss Brookes?”. They doorstepped Kate Middleton and poor old Douglas Hogg for less.
    And Glen Mulcaire.
    Did every journo delete his phone number? Has he already de-camped to a villa in Spain in true dodgy private eye tradition?
    An unscrupulous man …we know that.
    But remarkably silent on an issue about which he knows something.

    If too many journalists look to Bernstein and Woodward as role models they must surely know that “cover up” compounds ………indiscretion and illegal acts.
    It looks to me that this is a story journalists hoped would go away. And they turned away. The consequence is that the drip drip drip of revelation has damaged their profession to the point where very few journos deserve to be taken seriiously.

  • Mick Fealty

    FJH,

    Check the link on Lloyd’s name for further confirmation of some of your prejudices. Your use of the coverall ‘journalists’ may have a justifiable poetic licence, but it is essentially misleading.

  • Comrade Stalin

    “phreaking” refers to a term coined – I think it was in the 70s or 80s – for the guys who figured out ways to use operator modes on the US telephone network to make long distance calls without being charged. It’s not the correct term here.

    “hacking” seems a bit over the top as well. There is little technical competence required here beyond finding out the phone number and then calling the voicemail number and giving the default PIN (usually 0000 or 9999 or something).

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m cool with that CS, it was Dizzy’s idea. Nonetheless, whatever it is or isn’t called, it is not legal.

  • Rory Carr

    This report (from SKY News) sums it all up really:

    ‘Speaking about the hacking allegations, [Dowler family solicitor Mark] Lewis said: “Sally and Bob Dowler have been through so much grief and trauma without further distressing revelations to them regarding the loss of their daughter.

    “It is distress heaped upon tragedy to learn that the News of the World had no humanity at such a terrible time.

    “The fact that they were prepared to act in such a heinous way that could have jeopardised the police investigation and give them false hope is despicable.” ‘

    “Heinous”. “Despicable”. That these are the most fittingly accurate words to describe the actions of the largest-selling newspaper of the greatest news conglomerate in the world is truly terrifying.

    But the news that News International (NI) are now so concerned about the ramifications of the hacking that they have appointed two former US assistant attorneys general is not at all heartening when we learn that their role is to oversee NI’s response to the scandal. It is somewhat terrifying to learn that the vetry powerful institutions which hourly and daily inform us, instruct us and preach to us how to think, what is right and what is wrong have no concern whatsoever as to what is right and wrong themselves when it boils down to their relentless pursuit of circulation increase and the concomitant increase in political influence and profit.

    Our confidence is further eroded when we witness the abject slavishness of our most senior political classes towards these very media organisations which have the power to make or break them. But just how low our elected ministers are prepared to stoop to accomodate the likes of News International (and the hint of potential reward awaiting for such accomodation) is better quietly explained by Tom Watson M.P. in his response to Culture Minister Geremy Hunt’s announcement of a “seedy deal that would shame a banana republic.”

    http://tinyurl.com/5u9dsgc

  • John Ó Néill

    CS – have to disagree – my understanding is that ‘phreaking’ now refers to any telecommunications break-in as opposed to a digital break-in (which is a hack) – collectively the practice is called ‘h/p’ (presumably not in deference to the sauce). I’m sure the issue of terminology would be settled by a quick surf on 4chan.

    Despite the gravity of this they could have argued, albeit shamefacedly, that deleting the messages was an accident. But not when they scooped the exclusive on the family believing she was still alive because her phone was being accessed. That last element of the story is the one that will really turn this thermonuclear on the NOTW.

  • Here’s an astonishing response from the Prime Minister:

    “The police in our country are quite rightly independent, they should feel that they should investigate this without any fear, without favour, without any worry about where the evidence should lead”

    I think it’s most unlikely that the police are independent of either the Government or the media – other than in theory.

  • JR

    The problem is that the sales these crimes generated have already been made. The NOTW needs to be fined heavily on the profits made on every issue that contained an article on someone who’s phone was hacked. Those involved should all do jail time.

    People in general need to reflect on what they are supporting when they buy these rags and the cost of obtaining all the voyeuristic drivel they print.

  • Mick Fealty

    He’s not wrong in what he’s said though Nevin. Is he?

  • JR,

    You hit on a key point. The principal and overriding motivation of newspaper proprietors is not to inform the public but to make as much profit as they can from sales.

  • I dont think its at all misleading.
    The unifying factor is that the red top hacks and the serious journalists are all members of the National Union of Journalists.
    What is that august body doing? Kicking out the bad guys? Forming a seperate union to distance themselves.

    The “handful of bad apples” defence cant be allowed to work for either News of the World itself or the profession of Journalism.
    To describe me as having prejudices in relation to Journalists is itself an over-reaction. Theres lots of prejudices on Slugger and my skepticism seems the least of them.
    Ive seen prejudices against every political party, every religion, Orange Order, GAA. Government, the Good Friday Agreement………civil service administrators.
    Are Journalists exempt?
    Yet there is something quite pleasing when prejudices are confirmed (or skepticism justified).
    Ive often argued with little journalistic support that how a story is written is as important as the story itself.
    I feel……validated.

  • Mick, my analysis has led me to conclude that, in certain instances, the police can observe wrongdoing but cannot intervene without political clearance. I’ve also accepted Dick Spring’s version of events relating to the rerouting of parades in 1996 viz that the then Chief Constable did not make decisions he had responsibility for, that at most he gave advice on request.

  • “how a story is written is as important as the story itself.”

    fjh, sometimes key elements of a story don’t get past either the editor or the company’s legal eagles. For example, it might be considered not worth the financial risk to confront folks with loads of money and/or influence.

  • Ordure … meet ventilator.

    I am angry — and that’s not conducive to a coherent post. So apologies for what follows.

    What is truly, truly instructive is the short-term memory problems of so many sources (ConHome, The Spectator …) who, not so long ago, were telling us this was all Guardianista froth, and it would soon be gone like morning mist.

    Those of us who attended to “Operation Motorman” back in 2005, recall that Stephen Whittamore went down for “blagging”. There were already thousands of individuals who had been, and had good reason to be “hacked off”. If only the Surrey Police had been bothered to tell them. Which, in a circuitous way, might bring us to Andy Hayman.

    Whittamore was not just a provider for the NotW: he was an all-round pander to the needs of the Murdoch Press.

    Whittamore led to Mulcaire (fall-guy #2). Once Sue Akers took over on “Operation Weeting” we heard there were 11,000 Mulcaire documents involved. About then Coulson (Brookes’s amazing unobservant understrapper) sidled off stage. When questioned by the Commons Select Committee, Coulson was asked three times if he had had contact with Whittamore, denied it thrice, and then admitted to an acquaintance with the name.

    Quite how close we are to the smoking gun is unclear. What we can now draw is a clear line from Whittamore to the Murdoch press to Coulson, to Brookes/Wade, to Cameron.

    A quick tour d’horizon: a whole cadre working for the Murdoch combine have: done the dirty on the royals, subverted several major police operations (not forgetting the Rachel Cowles investigation), caused immense distress to the Dowler family while masquerading as sympathisers, broken into police, BT and mobile phone company records, bought fair bits of the police service … Dear gods and little fishes!

    Just don’t tell me that Berlusconi is uniquely unfit to run a country and own the media.

  • Fining Companies like News International is one thing.
    Setting up a proper Press Complaints Commission is another thing.
    Re-drawing the boundaries is a third thing.

    But Institutions and Companies or the Law are not responsible.
    People are responsible.
    Jail them!

  • pippakin

    The question is not how many other rags were involved, I think they must have been, or how much the NOTW and all others should be made to pay, and pay and pay… But, are they still at it? and will the government have the balls to do anything about it. It should mean that negotiations with Sky are over but does it?

  • It must be a little bit difficult to act against your dining companions; it’s such a small world.

  • Dewi

    Surely this disgrace is a resignation issue for Murdoch himself?

  • DC

    The government is about to let Murdoch buy Sky as part of his media and newspaper empire – which already includes the Sun and The Times, plus this rag ‘NOTW’.

    Why???

    Murdoch is cornering the media market in Britain – and just look what he has been up to.

    Successive British governments have been utterly hopeless at regulating the more important things in life such as planning for a better, stronger economy in general – and in particular the finance industry.

    Now it seems democracy is under attack, as much of the British media is about to come under the control of one man – one taste maker and influencer – Murdoch and his cronies.

    The British political system is weak on key issues of public concern, its weakness has form – whether it was under Blair or Thatcher, now it doesn’t seem to matter whoever else comes along. More of the same old same old – neoliberal and hands off government in areas that really require proper intervention and strong government.

    Banks and the media – the British government lets them be – do what you want, carry on regardless.

    This government’s a waste of money – if you’re not here to do proper regulation and to intervene, just what are you here for??

    I’m fed up with whatever politician proclaiming this or that – let’s see some new policy put into practice that changes things.

    Any wonder why Britain is going down the drain and experiencing relative decline on many fronts – culturally, socially and economically: the government has given up.

  • andnowwhat

    I followed the story until half 3 last night/this morning.

    One thing that started out as a suspicion has now been revealed as a truth and that is the NOWT used information from Milly’s messages including the very possibility, it has been asserted, the deleted ones.

    The Guardian has once again been vindicated in their pursuit of this story.

    FAO pretty much every other newspaper, it’s called journalism. You should give it a go.

  • Robert Peston (who is the BBC News “face” for this story), on the 1:00 pm bulletin, citing News International executives who reckon there is more and possibly worse to come.

    Strewth!

    Miliband won’t get his Public Enquiry — this side of a General Election. Even so, “falling-on-swords” is in order. So we will get blood. Which brings the story back to Mrs Brooks (sorry about previous mis-spelling).

  • Mick Fealty

    Nevin,

    What ‘analysis’?

  • andnowwhat

    Hardly a surprise…..

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3678146/Murdered-Milly-Dowlers-phone-got-hacked.html

    Not exactly in-depth.

    (I feel dirty after just visiting that site)

  • John Ó Néill

    Malcolm @there is more and possibly worse to come…

    If that is the case, I think you might be wrong about that potential enquiry. I’ve no idea what else is about to break but there were other issues around the case concerning newspaper reporting. While accessing that young girl’s phone was repugnant, it is barely onto the wrong side of the line of what is considered illegal and wouldn’t lead to a significant custodial sentence. If this goes up a level, in pure criminal terms, it will no longer be a largely political matter as it will directly involve individuals being detained for questioning by the police. That will be more difficult for the newspapers to spin.

  • Mick Fealty

    It is illegal John, and Mulcaire has already done time for it. But ‘interfering with a criminal investigation’ would significantly up the ante…

    You might expect also that the Met would take a more robust approach to interrogating the chain of command in that case too…

  • “Nevin,

    What ‘analysis’?”

    According to the definition, Mick:

    “analysis: 1. A systematic examination and evaluation of data or information, by breaking it into its component parts to uncover their interrelationships. Opposite of synthesis.

    2. An examination of data and facts to uncover and understand cause-effect relationships, thus providing basis for problem solving and decision making.”

    In addition to the Dick Spring briefing I spoke to a very diverse range of people who might have been expected to know a little about political involvement in policing: London and Dublin civil servants; MLAs and Councillors; businessmen and members of District Policing Partnerships. It was an SDLP politician who provided some of the initial insights.

  • Mick Fealty

    Nevin,

    Apart from the cut and paste, none of that makes any sense.

  • DC

    Same old government, whoever gets in. Turning a blind eye to persistently poor behaviour by big corporations.

    The country – its young people – are becoming obese. So what gets done in terms of standing up to corporate advertising that promotes and sells junk food and cheap booze? Nothing. Even traffic lights on packaging were ditched in the end.

    Now take the financial sector. The banks and financial services miscalculate, causing a credit crisis which necessitated a neo-statist response from government. Bailed out by the taxpayer. The government had to step in and save capitalism from itself. What gets done? Nothing!

    No serious changes to the banks, they’re not broken up, there’s no Tobin Tax, no sector-specific increases in taxation on certain banks to help claw back public money.

    The big private sector corporations get off again.

    And now this – News International – a media corporation. Out of control, where it makes the news itself by breaking the law – and still the government doesn’t stand in the way of the proposed takeover of Sky by Murdoch.

    Big corporations get off again and again.

    Cadbury’s gets sold to Kraft, jobs get hived off to eastern Europe despite Kraft saying that wouldn’t happen.

    Corporations win again.

    What about Twinnings Tea – quintessentially British you would think – well its factory is to move to Poland, jobs will be lost.

    Big corporations win again.

    The only thing this government seems to be cracking down on is benefit recipients – and oh how brave, how tough.

    Try standing up to the bigger fish needing fried for once – try saying no the Murdoch for once, and cracking down on the banks as well.

    So the agenda of the Tory-led coalition seems to consist of bearing down on benefit recipients, oh and plus reform of public services AGAIN.

    It’s not the public sector in need of reform as a priority – it’s the private sector: financial services and the media sectors. Dontcha think?

  • DC

    Oh and by the way – I believe technology is sophisticated enough to track down those who were doing this.

    Don’t forget, if you’re a member of the public and are downloading (illegally according to the law as things stand) copyright protected music off the internet, who is it that spies on you and then instructs your ISP to send out a letter or a fine seeking payment?

    The corporations – music corporations.

    So please don’t tell me these people who did this type of phone hacking can’t ever be caught or identified.

    Seems to be everyone else can be pulled up for these types of things – except whenever it comes to those with connections to NOTW.

  • “none of that makes any sense”

    Don’t you even get the political involvement in policing decisions as outlined by Dick Spring, Mick? I appreciate that Spring’s description is a bit vague but it should be fairly obvious that the decisions were taken by the Government, not by the Chief Constable.

  • Mick Fealty

    No. You are elevating what should be exception to the rule and inviting us to be outraged when the Prime Minister says it is the rule that counts. Now if you have a specific reason for us to be outraged here, then share it with us

    If not, then… stop wasting ours and your own time!!

  • Mick, I expressed astonishment, not outrage. Some might take the Prime Minister’s assurance at face value but I suspect but I suspect the Guardian won’t.

  • PaulT

    Private Eye has been doing great coverage on this, NI’s support for Ms Wade sits easily with their narrative, this broke just at the right time before the next issue for Hislop to poke under a few rocks,

    Was surprised at the PM getting involved, the path must lead very close to number 10.

    One wonders if the Dirty Digger will use an (ex-) SpAd to dig himself and Becca out of this one.

    Will the PM play his SKY joker to ensure fingers don’t point too close to home.

    You couldn’t make it up.

    Amazing how dirty Auntie and the Guardian will play, timing is everything

    Which as an afterthought I wonder if Rob Preston regrets the price paid for his last few scoops

  • The first reaction of vested interest is to circle the wagons and talk about “a few bad apples”. We didnt buy it when Stuart Bell was assuring us that only a few politicians had dodgy expenses.
    We are now conditioned……in part by the Media……..not to accept NOTW and other assurances at face value.
    This is endemic.
    The acid test is how many journalists will rally to the Guardian and how many will have misplaced loyalty for NOTW and “red top” hacks.
    Its not that long ago that the public in the “Question Time” audience was being treated to politicians telling us……”it was the system”.
    We should be equally unimpressed now.

  • PaulT @ 4:18 pm:

    I, too, will be up the street tomorrow morning, rat-up-the-drainpipe, for the next Eye. Even so, this story is moving so fast there’s little chance that Hislop & co. have a lot of scope to stay ahead of it.

    There is no conceivable upside in this for Cameron. He’s got a stupendous pile of elephant doodoo in the room with him. Remember the boat Political Scrapbook re-floated yesterday, quoting the last Eye:

    Despite her proximity to the hacking scandal, the flame-haired hack managed to survive after Rupert Murdoch abandoned plans to pension her off due to a personal intervention by David Cameron on Brooks’ behalf.
    “Rebekah pleaded with the Dirty Digger not to be cut adrift and begged her friend David Cameron to intercede on her behalf. Following this intervention Murdoch … relented.”

    There is no (and probably cannot be) attribution for that claim. If it has any basis, then Brooks was Murdoch’s nominee for the scapegoat-of-last-resort. He presumably still has that option — but now it seems likely to end in the dock at the Crown Court. Unless, of course, several of Surrey’s and Met’s finest are also in the frame, in which case it’ll need a bit more prodding from the CPS/DPP to arrive at that desirable eventuality.

  • pippakin

    I understand a Mr Mulcaire has asked the press to respect their privacy!!

    Its one thing to play a prank as some mischievous but otherwise harmless Internet bods do. Its quite another to invade the privacy of a private family at a time of enormous stress, and when caught expect to be treated with kid gloves.

  • My, oh my!

    Now it’s the Soham families, too — was that where Robert Peston was tending? At some point the sick-bag over-brims.

    I see, too, that Ford are doing a Tiger Woods with their advertising in the NotW. Doubtless others may follow. At last the Murdoch operation could be hurting where it’s most painful.

    But, what’s this? A Standing Order 24 emergency debate! Nice one, Chris Bryant! Even nicer one, John Bercow! The Speaker’s popularity ratings among the Cameroonies just took another hit!

    Quite how remarkable is such an event was spotted by Paul Waugh (refugee from the London Evening Standard, where he was doing a good job, and now gracing “Lord” Ashcroft’s vanity vehicle, PoliticsHome):

    Only 13 such debates have been approved in the last 28 years. Among them were Neil Kinnock on Westland in 1986, Dave Nellist on the Ambulance strike in 1988, Gerald Kaufman on special branch activity in 1987, Andrew Mackay on the miners’ strike policing in 1984 and Denis Healey on the Grenada invasion in 1983. The most recent was granted to a certain George Osborne on the PBR in 2008.

    Waugh also has good stuff on how close Tom Watson came to blowing the gaff on the Soham connection last March.

  • And check out the Scottish sources.

    Aforementioned Tom Watson is now sniffing at the Tommy Sheridan conviction. Surprise, surprise! (or not.) The News International emails which mysteriously and conveniently went missing on the way to Mumbai have been re-discovered.

    Mr Watson, former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence and the MP for West Bromwich East, told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “In the trial the jury were told that emails had been lost when News International archived their records in Mumbai…
    Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said: “We have received assurances from News Group Newspapers that in fact no emails were transferred to India.”

    That puts Coulson back into play.

  • John Ó Néill

    Also rumours that the Madeleine McCann case is another focus of interest.

  • Mulcaire apology and the related call by Prescott for block on BSkyB takeover.

  • It is of course very welcome that Ford, NPower and other companies are considering their advertising options.
    It does seem to me that the Public should also be boycotting tabloids and their sister papers.
    No doubt the upcoming weekend the NOTW will be pulling out all the stops with a celebrity revelation to make people think twice about a boycott.
    Id heard that Madeline McCann was indeed a focus of interest. And theres already contempt of court procedings in respect of a person interviewd in a recent murder case.
    Tommy Sheridan? Now thats interesting.
    It would of course be “good” if the BSkyB decision went against Rupert Murdoch.
    But there still seems a lot that journalists themselves could do.
    For example the British Press Awards should disqualify New International and other tabloids from their ceremonies.
    Journalists might like to consider boycotting Press Conferences which are attended by the tabloids particuarly the Sun and NOTW.
    That might be a concrete way of showing their displeasure as “real journalists” from the excesses which are now quite obviously regarded as normal in the Street of Shame.
    And perhaps those politicians quick to reach for a soundbite condemning it all might want to consider refusing to answe questions from NOTW Sun or tabloid hacks or taking the Murdoch shilling on Sky News interviews.

  • Nevin,
    that Mulcaire apology is interesting.
    Presumably he can emerge as an unlikely hero of all this. He can blow it all wide open if he names names. Presumably his silence was thought to be assured.
    There are some unlikely heroes in all this…..I never thought the words “Hugh Grant” would be ever posted by me ever. But Im warming to him.
    And Chris Bryant in the Commons today.
    And indeed Max Mosely.
    Theres a connexion between them. They have been “burned” already and cant be hurt again. But 99% of all “Intelligence” is never used. Its for information only and I wonder if the reticence of some politicians and journalists and even police (allegations on Channel 4 news that police officers were under NOTW surveillance) are relunctant to take on NOTW is that tabloids hold a lot of “Intelligence”.
    That seems akin to blackmail in the real world.

    Things could however be worse.
    Ive just finished watching last nights episode of “New Tricks”.
    The ending had the Head of Security of a multi national oil company take the rap (for a price) for the murder of a critic.
    Luckily that doesnt happen in real life.

  • Comrade Stalin

    John,

    I’m not sure what you mean by a telecommunications break-in and why that is distinct from what you call a digital break in (not sure what you mean by that .. how can you have a break in which isn’t digital ?) but I guess my point was that phreaking was all about manipulating the signalling protocols of the telephone network in a fashion that was not intended by the designers.

    To be incredibly anal, voicemail is arguably not part of the telephone network. It’s an add-on service which coincidentally happens to be provided by telephone companies (there is no technical reason requiring that it be so). Back in the day you’d just get an engaged tone, or the line would keep ringing if the other end was not connected – on the cellphone network you’d get a message that the other receiver was unreachable.

    I am not sure whether 4chan have a legitimate claim on the term or not. There is an aurora of activism (“hacktivism” ?) – and indeed criminal intent on some occasions – around those guys that wasn’t there for the original phone phreakers who were really nothing more than geeks with a fascination for the workings of a large and complex machine, they poked and prodded at it for no purpose other than poking and prodding. There was never any question of serious harmful intent.

    None of this is important or relevant to the core point of course, but it’s an interesting area.

    But not when they scooped the exclusive on the family believing she was still alive because her phone was being accessed.

    There is a critical difference between accessing a phone, and accessing their voicemail. I think the problem here was (is?) that to access someone’s voicemail you only need to know their phone number and to be able to take a stab at their PIN number which, the majority of the time, is set to a default. If Milly’s phone had been in use it would have been possible to track her movements.

    Either way, heads need to seriously roll on this one. And we need to start making mobile phone companies liable for fraudulent use of phones.

  • I’m fully aware that C4 News is capable of over-egging any pudding, but they seem to have a nice piece-of-pie tonight.

    New readers might need to get up to speed on the sordid details of the Daniel Morgan murder, back in 1987.

    What puts added tabasco in the C4 pot tonight is that it seems to put La Brooks directly on the hob.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’ve just got the embed up Malc… Compelling stuff, as is the rate at which other lines of enquiry are suddenly emerging…

  • With any luck, this could be as big as Prufumo (which was about where my alter-ego came into active politics).

    I don’t often do anything like this, but …

    From: http://hackinginquiry.org/subs/?p=subscribe&id=1

    Sign the petition

    The phone hacking scandal has now cast its shadow so widely across British public life that only a full public inquiry can restore confidence in our press, police and government institutions.

    What began as ‘one rogue reporter’ with a handful of victims is now acknowledged to be industrial-scale illegal information gathering, probably affecting thousands. All kinds of people, including royalty, cabinet ministers, celebrities, police officers, bereaved families and victims of crime have been targeted, and it seems it’s not just voicemail messages that have been hacked but also calls and emails, bank details and health records.

    A full public inquiry into phone hacking and other forms of illegal intrusion by the press is imperative. The inquiry should cover:

    The extent of the use of illegal information-gathering methods by the press, directly and through intermediaries;
    The conduct of the Metropolitan Police Service in investigating these matters, and its relations with the press;
    The communication between press and politicians in relation to these matters;
    The conduct of the Press Complaints Commission and of the Information Commissioner, and of other relevant parties such as mobile telephone companies;
    The lessons to be learned from these events and actions to be taken to ensure they are not repeated.

  • Comrade Stalin

    That is interesting, Malcolm. I agree that we are likely to end up with some sort of legislation putting parameters around how far the press may go with the whole newsgathering thing.

    News Corporation are in big trouble.