Paying whistleblowers is sometimes in the public interest…

What’s interesting about this conversation with Tom Watson and Kelvin McKenzie is the latter’s mostly sober (until we get to his ‘shut up Tom Watson’ outburst) point when he argues that paying whistle-blowers is sometimes in the public interest. Well worth spending 10 minutes listening to it: Mackenzie and Watson on The Sun (mp3) In the meantime, the News of the Screws is coming back, or at least that’s what the advertising agencies are hoping for… Mick FealtyMick is founding … Read more

Do journalists’ arrests mark the end of the British scandal sheet?

Phillip Stevens nails a few things in the FT. And it picks up some themes from Blair Jenkins point that the transparency principle applies not just to politicians, but journalists too: By the time the myriad investigations end quite a few journalists may have gone to jail. The process will raise justified concerns about press freedom. For all their flaws, Britain’s rumbustious newspapers are a vital check and balance on the abuse of power. The big challenge, however, does not … Read more

Morgan’s line on #Hacking is less than convincing…

Quote of the day has to be this opener from Guido:   It’s an interesting contribution, not least after Piers Morgan’s assertion he knew nothing about phone hacking at the Daily Mirror. As the Sabotage Times notes:  …while he could offer up an explanation of how to hack a phone he struggled to remember who had told him how to do it. And a former financial journalist on the paper, James Hipwell, has told inquiry and reported by the Daily … Read more

Metropolitan Police cave on their threat to use the Official Secrets Act…

So the Met’s intended use of the Official Secrets Act has collapsed before it had begun… On reflection no doubt they will come to view it as a spectacularly stupid move, not least because it seems they did not even consult with Dominic Grieve, the UK Attorney General before making the threat… It contrasts with their strangely lax treatment of the initial hackgate lead… It’s a racing certainty that Mr Greive would have given them pretty short shrift… This one … Read more

Guido: Met’s failure to investigate #Hackgate is a ‘private matter’…

Strange piece from Guido yesterday. Ordinarily, I’m a fan. Despite his reputation for bumptiousness and arrogance, I generally find his judgement to be precise (and he has some impressive scalps (not all of them Labour) swinging from his blogger’s belt). But I don’t ‘get’ what he clearly wants the rest of us to see here. For instance, he accuses the Guardian editor of, erm, not going through the Met’s Press Bureau in breaking its #Hackgate stories; which is odd coming … Read more

Harbottle & Lewis letter could spell real trouble for Murdoch…

Turgon last night noted the issue of the two letters. Clive Goodman might be dismissed as a sacked journo with an axe to grind but the law firm Harbottle and Lewis’ involvement may prove rather more tricky to deal with. As George Eaton notes the company: …criticises the pair’s evidence to the select committee as “hard to credit” and “self-serving”. The law firm points out that its investigation was limited to whether Goodman hacked phones with the knowledge of other … Read more

Murdoch’s ‘total victory’ over the press unions may prove his company’s demise…

Now, I am not sure I completely accept the story that Eamonn McCann tells about the demise of the NUJ (it possible, with hindsight at least, to suggest they picked the wrong fight with the wrong man) as an active force within the Murdoch empire, but the washing out of individual conscience of the journalist, certainly at the News of the World, seems to have important factor in the slow undermining of News International’s news product over time: The absence … Read more

Why not appoint a Scottish judge to investigate Murdochgate?

Fascinating and thoughtful analysis from Lallands Peat Worrier on the subject of …the issue is one of the objective appearance of impartiality, which is clearly potentially compromised when the judge moves in the social milieu as the journalists, executives and officers they are examining. On twitter and in a comment after an article by David Allen Green at the beginning of July, I asked – why not appoint a Scottish judge to lead the inquiry? This wasn’t intended as rank … Read more

Hackgate: “This may be a story for years to come…”

So says the FT media editor Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson. It’s a good conversation, but it’s also the kind of thing we all say when we really don’t know what’s going to happen next. And there’s a good deal of impatience around this story. Last night saw an ill-tempered spat on Twitter last night, between the Labour MP Tom Watson who’s been driving a lot of the political force (in initial defiance from his party leader), and the BBC’s Robert Peston, because … Read more

Best of Hackgate commentary (7)…

The latest installment… –       “The Union shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of central governments, regional, local or other public authorities” –       Barroso: Euro relies on leaders’ promises –       Lord Goldsmith Knew Extent of Phone-Hacking in 2006 –       Met police to investigate mobile tracking claims –       David Cameron: a lack of foresight saga –       Enough With The Murdoch Family Already –       Murdoch and his minions really did lower the tone of Britain’s tabloid press –       What did … Read more

Any questions for the Culture Media and Sports Committee?

Two Westminster committees will face down key players in the #hackgate scandal… Two policemen at the heart of the scandal face the Home Affairs Committee whilst the Messers Murdoch and Ms Brooks face the culture committee… Can we have your sharpest, most surgical questions please? Mick FealtyMick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK … Read more

Another case of another police force ‘looking the other way’?

There’s a striking similarity between the strange behaviour of Gardai, in three cases in which were just forgotten, or in which no serious inquiries were commenced and the behaviour of John Yates, who in 2009 dismissed within eight hours the suggestion that there were any further evidence of wrong doing in the case of the News of the World: Yates was asked by the commissioner to “establish the facts”. It is clear that he failed to do so. On Tuesday, … Read more

Best of #Hackgate commentary (5)

Here’s the latest highlights in a story that just keeps moving: –       Jeremy Hunt caught on a political hook over ‘fit and proper’ issue… –       James Murdoch, the invisible mogul –       A good day for Ed Milliband –       Milliband spoke for Britain (who’d have thought it?)… –       Cameron falls in behind Labour motion –       Might ultimate effect be that News Corp disposes of UK print operations? … Read more

Hackgate: In praise of… The Guardian

Amidst all sorts of sonorous warnings about politicians taking over, the shortcomings of self regulation, as Toby Harnden notes, if it was British journalism that took its country (repeatedly) down into the gutter, it was British journalism that has also shown the way out: ….most notably Nick Davies and his team at the Guardian, who brought Murdoch to his knees last week. The tipping point came when the Guardian revealed that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked and the Telegraph … Read more

Best of #Hackgate commentary (3)

Some of the best analysis of the last few days (with more to come): Cameron Says He’d Have Taken Brooks’ Resignation Ed’s Glass House 22 Dublin staff to lose jobs as Irish NOTW also axed July 2009: “No efforts were made to properly control reporters activities and the finances” The Greatest Publicity Stunt of a Generation News of the World: The paper that died of shame Cameron attempts to reassert his authority Phone hacking scandal: enemies of free press are … Read more

News of the World crashes out of existence, and…

Well, hmmm, not sure what to say. Except I spend last evening with an old friend and a great local journalist, who pointed out the loss of advertising revenue was remarkable (and in our lifetimes at least) unprecedented. In a few short days one of the most powerful press barons, who has traded on his capacity to call the public mood better than those politicians his papers often lacerated for being out of touch, has been subjected to a humiliating … Read more

Best of #Hackgate Commentary (2)

And in case you missed them, here’s the second installment: What is the Future for Rebekah Brooks? Leaders create cultures – and newspapers are no different Westminster prepares for a day of News International ‘Appalled’ Rothermere assured that Mail titles don’t hack We Need A Media Commission – Not Self-Regulation Matt sums up tarnished image of UK journalists Who’s who in the Murdoch Empire? Rupert Murdoch can’t escape his nemesis Nov 10: “Andy Coulson is a liability to the Tory … Read more

Why we still need the News of the Screws (rather than doped up bloodhounds)….

It has to be said that I don’t agree with our esteemed Welsh blogger Dewi. Boycotting the News of the World or the Sun, or even these days The Times or Sunday Times is not an option for me personally, because I rarely read any of them (certainly not since Trevor Kavanagh departed as politic editor). Though declaring an interest, last year, for the first time, I did sell The London Times one analysis piece on the Iris Robinson story. … Read more

Best of #Hackgate Commentary (1)…

A rolling round up of this fast moving story… Couslon suspects he is being lined up as scapegoat Rupert Murdoch’s responsibility MP believes Tommy Sheridan was wrongly convicted because of ‘missing’ emails Glenn Mulcaire blames ‘relentless pressure’ by NoW A Plague On All Your Houses MPs to hold emergency debate on new hacking claims NI turns to Olswang for post-Hackgate code of practice The bugger, bugged Milly, Soham, can it get any worse? Phone-hacking scandals indicate a media commission is … Read more

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 … Read more