Ian Burrell: Cameron wasn't the only one with questionable links to Murdoch

Viewpoint

Share
Related Topics

The political dimension of the News of the World hacking scandal has largely focused on the relationship between David Cameron and the newspaper's disgraced editor Andy Coulson, who the Prime Minister chose to employ at Downing Street.

But a book published this week explores the relationship that the Sunday tabloid enjoyed with New Labour and the influential role it played in shaping criminal justice policy during Tony Blair's time as Prime Minister.

Crime Policy and the Media by the former BBC Home Affairs Correspondent turned academic Jon Silverman gives a sobering insight into the way the opinions of frontline professionals can be ignored in the face of tabloid campaigns and politicians who are anxious to win public approval.

It is also a reminder of the swagger and confidence of the News of the World under Coulson's tenure, shortly after it had been named Newspaper of the Year and at a time when its phone-hacking culture was at its peak. Silverman highlights an episode in June 2006 when the Labour Home Secretary, John Reid, met with senior journalists from the News of the World, which was running a campaign to have sex offenders removed from bail hostels. The campaign was being strongly opposed by the National Probation Directorate (NPD).

Mr Reid elected to implement the ban that the newspaper had been arguing for. "This decision was taken on a Friday afternoon, following a meeting with representatives of the News of the World at the Home Office, and trumpeted on the front page of the newspaper two days later."

In its report, the News of the World quoted Reid as saying: "I have [also] asked the minister to study specifically the News of the World's 'Sarah's Law' proposals on controlled access to information".

Silverman writes: The Home Secretary was allowing the impression to be given to the country's largest newspaper readership that policy on a significant and emotive issue of public protection was in lockstep with that of a tabloid campaign." He reports that the News of the World had told the Home Secretary that it had obtained details of the locations of bail hostels and was prepared to publish them unless he took action to remove sex offenders. A senior NPD official told the author: "There was no appetite on the political side to stand up to the paper."



At the time, the Home Office dismissed criticism made by Terry Grange, the Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys and the spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers on child protection. "This government has accepted the principle that they are prepared to be blackmailed," he told the BBC.

Grange later told a newspaper: "The reality, as I perceive it, is that the only people with any real strategic intent and understanding on where they want to go, and the will to be ruthless in getting there, is the News of the World."

The book also highlights a scathing public attack made by Reid on the Parole Board in 2006 following two high-profile murders. Details of the speech were leaked to the press. Sir David Latham, the current chair of the Parole Board, told Silverman: "To take the line he took didn't help us nor did it make for good decision-making, which is not about soundbites." Silverman spoke to six former Home Secretaries for the book but Reid declined to be interviewed.

The "Sarah's Law" campaign was started by the newspaper under the editorship of Rebekah Brooks and was continued by her predecessors. The campaign was successful in that it was introduced in pilot areas in 2008 and subsequently extended to cover the whole country. More recently it has emerged that during the Coulson era, Sara Payne, the mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne, whose death prompted the campaign, was the victim of hacking by the newspaper's reporters.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron has painted a scary picture of what life would be like under a Labour government  

You want constitutional change? Fixed-term parliaments have already done the job

Steve Richards
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song  

Ukip Calypso by Mike Read? The horror! The horror!

Patrick Strudwick
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past