Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Evidence of a News Corp coverup mounts

By this stage of the summer, Rupert Murdoch and his family would normally be relaxing on his yacht, The Rosehearty. But any hopes the magnate might have entertained that August would bring respite from the scandal that has engulfed his empire have been shattered by the release of two letters to the parliamentary committee investigating phone hacking by his papers. The excuse Murdoch gave to Parliament that he knew nothing of the wrongdoing is increasingly hard to credit. The blame for the routine invasion of privacy by his papers is now inching closer to Murdoch himself.

The first letter, from News of the World royal reporter Clive Goodman, who became the patsy for the affair, gives the lie to the suggestion to Parliament by Murdoch’s most trusted retainer Les Hinton that phone hacking was the work of a single rogue reporter. In the letter, Goodman lets slip that “the actions … were carried out with the full knowledge and support” of some of the paper’s other journalists and that “other members of staff were carrying out the same illegal procedures.” The names of those others have been redacted for now, at the request of Scotland Yard, for fear of jeopardizing a prosecution.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s judgment is also called into question by the letter. The socially remote Cameron felt he could not connect with humdrum voters and hired Andy Coulson, top editor at the News of the World when the hacking took place, to explain his government’s policies in language the ordinary person could understand. Cameron says he hired the tainted Coulson because Coulson denied knowing of the illegality going on under his nose. But Goodman reports that hacking “was widely discussed in the daily editorial conference, until explicit reference to it was banned by the Editor [Coulson].” The “smoking gun” letter makes Cameron look na├»ve and gullible for being taken in so easily.............

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