Leading article: Saying sorry is not enough. Only a full inquiry will suffice

Share
Related Topics

It is unprecedented for a newspaper to publish as abject an admission of wrongdoing as the News of the World did yesterday, apologising "publicly and unreservedly" for having breached the privacy of an unnamed "number of individuals" and expressing its willingness to compensate the victims.

No one should be fooled by the News of the World's bathetic pose or effusion of crocodile tears. News International's "mea culpa" may sound contrite but it is nothing more than an attempt to draw a line under a story that won't go away. What the company executives have done is not nearly enough, and the limited nature of their admissions raises more questions than it does answers.

Peel away the lachrymose wording of the newspaper's apology and one soon comes across the bare bones of the same containment strategy that the company has pursued ever since the phone hacking scandal came to light in 2007. This is that the offences were the work and sole responsibility of a "rogue reporter" – since expanded to several, operating on their own initiative during a limited time, from 2004 to 2006, a period that coincided with the editorship of Andy Coulson, who resigned as David Cameron's director of communications in January. James Murdoch, the number three at News International's parent, News Corporation, admitted as such recently, telling a US broadcaster with evident satisfaction that the company had "really put this problem into a box".

This is manifestly not the case. The box keeps bursting open. Last week saw the arrests of the News of the World's chief reporter and its former head of news, Neville Thurlbeck and Ian Edmondson. Meanwhile, public figures keep coming forward with fresh allegations that the newspaper bugged their private conversations. As they do so, claims that these offences all took place within the period 2004 to 2006 appear questionable. The Independent on Sunday reported yesterday that the Duke of York believes the newspaper bugged princesses Beatrice and Eugenie only two years ago. George Galloway, the former independent MP, claims the newspaper hacked his phone back in 2003.

As the scandal continues to unfold amid a welter of fresh claims and revelations, News International's bottom line, which is that the illegal hacking of phones formed no part of the newspaper's "culture", looks increasingly threadbare. This, in turn, is bound to add to the pressure on the Metropolitan Police to explain why they were so dilatory in pursuing the case to start with. It may also have a knock-on effect on the deliberations over the future ownership of BSkyB, which News Corporation hopes to acquire. After the brief for handling this takeover was taken from the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, and handed to the Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, News Corporation received a green light to take full control of BSkyB in March. Last week, Mr Hunt's department was maintaining that the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World had no connection with the question of media plurality – the heart of the matter at BSkyB. This may start to sound hollow if it becomes clear that wrongdoing in the newspaper was much more widespread than the company admits.

As the lines of its defence crumble, News International is falling back on claims that calls for a more thorough investigation into its workings are a witch hunt by an establishment bent on keeping the Third Estate out of its affairs. But no newspaper has the right to break the law in a calculated and systematic fashion in pursuit of juicy stories. The cause of investigative journalism is not served by underhand, illegal, conduct, and when Labour leader Ed Miliband says we need to "get to the bottom" of what was going on at the News at the World, he is right to do so.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: odd pub names, final polls in Scotland and war historians

John Rentoul
 

i Editor's Letter: We are winning the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. It's time to up the ante

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week