News International Phone Hacking and the Police Coverup

The widening News International scandal is feeling more and more like Watergate. It’s intriguing to watch witness squirm when they are caught out. The Guardian, and in particular Nick Davies, broke many of the crucial pieces of the sordid tale of News International hacking and coverup payments. This Guardian video is accessible to non-UK viewers. Hat tip Buzz Potamkin:

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  1. dearieme

    How did Vaz know what the committee thought about Yates? He didn’t consult them. And Vaz himself is not – how can I phrase this? – widely trusted, given his record. Mark you, Hayman’s performance was woeful.

    What are we to do about public servants moving to jobs after retirement that undermine our confidence in how conscientously they did their public job before retirement? What job will Geithner take soon? How will that make you feel about him? What will Obama do after his Presidency? Does anyone think more highly of Slimey Blair in light of his antics after he left office?

  2. dearieme

    Here’s a summary I saw on the web. Say it ain’t so.

    “Select Committee Chairman Keith Vaz made his own headlines ten years ago when it emerged he had made representations on behalf of the controversial Hinduja brothers as they applied for British citizenship.

    Days after he admitted doing so on their behalf in June 2001 he was dismissed from his post as Europe Minister and replaced by Peter Hain.

    The following year Vaz was suspended from the House of Commons for one month after a committee on standards found he had made false allegations against former policewoman Eileen Eggington.

    In December 2001 the Parliamentary standards watchdog Elizabeth Filkin cleared Vaz of failing to register payments to his wife’s law firm by the Hinduja brothers.

    But her report was scathing as she told how he had colluded with his wife to conceal payments.”

  3. dearieme

    May I add emphasis? The guy chairing the committee looking into the police was once suspended from the House of Commons after he had made false allegations against a former policewoman.

    1. skippy

      Deer I me…3 shots and yet a proper target.

      Skippy..foam much…un-becoming for such an individual.

    1. LeeAnne

      that was great! thank you. That kind of personality no longer exists in this country. I miss them -a relatively free spirit without fear with a good sense of humor, a professional who can’t help sharing his real feelings sharing an interesting experience.

      I loved the bit about Hugh Grant walking out of his pub without paying for his drink.

    2. Valissa

      Great catch! It’s amazing how acceptable electronic surveillance has become in so many quarters. Makes you wonder how many other news organizations are doing the same thing but haven’t been caught yet.

  4. Neildsmith

    If hacking into voicemail is so common and so easy that the media is doing it, just imagine what the FBI/CIA/NSA are doing.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      Rockefeller may still be on Senate Intelligence Committee. At one time during the CheneyBush admin, he is said to have hand-written notes and documents, in order to avoid electronic or typewriter technologies, in order to keep documents secret. (At least as much for domestic spying, as for foreign spying.)

      If he’s on the Sen Commerce Comm, it seems that he’s really just doing his job by insisting on investigations.

  5. dearieme

    The Gordon Brown outrage story has stood up for all of one day.

    If I may say so, you guys ought to stop uncritically believing everything you get from the ooh-it’s-awful camp. Of course the Milly Dowler story (and all too many others like it) was awful, and I hope a bunch of creeps go to jail for it – the more senior, the better. If it were to include old man Murdoch himself, yippee. If it includes bent coppers, also yippee. But you are also dealing with horrible people like Brown, Keith Vaz, and such, whose unverified word is worth nothing.

    We now, if The Sun’s story stands up, have the case of Brown trying to exploit his son’s dread condition to let him score off Murdoch: Dr. Johnson – “Sir, it is not for me to apportion the degree of iniquity between a louse and a flea.”

    1. Pete

      This is called missing the point.

      The likeability, or even the moral probity, of Vaz and Brown is not the issue here. How can you fail to see that?

      And incidentally, if you actually read Gordon Brown’s statement he is quite clear that he cannot say for certain how The Sun newspaper obtained the information about his sick infant.

      To now accuse him of using his son’s condition to ‘score off Murdoch’ is pretty low. I suggest you reset your own moral compass.

      1. Peter

        The point is that some of the non-UK readers of this site need to be careful about jumping to conclusions. Their are plenty of axes being ground and old scores being settled in this matter. Indeed if Coulson had not gone to work for Cameron, it is likely that the Grundiad would not have bothered with the story.

        Gordon Brown made various comments/ allegations to the Guardian which within twenty-four hours seem to have been disproved. He was also Prime Minister and a senior member of the Government when most of these incidents took place, but not only did nothing about the allegations, but continued to suck up to the Murdocks and News International.

        Vaz has considerable form as pointed out above. This is well known in the UK. One of the most sickening aspects of this HoC committee is to see him chariing it and pretending that he can set a moral standard.

        1. Foppe

          disproved? Is there a rule somewhere that says the Sun does not lie? I mean, what if it is the case that they were first alerted to the story by this guy (who must’ve been a great friend of Brown) telling them about it, and then went on to ‘confirm’ or expand the story using other means?

          1. Peter

            According to you The Sun’s claim to have an affidavit from the member of the public who gave them the original story is false. Or it’s only true when they produce the affidavit or the person?

            Anyone who saw Brown’s performance in the HoC this afternoon cannot help, but think that Jonah’s skill has not left him. NI is on its knees, everyone else is kicking hard. Brown lines up and kicks himself in the forehead.

            I would say there is no support for Brown, but apparantly there is one commentator somewhere who accepted what he said today. the link below is more typical of the reaction.


  6. Jon

    As amazing as the series of NI-related events has been, you have to remember this is the UK and our government and police are in a league of their own when it comes to covering up and passing the buck, plus which as has been pointed out, Keith Vaz has a fair few old skeletons rattling around inside his cupboard which will be used by government, police and NI itself to ‘guide’ his enquiry. Yates will go sooner or later as Stephenson realises that he has to be sacrificed to save himself, Hayman will in all probability be let loose by the Sunday Times to distance itself but that will be it. The inquiry will drag on at a snail’s pace and take aim at some of the lower and mid-echelon NI-ies, a few of whom will go to prison. No Murdoch will face any penalty and as soon as the whole thing has faded from public view the BSkyB deal will be passed by Murdoch’s PR man, David Cameron, in a slightly different form. Murdoch 1, UK 0.

  7. Nun

    Check what Piers Morgan said years ago about so-called phone hacking. Staff were just calling voicemail and entering the default security code. Done! It’s not exactly “hacking.” This is the equivalent of leaving your key in the front door.

    1. Foppe

      Do you understand what an “illegal” invasion of privacy is? And have you taken into account that most customers will never be told that their voice-mail is accessible this way?
      As for entering a home without permission because the front door is unlocked: this might surprise you, but this too is “illegal”.

  8. dearieme

    How can you fail to see that you are treating players as if they are neutral referees?

    It’s only people like the poor Dowlers whom I’d be inclined to believe. These others are all creatures from the same swamp – some worse than others,no doubt, but none to be taken at face value.

    As for “he is quite clear that he cannot say for certain how The Sun newspaper obtained the information about his sick infant”: oh don’t be so ruddy naive. He thought he could tar them because he didn’t know they’d be capable of getting an affidavit. Good God, he went to Ms Brooks’ wedding. His wife had her round to a sleepover party at Chequers. Those things happened after the Sun’s story came out but before Murdoch’s papers stopped supporting Labour and switched to supporting the Conservatives. Would you go to the wedding of a woman who had had the medical records of your child hacked? Would you have her round to a small girly party? Would you?

    1. Pete

      Nun, the point is, it’s illegal.

      Dearieme, here is what Brown actually said in his BBC interview yesterday about his child’s medical condition being revealed:

      “You’re in public life. And this story appears. You don’t know how it’s appeared. I’ve not questioned how it’s appeared. I’ve not made any allegations about how it’s appeared. I’ve not made any claims about [how it appeared]. But the fact is it did appear. And it did appear in the Sun newspaper.”

      It’s easy to defend the principle of privacy when it comes to blameless families like the Dowlers. It’s harder when it comes to politicians or celebrities who we may not like or whose conduct we may not approve of. But that’s what separates the grown-ups from the rest: sometimes we have to fight for the rights even of people we despise.

  9. dearieme

    And they had Ms Brooks round to a party afterwards. And he went to her wedding. Come on! Brown attempting to be subtle, and failing.

    I reject the “key in the front door” defence. It’s still burglary if you turn the key and enter.

    “sometimes we have to fight for the rights even of people we despise”: indeed. But that’s not my point; my point is the milder one that, just as you shouldn’t accept the word of some lying crook from Murdoch’s stable, you shouldn’t accept the word of the likes of Brown. When a Murdochite says “I was editor of the paper and knew nothing about these illegal practices” you should, if you have any sense, laugh scornfully. Similarly, if Brown says “I’ve not made any allegations about how it’s appeared” you quietly add the words “on the record” that he has inadvertantly missed out.

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      Well, irrespective of what thinks about Brown, it’s quite clear that he’s not making up the tale that his child’s medical info was hacked. Add onto that the levels of hacking involving his financial details, it IMVHO it’s all quite spooky.

      It’s about to what degree the UK has allowed its politicians and public policies to be tossed up onto the altar of ‘free markets’, as advocated by the likes of tax cheats like Murdock.

      Murdock on one hand doesn’t even pay UK taxes, as near as I can tell.
      Then, he lectures everyone else about ‘free markets’ — and one of the people being lectured is a man who’s had his financial and medical records purloined by Murdock’s paid agents.
      In addition, Murdock tosses his political heft behind whichever political electeds will bend to his will so that he can buy BSkyB, or whatever else he wants to buy.

      And if they so much as raise questions about Murdock’s tax thieving, or his profiteering, or his ‘free market’ b.s., then he’ll soil their reputations in all of his rags.

      With all due respect, the US has plenty of problems on our side of the Atlantic, but to watch the UK basically allow Murdock to treat even their PM like trash, to go through everyone’s rubbish bins and make it seem ‘normal’ to listen to the PM’s phone conversations does seem a bit like a prey inviting it’s predator to please, please, please continue to dine on me, sir…


  10. Jim

    Everyone should listen very carefully to the vido on the Paul McMullan interview posted by Innocent bystander at 5:51 A.M.

    I believe, among many valuable comments, McMullan offers important insights into himself and the emotional foundations for the popular support in Britain and the U.S. of the Murdoch media empire.

    Early in the interview McMullan indicated that News International began slipping into the abyss only when the hacking moved from celebs like Hugh Grant to the “ordinary man.”

    McMullan says something to the effect “the average guy/girl has little sympathy for someone like Grant who is making 5 million quid per picture while they are bringing home 200 quid per week–but– “would also willingly swap places” with him.

    What is the basis of such simultaneous ressentiment and identification?

    The ressentiment may have partially to do with the fact that someone with a secure status position like Huge Grant can make one feel inferior and a failure.

    The identification, wanting to swap places, may have partially to do with the understanding that if one was in such a secure status position one would also have the option of making others feel inferior.

    The liberal/left community is generally not interested in looking too closely on this brew of ressentiment and identification since their own social status often tends to be dependent on both (they tend to see themselves as the experts who must lead the unenlightened masses).

    It appeared, until this recent crisis, that the most that the average readers of News International can hope for was the vicarious take-down of someone like Grant, or other Hollywood stars and an endorsement of media hatred for the condescending liberals(condescending partially because liberals usually refuse to acknowledge their own intense concern with status).

    But now the Murdoch empire has gone too far, they are making the ordinary Brit feel inferior and exploited, a feeling the Murdoch empire told them was primarily due to the behavior of Hollywood and the liberal political elites.

    Across the political spectrum there are now apparently no limits. As McMullan stated: “even the foot soldiers are being crossed by management”

      1. readerOfTeaLeaves

        You may want to reread Jim’s comment.
        I think that it’s brilliantly insightful.

  11. Paul Tioxon

    Social System Science Algorithm says:

    Comcast buys NBC Universal, gets control of Network News Asseta, NBC and MSNBC, Fox News is put down like the killer pit bull with lipstick that it is, goes black. Novus Ordo Secolorum.

  12. Roger Bigod

    Rupert Murdoch is my hero. You whiney losers can badmouth him all you want, but he represents self-actualization and will to power. I want to install a statue of him on the town square of Galtsville. Reading about him reminds me of when I was 14 and discovered Rand and Nietzsche in the same month. What an intellectual high point. Ever since, I’ve been full of passionate conviction.

    He’s possibly surpassed by the guys who run the NYT. Murdoch only upset a dead girl’s family. And he got in trouble for it. But the Times sponsored a trillion dollar war with something like a million casualties and displaced persons. They also threw a Presidential election by sitting on a major story. As one of my favorite characters said “The purity! The puuuuuurity of that!”

    But they are human, with human flaws. Sometimes you want something more impersonal and generalized. Luckily the universe has provided us with a source of immutable truth we can always have faith in: the unregulated Free Market. The market’s verdict is clear that one upset family is negligible compared to the gains from peddling their misery.

  13. markyd

    Plenty of Murdoch apologists trolling on this site I see.

    What they fail to mention about the publicising of Browns sons medical condition is that it was the a sick month old child’s privacy being violated not that of the politician. There is also the laughable hypocricy of the Sun blanking out the face and modifying the voice of the informant to ‘protect’ therr identity while at the same time denying a tiny kid the same anonymity.

    It is also worth noting that the hacking of Brown’s legal records and the ‘blagging’ of his bank account details were both clearly illegal. The Abbey bank department have stated that their is substantial circumstantial evidence to suggest the latter originated in NI.

    Strangely and conveniently while NI can find supposedly legal sources for some of their stories they have mysteriously been unable to assist the police with evidence about where the news copy was obtained by illegal methods.

    1. Mark Pontin

      You’re suggesting Roger Bigod is a Murdoch apologist? I think ‘I want to install a statue of him on the town square of Galtsville’ could perhaps tip you off that he’s writing tongue in cheek.

      And you’re perhaps American and you know what the Brits say about that. Nevertheless, you know, irony?

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