Phone Hacking: The Guardian should hang its head in shame over its stance on a second Leveson inquiry


Lord Justice Leveson: Pic courtesy of Leveson inquiry website Not chairing any new inquiry now


The Guardian is my old employer. It has a long and honourable tradition of fearless investigations which do not follow the rest of the pack. That included holding the media industry to account.

The decision this week to join the rest of the press pack and welcome the demise of Leveson 2 – the inquiry which would have taken a cold hard look at how mainstream media – in particular the News of the World and the Mirror – indulged in phone hacking and other nefarious practices  is profoundly disappointing.

It is even more so because one of the Guardian’s finest investigative reporters Nick Davies – now properly retired unlike me – exposed the practice in the  Milly Dowler case which triggered  the public exposure of the whole sordid business.

It is the spurious reasoning the paper has used to justify such action. The paper talked about looking forward rather than in the back view mirror as the main reason why it had decided to side with the Sun, the Murdoch empire and the Daily Mail and Telegraph. Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and Rupert Murdoch must be rubbing their hands with glee at their latest supporter, Kathy Viner, the editor in chief of the Guardian.

The inquiry would have made publicly accountable the top people who authorised such shameful practices which bring investigative journalism into disrepute  whether by hiring private investigators to blag, steal and phone hack anybody’s private life so long as they were a celeb or a Royal. More to feed the public’s voyeurism than in the public interest.

Worse, through this culture, they may have been with the Met police an accessory to  the horrific murder in 1987 of private investigator, Daniel Morgan – now at long last the subject  of a forensic independent panel inquiry under Baroness Nuala O’Loan , the former first Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. If the second Leveson inquiry had been launched, the independent panel report would have helped  inform Sir Brian Leveson in his difficult task.

The dropping of the inquiry has nothing to do with the future of press regulation – even though it is in the interest of newspaper proprietors and The Guardian to suggest it is. That is a separate matter.

If one followed the spurious logic of the Guardian – in simple don’t look back in anger – then it could have said in 1994 that the ” cash for questions” saga was also old hat -it was revealed 10 years after the event anyway- and there was no need for an expensive inquiry by Lord Nolan.

Yet because they did examine this historic scandal we now have a benchmark for MPs and ministerial behaviour and a permanent body – the Committee on Standards in Public Life- which can investigate new issues of propriety. It still as relevant today as in the 1990s.

The Leveson 2 inquiry could have provided something similar for the media and opened the debate on the way social media operates.

The  same logic would also suggest – as the Daily Mail and The Times already have – that there is no need for the present independent child sexual abuse inquiry – as that is just historic or why bother covering reports from the National Audit Office as they look back at past mistakes. It will be a very quick way of denuding the Guardian’s website and print editions.

My suspicion – and I have no knowledge – is that this decision is driven by commercial worries. Mainstream media is being sandwiched between the rise of social media giants Google and Facebook who are taking away their advertising – and the growing  popularity of websites and blogs – often with a right or left wing bias which attract a young readership.

Panic has led the mainstream media to rush to hang together and try and stop any further independent inquiry into their working practices. They should be careful – those who hang together could fall together. That is why the Guardian – a traditional dissident voice – should  hang its head in shame for what it now stands for.







Phone Hacking Trial: Coulson, no knowledge that NOTW detective accessed Milly Dowler’s voicemail – Martin Hickman

So Andy Coulson acting editor of the News of the World had NO knowledge that Glenn Mulcaire had hacked Milly Dowler’s voicemail. No comment!

Inforrm's Blog

Andy CoulsonDay 91, Part 1: Andy Coulson had no knowledge that the News of the World’s private detective had accessed Milly Dowler’s voicemail, he told the phone hacking trial today.

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Phone Hacking Trial: Andy Coulson had “vague memory” of Glenn Mulcaire’s company, trial hears – Martin Hickman

Coulson says he didn’t know about Mulcaire until he was arrested and never took much of an interest in private investigators! The love cheat admits he caused pain to his wife with his “on off” affair with Rebekah Brooks!

Inforrm's Blog

Coulson and MulcaireDay 90, Part 2:   Andy Coulson had a vague memory of Glenn Mulcaire’s company being mentioned at the News of the World, but thought it was something to do with “finding people” or “surveillance,” he told the phone hacking trial today.

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Phone Hacking Trial: Andy Coulson, News Of The World had culture of “secrecy” and “intrigue” – Martin Hickman

Andy Coulson begins his defence by telling how reporters jealously guarded their contacts amid clashes over egos and rivalry across the newsroom

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media_andy_coulson_2Day 90, Part 1:    The News of the World had a culture of “secrecy” and “intrigue” where reporters closely guarded their contacts, Andy Coulson told the phone hacking trial today.

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Phone Hacking Trial: News of the World exec: I helped ‘phone hacker’ out of duty – Martin Hickman

The kind side of Stuart Kuttner helping Goodman as he reels from the shock of phone hacking and his arrest

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Stuart KuttnerDay 87: A senior News of the World executive lent his personal support to a reporter arrested for phone hacking because he and News International liked to help senior staff in difficulty, he told the Old Bailey today.

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Phone Hacking Trial: Kuttner, I would have told royal reporter to “clear off – Martin Hickman

So Stuart Kuttner proposed a 50 per cent cut to the £100,000 a year paid to phone hacker Glenn Mulcaire and can’t remember why it was rejected. Interesting!

Inforrm's Blog

Stuart KuttnerDay 86, Part 3: Stuart Kuttner, former managing editor of the News of the World, told a court today that he would have told any reporter asking to bribe police “ to clear off .”

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Phone Hacking Trial: Kuttner, I may have spoken to phone hacker – Martin Hickman

Fascinating that the managing editor can’t exactly remember whether he spoke to phone hacker Glenn Mulcaire who received over £1m from News International.

Inforrm's Blog

KuttnerDay 86, Part 1:   Stuart Kuttner may have spoken on the phone to the News of the World’s phone hacking specialist Glenn Mulcaire, he told the Old Bailey today.

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Phone Hacking Trial: Charlie Brooks once drank pint of washing up liquid, Old Bailey hears – Martin Hickman

A whole new advertising campaign is now available to Fairy Liquid courtesy of Charlie Brooks – the gentle washing up liquid that clears the inner stains on your character as well as your dishes!

Inforrm's Blog

FairyLiquid Day 85, Part 1:  Rebekah Brooks’s husband once drank a pint of washing up liquid, the Old Bailey heard today. In one of the most unexpected anecdotes at the phone hacking trial, Mr Brooks’s friend Sarah Bradstock recalled that one day she had found him “frothing at the mouth”.

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Phone Hacking Trial: Clive Goodman too unwell to continue giving evidence – Martin Hickman

Another defendant too ill to continue giving evidence in the hacking trial.

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Clive-GoodmanDay 83 : Clive Goodman, former royal editor of the News of the World, is still too unwell to continue giving evidence at the phone hacking trial, the jury was told today.

Mr Goodman, who has recently had a heart operation, denies making payments to police officers to obtain copies of three royal phone directories found at his home seven years ago.

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Phone Hacking Trial: Andy Coulson “authorised cash payments for NOTW private detective” – Martin Hickman

interesting disclosure from Clive Goodman that Andy Coulson actually authorised payments to hacker and private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire. Even more interesting is that he says emails authorising this would not exist now except for a decision to download them himself in 2006.

Inforrm's Blog

Coulson and MulcaireDay 71: Andy Coulson personally authorised cash payments to the News of the World’s private detective which led to the phones of three royal aides being hacked, a court heard today.

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