Wapping's attempt to manage the news backfires

Click to follow

News International's PR strategy to limit the damage caused by the phone hacking scandal was in disarray last night as the organisation found itself isolated politically and accused by the police of deliberately leaking information.

As the company was accused of trying to manage the news agenda in its own interest, its claims of being open and proactive in investigating hacking were called into question. Other News International media brands were used as conduits for information or faced accusations that they too had undertaken dirty practices.

Most damaging was the accusation from Scotland Yard that confidential information shared with News International had been leaked before the police could "identify those responsible without alerting them".

Observers have also noted a series of exclusive stories broken by the BBC's Business Editor, Robert Peston, many of which have emerged at key moments in the development of the hacking saga. Yesterday Mr Peston revealed that emails discovered in 2007 by News International show that the News of the World paid a royal protection officer for the contact details of members of the Royal Family.

The story helped to deflect attention from the News International chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, who is facing calls for her resignation and who was editing The Sun in 2007.

It also broke a press conference by the Labour leader Ed Miliband to discuss the hacking and call for a block on News Corp's attempts to takeover BSkyB.

Patrick Foster, a former media correspondent of The Times, commented in a tweet: "Quality News Corp spinning – overshadow Miliband press conference by getting Peston to break massive story on BBC News Channel at same time."

The News Corp media strategy is overseen by the grandly named Management and Standards Committee, made up of a high-powered triumvirate of General Manager Will Lewis, Director of Corporate Affairs Simon Greenberg and News Corp American legal chief Jeff Palker.

But the tactics are not proving successful. Leaders of all three main political parties have put distance between themselves and News Corp's attempts to widen its control over the British media by acquiring the satellite broadcaster. All have spoken publicly of their distaste for the practices used by the News of the World.