Leading article: A growing stench of lies and cover-up

Share
Related Topics

Rupert Murdoch has closed down the News of the World, the newspaper at the centre of the phone-hacking scandal. But the media tycoon has not managed to close down the story. Yesterday the brutal spotlight fell on the behaviour of News International, the UK subsidiary of Mr Murdoch's global media empire.

News International insisted for many years that phone hacking was not a systemic practice at the News of the World. In 2007, when the newspaper's royal reporter, Clive Goodman, was convicted of illegally intercepting the voicemails of Prince William, the company declared that Goodman was a single rogue reporter and that editors had not approved, or even known, what he was doing.

Two years later, when fresh allegations surfaced that hacking at the paper was much more widespread than this, News International held an internal inquiry and this, we were informed, discovered no evidence of wider wrongdoing. Several senior executives of News International – including the former executive chairman, Les Hinton, and the News of the World editor, Colin Myler – have also appeared before Parliamentary committees over the years to stress that phone hacking was the work of a single journalist.

But yesterday the existence was reported of an internal News International dossier, compiled in 2007, indicating that hacking was "more widespread than previously admitted" at the News of the World. In other words, this dossier suggests that senior News International executives may have knowingly misled the public and Parliament when they claimed that phone hacking was a strictly isolated phenomenon. The dossier also apparently indicates that Andy Coulson, a former News of the World editor who went on to become the Prime Minister's communications chief, may have authorised the payment of bribes to the police.

It has been reported that James Murdoch, the media tycoon's son, who was appointed executive chairman of News International in 2007, was unaware of the existence of this dossier. But even if true, this raises some troubling questions. In April 2008, Mr Murdoch personally authorised a significant out-of-court settlement to Gordon Taylor of the Professional Footballers' Association, who claimed that his mobile phone messages had been hacked. What questions did Mr Murdoch ask his subordinates about the truth of that allegation before signing off on the payment? And which executives were responsible for keeping their boss in the dark? Whatever the answers, it now appears that some senior figures at News International may have lied about phone hacking and also suppressed evidence of a criminal conspiracy to bribe police officers. They might also have allowed David Cameron to employ Mr Coulson knowing that he had broken the law.

The broadcasting regulator Ofcom declared last week that it will look into the question of whether Rupert Murdoch's News Corp empire is a "fit and proper" owner of the broadcaster BSkyB. But now another question must surely be asked: is an organisation that appears to have covered up evidence of corruption and illegality fit and proper to run any part of the media in Britain?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Hang on – that’s not how it’s supposed to be written

Guy Keleny
Rafael Nadal is down and out, beaten by Dustin Brown at Wimbledon – but an era is not thereby ended  

Sad as it is, Rafael Nadal's decline does not mark the end of tennis's golden era

Tom Peck
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test